Three entries fit Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "day of infamy." The first was Dec. 7, 1941 and Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and battleship row. The second was Sept. 11, 2001 and al-Qaida's destruction of New York City's Twin Towers and a slice of the Pentagon.
Jan. 6, 2021, is the latest day of infamy. In the storming of the nation's Capitol as if it were the Bastille in 1789, four people died, unlike the several thousands on the other two disastrous occasions. But the significance might be greater.
An ironclad assumption of the American myth was the peaceful transfer of presidential power. That myth was shattered as tens of thousands of supporters of the 45th president gathered around the Capitol to protest and agree with the ludicrous assertion that the election and a landslide victory for Donald Trump was stolen.
How so many of the public could accept this outrageous untruth conjured up recollections of how Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler came to power.
The U.S. Capitol was invaded and temporarily occupied by what former President George W. Bush called insurrectionists. Images of rioters seated in chairs for officers presiding over the Senate and in the speaker of the House's office flashed across cellphone and television screens. By early evening, the Capitol was cleared of this rebellious lot and both chambers reconvened to certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice president.
But the damage was done. And it may be irreversible. The cause was Trump, whose responsibility for this spectacle is total. Trump incited his many millions of dedicated followers to protest the counting of electoral votes on Wednesday in Washington. Tens of thousands accepted the provocation.
At least three conclusions must be drawn. First, this day of infamy has destroyed any kernel of truth in the assumption of American exceptionalism other than in the negative sense. In this light, this exceptionalism can be expressed by the wars America has lost in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and in the myth of "justice and liberty for all."
Suppose the rioters had been people of color. Or suppose they were armed. A gunfight on Capitol Hill would have been inevitable.
Second, unless leaders of both parties come to their senses, it will take years to remove the poison that has made partisanship a clear and present danger to the republic. That future days of political infamy could recur with greater violence is not out of the question. Further, a Senate censure of Josh Hawley for his irresponsible actions objecting to certifying votes that Joe Biden won and were supported by the decision of every court that presided over cases that rejected allegations of fraud or foul play, would be a good start.
Trump is singularly unfit for office and must go. The recommendations to impeach and convict and to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president are well intended but are not going to happen. Impeachment and conviction will not take place, let alone in 13 days. The marionettes in the so-called Cabinet will not cut their strings to turn against a chief executive, no matter how much a clear and present danger he presents.
Trump must resign. This is the only way to repair and resurrect the Constitution that he has been profoundly damaged. And that resignation must state that he never re-enter politics or face the legal consequences of having incited this tragic uprising against the democratic process.
Will Trump agree? The obvious answer is no. In that case, in order to regain even a scintilla of decency, let alone respect, the Republican Party must expel him. The only way this can work is if the lone former Republican president, the majority leader of the Senate and the minority leader of the House take that step.
George W. Bush's statement of condemnation and Sen. Mitch McConnell's statesman-like soliloquy at the start of the objection process to the Arizona vote implicitly made that case. Now is the time to turn those words into actions. Trump must go.
Harlan Ullman is UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished Columnist and author of the upcoming book, "The Fifth Horseman and the New MAD: The Tragic History of How Massive Attacks of Disruption Are Endangering, Infecting, Engulfing and Disuniting a 51% Nation."