A "DAY OF INFAMY" WE SHOULD HAVE SEEN COMING: As the Republicans in Congress scattered Wednesday to seek safety and protection from the siege on the Capitol, they were fleeing the product of their failure to stand up to for the Constitution they’d sworn to uphold. It was the toll for bowing to a dictatorial narcissist. Even as the mobs were overrunning the Capitol, Trump couldn’t bring himself to stand up for an election that he lost, continuing to claim it has been “stolen.” He refused to condemn the horrible behavior the world was witnessing. It was another tragically familiar disturbing display of tone deafness and dangerous behavior. For four years those who should know better and should have stood up – Republican leaders and office holders – instead backed and voted support for a serial liar and petty dictator. This is a nation built on the rule of law and trust in the system where the peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of our national stability. Wednesday that was shattered.
TRUMP AND HIS GOP ENABLERS FUELED A CAPITOL COUP ATTEMPT: Shortly after supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, an alarmed Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to urge his father’s backers to stop. He tweeted: “This is wrong and not who we are.” No, Donald Jr., this exactly who you are. The disgraceful invasion of the People’s House to deny the people’s will is an ugly last step in a march toward autocracy that the president has led and his followers have happily joined. The president has shattered norms and possibly broken the law in his refusal to concede to President-elect Joe Biden and in his efforts to overturn the election’s results without a shred of evidence that widespread fraud was involved. Republicans, including members of Congress from North Carolina, have either joined him or meekly declined to correct him. All this outrage about a fiction. And all this after Trump and his supporters railed against the summer protests by people upset by very real and deadly police brutality. The mob invasion was hardly brought about only by zealous members of the Trump cult, or even by the increasingly unstable president. This was brought about by many of the same lawmakers who scurried for cover inside the breached Capitol. The credibility of a presidential election isn’t something that members of Congress should toy with on the national stage. Some will believe it’s real, that the election was stolen by Democrats who added “millions of fraudulent votes.” And if they believe that, if they’ve been told that by the president and urged by him to come to Washington to protest, then chaos is all but inevitable.
NC REPUBLICANS IN U.S. HOUSE EMPOWER A LIAR AND HIS INSURRECTIONISTS: Make no mistake, there are seven members of Congress from this state who, evidenced by their votes, put themselves in with the vandalizing and looting insurrectionists who overran and ransacked the Capitol. Just a few days into the current congressional session and they’ve mocked the trust of the voters who put them in office. Talk is cheap and hollow. Action – voting to falsely claim that ballots cast in Pennsylvania and Arizona were illegitimate – tell the world they’re in league with the serial liar who is our president and the thugs who rampaged through the Capitol. The logical conclusion, from how they voted early Thursday morning (and NOT WHAT THEY MIGHT SAY) is that seven North Carolina Republican representatives -- Dan Bishop; Ted Budd; Madison Cawthorn; Virginia Foxx; Richard Hudson; Greg Murphy; and Rep. David Rouzer – don’t believe those 26 from Arizona and Pennsylvania have a right to their seats. That, tragically, is the real mark of illegitimacy. They have failed those they represent and the Constitution they’ve sworn to uphold. They are the ones who’s place in office should be questioned and challenged.
THE MYTH OF AMERICAN INNOCENCE: The days leading up to the mob invasion of the Capitol presented several echoes of the intricately planned coup d’état carried out against the city government of Wilmington, N.C., in 1898. White supremacists overthrew a government that had been elected through an alliance that included African-Americans and white progressives. As Mr. Hofstadter and Michael Wallace report in “American Violence: A Documentary History,” military units poured into Wilmington from other places to assist the new regime: “African continued to cringe before Caucasian as the troops paraded the streets, as the guns barked and the bayonets flared, for a new municipal administration of the ‘White Supremacy’ persuasion.” Untold numbers of Black citizens were killed, and well-known Wilmingtonians were banished from the city under pain of death. As was the case at the Capitol on Wednesday, the Wilmington mob was especially keen to silence journalists who had resisted the rising tide of racism. To that end, the marauders burned the Black-owned Daily Record, whose editor, Alexander Manly, fled the city. White supremacists eventually took control of the state, bringing down the curtain on Black political participation. Given this history, it is in no way a coincidence that North Carolina remains a battleground where African-Americans continue to struggle against the effects of gerrymandering and other forms of suppression. The mob assault on the Capitol was an outgrowth of what came before. It followed a heavily racialized campaign by a president who falsely portrayed African-American cities as hot spots of voting fraud, while endearing himself to white supremacists. Republicans who subscribe to this toxic strategy deserve to be held responsible for the chaos it reaps. For shades of things to come, they need look no further than the damaged Capitol and the dead and injured who were hauled away on gurneys.
