It’s January 7, 2021, and the dust is still settling.
I had a hard time sleeping last night and yes, it was because of what happened in Washington, D.C., yesterday. My wife and I turned in around ten but it was 11:30 or so before I finally fell asleep. I was that upset about the storming of the Capitol.
Our politics have always been passionate. That’s the way it should be. It’s a good thing that people care that much about their nation. Public apathy about politics is a dangerous thing. An engaged electorate is an important check against government excess.
But when a group of rabble-rousers so upset about the outcome of an election resort to storming the Capitol Building, it’s a time to pause and reflect on the consequences of those passions.
What did these people hope to accomplish? Maybe nothing. I’ve read from time to time how a mob mentality can sweep up normally rational, civilized people into lunatic behavior. I’d be willing to bet that there was at least some of that at play yesterday. People can do weird things when whipped into a frenzy and the people who broke into the Capitol were definitely in a frenzy.
That will no doubt be cold comfort to the family of the woman who was killed during the mob action. Yes, she was a Trump supporter. Yes, it appears she was part of the mob that busted its way into the building. Should she have been arrested? Probably. Killed? No. Violence and politics should never go hand in hand.
In a Facebook post last night, I said I could remain silent no longer and that President Trump should be removed from office. Most of the replies were supportive. Maybe my Trump-supporting friends did not see the post or simply decided to ignore it. That’s fine. I ignore their pro-Trump stuff all the time.
A couple of them did respond. I’m going to quote the exchanges below but will not republish the names of the participants.
Poster 1: Sorry but one person is not the problem. There are plenty on both sides that need to go!!
Me: That’s your opinion and your entitled to it. I respectfully disagree.
Poster 1: You really think only one person is responsible for everything? And yes, I’m still entitled to my opinion for now.
I needed some time to think before responding. Do I think Donald Trump is responsible for what happened yesterday? Yes. He told those people to march on the Capitol. What did he think they were going to do? Join hands and sing “We Shall Overcome?” And when he did (finally) tell them to go home, he called them “very special.”
On to the second post. This one really bothered me.
Poster 2: Turn on something other than CNN feeding you their lies. Or forget what I said, be a good brown shirt and turn your neighbor in.
First, a technical point; I don’t watch CNN. Second, I was really disgusted to be compared to a brownshirt. I don’t believe in the persecution of people for having an opinion different from mine. This also ties in to the final remark from Poster 1, the part about being entitled to an opinion ‘for now’.
The brownshirt remark made me mad. It’s one of the most insulting things anyone has ever said to me. The brownshirts were a reprehensible, murderous bunch of thugs fanatically devoted to Adolf Hitler. I don’t fanatically devote myself to any human being (well, maybe Eddie Van Halen, but that’s different). I believe in freedom, not any one person. I believe in the right to one’s own beliefs, regardless of whether I agree with them. How does that equate with being a brownshirt?
That remark contributed to my difficulty sleeping last night. Does Poster 2, who I consider a good friend, really think that of me? Just because I don’t want Donald Trump to be president anymore? Unbelievable.
Like I said before, we’re passionate about our politics and we always have been. But we have to stop hating each other over it. That sort of thing leads to tragic events like those in Washington, D.C. yesterday. My fear is that if it continues, our nation will not survive.
One last thought. There has been plenty of finger pointing about who’s to blame for our toxic politics. I don’t think it matters anymore who started it. What matters now is ending it.