Thursday, 14 January 2021 15:05

OPINION: Let’s not lie about it, Trump did this

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This is a response to Ed O’Neal's recent “Truth and accountability” article.

Let me begin by saying that I agree with him about the violence at our Capitol building: violence has no place in our society. The riots and violent breach of our Capitol Building are indeed a stain, not only on us as citizens, but our standing in the world. An attack on the Capitol building is an attack on all of us; it is an attack on the foundations and principals of our nation’s founding, principles, and democratic ideals; it is an attack on democracy itself.

For the last 75 years since the end of World War II, the United States has been a beacon for democracy and self-government throughout the world. In country after country, the benefits of a democratic society, our democratic society, have been seen. And because of our example in the world, we have led to this change. This attack on our Capitol Building, the heart of our democracy, however, has diminished our standing and has given a handout to our enemies. 

From China’s Xi Xinping to Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, all have never been gifted such an item of propaganda. They will use this to show their citizens that democratic self-government, even in the United States of America, is untenable. They will use this to further suppress freedoms, imprison or kill journalists, and imprison dissidents. We can never let this happen again.

However, Mr. O’Neal is completely wrong about who precipitated this event. Donald Trump is totally, purely, and manifestly culpable in the actions of these events. To say otherwise is to be totally captured inside the bubble of Trump’s delusion. To totally ignore the blatantly obvious fact that Trump led this to this is to be part of one of the greatest shared delusions in American history, and it is just that: a shared delusion. Let’s start with some facts.

First, this election was not rigged. No matter what the right-wing pundits of talk radio, Fox News, or One America News say, this election was not rigged. There wasn’t even a hint of it. You cannot claim, as Mr. O’Neal does, that this election was rigged when it is your people who spread the lies and further reinforce the idea, no matter how baseless, that the election was stolen. When your people are the ones creating the self-perpetuating spiral that precipitates the misinformation and doubt, you cannot claim to be the one who just wants to “investigate the doubts that Americans have on the elections results” as so many of these pundits and politicians have done. If you are the ones reinforcing those doubts, you cannot be the ones to claim that you are "just asking questions.”

In regards to the acceptance of election results, let’s look at two of Trump’s personal statements over the years. On April 25, 2016 at one of, then-candidate Trump’s rallies, Trump said, “… because of me, everyone now sees that the Republican Primary system is rigged and broken.” At an Aug. 17, 2020 rally, President Trump said, “The only way we’re going to lose this election, is if the election is rigged.”

There are three simple words for the information age: Look it up. It is plain as day. This man is simply incapable of accepting that he loses anything. It’s a serious personality flaw of his, and the simple, yet scary fact that so many of our citizens buy into his words is dangerous. They are suffering from a shared delusion that spells danger for our country; they are totally blinded by this narcissistic and sociopathic cult leader. And a bright red line can be drawn directly from Trump’s inability to concede to his election loss to the first non-peaceful transfer of power since the Civil War.

Second, it is simply a lie that Donald Trump does not stoke emotions, anger and hatred with his words. Mr. O’Neal cannot and should not whitewash the record here. Let’s call this what this is: total dishonesty. At one of Trump’s rallies in 2016, a 78-year-old rally goer punched an anti-Trump protestor in the face. Did Donald Trump disavow this supporter? Did Trump mandate that violence isn’t acceptable at his rallies? No, of course not. He offered to pay the 78-year-old’s legal fees.

At another 2016 rally, when an anti-Trump protestor got thrown out, Trump said, “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher.” The crowd cheered. He followed up with, “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.” Yet again, at another 2016 rally, Trump said to police members to “please don’t be too nice” when arresting criminals. The examples do not end here. Trump has called the free press “truly the enemy of the people.”

The examples also extend to his rally on Jan. 6, just before the violent breach of the Capitol building. I don’t know what speech Mr. O’Neal watched, but the language was obvious. Rudy Giuliani literally said “Let’s have trial by combat.” Rep. Mo Brooks said, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” You might say, “Oh well, those are just Giuliani’s and Brooks’ words.” But you should re-think this position. According to Mr. O’Neal, Trump doesn’t encourage violence. Huh? I wonder why the president himself would sanction such words. Should a president, no less one who is supposedly peaceful, allow these types of words to have any proximity to his orbit? 

