Much like every thinking American, I was struck with horror as the supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, forcing Congress members to flee for their lives. I was sitting on the couch watching MSNBC when Polly left for work at 5:15 PM, and I will still there when she returned at 2:30 AM. Then both of us watched as Congress certified the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, finally retiring at 4:00 AM.
I am sixty-three-years old. I have lived through Watergate, Vietnam, the killing of President John F. Kennedy, the 1968 race riots, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, 9/11, and a host of smaller world-shattering events. None of these compared to what I witnessed yesterday happening in Washington DC. Perhaps time has softened how I view the effects of past events on my life, but in this moment, I thought our democracy was going up in smoke from a fire fueled by President Trump, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and other Trumpist Republicans. In the midst of this nightmare, Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff won their congressional races in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate for the first time since 2004. A glimmer of hope, to be sure, but not enough to assuage my palatable fear as I watched armed white supremacists, Nazis, militia members, and other right-wing extremists take control of our temple of democracy, making a mockery of the rule of law.
The events of January 6, 2021, taught us how quickly people can be caught up in mass delusions; how Hitler-like charismatic leaders such as Donald Trump can inspire millions of people to do despicable things. That many of these insurrectionists were Evangelical Christians, should not be ignored. It’s clear to me that one mass delusion helped fuel another. These same people believe that Christianity is under attack, there’s a war on Christmas, and secularists and atheists are out to take over “their” country. On prominent display were followers of QAnon; people who are at war with the deep state; people who believe the US government is controlled by baby-eating pedophiles. Throw in a plethora of anti-science beliefs, and the mob that took over the Capitol yesterday is beyond reason. Anyone who has tried to reason with such people knows that they are beyond reason and facts. If people can uncritically believe that a virgin had a baby, a man resurrected from the dead three days after died, and the Bible is the very words of God and every word in it is true, it is not hard for them to embrace irrational (and dangerous) political ideologies. About all else, we have a truth crisis. Tens of millions of Americans have already bought into alternative explanations for what happened on Wednesday, including believing that the insurrection was fueled by ANTIFA masquerading as Trump supporters. I have several family members who have already bought into alternative explanations for what happened. No amount of evidence or facts will change their minds. Jesus is Lord, Donald Trump is God, and Democrats and secularists are Satanic.
I have no doubt that more violence from Trump supporters lies ahead. It’s only a matter of time before one of these people shoots a prominent politician or a group of them kill people whom they believe are evil, anti-patriotic socialists or communists (even though most Trump supporters couldn’t rationally define these ideologies). I have proudly worn the atheist and Democratic socialist labels for years. Recent events have caused me to question whether it is safe to continue to do so. Trumpist locals by and large know me as an outspoken heathen and liberal. These people, including one family member, are armed to the teeth. If rabid Trump supporters can do what they did in Washington DC on Wednesday, it is not far-fetched to think that local white supremacists and militia groups might commit acts of violence here in America’s heartland. Recent events have me seriously reconsidering owning a firearm; if for no other reason than to protect me and my family from harm. “What if” has now become reality.
I call on Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s cabinet secretaries to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office. Donald Trump provoked insurrection; a violent attempt to take over the U.S. government. While I am, in the main, a proponent of free speech, Trump has crossed the line, as have some members of Congress. They must be held accountable for their crimes.
If Trump’s cabinet is unwilling to do what’s right, Congress has the duty and responsibility to impeach President Trump. They cannot just “let it go.” Trump committed seditious acts against the Federal Government. Congress and the Justice Department must make sure that no future President can attack the pillars of American democracy with impunity. Doing nothing says to the American people that such behavior is okay; that attempting to violently overthrow the government is an accepted form of protest. It’s not, and that needs to be made clear to every American, especially those who are flag-waving Trump supporters.
It is evident that the insurrection was well planned and that some members of the Capitol Police Department helped to facilitate the takeover of the Capitol. These police officers must be prosecuted for their crimes against the American people. That so few insurrectionists were arrested is nothing short of scandalous. The various law enforcement agencies must immediately use all their available resources to identify those responsible for what happened on Wednesday and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
It is also evident — as if we didn’t know this already — that there are two standards of justice in the United States. That thousands of white Trump supporters can take over the Capitol and only 53 people are arrested — mostly for curfew violations — while (for the most part) peaceful black protesters are met with overwhelming government-sanctioned violence shows how we are treated depends on the color of our skins. Imagine what would have happened if it were the supporters of Black Lives Matter who stormed the Capitol and took it over. Why, there would be blood flowing both outside and inside of the Capitol building. It’s time for thoughtful white people to understand that we have a systemic racism problem in America. I call on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the newly Democratic-controlled Congress to take immediate steps to put an end to violence against people of color. No band-aid approach. It’s time to make extensive, comprehensive, and just changes to virtually every aspect of law enforcement and the justice department.
