Of birds and such coming home to roost…
The mob that infiltrated the Capitol today is undoubtedly the responsibility of the Republican Party and its president (despite what Tucker Carlson says and Fox News reports.) Their actions over the past four years prepared the way for what has to be the worst display of homegrown terrorism in our history. There were other incursions, like the one in 1954 in which 5 representatives were wounded. But nothing of this scale — -and nothing with such dangerous intent. This mob was intent on taking over the government on behalf of Donald Trump. The flags they carried included “Trump s 2020 “ leftovers and Confederate “false flags”, just as their pretensions to protest were false. They pretend to be supporters of democracy, but they are only supporters of a washed-up, puffed up loser whose sanity is seriously in question. The mob came to cause damage to the nation. They were prepared, had insider help, and were being directed by the president, his son, and Rudy fucking Giuliani! The Republican leadership could feign surprise and their speeches tonight sought to erase four years of bootlicking, but none of their words could cover the stench of their betrayal.
To those who want to somehow explain this breakdown of civility and order on something other than Donald Trump, that he is a symptom and not the cause, forget it. Last night I heard a respected journalist actually assert that Trump had come to power in a nation that had “deep problems” for many years. He was suggesting that we should rationalize that Trump was the end result of institutional failures that softened the ground for a demagogue like Trump. He was only partly right. Trump is the result of 250 years of racism, bigotry, and misogyny weaved into our nations founding fabric that had come to a head at this moment because the nation had, gasp, elected a black man as president for two terms, and had the temerity to follow that up by entertaining the candidacy of a, gasp 2, woman. Our chickens had come home to roost.
To the Republican party that had taken up the banner of Trumpism, the adaptation from the older versions of their intolerance simply replaced the letters before the “ ism.” Trading race for Trump made it more palatable, even while trumpism created a cover for crimes heretofore reserved only for autocratic nation-states. It was as if inhumanity of the intolerance reserved mostly for the descendants of slaves, could be more broadly employed against anyone who could be considered “others.” The flagrant rise in the killing of black men, women, and children on the streets of Trump’s America by police and others with seeming impunity was overlayed by an attitude of “ so whatism “ as it was applied to immigrant families and children. It was further on display in the administration’s odd reactions to other murders like that of Jamal Khashoggi, the bountied soldiers in Afghanistan, or the deaths attributed to the pandemic. No amount of death and destruction seemed to impress Donald Trump or his followers. It is as if the pain were in search of a heart to touch and couldn’t find one.
I think back now on violent attacks that occurred in our recent past, and how they were handled by other more normal presidents — — 9/11, Sandy Hook, Mother Emanuel — and the way those presidents reacted to violence stoked by hate. Compare the reaction of President Obama and George Bush to the way Donald Trump reacted to events in Charlottesville, the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, George Floyd’s murder on video, the shooting of Breonna Taylor. Trump’s lack of empathy has been chronicled at length, but his lack of care and concern suggests more than a mere character flaw. No, Donald Trump is a toxic personality that, when it was aligned with power, has proved lethal. He now has blood on his hands and he deserves no less than the cold and harsh end that his intolerance and callousness has afforded his enemies — any and all who disagree. Given a second term, a wider berth of power, how far would his racist policies have gone to suppress and endanger more George Floyds, another Breonna Taylor?
There is irony in the sheer cowardice of his party to confront him. After all, when they were running against him, the Marco Rubio’s, Ted Cruzes, Lindsey Graham’s all correctly viewed him as a fraud and a danger to democracy. They knew who he was just as, now, he has demonstrated their assessments in practice. He has turned tables on them, every one, by making them his lackeys. They can no more stand up to his bullying and lawlessness than they are able to regain their own integrity. The overtness of his reinterpretation of white power and racial prejudice that has run through the bloodstream of our nation from its founding, has finally, finally, come home to roost. This poisonous strain of Americanism that cannot only be attributed to one party, or a single era of our history as some would like to believe, has now surfaced again and threatens our future,
This who we are, who we have been from the start. Simply stated, the high-minded precepts in words written over 240 years ago have never really been consummated in practice. We have reaped the whirlwind. The current leadership in the Republican Party are now on the clock. What will they do? They traded their loyalty to their nation for the honor of being Trump lickspittle (tired of sycophant) and an instrument of his madness, The deal they all signed up for was simple: Trump would provide judges and cover for their conservative agenda which included a more subtle brand of suppression and intolerance. In return, they conceded, he would get power. It ended as a fool’s bargain, for in return for their winking acquiesence and allegiance, his e got their soul. So much for hedging a bet on Donald Trump.
Of special note today, the fate of Mike Pence, whose subservience in the cause of personal ambition has at times been cringeworthy at best. He was repaid with the same disloyalty and disdain as so many others in the Trump orbit. The greater irony is that Pence and all of these men had better paths and more honorable choices they could have made. They chose Trump.
The mob yesterday was the final instrument of his hold over them. Their legacies include not only their four-year dalliance with the worst president in our history but the worst demonstration of national betrayal since the Civil War. They had chances to redeem themselves, opportunities to salvage their reputations. They could have spoken up after Charlottesville when it became clear that their president was a racist and would suffer the support of neo-nazis, white supremacists, and racists. Or they could have removed him through impeachment when it was shown that he had abused his power and had obstructed justice. After all, they had gotten their judges and were given free rein of their partisan legislative agenda. But they were greedy. They wanted more.
The concept that our deeds at some point are reciprocal — -that eventually we will reap what we sow — -is an old one, In the Elizabethan play, The lamentable and true tragedie of Arden of Feversham, it was expressed this way:
“For curses are like arrowes shot upright, Which falling down light on the suters [shooter’s] head… — Anonymous and Thomas Kyd
On January 6, 2021, the arrow they unleashed four years ago landed in the People’s House. Like chickens who had come home, so did the racists, bigots, insurrectionists, and fools who thought that freedom could be limited by race and color. White privilege received a letter this week marked “return to sender.” Inside was a message, written long ago around the time our Founders wrote their script :
God save thee, ancient Mariner
From the fiends, that plague thee thus
Why look’st thou so ? — With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.
Ah. well a-day. what evil looks
Had I from old and young
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
— The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Coleridge
Poetic justice is not enough, it has only a self-satisfaction but not the bite of real justice. What is required is his removal, their dishonor. Lock him up, vote them out.
Originally published at https://www.dailykos.com on January 7, 2021.