First, Carlos, I loved your piece and you did a great job of reminding us to find comfort and solace in what we have. We often forget that the best therapy is at home and in nature.
I am a white American in a very brown family. My husband is Argentinian, my adopted daughter is from Honduras, and my son-in-law is Peruvian. All my in-laws are from Central and South American countries (or Puerto Rico). They left their countries because of violence and instability, as well as economic hardships, and they are now seeing the same horrors here. I believe, they are more shocked than I am.
Those events you mentioned were horrific and controversial and unacceptable. But, they were different.
The murders you mentioned — Malcolm X, MLK, the Kennedys — were all senseless and appalling, but they could be seen through the lens of a madman killing someone. Of course, none of these killers were truly working alone, but they were individuals who did the deed. If there was any sort of “official” encouragement or funding, it was covert. I see it rather like adultery. As long as it’s done discreetly, most people ignore it. But, certainly, the polarization, distrust, and racism of that time were similar to what we are experiencing now.
Watergate was similar to current events but also different. Again, covert, and involving individuals that are far from “average Americans”. I see the Watergate crimes much like Mafia crimes. Your average American doesn’t know a member of the Mafia or has even seen one. Same with the criminals involved in Watergate. They were not “one of us”. Yes, the president was involved but his involvement was covert, hidden, not an in-your-face sort of encouragement. And, others were very quick to condemn him.
The Vietnam War was a war. Countries get involved in wars for all sorts of horrible reasons and, on a few occasions, some necessary ones. People agree or disagree. Certainly, the Vietnam War was unique in its polarization of the American people. But, it was a war in a foreign country that felt very far from us in distance, ideology, and culture. Many Americans felt it had nothing to do with us. There was a great deal of anger surrounding the war but most of the public outrage was from younger people, people who are idealistic and, in many ways, innocent. They were right, of course, but their activities were viewed as the instability of youth. The faces I saw last Wednesday were mostly middle-aged and older. They don’t have the excuse of youthful ignorance.
What is happening now is unprecedented. We have a sitting president who has been sowing hatred, scorn, racism, sexism, and elitism for four years. Many who disagreed with him, even hated him, viewed him as a buffoon — very annoying but basically, harmless. They scoffed at the ones who warned that he was dangerous and that he was gathering an army of followers around him to wage war on America. From the time of his campaign, I believed he was organizing to be a dictator, to destroy democracy. Proof was thrown in our faces all during his time in office but nothing happened to him. When I expressed my concerns, many I know chuckled and said I was worrying too much, that he was a harmless loudmouth, that our democracy has safeguards to protect us from would-be dictators. I think we know now that our safeguards are greatly lacking.
He has ripped apart the fabric of the Republican Party, lowering its ideals and standards and yet, he managed to do that without alienating most party members. Political parties in the U.S. don’t change radically — their evolutions are slow, often too slow. In less than four years, Trump changed the goals and beliefs of an entire political party — and the changes were not for the betterment of all Americans. He is like a magnet that attracts the worst examples of citizens.
Unlike other times that presidents go astray, few have stood up to him, most have fawned over him. No matter how outrageous his behavior, his fellow Republicans didn’t seem to care. Even devote Christians chose to follow a man with the moral standards of a tomcat and a rutting alligator. How is that possible?
I have seen Republicans that I often disagreed with politically but still respected as individuals become Trump minions, believing all he says, following him like puppy dogs. I’ve seen people with high standards who now wallow in the mud of a man who only cares about power and wealth. I’ve seen Christians throw away all their beliefs and morals to follow in his path.
To me, the biggest difference is that Trump corruption has invaded every state, city, neighborhood, and family. Those who stormed the Capitol could live in my neighborhood and I wouldn’t be surprised if some do. Sadly, I know that I have family members (to whom I no longer communicate) who could very well have been in the Capitol mob. Simply typing that admission makes me feel anxious, confused, and embarrassed. I have family members who are just like those insurrectionists! Perhaps, they weren’t there physically but I know they were there in spirit. I believe many Americans can make the same statement. Trump has destroyed families and friendships.
Did you see the Jesus sign outside the Capitol during the siege? That was chilling and I don’t even consider myself a Christian. Those thugs and criminals took Jesus along for an insurrection. They have desecrated all of Christianity with that sign.
I work with some Republicans and not one has said anything about the Capitol siege or about Trump. NOT ONE WORD. After Watergate, the Republicans I knew were shocked and apologizing for the crimes their president committed. Now, silence. These “good” people are backing a revolt against the United States of America.
Watergate was like a leg that has gangrene. Cut it off and you live.
The Capitol siege was a sign of cancer that has spread through the entire body.
How do save the body when it is riddled throughout with cancer? You may not.