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CSotD: Rushing to Judgment

Mike Marland (Ind) asks the questions I’d also like an answer to.

The least of them, I would say, is in the bottom left-hand corner: “Why are you so hateful, gullible and in many cases, so downright stupid?”

It’s not an interesting question, because it’s about a factor we should have known about all along. The interesting question is implied or stated in the others:

Why did you exploit the fact that so many people are gullible, lacking in judgment and easily driven to hostility?

Democracy is in a constant tension between the ideal of popular self-government and evidence that not everyone is capable of making good decisions.

It is elitist at best, and often racist or sexist, to suggest that specific groups of people are incapable; we always want to offer social mobility so that worthy individuals can participate.

In her later years, Elizabeth Cady Stanton proposed that, when women achieved the vote, everyone already registered should retain that right, but that, henceforth, people would have to pass a test to qualify.

This was about the time the suffrage movement quietly shuffled her off the main stage, and, as it happened, several Southern states later adopted that idea, perverting it into a plot to suppress the Black vote.

There’s really no fair way to insure that only people of good judgment participate in our government. We should, instead, guard against those who would take advantage of gullible people to build empires.

Granted, if we made it illegal to chase ambulances, sell worthless snake oil and persuade people who have paid off their mortgages or triumphed over injury and received structured settlements to hand their money over to predators, Daytime TV would collapse for lack of financial support.

I’m only speaking of preserving our political structure.

 

One of the shakier pillars of democracy is the belief that wise voters will guard against the villains.

Joel Pett (LHL)  notes the track record of powerful interests in exploiting the vulnerable, in which he is correct, but he suggests that the riots this past week have changed things, which I only wish I could believe.

 

The crocodile tears hardly counter the lies and frauds that stirred up the riots, and, as Walt Handelsman (AMS) points out, even the minor figures who fed the growing hostility bear a solid share in the guilt.

 

Perhaps not the same share as those in Bill Bramhall (NYDN)’s cartoon, who actively suggested the riot, cheered it on and continue to champion their false accusations, but enough guilt to place them on the list of subversives.

 

Perhaps we need some sort of Truth & Reconciliation Commission to sort out those in positions of leadership who honestly misread the facts from those who purposely fed distortions, lies and insane conspiracy theories to the vulnerable, as seen in this Pat Bagley (SLTrib) cartoon.

Individual members of the invasion must be held accountable. While some may have been caught up in the moment, they all recognized the illegality of what they were doing and most had traveled several miles to take part in that moment.

But those who summoned, incited and encouraged them should bear a real, not symbolic, share of the consequences.

 

I’m disinclined to believe everything I read, particularly in the wake of an event of this magnitude, but I certainly don’t agree with Steve Kelley (Creators)‘s choice of this moment to further inflame distrust and hatred of the media, for whom he works.

We need to know what happened, even if we should, as always, maintain skepticism of one-source claims.

I find, for instance, this on-the-scene report from writer Terry Bouton to be both compelling and credible, and the flood of resignations from both White House staff and cabinet members is discussed intelligently in this NY Times piece, headlined “Bravery or Self-Preservation? Resignations of Trump Officials Draw Skepticism.”

 

Rob Rogers (Ind) poses an issue many have commented upon from the very beginning of the invasion of the Capitol.

It’s important to pay attention when the resigned head of the Capitol Police says he requested two days earlier that the National Guard be placed on stand by and was denied.

And someone noted on social media that, when George Floyd was killed, news reports cited his criminal record, while, when Ashli Babbitt was shot in the Capitol, she was described as an Air Force veteran, not as someone with a rap sheet.

My immediate response was that it depends on whether those initial reports come from the police, who mostly have access to criminal records, or from family members, who are understandably prone to paint the best possible portrait.

Now Chris Hayes wonders aloud why, four days later, we still haven’t seen a police press conference.

None of this is necessary and sufficient to confirm an inside job, but it is certainly something we need answers to, and, if there is no Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it may well fall to the mainstream press to sort it out.

Which is okay, because the True Believers wouldn’t accept the conclusions of a commission either.

For example, behold this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Tom Stiglich – Creators)

 

( A.F. Branco – Creators)

It seems a bit disjointed from history to scream “Nazis!” in defense of an administration noted for its white supremacist adherents, but this Juxtaposition ends in a dead heat, given that the same administration insists on autonomy for private industry and yet whines when companies decline to help publicize its views.

(Note, too, that rightwingers have been critical of a law which shields Internet platforms from responsibility for the truth and fairness of things they allow people to publish, until it’s their own fables, distortions and lies they’d like to have uncritically distributed.)

 

Michael Ramirez (Creators) — a more balanced conservative — offers a far more thoughtful analysis of what has just happened, or what is continuing to happen.

I think he’s probably right, though he’s assuming a relatively intelligent and responsible electorate.

Which brings us full circle, because true conservatives are as optimistic and hopeful as true liberals when it comes to this 245-year experiment in self-government.

True, Watson, but history remains on our side.

 

Community Comments

#1 Mary McNeil
January/11/2021
@ 6:33 pm

Considering all the amazed remarks about how smart Hawley and Cruz are, I don’t think Ms. Stanton’s test would necessarily sort out the unqualified.

#2 Derald K Porter
January/12/2021
@ 12:44 pm

Sincerely don’t understand Trump enablers bleating “censorship” and “free speech” over Twitter, FB et al. The First Amendment applies to *Government* suppression, not a free-market non-governmental corporation enacting a policy to not allow incendiary hate speech designed to foment sedition. Give reading a chance.

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