LEWISTON —  Bates College President Clayton Spencer expressed hope late Thursday that people will “absorb and learn from the ugly truths laid bare” by the storming of the U.S. Capitol this week.

Clayton Spencer Photo submitted by Bates College

In a letter to the college community, Spencer called the assault by a mob of white supremacists trying to block the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory “both predictable and profoundly shocking.”

“With the president urging them on, armed mobs invaded the literal seat of our democracy in order to disrupt the certification of a presidential election and impede the peaceful transfer of power,” she said.

Spencer tied the brief but violent takeover of the Capitol to four years in which “we have lived in a world where truth is disregarded, where race has been used in insidious ways to animate the worst impulses in our politics and civic life, where those who commit brutality and violence are not held to account, and where division is stoked without regard for the public good.”

“Despite these realities,” she said, “voters have affirmed our democracy by stepping forward in record numbers to make their voices heard and their choices known” in the November general election that saw Biden rack up a decisive victory over Republican Donald Trump, who has held the presidency since 2017.

Spencer said that despite the assault in Washington on Wednesday, the nation’s lawmakers returned to work that night to finish certifying the results, which courts and election officials around the country have said were counted properly.

“The American system of higher education rests, like our democracy, on a commitment to truth, to evidence, and to a culture of persuasion rather than violence,” Spencer said.

“We are not just part of this democracy, we depend on it,” she said.

“And we need to defend it every day — with words, with action, and with a commitment to working through our own imperfections to enact the ideals of equity and justice grounded in our mission and in our humanity.”


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