But, let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s look at Trump’s words. At this rally Trump said,

“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats, which is what they’re doing and stolen by the fake news media. That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing. We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

Trump also said,

“Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about.”

And Trump, once again, didn’t let the media slide in saying,

“Our media is not free. It’s not fair. It suppresses thought. It suppresses speech, and it’s become the enemy of the people.”

But let’s look at one of the more brazen statements of Trump’s speech:

“We’re gathered together in the heart of our nation’s capital for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy.”

And he didn’t even let his own vice president slide:

“We’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. If he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution. Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down any one you want, but I think right here. We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Mr. O’Neal, what could one reasonably gather from these statements? Perhaps, that one’s country is being stolen by a “rigged election,” and that one may need to “save our democracy” by being “strong.” Huh? I wonder what that could possibly entail. If you thought that your country was being stolen, don’t you think that perhaps violence may be the answer? I also find it curious that Mr. O’Neal doesn’t think that words can lead to violence. Has he not heard of someone named Adolf Hitler and an event called Kristallnacht?

But, Mr. O’Neal might point out that Trump told his supporters to act peacefully in this quote:

“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

But since the country is talking about “1984” by George Orwell over Trump’s Twitter ban, we shouldn’t forget the term "doublethink." Trump is an expert at doublespeak; he says things ambiguously with ill intent all the time. Because of Trump’s doublespeak, his supporters are engaged in an extreme form of doublethink. In “1984,” war is peace and freedom is slavery. To Trump’s supporters, a president who riles up his base to “save our democracy” and “take back our country” which then proceeds to rampage through the halls of Congress is also a president of peace because he uttered the word “peacefully.” But, in “1984” there is also another instance of doublethink that Mr. O’Neal seems to make manifest: Ignorance is strength.

Third, I’m sure that Mr. O’Neal values the actual truth and does not encourage political bias when judging historical or daily events. Let’s remember one from a few years ago. Remember when Republicans were calling out President Obama for not using the term “Islamic terrorism?” I remember when one could hardly escape this diatribe from Fox News. Let’s make something clear, however, President Obama did not doubt that these acts were perpetuated by Muslim terrorists. Yet, Mr. O’Neal wants to muddy the waters and claim that this act at our Capitol was not drawn on by Trump himself. If we can’t get to the truth, how will we ever root out these types of radical extremism? 

Fourth, let’s think about what Mr. O’Neal is saying here. Trump has incited the worst attack on the center of our government since the Civil War, leading to the deaths of five people in the process, and instead Mr. O’Neal wants to posit Trump as the real victim here. In other words, no matter all the bashing that this president constantly engages in on his perceived enemies, no matter that Trump’s words led to the deaths of five people (four of whom were his supporters) we should treat Trump will bubble-wrapped hands, a cloth for his tears, and soft words. Yes, you heard that right. Instead, the thrust of Mr. O’Neal’s article is about the treatment Trump has received during this bloody, violent attempt at the overthrow of our First Branch of Government and the very real possibility that democratically elected legislators could have been killed. His article was not about the major historical event that our president encouraged an insurrection at the Capitol on the day that they would certify his election loss. Instead, Mr. O’Neal is playing the victimhood card. What a morally courageous stance.

Mr. O’Neal might do well to consolidate his losses. The true character of Trump has come out. We cannot put this genie back in the bottle and we should stop this whitewashing obfuscation. The truth matters. It doesn’t matter if you voted for Trump, Mr. O’Neal. Trump did something bad. It might feel bad to you. It might feel like a wasted four years, but we need to call this what it was. And it certainly shouldn’t be left to the people who didn’t vote for him to call this atrocity for what it was: an insurrection against our democracy by the sitting president, and on the day that would finalize his election loss no less.

Alex Auman is a Richmond Country native. He currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He writes about politics, ideas and current events.

Last modified on Thursday, 14 January 2021 15:38