New Year says “Hold my beer”

11 Jan

I think most of us have been looking forward to trying to forget 2020. The word “unprecedented” has been uttered so many times, it reminds me of a scene from the Princess Bride. I’m specifically referring to Inigo Montoya’s response to Vizzini’s use of the word “inconceivable”. Montoya’s famous quote is, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Last year started with impeachment proceedings about a phone call with Ukraine. It quickly spiraled into the year of Corona Virus, aka COVID-19. Followed by a summer of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, which devolved into riots in multiple US cities. These protests crossed to other parts of the world. The year was capped off by a very divisive election with accusations of widespread voter fraud in battleground states.

Not only was Wednesday’s storming of our nation’s capital conceivable, as we saw 220 BLM protests around the country turn violent between May 26th and August 22nd, but it was precedented as the BLM protest in DC itself turned violent. Businesses were destroyed and national monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial, were vandalized. The National Guard was ultimately brought in. The biggest mistake on Wednesday is assuming the planned protest would not turn into a mob.

I’ve heard friends and family say the BLM protests were sparked by justified outrage, where as the January 6th event was all Trump. Such a statement should be reviewed using the same standard. My thinking is as follows:

  1. We must agree there is no such thing as “good” or “acceptable” violence. If we don’t agree on such a parameter, then acceptable use of violence is based on opinion.
  2. Calling said violence justified is simply an excuse, rather than work within our country’s rule of law and our legislative process.
  3. Americans are granted freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assembly, whether the assembly is to protest racial injustice or an election makes no difference.
  4. Politicians advocating for violence act against our country, its citizens and the constitution.

Before proceeding, I’d like to be clear Wednesday’s event was disgusting and shameful, and I condemn it wholeheartedly. The participants who committed crimes should be identified and arrested. Many I feel came with purposeful intent. Whether President Trump had spoken that day or not, the result would not have been different.

I’ve listened to President Trump’s speech and read his recent tweets. I do not see him advocating for the use of violence. In fact, he plainly says “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices be heard.” On the other hand, the language employed by Maxine Waters, Ayanna Pressley, Vice President Elect Kamala Harris and others during the BLM protests included “there needs to be unrest in the streets” and “protesters should not let up.” They all added fuel to the fire in their own way. I doubt a court of law would rule any of them rose to the definition for incitement under the criminal code.

As to motivation behind both protests, it is ironic how both sides consistently dismiss the other. BLM is protesting racial injustice that the Right dismisses as exaggerated. Meanwhile the MAGA supporters are protesting the election being fraudulent, which Democrats also dismiss. The irony is with today’s polarized climate political discussions seem to be a zero sum game of win or lose/ right or wrong. The cascading dimensions associated with each group seem to be not only intertwined, but on the line (including mask wearing and school closures). If only people could separate the wheat from the chaff.

With big tech tilting the table and no one listening to the other, I do not see this gordian knot unraveling anytime soon. I hoped with a new President, people would take a chill pill. But this weekend’s rhetoric around impeachment with nine days left, drawing up criminal proceedings and canceling any and all politicians associated with President Trump, we may be continuing the new normal.

So grab a beer, 2021 is here.