I am angry. I am frightened. I am a lot of other things too. The many descriptive words that are appropriate to how I feel are not acceptable for print in this newspaper.
I have spoken and written words since last Wednesday that I am not proud of, but I meant every one of them and I still mean them and I hope the Lord forgives me for being brutally honest. I am not in the mood to sugarcoat anything.
I wrote before Trump was elected to office that he wasn’t only unprepared to be considered for the presidency, he was in every way possible unfit for the high office to which he was ultimately elected. I had people tell me back then that they wanted him to shake things up and burn it all down if necessary.
Congratulations, he’s almost achieved those goals. He may yet.
We are sicker, sadder, lonelier and more bitter with each other than ever. Lots of figurative walls have gone up between families, between friends and between countries that have long been allies with shared goals.
When I first began to write about my astonishment at the support for Trump, I was afraid, not of being personally harmed in any way, but of losing the respect of some in my community.
And then, sadly but predictably, I was immediately rebuked and have been ever since, mostly from white Evangelical Christians, who beyond my wildest imagination stood up to be his staunchest defenders.
Over and over again I heard that “conservative judges” and of course the big ticket item “pro-life” justified everything. He was going to protect the unborn, it was just everyone else he was going to run over and destroy if he could.
Pro-birth stances (in his case for political expediency) are not the same views as pro-life, far from it.
I decided back then that what I saw in terms of self-respect when I looked in the mirror was more important to me than the respect of others and that my job required that I speak up, even though the people I was writing for were part of the community I have lived and grown up in.
I also knew that I needed to choose carefully and honestly the words I want my grandchildren to read when they look back at these days through the lens of history.
Both of those are decisions that I have never regretted.
Today, I write these words with a different kind of fear that leaves me completely unsettled.
What I saw last Wednesday shocked me profoundly, but it certainly did not surprise me in the least. It was always headed this way. It’s what I felt settle in my chest when this man came to power.
And those events get even worse the more videos that come out, the more interviews these rioters give and the more people continue to shrug and give them, and this president, a pass.
Just for starters, they used American flags as battering rams to get inside. That certainly makes the NFL flag protest argument moot, doesn’t it?
And I can hear the “whataboutism” in my head; well what about antifa, what about the BLM riots over the summer?
My answer to that is this. The peaceful protests of any group are our right and allowed under the Constitution, but the destruction of property, violence and rioting are wrong in all cases and always undercut the very point a group is trying to make. It turns that group into worse than what it is protesting.
But there is a big difference between last summer’s riots and last week’s riot.
These MAGA rioters were summoned to the Capitol by the president himself for a “wild” time on Jan. 6. The rioters themselves have been quoted as saying they came for this reason in posts on Facebook, Parler, Twitter and even in quotes they gave for newspaper articles. They were incited by the president and egged on by his family members and the likes of Rudy Giuliani. They called for Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi as they entered the building, some armed and carrying zip ties. The president set them on his own vice president, who he was angry with for not doing his (illegal and unconstitutional) bidding. In what world could that ever be OK?
They placed at least two bombs. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head by a fire extinguisher. They desecrated the building, stealing things and spreading feces on some of the walls. “Hang Mike Pence” trended on Twitter.
I read news from around the world and the reaction of other democracies make me ashamed for our country. We have lost our leadership role on the world stage and our moral high ground on anything, certainly in matters of democracy. I don’t look for us to regain it.
And here’s another thought, a “whataboutism” if you will – what do you think would have happened to black or brown citizens if they had scaled the Capitol walls on that day or any other day?
I think we both know how that would have gone.
The scaffold and noose left on the Capitol grounds last week pretty much sums it up.
Margie Richards is a reporter for The Madison County Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.