Around the County

2021 is off to a bad start

By Pat Stuart
Posted 2/4/21

It’s highly likely that most of us celebrated the end of 2020 with some relief.

“At least that’s over,” I, for one, said. “And thank heavens it is!”

But, of …

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Around the County

2021 is off to a bad start

Posted

It’s highly likely that most of us celebrated the end of 2020 with some relief.

“At least that’s over,” I, for one, said. “And thank heavens it is!”

But, of course, it was not over except for a page on a calendar. We’ve just seen how the baggage from 2020 fell into 2021.

Where’s the new start in an attempted coup d’etat in the oldest and most revered democracy in the world, in something we take pride in calling a “citadel” and a “beacon of light” and “a shining city on a hill?” People, acting in the name of freedom and patriotism and the Constitution and law and order, trashing the very principles and institutions they claim to represent. 

As much as we want a fresh start — a do-over — life doesn’t give us one just because we put numbers to days and apportion days to months and years.

Like it or not, we drag a load of baggage along from one year to the next and one day to the next and one place on an arbitrary calendar to the next. And, man, did we get a dose of that on Jan. 6. As a statement from the American Association of University Women and signed by some eight other national women’s advocacy organizations said:

“This was not the beginning. This was an inflection point in years of hate and division incited by a President who does not care about our country or its people, but only about himself. He has stoked racism, sexism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, ableism, xenophobia, toxic masculinity, and more — allowing those who share his beliefs to come out in the open and act without fear of repercussions and wreak havoc on the seat of democracy. The failed insurrection at the Capitol this week was shocking, but not without warning.”

Nor will it be the end.

Worse news will certainly come. Everyone is sure that we’ll be looking at another Oklahoma City bombing or a Waco, Texas, or similar event. Thus, lots of investigations are ongoing, giving the political pundits on both sides of the issue much to talk about.

One consensus says that the breeding ground for the extreme brands of armed nationalism resides in rural, small town areas across the country.

That’s us.

You can’t get more rural and small town than us. In many, many ways, that’s a positive. Most of us would never want to live any other way than we do. We enjoy dozens of advantages over city and suburban dwellers.

So, why do the talking heads, the political analysts, the investigative reports, the think tanks — whether conservative or liberal — point to places like ours as areas where extremism, conspiracy theories, QAnon-type advocates, and most of our home-grown terrorist groups form and prosper?

Wouldn’t it be nice to say that such people don’t exist here, weren’t born and raised here, didn’t propagate their beliefs here. I’d like to proclaim that, assert that we don’t have groups that parse the Constitution and insert their own meanings into the words. It would be lovely if we could claim that our citizens aren’t susceptible to the big lies told by demagogues, including by the one just voted out of the White House — lies designed to incite and inflame.

Realities, like the fact that many Trump-appointed politicians and judges have called our 2020 election one of the most fair in our history, don’t exist for some among us. Maybe I should say “many” among us.

Either some or many, town and county officials or the rest of us, we hear a hailstorm of support for Trump and his lies; we hear condemnation of statements of obvious facts — like Liz Cheney’s words placing blame for the Jan. 6 events on President Trump’s shoulders. We all saw what happened. We were witnesses, yet the evidence of eyes and ears is not enough to overcome the big lie.

Why? Why does this particularly happen in towns and areas like ours ... places where we live relatively spread out and move in relatively small social circles, where we pick up ideas and “facts” and spread them as “the gospel truth.” 

On the other hand, why wouldn’t we implicitly believe what our fathers or our best friends tell us, particularly when their same “facts” bombard us from our primary news sources, like Fox. Particularly, too, when those same sources call anything refuting their lies “fake news.”

Their talking heads say, “You can’t believe ___” (fill in the blank). And, we don’t, never realizing that labeling the other side of a story as false is the prime directive of any competent propagandist: instill distrust of everyone but you and your message.

I know: I once worked with people whose jobs (and they were very, very good at their work) depended on how well they could twist peoples’ minds.

We’ve been propagandized, folks. And, we’ve seen where that leads. Our democracy is under threat from people just like us, who maybe are us, who believe the big lies and are willing to riot, bomb, hang vice presidents ... Perhaps, too, some stand willing to die for the lie, wishfully envisioning a transition into the history books as martyrs, legends, heroes, 21st century Earl Durands.

Welcome to 2021.

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