January 6th, 2021 will be a day read about in the history books.
What we can all agree on, without the slightest doubt, is that the nation is gravely wounded and we’re all feeling deeply hurt. We’re all in great pain, but it would be untrue to say all of us are in pain for the same reasons.
I do not seek to add to anyone’s pain. If you read the title of this article and it makes you angry, please feel free to read no further. I will not be offended, and be assured that it is never my intent to hurt or offend anyone else. Many people are avoiding political discussions right now. If it feels right to you to do so – more power to you.
If you’ve made it to this paragraph, thanks for coming along for a brief revisiting of some of the topics I covered in the article titled “Keep Out.”
In that article, I looked at some of the wider implications of symbols that are seen throughout the Adirondacks that have caused controversy. Some of those same symbols – in particular the confederate flag – were displayed proudly along with nooses and a plethora of references to antisemitism by the insurrectionists who broke into the Capitol building, viciously attacking law enforcement and desecrating state property. The insurrectionists’ goal was, unequivocally, to promote white supremacy as widely as possible. That they, by their own very strong volition, associate white supremacy with President Trump is a topic volatile enough to leave out of this article. As others have pointed out, even during the Civil War, a confederate flag never made it into the Capitol building. I dare say nor has anyone ever before walked the Capitol with sweatshirts saying “Camp Auschwitz: STAFF” or “Six Million Jews were not enough.”
I’ve already seen some local media promote the perspectives of people who attended and support the “protest” in question who seek to distance themselves from the blatant extremism displayed there. Such articles certainly aren’t unique to the Adirondacks, but examples such as this one and this one are certainly worth noting.
The common theme seems to be a circling of the wagons among conservatives, and a defensive promotion of the idea that overt Neo-Nazis and white supremacists do not represent the Republican Party. I am not interested to comment here on the veracity of this idea.
However, I believe it is true to say that Republicans are suffering a deep “brand identity” crisis that remains unresolved and may be so for a while, especially after the 6th. Not being a Republican, I have no advice to offer party members on how to do the soul searching necessary to decide the future of their party. Some North Country elected officials appear have already decided on the brand they hope to have represent the party in the future. I leave it to other Republicans to decide how they feel about following their leaders in the direction they’ve been going for the last four years.
I want to speak especially to some of you who are hurt and suffering but who have different political views than I. Like Mitt Romney, I’m not going to lie to you about the results of the 2020 presidential election, which was legitimate.
But please understand that we all know that your pain is also legitimate. We don’t have to agree on just about anything to exchange basic human empathy, because empathy and compassion are forces too powerful for even the most violent extremists to suppress. One of the best things that anyone can do, to mourn a great loss, is to let that source of great emotional intensity go. Just let it go. Let that source of anger and sorrow leave your life.
I feel that rather than just perfunctorily condemning violence and hate, a truly cathartic way of disassociating from the white supremacy on display on the 6th is to finally take a hard look at why you still have that flag in your window. I’m speaking both metaphorically and literally here. Is the statement really worth it, regardless of what statement you believe it to be? Is the emotional burden worth it?
Fighting for anything can exact a severe toll, as I believe any veteran or first responder would tell us. Aggressive political positions have benefits but sometimes serious drawbacks. The most deeply depressing thing about the insurrectionists who sacked the Capitol on the 6th is indeed that they were all quite ordinary people. It is a shorter fall than anyone thinks from being in the ideological center of a community to the ideological extreme.
Now seems as good a time as any to stop and think deeply about what causes and statements are worth our time. I wrote earlier that folks who insist on displaying hate symbols know that there are people out there who disagree with them, or they would not feel so defensive when opposition to these symbols is raised.
I very much see that you, neighbor with the confederate flag, are suffering just like me. I recognize that. It is out of deep empathy that I ask you to think about the path that leads that flag in your window to being a flag in the Capitol, and how horrible that path would be to walk. Let’s let it go, together, and find a different path to walk.
Healing can come to all of us who are suffering right now, if we all recognize how much there is to mourn. I am trying my best to do so despite deep pain, and the same is all I ask of anyone.
Photo: By U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli Tours the U.S. Capitol, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98666124
Please note that comments and commentary included on the Adirondack Almanack are those of the individuals and not the Adirondack Almanack or Adirondack Explorer.