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The Fire This Time

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Author 88318
Message Les Adler

Capitol Under Assault
Capitol Under Assault
(Image by PBS.org)
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January 6, 2021 now joins December 7, 1941 and 9/11/2001 in the dark and ignoble gallery of days of infamy in American history.

Not this time because of a surprise attack by an external enemy raining death from above, but even more dangerously as a foreseeable and virtually predictable uprising from fractures deep within the body politic itself, manipulated by a disturbed leader and tolerated and even encouraged by the political enablers in his own Party.

Donald Trump's insurrection against his own government failed, but what he succeeded in doing in his final days in office was to take the nation with him down the rabbit-hole of his own troubled psyche, leaving a country shaken to the core and even more deeply confused and divided.

"Madness in great ones must not go unwatched," Shakespeare warns in Hamlet, knowing well the corrupting influence of power and the frailties of human nature. And despite repeated warnings and unmistakable signs of Trump's instability, narcissism, sociopathic tendencies and increasingly authoritarian behavior over the past four years, and particularly during the past months, governmental guardians willfully denied the reality of what they were seeing. A reality culminating in the President's unbalanced and increasingly anti-democratic rhetoric and actions; most recently his absolute refusal to accept or admit an electoral reality verified by governments and courts across the land.

Even now, there are Senators like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, along with craven Congressmen such as Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and more than 100 other Republicans who continue to parrot President Trump's lies about election-rigging and fraud, defending the indefensible and feeding the miasma of untruth that carried thousands of true-believers, conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis, Proud Boys, and misguided and blind followers to attack the National Capitol, bringing death and destruction, in an ultimately futile effort to stop the democratic process of ratifying the election.

Unlike "Coxey's Army" of unemployed workers in 1894 protesting economic inequality or the "Bonus Marchers" of 1932 petitioning for cash payment for their World War I service during the depth of the Great Depression, "Trump's Army" was no spontaneous movement of desperate citizens for equality or justice. Instead, it was the deliberate creation of a disturbed and amoral President obsessively focused on mobilizing his "base" to pressure Congress by any means necessary to force lawmakers to overturn a democratic election. In short, an undemocratic power-play sustained and enabled by multiple purveyors of his self-serving delusions and unremitting lies: essentially an attempted coup to keep Trump in power and assuage his deeply wounded ego.

"Reality is that which, when you don't believe in it, doesn't go away," the Conservative thinker Peter Viereck once wrote, a statement of particular significance today when denial of the reality of a pandemic has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives, when denial of climate change threatens the future well-being of millions, and when the blindness, incompetence and furious denial of reality by a 'mad' king threatens to further undermine both the nation's political and psychological stability.

Recovery from the trauma of this tragic descent into madness may be possible, but not before an effective truth serum has been developed capable of providing "herd immunity" against the highly-infectious virus of untruth and denial of reality that has characterized Trump and his Era.

 

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Les Adler is professor emeritus of history in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University. A specialist in twentieth century American history, his academic publications have dealt with America during the Cold War Era and on (more...)
 
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