Merle gets it half right.
A thank you to Mountain Mail publisher Merle Baranczyk for his comments Thursday castigating the anarchists who stormed the Capitol building in Washington. Merle minced no words in describing the thugs who trampled on our democracy. He got that part right.
Unfortunately Merle’s usual blindness regarding Trump and the Republican Party was on full display in his final paragraph asking Trump to disavow and condemn their actions. Trump cannot now disavow actions that he called for, promoted and incited. Trump cannot disavow supporters whom he courted and encouraged for five years. He cannot divorce himself from actions which he has been promoting since he began his campaign in 2015.
In Trump’s earliest rallies he promoted violence be done to those he disagreed with. In Charlottesville he praised the same white supremacists who yesterday stormed the Capital. In the recent debates he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” Before the election he said if he lost it would be fraud and after the election he continued to peddle this lie despite having zero evidence and 62 failed lawsuits.
Trump called for the rally to happen and spoke to the crowd just a few short hours before they breached the Capitol. In his 70 minute speech he urged the crowd to march to the Capitol then told them, “you will never take back our country by weakness.”
Moments before that Trump’s son incited the crowd against members of Congress saying, “we’re coming for you.” Trump’s lawyer Giuliani urged “trial by combat.”
So no Merle, Trump cannot now disavow anything. He owns it. And so do you.
Many of us may have been shocked to see our Capitol trampled yesterday and anarchists flying the Confederate flag inside the Capitol. But no one should be surprised. There is a direct line from campaign rhetoric inciting violence to Charlottesville to yesterday’s shameful events. And since none of us are really surprised, we need to acknowledge we expected it. In fact it was inevitable.
So that brings us to the 74 million of our neighbors who voted for Trump knowing in the back of their minds this was inevitable. If you voted for Trump, if you looked the other way at the thousands of lies, the bullying, the senseless daily disruption of normalcy, the 350,000 dead Americans from COVID-19 and still voted for him- well you can’t disavow it either.
So where to we go from here? Can we really have a country where one half hates the other half? Can we solve any of our problems if a large portion of the population simply live in an alternate reality? Can any country succeed when much of its population, urged on by its leader believes the free press is the enemy of the people? Can both sides see January 21 as a new chance and work to do better?