This isn’t going to be one of those I-told-you-so articles about the coup I’ve seen popping up all over the place the last few days. We all knew some crazy shit was going to be carried out by some Trump die-hards as we tried to throw him out of office. NO ONE WAS SURPRISED, so all the pundits saying “I told you so” can go flush themselves.
Were we shocked, though? Of course. There’s a difference.
We were shocked because the MAGAts gained access to the Capitol building so easily. We were shocked because it was DC and not some red state capitol. We were shocked because it was a brazen attack on democracy and not just a wack-job resistance to it in the form of a militia group fencing off a large hunk of land somewhere in the Midwest and trying to secede and inviting Trump to go live there and be Grand Poobah.
We were shocked because it was an actual coup and not just something-like-a-coup. You can quibble about how well planned it was or how well-equipped – it doesn’t matter. The intent was to storm the Capitol and overturn the results of a fair and legal election.
THAT IS A COUP.
But is it over?
Nope. That’s where all those “I told you so” pundits can now unflush themselves, because all of them seem to believe that this is far from over and not only do I agree with them on that, I also agree with them that most people don’t realize it. Over 74 million people voted for Trump after witnessing his ridiculous brand of malevolent buffoonery for four years. That’s 74 million so trapped by lies and fear of the “other” that they would choose a deranged moron over a Democrat. The sickness in this country isn’t Donald Trump. He is merely the symptom.
But what is the sickness? I wish I had a neat and tidy label for it, but unfortunately it is many things. It’s provincialism. It’s tribalism. It’s xenophobia. It’s belief in the myth of American exceptionalism. It’s seventy-plus years of government and business being heavily influenced by the military-industrial complex. It’s anti-intellectualism. It’s bigotry. It’s the first fit of death throws of the white male patriarchy as it feels itself being pulled down. It’s all these things put together in a big pot and set to boil by conspiracy theorists who may (or may not) have realized they’ve found the right recipe for Fascism.
And how to cure it? I truly have no clue. But I do know one thing is for certain. Like with any sickness, you can’t just turn your back on it and hope it goes away. It won’t go away and it’s dangerous to believe otherwise. Instead, we have to confront it.
That’s why I’m glad Facebook and Twitter and many others have (finally!) taken firm stances on throwing users off their networks if they persist in spreading bigotry and hate and lies as truth. I’m glad it didn’t take a law. I don’t want it to be a law. I just want people to encourage, forcefully if necessary, other people to act like sane, rational adults. We all need to take ownership of our society and work to change it for the better. We all want everyone, including ourselves, to be better people.
Except maybe the MAGATs. We’re asking them to be better people and they’re smirking at us and saying “Or what?” We need to show them there are consequences for trying to destroy a democracy and turn their backs on truth. It starts with prosecuting every single person who set foot in the Capitol building January 6th, but it continues with you and me and our everyday lives. Do not suffer a fascist. Whether you want to engage with them or cut them out of your life is up to you, but let them know there are consequences for their words and actions.
I know you may be thinking “Well, the high road is to just respect everyone’s point of view and let everyone feel free to express themselves” and blah, blah, blah. Yes. That’s a very noble opinion and maybe it’s the morally right thing to do. But, to borrow a line from Battlestar Galactica’s Laura Roslin in her advice to a neophyte politician Lee Adama, “…you’re so hellbent on doing the right thing that you sometimes don’t do the smart thing.”
The smart thing is to be intolerant of intolerance. People who spread hate and lies are the intolerant. The smart thing is to shout them down. Take away their microphones. Sweep them back under the rock they crawled out from under.
And I’m sure plenty of people have been doing that all along. I’m positive of it. But the thing is, hate and fear is easier to spread than hope and love. It’s just the way our lizard brains are programmed. We haven’t evolved enough as a species yet to weigh those ideas equally. We’ll always respond to “Watch out!” more instinctively than “Here’s a cookie.”
So, as I sign off this post, I’ll leave you with a “Watch out!” of my own. The next five days are very likely to be rocky. Stay safe. Stay away from state capitols if you can and definitely stay out of DC! Let the police and National Guard ensure a peaceful transfer of power.
God, it feels weird to type that.
Anyway, I know there was some funny business with the Capitol police during the coup attempt, but I still believe most people in law enforcement are basically interested in enforcing the law. Besides, if I’m wrong about that then all of this doesn’t really matter much anyway.
And it definitely sucks to type that.
So have a good weekend everyone! Happy Martin Luther King Day! We could all use some guidance from him right about now. Be good and be safe.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – MLK jr.