From left: Reuben Jonathan Miller, AMʼ07; Susan Stokes; Robert A. Pape, PhDʼ88; Kathleen Belew;  Paul Staniland, ABʼ04. (Photos courtesy Crown Family School, Department of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Kathleen Belew, UChicago News)


Democracy in peril

UChicago faculty members weigh in on the Capitol insurrection.

In the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, many UChicago scholars helped the public make sense of the moment by speaking to the media about the violent and disquieting event. A selection of their comments is included here. For timely updates on faculty in the news, subscribe to the biweekly newsletter Short List.

Reuben Jonathan Miller, AMʼ07

Assistant Professor in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, January 7 on WTTW

“Police respond very differently to anti-policing protests than they do to other kinds of protests, … and the coverage of Black protests looks very different. We call them riots and looting, and things were stolen out of the Capitol, windows were broken, but we havenʼt used that kind of language with the same speed in relation to these protesters.”

Susan Stokes

Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, January 19 on CNN

“I think we are a long way from … outright civil war: Weʼre not Yugoslavia; weʼre not Spain. But we are definitely in danger of a kind of a lower-level violence, decentralized because thatʼs our countryʼs middle name, constant outbreaks, for years to come.”

Robert A. Pape, PhDʼ88

Professor of Political Science, January 6 on WTTW

“Several months ago … we were talking about how the period of violence could extend well beyond the November elections and into even the certification of the Electoral College, and thatʼs exactly what weʼre seeing. … I come to this from studying these kinds of problems—civil wars, unrest—around the world. And what we have been observing for months now, had it been any other country, would have sent up many red flags.”

Kathleen Belew

Assistant Professor of History, January 6 on NPR

“This was an action that was deliberately meant to circumvent our political system. This was a coup. This was not a bloodless coup. This was an attack on our democracy and its institutions. And it was organized, it was ideological, and it was carried out in the light of day.”

Paul Staniland, ABʼ04

Associate Professor of Political Science, in a January 12 Vox article

“If there isnʼt political punishment for politicians backing—whether openly or tacitly—political violence, they have incentives to keep playing with fire like this. If there are practices that are bad for democracy but you donʼt impose costs on those who engage in these practices, then they have less reason to worry about continuing to act in democracy-undermining ways.”