Anger usually produces “same to you” anger. Consider the wisdom of President Abraham Lincoln, the outstanding leader who led our country through the Civil War, a dark period in U.S. history. Passions and hatred were running high; Americans were killing fellow Americans, even prior to the official start of war. Due to pro- and anti-slavery, violent extremists killing each other, Kansas earned the nickname “Bloody Kansas.” During this tragic time, President Lincoln stated: “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
More wisdom: “Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip up the citizenry into a patriotic fever, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind … And when the drums of war have reached a fever-pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.” (From “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare.)
The recent terrorist attack on our nation’s capitol confirms Shakespeare’s prose.
Both the left and right side of the political aisle contain sometimes violent radicals, but the right is overloaded with them. A partial list: The KKK, Neo-Nazis, the Proud Boys and QAnon. QAnon has some beliefs so extreme it seems no one with common sense would believe them. Their most preposterous claims are Democrats, deep-state government officials and celebrities are Satan-worshipping pedophiles, cannibalistic, child sex-traffickers, and Donald Trump is the hero destined to stop them. (Info from Forbes Magazine.)
The tragedy is a great many Republicans believe all or a portion of the claims. (Also, from Forbes Magazine.)
Without a shred of evidence to indicate the election was rigged, rioters invaded our capitol, a tragedy occurring only once prior in our history, the War of 1812 with Great Britain. American citizens committed this atrocity. Sadly, some people, including Ivanka Trump, called them patriots initially. (She received so much criticism she deleted the comment.) President Trump encouraged the assault (“Fight”), watching the news while the violent and deadly invasion was occurring. It was not until the lawless mob had ransacked our U.S. Capitol that he asked them to go home and added, “We love you.”
Terrorists, not patriots, is the accurate description of the rioters. While a portion of the invaders surely thought they were fighting for a just cause, many others like to destroy things, and used the lie that the election was rigged as an excuse to go on a rampage.
More, but not nearly enough Republican politicians, including Senator Mitch McConnell, are very belatedly admitting our election was legitimate. Most likely, they knew it all along but were afraid to contradict the president for a legitimate fear of retribution. Due to Trump’s insistence, Georgia recounted their election twice, with a multitude of Republican poll-watchers observing. The results were essentially the same each time, but that was not good enough for Trump. He called Georgia’s secretary of state asking him to “find” enough votes to change the election results. Being an honorable man, Georgia’s secretary of state refused. Utah’s Senator Mitt Romney stated early on Biden won, earning him Trump’s and a multitude of Republicans’ anger. We should honor Romney’s honesty.
Trump’s impeachment trial is scheduled to begin in the Senate Feb. 20. To convict him will require a two-thirds “yes” vote—67 senators. Given Trump’s continually proclaiming the election was fraudulent and worse his encouragement to march on our Capitol and “Fight to take back your country,” any open-minded senator should vote to impeach him. Most, if not all Democrats will vote to impeach. Republicans’ “yes” votes are questionable; in fact they are coming up with excuses that lack reason, such as, “We can’t convict him because he is out of office and that would not be Constitutional.” Legal experts disagree. Either from fear of Trump, fear of fellow Republicans, or both, Trump’s conviction in the Senate seems unlikely.
Prior to becoming president, John F. Kennedy published a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.” It covered eight U. S. senators who defied the opinions of their party, and possibly many of their constituents, and voted what they felt was right, not politically prudent but right. Romney deserves a profile in courage award; he depends on facts, not blind loyalty, for guidance.
Both left and right contain a few violent extremists, but most of us are rational. We should pay attention to another Lincoln quote: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Ted Shannon is a Mokelumne Hill resident and a retired CHP officer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.