JOSH HAWLEY DESERVES CONSEQUENCES. LOSING HIS BOOK DEAL IS A GOOD START: It’s reasonable to debate which ideas fall outside the spectrum of acceptable public opinion: Attitudes change, sometimes very quickly, and these boundaries are constantly being renegotiated. But we should all agree that there are some views and behavior that must be met with social, professional and moral sanction. Or, to borrow Hawley’s own words: “It’s community that helps us find moral purpose.” Inciting, enabling or participating in an attempted insurrection aimed at overturning the results of a free and fair election should fall into that category. Everyone else who played a role in Wednesday’s disgraceful spectacle deserves far more than the annoyance of losing a prestigious publisher and being forced to hunt for a down-market conservative alternative. If the prospect of canceling a book on an unrelated subject in response to the attack on the Capitol raises First Amendment-adjacent concerns for you, recent days offer some creative suggestions for how to reestablish the moral guardrails that were plowed down during the Trump era. Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes magazine, has announced that if private companies hire Trump press officials who lied to the public, “Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie.” Publishers can certainly hold authors who peddled lies about the 2020 election to a more rigorous fact-checking standard than currently is the norm. CNN’s Brian Stelter suggested that some Trump officials were searching unsuccessfully for agents to represent them as they try to sell book and film projects. It’s possible to believe in someone’s right to speak without helping them to make money doing so. And certainly, high-profile institutions can opt to not offer paid speaking opportunities, board seats or prestigious appointments to people who have demonstrated themselves self-interested to the point of recklessness or worse. But with those caveats in place: Five people are dead because of the mendacity Josh Hawley legitimized, and he’s the victim? He, and everyone else who made Wednesday possible, should be beside themselves with shame. The rest of us should help them feel it, for as long as it takes.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
WILLIAM MCLENDON: AN ASSAULT ON OUR FRAGILE DEMOCRACY: As a 10-year old I remember vividly the radio news on Dec. 7, 1941 that a Japanese air attack had sunk much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet killing several thousand Americans at Pearl Harbor. As a 70-year old on Sept. 11, 2001, I was anguished by the death and destruction the world watched that day as planes crashed into the Twin Towers. As a 90-year old, I watched Wednesday in disbelief as a U.S. president urged a mob of supporters to invade the Capitol while the Senate and House were in session to confirm election results. This symbol of our almost 250-year-old democracy was assaulted and our elected leaders rushed to safety while a mob desecrated their meeting places. Once again, our fragile democracy has been violently assaulted. Hopefully the latest challenge can inspire all Americans to continue the essential efforts to preserve and enhance this unique nation.
SUZANNE MATTHEWS: WE NEED TO BLAME TRUMP VOTERS, TOO: Reporting on the havoc in the Capitol places the blame squarely on the president for inciting it. However, let’s not forget that four years ago he was put in place by his base of voters, with some 74 million of them voting for him in 2020. We need to hold every Trump voter accountable for this tragic event. Over the past four years, President Trump has shown that he is a pathological liar and a racist, and is willing to openly engage in criminal activity to advance his own power. Yet Trump supporters chose to turn a blind eye to his crimes and incompetence, enthusiastically showing up at his rallies, cheering at his insults and slurs, and wildly applauding his conspiracy theories. I do not for one second believe that Wednesday’s rampage was the work of a small group of extremists. What we saw was the natural conclusion of a massive number of voters who have completely lost their moral integrity. The challenge to our country is not how to get rid of Mr. Trump, but how to restore a sense of morality and social responsibility.
WILLIAM WILSON: TRUMP SHOULD FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES OVER INVASION OF CONGRESS: The scenes of protesters storming the U.S. Capitol were surreal and sickening. It is beyond comprehension that these actions are happening because the president won’t accept the legal and lawfully executed will of the majority of U.S. voters and spews inflammatory lies to incite his base. His words on Wednesday met every criteria for the definition of a coup, and the crowd’s behavior met every definition of sedition. Until now, I thought Trump should be allowed to go away and not have any federal prosecution follow, but this behavior has shown more clearly his intention to take over the government. He needs to be formally charged with treason and held accountable for his atrocious and traitorous behavior. Without such accountability our democracy, a source of American pride for over 200 years and the envy of the world for much of that time, will die an ugly death.