Sacrificing Truth to Stay in Power

“Truth is too simple for us: we do not like those who unmask our illusions.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Republicans blaming Democrats for not having enough police to keep Trump’s stormtroopers from besieging the Capitol is like getting caught robbing a bank and blaming its officials for not hiring enough guards to prevent a robbery.

You can only fool some of the people all of the time. The rest know very well how the Republicans twist the truth into propaganda for their own benefit and that of their mendacious leader.

Trump, July 11: “There was such love at that rally [where he instigated the insurrection Jan. 6]. You had over a million people there.” (A lie.) “They were there for one reason, the rigged election.” (A lie. There was no rigged election.) “They felt the election was rigged. That’s why they were there. And they were peaceful people.” (A lie.) “These were great people. The crowd was unbelievable. And I mentioned the word ‘love.’ The love – the love in the air, I have never seen anything like it.” (Nor has any other American alive today.)

And what of “Hang Mike Pence?” Love? Sick.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., asked Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell if it was indeed a “loving crowd.”

“I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses,” he responded without expression.

Testimony of Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, July 26 before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack: “If a hitman is hired, and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail. But not only does the hitman go to jail, but the person who hired him does. There was an attack carried out on January 6 and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.”

And this is where we are: at opposite goal posts with a field of thorns in between. One country, two teams. Ike North-South.

And the thorns stick to nothing but whether to put on masks or get vaccinated, igniting anger, viciousness and unlawfulness to spread division among us.

President Barrack Obama often said in the aftermath of a mass shooting (there are so many of them), “This is not who we are.” If not, then who are we? What have we become after what perhaps were the worst four political years in American history with the election of Trump? Exposed by a president, no less, to years of venom and hate-filled, racist, vitriolic rhetoric during a term of broken rules, traditions and possibly laws that crept toward fascism.

Dunn’s riveting testimony brought to life the crashing through doors and windows, the bludgeoning and spearing of cops and the search for Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose office was pirated. All that was missing among the hundreds of invaders were brown shirts and red and white armbands emblazoned with a black swastika.

“I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd,” testified Michael Fanone, a Washington, D.C., police officer. “I was electrocuted again and again and again” [with a Taser]. He was beaten unconscious, sustained a heart attack and a brain injury, The Washington Post reported.

“I recognized the fact that there were individuals that were trying to grab ahold of my gun,” he said. “I remember one of them distinctly lunging at me time and time again trying to grab my gun. And I heard people in the crowd yelling ‘get his gun,’ ‘kill him with his own gun’ and words to that effect.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., May 19, 2021, from The New York Times: “Even calling it an insurrection, it wasn’t. I condemned the breach, I condemned the violence, but to say there were thousands of armed insurrectionists breaching the Capitol intent on overthrowing the government is just simply a false narrative.  . . .  By and large it was peaceful protest except for, there were a number of people basically agitators that whipped the crowd and breached the Capitol.”

Lying and the dispense of propaganda amounts to what Benjamin Carter Hett called “a revolution against reason” in his “The Death of Democracy,” about the ending of Germany’s Weimar Republic and the rise of Adolf Hitler, published in 2018.  Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933. Hett has a doctorate in history from Harvard and is a history professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

“The cynical dishonesty of the Nazis’ propaganda received a significant boost from the cult of irrationality that drove their followers: the contempt for, indeed the revolution against, Enlightenment standards of rationality,” Hett wrote. “To many people in the 1920s and ‘30s, it was beginning to seem that such a revolution against reason might be a chronic ailment of democracy.”

Apply this to Trump’s nonsense about a rigged, fraudulent, stolen election that he insists he won and Republican statements blaming everyone and everything but Trump and his followers for the battering of the Capitol and its protectors.

“January 6 should have never happened,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told a news conference outside the Capitol the same day as the committee hearing. “We should have been prepared and been prepared for the officers, made sure they have the training and the equipment they needed.”

“These are not unruly or dangerous, violent criminals,” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., told a news conference outside the Justice Department. “These are political prisoners who are now being persecuted and bearing the pain of unjust suffering.”

It’s insane what some won’t say just to get votes. Something is terribly, frighteningly wrong. It’s like living in a Stephen King novel.

 

Richard C. Gross, a correspondent, bureau chief and foreign editor of United Press International at home and abroad, retired as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.