While I want to believe that better days lie ahead, I do fear that our beloved country will spin into chaos if we do not firmly deal with the events of January 6 and then work hard to end the injustices that have plagued our country since its inception. It remains to be seen if President Biden, Vice President Harris, and a Democratic Congress are up to the task. Will we have four years of FDR or four more years of the same old shit, new day. The ball is in our court, Democrats. We have the power necessary to effect true, lasting societal change. And the first thing Senate Democrats must do is return majority rule to the Senate by eliminating the filibuster rule. This is your time Democrats. Don’t squander it as you did during President Obama’s first two years in office. Your actions will show whether or not you have the courage of your convictions; whether you are willing to put the American people first.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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Very well-said, Bruce. I am glad you brought up a point the media, for the most part, hasn’t: a significant portion, if not the majority, of the hooligans are Evangelicals–or Christians of some sort or another. They believe in things that defy the principles of biology and the laws of physics, so it isn’t much of a leap for them to believe whatever Herr Trump or QAnon tells them. Their irrationality is, of course, the reason why Trump has his greatest support among Evangelicals even though he isn’t one himself; if anything, he doesn’t seem to believe in anything besides his entitlement.
Culturally, our empathy meter is set to see white violence as protest and Black protest as violence. — Brittney Cooper
I was also unable to stop watching the horrible act unfold. I followed the BLM protests through Twitter and was immediately struck by the difference in response. In nearly every city where BLM protested, curfews were set, and up to an hour before curfew all public transit was limited. Then the police surrounded the protesters, trapping them in place. At curfew they began their attacks and arrests for disorderly conduct. In DC, people were roaming in front of police lines for hours after curfew.
This attack has incensed me and your analysis of christian response to radical thoughts is correct. I have told my family that to stand with the psychopath in the White House is to stand against me, and they must choose. As non binary person I also am concerned with my safety. It would be easy to hide, but I cannot. The only way to stop this evil is to confront it.
I think this is wishful thinking. Dems won’t dare cross that line to impeach Trump. Again, how did we deal with Hitler? A very hard stick! You touch Trump, you had better be prepared to go to all out war! No sacrifice. No gain. I stand by my original message. You R dealing with a tyrant with some 73 million tentacles. Even when Hitler was arrested, impeached and in prison, he still managed to destroy Germany! You found it hard to visualize setting up a school system for children to be schooled in humanism. Yet leaving the 3rd Reich intact only allows them to renew their efforts within 4 years. If Trump were to die, this would be a tragedy. Others would take his place because 73 million 3rd Reichers will not be stopped. Not now. Not ever. Biden cannot control half a nation bent on its own destruction. Your Confederacy is in the WH. It is now their time. Trumps closest military general is pushing for a “temporary” suspension of your Constitution. The declaration of Martial Law. Control of the Press. Trump is not going to lose this one. He can and will declare Martial Law. Impeachment? Really? Democrats remind me of the Jewish people in 1930s Germany. “Well. Yes. It’s bad but …. it’ll just blow over. The Fuhrer (sic), will have to obey the Law of the Land. The USA was born in a blood bath. What’s that old saying? “Live by the sword. Die by the sword.” I see the one non-violent solution that could pull the plug on the ensuing violence. Biden, unfortunately, is not the man to do it. He lives on past glories.
Commentators who liken the events at the Capitol Building to the burning of the Reichstag Building in 1933 are absolutely right. The similarities to the rise of Nazi Germany under Hitler are stark: not anything like exact, history is never repeated exactly, but close. The similarities need to be addressed if this situation is to be reversed. Hitler’s ability was that he was able to identify the issues that could give him power, combined with an almost unique personality that attracted people to him, and a powerful rhetoric. He began with a people who were suffering, following the ravages of WW1 and the perception of harsh terms under the Treaty of Versailles,(though it’s considered likely that by the late 20s conditions in Germany had substantially improved, and that ironically it was the Great Depression in the US that brought Germany down again).
