A recap of what hit us last week, Jan. 4 to now. The Democrats took the Senate, sending a Jew and a Black from the Confederate state of Georgia. That had nothing to do with White folk with roots in Georgia but with that great euphemism, “changing demographics.” A leader of a Black vote movement said lots of well-educated Blacks had been moving “back” South recently. Back referring to the Southern origin of the Great Migration so well treated in Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. Not to mention the Asians flowing into economic and tech centers like Atlanta.
And then they struck back. One week later, a terrorist mob descended on the Capitol with no resistance initially despite weeks of openly conducted announcements and preparations. Everyone was shocked, at least those who had anything left to be shocked after four years of Trump’s enablers. What I got positive out of this was the recognition nation-wide of the glaring double-standard of the treatment of the domestic terrorists versus that of civil rights protestors like Black Lives Matter. The gauntlet is down. We have only to do a split screen of BLM protests and of the mob on Jan. 6. We rest our case.
The what ifs abound. W I the mob had been made up of people of color? WI the capitol police had been prepared? WI the police had not been sympathetic to the mob’s political agenda? WI there had been no one inside the Capitol to guide the mob to the many tiny nooks in that labyrinthine building? WI the GOP had stopped Trump’s depredations on the Constitution in the tracks? WI well over one third of the country did not fear their loss of identity and power and privilege? WI our representatives were less loaded with old people who don’t even understand the internet?
As rioters are arrested, charged, arraigned, and given defense attorneys, we will hear heart-rending stories of lives gone wrong, souls living in isolation, mildly retarded people misled by social media, recent break-ups with a soulmate, job loss, vehicle break-down, and many more. As they plead, let’s be sure to run video of the howling mob, just to put things into perspective.
Those of a certain age will remember the anger of White Southerners toward the press when TV cameras recorded the howling mobs then, often made up of law enforcement personnel. And before that, in the 19th century and back beyond, European travelers were excoriated for their reportage on slave holders and their heinous atrocities against helpless people.
The reason I put this in the Running Commentary category is because I keep coming back to it every whipstitch. Patterns are beginning to emerge as embittered ex-wives recognize the guy who owes back child support in the videos from the Capitol. Trump put through some measure against protestors taking down Confederate monuments that will now apply to the rioter/terrorists and carries a 10 year penalty. If the authorities are smart, they will #1 house the convicts apart from each other, preventing cells forming in prison, and #2 deprive them of computers and cell phones and monitor their mail. Over 10 years their interest will die down as they mature from the 7 year old level to the 12 year old level.
One expert on these groups said we just missed a mass casualty event in the legislative body of the nation. The authorities truly need to gather all evidence of any plotting of assassination and murder and apply it to sentencing guidelines. The same person divided the rioter/terrorists into two groups: the militia Proud Boy types and the QAnon types. I think we will be able to unravel the recruitment and brain-washing carried out in the former and the mental derangement to be found in the latter. None of that can be admitted as extenuating circumstances; unless found to be mentally incompetent, say retardation, any mental disorder is not grounds for an insanity plea.
Speaking of pleas, ex-wives aside, the threat of long years in prison will result in a flood of plea bargains and I don’t think we will have to concede much to serious offenders. There are plenty of third and fourth rank members of groups who can ID higher-ups while being allowed to go back to their day-jobs. It is being said that government organizations are looking at their ranks for individuals who participated. Good-bye pension. It’s a lot better than we did in 1865.
Speaking of 1865, there is a slip in cognition when we accuse demonstrators of violence and label what the Confederates did as honorable warfare. How do you think they controlled the slaves?
Trump is only the spark. Fortunately, he does not possess the qualities of a leader. It is my bet, and I may have to come back to this entry and admit I was wrong, that Trump will find some other way to keep himself in the lime lights or headlights of the public because that is what holds his ego together. I am just happy that that ego has held up this long before he was able to start a war or something else to keep himself relevant to everybody. It has bothered me that it took so long for commentators and pundits to see Trump for what he is; his niece’s book and appearances helped them understand his nature. Aides said he enjoyed the spectacle of the attack on the capitol with Trump flags everywhere; it fit exactly the way Michael Cohen and others have said he ran his business: pit everyone against everyone and see who comes out on top, like The Apprentice. I truly doubt he understands the enormity of what he has wrought.
It’s up to the rest of us to clean up his mess. I always have said that accountability is required and reconciliation comes only after truth. Yesterday someone said justice before reconciliation.
Trump aside. can we attribute any of our problems to our education system? As a teacher I am skeptical of blaming teachers for societal problems but I recall something about the scientific method in my science classes wherein issues like evidence and proof were discussed. But I was interested in those things and many of my cohort were not. So it is like foreign languages: we have to make the input compelling and many social studies teachers and science teachers make valiant attempts to do just that. Simply having students write a constitution for a club or role play the Constitutional Convention introduces them to the thorny side of government as do Boys and Girls State. The latter admit only a few students and usually ones who already have an inkling of the importance of government. How do we reach those who believe government is like the parents, nothing but a bundle of restrictions?
In a FL class, one method I find effective is a kind of story-telling. If Americans read, we could provide students with books to read and discuss. Students going through IB or AVID programs in high school get just that. But few students enroll in such classes. We cannot education after the fact, cultists are not amenable to education, only a redoing of their mentality and mind set. Education lays the foundation of clear thinking. And here we can separate the members of January 6’s mob.
There are two types of mob members, those who understand what is going on and those who do not. The latter are the ones we need to reach. Frank Figliuzzi, a retired FBI official, says exposing these people to a variety of sources and viewpoints can gradually deprogram them, i.e. give them the education they should have gotten in high school. The others, the much small number, have psychological problems, the many senators with advanced degrees from prestigious universities, what about them? Those people have to be approached individually. Dangerous ground here. We cannot psychologize political behavior a la totalitarians nor can we politicize psychological issues, i.e. manifestations in politics of a psychological tendency e.g. toward authoritarianism.
Which brings us to an even larger question: is conservatism itself a kind of authoritarianism and am I saying conservatism itself is the obstacle to good and fair government? If I could get a coherent view of conservatism, I might try to answer that, but conservatives can be quoted who say conservatism is an attitude, not a doctrine. The GOP had a doctrine of small government, low taxes, free trade, strong defense, pro-business, etc. But that went by the board with the shift to race and religion as the driving forces in the party.