A thin line between tyranny and freedom

Today is the one year anniversary of the January 6th insurrection at the US Capitol building. Today, the mood on Capitol Hill is somber and quiet. President Biden and Vice President Harris gave speeches with sharp warnings to Americans, as well as to all those listening around the world. They said plainly that our democracy is fragile and without vigilance and support for the rule of law that governs America, could be lost entirely. The New York Times reported on President Biden’s speech, and gave excerpts.

“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Mr. Biden said, standing in the same National Statuary Hall invaded by throngs of Trump supporters a year ago. “He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest and America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost.”

“Without using Mr. Trump’s name, the president assailed the “defeated former president” for trying to rewrite history and for casting the attackers of a year ago as patriots. “Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways, rifling through the desks of senators and representatives, hunting down members of Congress?” Mr. Biden asked. “Patriots? Not in my view.” “Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy.” 

“With not a single Republican senator in the Senate chamber, Democrats took to the floor after Mr. Biden’s speech to continue assailing Mr. Trump, “the worst president in modern times,” as Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, put it. “It was Donald Trump’s big lie that soaked our political landscape in kerosene,” Mr. Schumer said. “It was Donald Trump’s rally on the Mall that struck the match. And then came the fire.” https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/01/06/us/jan-6-capitol-riot/biden-speech-january-6

According to journalist Peter Baker of the New York Times,

 “America has not come together to defend its democracy; it has only split further apart. Lies and disinformation spread by the former president have so permeated the political ecosphere that nearly universal outrage has reverted to separate blue and red realities. Far from shunned for what even his own vice president deemed an unconstitutional attempt to thwart the will of the voters, Mr. Trump remains the undisputed powerhouse of his party — and a viable candidate to reclaim the White House in three years… Rather than a wake-up call highlighting for all the fragility of the American experiment, the violence that besieged Washington turns out to have been one more chapter in the polarizing, partisan, ideological and cultural struggle over truth and consequences in the modern era.

“In fact, no matter how many times Mr. Trump says the 2020 election was stolen, not a shred of evidence has emerged to prove it. Not one independent authority — no judge, no prosecutor, no governor, no election agency, no news media organization — has found any credible indication of fraud on a scale that would have changed the outcome.”

“Today, it has become heresy among conservatives to question Mr. Trump’s legacy…The congressional Republicans who angrily denounced the president after their headquarters was invaded have gone silent or even made the pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, all but pretending it never happened. “It’s a pretty sobering lesson about human nature,” said Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democrat who led the House managers prosecuting Mr. Trump in a Senate impeachment trial and now serves on the House select committee investigating Jan. 6. “Rejecting the fact that Joe Biden won the 2020 election is now the organizing principle of the G.O.P.,” Raskin said. “That is a terrifying and astonishing new reality that we have to contend with.”

“For many Republicans, even those who privately despise Mr. Trump and agree that Mr. Biden was legitimately elected, Jan. 6 is a topic to avoid. They bristle at the focus on it, seeing it not as a good-faith effort to find out what happened but a partisan weapon to tear them down and distract from the Democrats’ own failed policies.” (NYTimes, Jan 6, 2022)

Dear Readers, I share this long excerpt from the NYTimes article with you all because it is important to understand what the motives are that underpin the GOP’s about-face concerning the January 6th insurrection. Republican lawmakers who were in the chamber that day, whose lives were as equally threatened as their colleagues across the aisle, have decided that the truth of what actually occurred, the violence and loss of life and even threats to their own lives, are no longer what matters in the United States of America. Even without Trump’s Twitter account as his 24-7 bully pulpit active in the world, he is clearly still pulling the strings of his followers, both elected and the electorate.

We are living through extraordinarily pressure-filled times. The tensions in America and around the planet, are as tight as they have ever been, affecting more people than ever before on Earth. Words like truth, facts, science, logic, reason, moral obligation, democracy, no longer have a consensual meaning amongst people. The propaganda machines behind the most powerful governments on Earth have gone above and beyond to create the current extreme atmosphere of fear and mistrust between neighbors, members of communities, lawmakers, and family members. This mistrust, fear and encouragement to report one’s neighbor to the authorities is the stuff of dictatorship movements globally. For those who don’t know that, read the history of fascist regimes during the 20th century. China, Russia, Spain, Italy, Nazi Germany, the list is unfortunately long. They all use the same basic playbook.

When the most popular articles in the January 6th, 2022 New York Times have headlines like, “Does my boyfriend like me?” it proves my point. Will democracy as we have known it have to be eradicated before the people finally wake up?

As we move forward through 2022, 2023, and 2024, I highly encourage, even admonish, every person who still has the autonomy to research and think critically, to do so. The democracy that is still hanging on by a thread in the United States could be wiped out, replaced with a form of government that is truly the stuff of nightmares. Look what happened to Hong Kong over the past year. That and much worse could potentially be the USA’s future. 

Dear Readers, I have wracked my brain and searched through my own heart over the past year, to try to make sense of what has happened in my country. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve watched as the people of the United States made huge strides toward more freedom and liberty, toward a more perfect union. But the past two decades, and the past five years in particular, have brought us to the brink of losing many of the freedoms that were so diligently fought for. We lost some of our most eloquent voices for freedom and equality of all people. Just a few of the greatest voices include Maya Angelou and bell hooks, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There are many others who spent their lifetimes reminding humanity of the light that lives inside us all, of the value of love, equity, justice, truth and freedom. Have we collectively become so blindsided by our cell phones and social media and virtual reality games that we no longer remember the real power that resides inside us each and all?

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