By Michael Patrick, Ph.D
A quick blink ago, as many as 250 thousand peaceful protestors jammed into the Washington, D.C. mall to voice doubts and displeasure about the integrity of the past elections. Too many depositions were ignored out of hand by the press or the courts without close examination. Voters’ personal experiences were immediately brushed off as insignificant or fantasies. The first mistake by “the powers that be” was not listening the first time around, leaving them all for Donald Trump to play with.
A chaotic slice of them, including a visibly weird assortment of humanity, trespassed and broke into the Capitol, ransacked offices, vandalized, and fought with police. Five people died. Fortunately, no fires were set and few protestors were visibly armed. Congressional meetings were halted, but by curfew, the mob of dissenters retreated. Feathers ruffled, a frightened Congress resumed its work and the Biden-Harris ticket was confirmed.
A week later, about 15,000 troops with automatic weapons took up residence, sleeping in stairwells and hallways across the city, anticipating a mob’s possible return. Excuse me if I doubt those odd ducks will waddle back anytime soon, regardless of who floats the idea. DC is now fortified and heavily armed, and they promise to be ready next time.
We’ve had score of protests turn extremely violent and shut down cities dozens of times. We binge-watched them during Covid lockdowns. You can draw your own comparisons on the levels and types of violence. Many who watched TV were outraged by the treatment of protestors—red-hatters didn’t get clubbed enough by police like non-whites do. Evidently, we hold up cards and rate our riots by the levels of race and violence. Not sure what number we should give the Capitol uprising. One commentator compared it to September 11th; another to the Holocaust. Your call.
Today, I encourage you to take a deep breath and consider the bridge we’ve crossed as a nation. Washington, D.C. sets the new precedent for when a city starts to unravel, and civilians are injured or killed.
Tagging out Trump was emotionally satisfying for most of his enemies and former friends, who want Donald, his wife, and family, run out of town, impeached, jailed, and never to return. Unfortunately, by their words, the political mob is also calling the bluff of millions of non-violent voters with their own unexplored doubts about the honesty and integrity of the elections. Critics on television smear them all as ignorant insurrectionists. Wish as you will, but this pseudo “coup” is far from settled by labels and accusing words, not by a long-shot —or even by a Glock at point-blank range.
I am sorry to see America tumbling over the edge, shoved by people who are elected to know better.
I’m sorry that we stopped listening to dissent, for the loss of civil rights, and for the escalation in future civil protests that threaten to shutter a city.
I’m sorry that news ratings will soar as we binge on news channels with their hysterical rhetoric and their opinionated reporting.
I’m sorry for the aid and comfort all this lends to ruthless countries with no hesitation to draw down on their contrary citizens.
Trump is duly tarred and soon feathered, as expected, but nothing is finished here.
To borrow from an old country-western song, these disunited States “have a long way to go and a short time to get there.” Let’s hope we can all live through the consequences. Our foreign enemies will.