Our common enemy as the world’s oldest democracy is not Trump, antifa, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, QAnon, or Bernie. The enemy is rationalization, the destructive thinking that says that we and others like us are in the right, and those who do not think like us are just wrong. And that being right is license to do whatever it takes to rid the world of the other side.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
Let me make a few stark points to kick off today’s episode:
- Whatever it takes is another way of saying that the ends justify the means. Not true. All means are ends in and of themselves.
- There was no justification for the months-long antifa and BLM violence in the Spring and Summer, any more than there was justification for the recent violence at the Capitol. The egregious and deadly attack on our democracy lasted two hours, with Congress safely returning to its duties, including certifying the defeat of an out-of-control President.
- Civil liberties are under massive attack. An attack on any one person or philosophy is an attack on us all.
- It is time for us, We The People, to lead. If we want better candidates and better office holders, we need to be better citizens and voters.
Have I gotten your attention?
Let’s hear from different voices. “In The Friends of Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote the phrase: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs. This quotation–which is sometimes misattributed to Voltaire himself–is often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.” Regardless of attribution, let’s all adopt the principle.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” is the desired principle. Today, it is more like, “I disapprove of what you say, and will make damn sure that you don’t get to say it again. And that the world sees you and everything you believe as being painted with the indelible brushes of racism, sexism, or whatever else I think of at the time.”
The hundreds of Black Lives Matter and antifa protests which resulted in the destruction of thousands of businesses, lost lives and still-dark city blocks, were often justified as social justice protests. Various politicians, media personalities and activists did a once over lightly on any violence, declaring them to have been “mostly peaceful.” By that exact measure, WWII was “mostly peaceful.” The mostly peaceful claim referring to the protests that included burning, rioting, seizing public and personal property, and injury and death, rests on the observation that most of the people, most of the time, were peaceful. And that is correct. In war, in this case WWII, only a minority of those in uniform were anywhere near the front lines, and only a fraction of those ever saw actual combat. The same misuse of logic that defends the mostly peaceful claim for the Spring and Summer violence would have to call WWII mostly peaceful as well.
From the beginning of the more recent social justice protests, prominent voices have defended the violence as being quintessentially American, reminding anyone who would listen that America was born in violence. Many of them cited the Boston Tea Party as an example. They clearly relied on widespread ignorance of history to make the case for any legitimate similarity. The Boston Tea Party destroyed government property, and that was it. No one was hurt, nothing was stolen for either sale or personal use. No protesters went to the homes and shops bordering the harbor to loot, burn, injure and kill. They tossed boxes of tea into salt water. BTW, when I tried to make this case on social media, I was assaulted as a racist. No other argument; I disagreed with the comparison, so I was racist. Ipso facto.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan participated in a June 11, 2020 interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, during which she suggested the occupied protest around the city’s east police precinct could simply be a “summer of love.” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler took a similar approach, recanting only recently after he finally realized that antifa and their ilk are only encouraged by conciliatory approaches. Had Mr. Wheeler read almost any history book, he would have saved his citizens a lot of pain and heartache.
Let’s also look at the death of Ms. Ashli Babbitt, a white Capitol trespasser. “Ms. Babbitt had left the Air Force after two wars and 14 years, settling near the working-class San Diego suburb where she was raised. Life after the military was not easy. After briefly working security at a nuclear power plant, she was struggling to keep a pool-supply company afloat. As a civilian, she found herself newly free to express her political views. Her social media feed was a torrent of messages celebrating President Trump; QAnon conspiracy theories; and tirades against immigration, drugs and Democratic leaders in California.”
“For a period, Ms. Babbitt was also a supporter of President Barack Obama. In a November 2018 Twitter exchange first reported by Bellingcat, Ms. Babbitt said she had voted for Mr Obama, a Democrat, calling him ‘our president’. ‘I think Obama did great things,’ she wrote. ‘I think he did do a lot of good…at a time where we needed him.’ But Ms. Babbitt ‘could not’ vote for Hillary Clinton, she said, going for Mr. Trump instead. Days before this week’s demonstrations, she wrote on Twitter that she would be in Washington for Mr. Trump’s so-called Stop the Steal rally.”
The unarmed Ms. Babbitt pushed to the very front of the crowd and climbed through the smashed door into the Speaker’s Lobby. A single shot rang out and Babbitt fell to the floor, mortally wounded. Taking up the case that things would have been different had the rioters been black, here I agree. Many and loud voices would be claiming police brutality, saying that trespassing is not a crime punishable by death. There would be hours upon hours of interviews with the late Ms. Babbitt’s grieving and protesting family and friends. Ashli Babbitt’s name would be added to t-shirts, posters and sports attire. “Say her name.
Ms. Babbitt earned her fate, as did others, including Michael Brown. And the BLM, antifa and Capitol Hill violence were all inexcusable. Here’s what the next steps need to be:
- Donald Trump proves his much-professed love for America and resigns. The 25th Amendment will not be invoked, and a second impeachment, on the heels of the trumped up Russia investigation impeachment, smacks loudly of continuing political theater. His resignation would be clean and noble. Quoting my new friend, Beverly Bruce, “Trump is done. No bank, no Wall Street firm, and no legitimate deal person, no media, will go near him now. It is very possible now that he will be forced into personal bankruptcy within two years.” Pray that any attempt at Trump 2024 is painfully stillborn.
- All of us must do the hard and painfully uncomfortable work of challenging our own thinking, testing and retesting all of our preconceived notions. Broaden our sources of facts and information to include news outlets and people with whom we strongly disagree. Find the common goals, they do indeed exist, research applicable facts (use standard rules of evidence here), apply non agenda-based reasoning and achieve the desired common goals. Together. This process works.
It is timely and useful to repeat a recent FB post of mine. “This Unaffiliated voter is not a RINO (Republican in Name Only); I am a RIPO (Republican in Policy Only). I agree with most core Republican political and financial policies, but I find several of the leading Republican politicians impossible to support. And their “true believer” followers are no better. To paraphrase Gandhi, “I like your policies, I do not like your practitioners. Your practitioners are so unlike your policies.”
We will close with an email quote from Igor Sill, a dear and respected friend for decades, “It is my belief that we must all help in this transition towards making 2021 a year of a renewed human renaissance.” Amen, and amen.
Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.