Smart people saying smart things (1.23.21)

Smart people saying smart things (1.23.21) January 23, 2021

Sarah Posner, “In Q-Anon, anti-Semitism is rebooted for the 21st century”

Despite Trump’s repeated endorsement of QAnon, including hailing its adherents as “people that love our country,” only two of those Q-supporting candidates, Greene and Colorado’s Lauren Boebert, won their 2020 congressional races. Yet any sigh of relief that the QAnon freshman class consists of two rather than dozens is premature. This 21st-century anti-Semitism reboot, packaged for the personality cult of Donald Trump, is not merely a symptom of Trump’s ruinous presidency that will fade once he is out of office. It is also a flashing red warning of how deeply ingrained anti-Semitic conspiracy theories remain, and how easily malicious actors can incite hate and even, in an alarmingly growing trend, terroristic violence. Just as anti-Semitism has been throughout the centuries, this latest reboot is a mortal danger to Jews and an existential threat to human rights and democracy.

Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup Attempt. Here’s Why.”

The good news for the United States is that Trump’s self-coup failed. The bad news is that his supporters still believe the false narrative, the Big Lie that he won the election. Trump has not repudiated it, nor have the House and Senate Republicans who voted against the Electoral College results. Millions of people still think the election was stolen. They still support Trump the person, not the Republican Party, and many are prepared to take further action on his behalf.

As in the case of other coup attempts, the president’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war. Trump did not overturn the election results, but, just as he intended, he disrupted the peaceful democratic transition of executive power.

Unless the Big Lie is thoroughly refuted, we can expect more attempts to subvert the constitutional order from Trump’s supporters—and we still have to get through the January 20 inauguration. The president’s actions and his falsehoods have shattered America’s democratic norms, exacerbated its political divisions and put people’s lives at risk. Five people died during events surrounding the storming of the Capitol, including a member of the U.S. Capitol Police force. Many of the members of Congress who backed Trump’s efforts were themselves at risk of injury or death.

If we are to restore democratic norms and make sure this does not happen again, these congressional Republicans will have to take personal responsibility for their actions in support of Trump’s coup attempt. They must tell the truth to their constituents about the election and what the president tried to do in January 2021.

Lerone A. Martin, “I write this letter to white evangelical moderates”

Your support and silence helped create the insurrection. The ashes of destruction that remain at the Capitol are not the result of a sudden fire. Wednesday was no spontaneous combustion. It was a slow burn, a flame that was fanned by white evangelical affirmations and the even louder silences during the Trump years. Perhaps you feel my criticism is too harsh. But with political power comes moral responsibility. Simply put: to whom much is given, much is required. Yet, the majority of moderate white evangelicals counted the political cost and chose not to bear their cross. In exchange you received your political salvation: lower corporate taxes, pro-life judges, and a renewed sense of cultural power and relevance.

To you I ask: What does it profit a body of believers to gain political appointments and lose its own soul?

Fannie Bialek, “What does it mean that the insurrection was not surprising?”

The right response to this pain cannot be to hope the perpetrators have all learned their lessons, the ones that we who are not surprised already knew. The problem is not what was known and not known—that’s what being unsurprised should teach us. The problem is what was not done: the many incidents of domestic terrorism that have been implicitly sanctioned by a lack of response; the repeated incitements to violence by a president and other political leaders that meet sighs instead of censure; the proliferation of guns and militia groups and open domestic terrorist activity that is so rarely addressed by more than shock. Genuine accountability for this attack is necessary. To move on, even to some supposed prevention of future violence, would sanction such violence irreparably. If justice is not done here, the next attack will not be surprising again. We must build a society through accountability and repair in which we can again be surprised.

David Blight in Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (quoted here)

But in the minds of radical leaders healing could wait. As the House of Representatives was about to vote on the Fourteenth Amendment, [Thaddeus] Stevens declared: “in rebuilding, it is necessary to clear away the rotten and defective portions of the old foundations, and to sink deep and found the repaired edifice upon the firm foundation of eternal justice… .” The tragedy of Reconstruction is rooted in this American paradox: the imperative of healing and the imperative of justice could not, ultimately, cohabit the same house.

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