Hitler also had the perfect target on which he was able to pin blame, the Jews. Jews have always been distrusted because of our cultural backdrop, represent a significant minority so were unlikely to offer much resistance, so why not use them to be targets of hate in the form of rabble rousing? In effect, Hitler adopted the methods of religious leaders: powerful oratorical skills, an easy to identify enemy, a credulous population, and apparent solutions, all involving violence. Where I hope the US does differ in this lesson from history is that the tyrant has now been shown the door, and appears to realise, somewhat belatedly, that perhaps he has overstepped the mark. The danger is, however, that much damage has now been done and there are groups of Trump supporters absolutely convinced that the election was somehow rigged, and the US has felt no need to reduce the access of these people to firearms. Let’s hope that somehow the majority can win over this group without too much more violence.
The vast majority of evangelicals in this country have continued to support this vile person throughout his presidency. If not for the support of this group he would never have been elected and without their continued support he would not continue to hold such influence. What more proof do you need that their belief system is not only total nonsense but also very dangerous. The defense mechanisms they have in place to continue to believe religious superstition will be used to maintain their support of this charlatan
Bruce, to steal an overused evangelical word, AMEN. The parallels to the rise of the Nazis in Germany, as commenters have mentioned, are quite evident.
I have checked the social media activity of all the evangelicals I know and have asked my friends to do so as well, and for the most part we are met with SILENCE. Most of these evangelicals aren’t commenting at all. A few are posting Jesusy things like “God is in control” or “peace”. A handful are posting on others’ posts about antifa and BLM framing good old MAGAs. Some openly posted that they are sick of FB and going to Parler and MeWe. Good riddance. A couple have declared themselves to be “independent”, like they can’t handle the taint now finally.
A friend told me that several members of our childhood church went to DC, but she didn’t know if they were protesting or rioting.
This was a reprehensible assault on our Constitution, and it should be punished.
Democrats did impeach Trump just a year ago. But without Senate support, it’s just a technicality.
I was shocked but not really surprised by Wednesday’s violence. And I also find it amusing (in a this is crazy way) that suddenly, people who supported Trump in his admin are suddenly decamping. All the rabid hate, the child separations at the border, the attacks on the vulnerable (LGBTQ+), giveaways to the wealthy, screwing the poor, none of that was bad. But suddenly, when their power base is attacked they are scared. And still, there was a huge group of reps who are still preaching MAGA. I’m past believing that this is all just going to go away.
Our country may be screwed, and the aiding, abetting, and cowardice of the Republican Senate for 4 years is the reason things aren’t just going to be normal again. I just hope we can VOTE and MARCH and financially support the fight against the MAGAts. Because it ain’t going to be over even with Democrats controlling Congress and the White House. I have a glimmer of almost hope with Trump leaving, although it is conceivable that he will do something even more dangerous. He’s obviously a malignant narcissist and prefers tearing our country down now that he’s been rejected. I’m hoping that at least the military would refuse to allow Trump to use nukes.
“Biden, unfortunately, is not the man to do it. He lives on past glories.”
no evidence at all for this, Dale. And the dems are already putting in articles of impeachment.
Dale M. – We’re waiting with bated breath to know what your “one non-violent solution that could pull the plug on the ensuing violence” is.
I saw this on SPL’s site and I think it bears notice https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2020/10/27/what-you-need-know-about-qanon. There is more on their website and they have been treating the white supremacy movement seriously for a long time. It’s worth a good read.
I agree, Bruce. And Congress must pass some laws to prevent another Trump from repeating history. No more relying on a person’s honor to follow the rules. They must be laws, and they must be enforced. I am glad to say that in my community, Trumpers are starting to become ex-Trumpers. For many, this was something they could not condone or support. The fanatics are becoming fewer. People are sick of the turmoil, and they want to unite the community and get along with their families and neighbors again. It will take time, but I believe the nation will heal.
I was reading about the possibility that between the 16th and the 20th, there’s going to be a version of Wednesday at all 50 state capitols, according to ABC, but this was a site that is Native, I won’t give their link. I can get the poster link though. It sounds like a heads up was needed. San Francisco is supposed to be subjected to the MAGA protesters because Twitter is based there and they cancelled tRump’s account. A good idea to research these posts I found, just to be sure.
Maybe I am around a crazier brand of evangelicals, but the ones I know are all defending and supporting what happened on Facebook including references to BLM. I am glad I unfriended and walked away from the people still refusing to wear masks, and more but via other friends, some of their posts can still be seen on my Facebook. I actively protested Trump, with protests signs and all in my local area since 2016, so many unfriended me, and I unfriended them. I quoted this article recently so thank you Bruce for posting it. One thing I am concerned about is most of the left remains in denial about the desire for theocracy on the right and the extensive Dominionism out there. The kid gloves approach with religion in our media, has a few outlets talking about the evangelical problem out there, but not enough in my opinion.