On Jan. 6, 2021 the world bore witness to the power of words and the danger of lies.
On that date, the home of the longest lasting democracy in the world was brutally assaulted as rioters forcibly disrupted the counting of electoral college ballots that would confirm the election of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. as president of the United States.
The efforts of those dissidents ultimately failed but in the wake of the melee five lives were lost and America, in a sense, lost its soul.
The Commander in Chief, outgoing President Donald Trump, along with his cadre of henchmen, incited the insurrection. Articles of impeachment have been drawn and triggering the 25th Amendment to dislodge Trump from office is being discussed.
Warnings of further instability and militant actions now cast a pall on Jan. 20, the day President Biden will officially assume office after his inauguration. It has been reported that for the first time ever, all 50 State Houses are under threat of violent attack as that day approaches.
The FBI and authorities are now in a race to uncover plots and plans so the much-heralded “peaceful transition of power” can occur without further conflict.
Around the globe the macabre spectacle last week drew rebuke as it should. Hooligans may have donned cloaks of patriotic virtue, but their contempt for democracy as most of us understand it was in full view. The extent of their folly cannot and should not be dismissed as misguided chicanery. People need to think for themselves and not fall for the dictates of charlatans.
But we live in dangerous times. The coming days and weeks will require patience and resolve. Resolve to vanquish miscreants and patience to lead those willing to open their mind to something bigger, something better.
Down the way along the National Mall in Washington, DC, monuments provide points of reflection for Americans and others interested in the history of their democracy. From creation of the United States, through civil war, world wars and civil rights movements, the concepts of freedom and democracy stand resolute.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the country’s longest-serving president, oversaw the New Deal and shepherded the United States through the Second World War. Despite suffering from polio he led the country through the most trying of times. His wife Eleanor coined the phrase “with rights come responsibilities.” Her work in the FDR administration earned her the notoriety of being the only First Lady recognized as part of a presidential memorial.
There’s a side story to that secondary monument erected some 50 years after FDR’s passing in 1945. Having a clue of his place in history he summoned an adviser in 1941 and laid out his wishes: “If any memorial is erected to me, I know exactly what I should like it to be. I should like it to consist of a block about the size of this (putting his hand on his desk) and placed in the center of that green plot in front of the Archives Building. I don’t care what it is made of, whether limestone or granite or whatnot, but I want it plain without any ornamentation, with the simple carving, ‘In Memory of ____’.”
Understanding history and context – juxtapose that incredible humility with the character currently exiting the White House. It is appalling how far the United States has fallen.
The ongoing lies and rhetoric that resulted in the Capitol fiasco would never have got the traction it did without participants on social media egging it on. The need to hold those platforms and their patrons to account, has never been more important or critical to democracy.
The power of words and the danger of lies has never been more apparent.
Effective Jan. 14, the Advertiser will be renewing our efforts to ensure misinformation, conspiracy theories and hateful, divisive rhetoric never appear on our social media pages.
We will immediately delete such comments and may also permanently ban those making them.
More details will be announced on Facebook this week.