On September 16, 2001, I wrote an essay titled “What’s in a Name.” That essay considered the meaning of the events of September 11, 2001. But it also raised the question of how we would refer to those events in the future. As it happens, none of the names I suggested stuck. We will instead forever speak of “9/11.”
We now must consider how we will refer to the events of January 6, 2021, when, encouraged by President Donald Trump and others, an angry mob sacked the United States Capitol. It is to be hoped that this barbarism will have less historical significance than 9/11, but that remains to be seen. It is nevertheless an experience we will need to talk about, and we need to give it a name.
My first thought is that the name we use for the recent events should somehow reference Trump or Trumpism, but this may not be necessary. Here are some possibilities:
MAGA Failed Coup
Sack of the Capitol