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Jessica Rosenworcel: Digital Connections Can Counter Divisiveness of Insurrection

Jessica Rosenworcel

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who is widely expected to be named acting FCC chair next week--and perhaps more than acting--used a portion of her statement on the FCC's first meeting of the new year and last meeting for chairman Ajit Pai to talk a little about the recent violence at the Capitol from the vantage of someone who frequented its halls as a top staffer.

Also Read: FCC's Nathan Simington Decries Capitol Violence

Rosenworcel, who was senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee, said the images of the insurrection were hard to shake, then eloquently talked about how connections, digital and otherwise, can help heal:

"I worked for many years in the Capitol. I know its towering heights, secluded corners, and labyrinth hallways. But it’s not the loftiness of those spaces that I find most compelling. It’s what’s down below on the floors. I’ve traversed them too many times to count, heading back and forth, clicking on the tiles in less-than-sensible work shoes. I think the most beautiful floor tiles in the Capitol are the mid-19th century encaustic mosaics. The clay is inlaid, so the colors in the tiles are especially vibrant and diverse. It’s like the metaphor for our union is right there on the ground. Even where these mosaic floors are uneven and worn, what strikes you most is the durability. They have survived so much in our history.

Also Read: Networks Hustle to Cover Capitol Coup

History, of course, is always being written. The violence done to the Capitol last week is an especially ugly chapter. To see those sacred spaces desecrated stings. To see those gorgeous floors smeared with feces and hate hurts. To see the Confederate flag paraded across those tiles sears and burns. And to watch those disowning the hatred that brought us here when for too long they walked too casually alongside it is difficult.

It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said: 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.' Now we have an opportunity to lean into the light. As a nation we need connections—physical and digital—that strengthen our mutual bonds. We need connections that remind us that our states are united and our interdependence is powerful. Congress directed us to establish an Emergency Broadband Benefit to expand access to high-speed connections and assist those struggling in the ongoing economic crisis. It tasked the agency with expanded support for telehealth and provided funding that will make our networks more powerful and more secure."