For me the message that has resonated the most after the shocking events in our nations Capitol Wednesday were words that came from an organization that serves farmers.
We must come together, the message said. Not as farmers or city workers. Not as suburbanites. Not as environmentalists. Not as Republicans or Liberals. So-called moderates, Libertarians, Antifa, Proud Boys, or whatever.
We must all come together. As Americans. We must put aside bitterness. Disappointment. Outrage. We must rally instead behind the principles that forged our great nation in a time of great and desperate division and which has ultimately held us together through two world wars and more besides.
We must do this. Because we cannot sustain our Republic, and our liberty, if we dont.
I have been in the news business for going on 30 years now. And I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times Ive felt compelled to write an editorial. Particularly an editorial about politics.
I much prefer to focus on telling a good story. I like writing about farmers. Oil and gas workers. I love gee-whiz, aint that cool science. Its my goal every day to help people understand the science in their everyday lives, without ever realizing Ive taught them anything particular about that at all.
Given that I have a degree in chemistry, and the writing bug since I was 6 years old, I am ideally suited to this mission. That is where my head is most of the time. But what I saw happening Wednesday afternoon could not be denied, and it demands my words now as a patriotic American citizen.
I saw men and women carrying Trump flags, and Confederate flags, and wearing Make America Great Again hats, chanting something that sounded like Fight for Trump in our Capitol, the hallowed halls of the people.
Ill agree that some of them did look relatively harmless, strolling along a roped corridor like high schoolers sneaking into the teachers lounge for a soda. But others carried weapons. And some planted pipe bombs. A woman was shot, and at least one Capitol police officer has since died of injuries sustained during the conflict.
To say what I saw was intimidating is to understate it dramatically. It was terrifying, and I was not even there in person.
Moments after posting an article about this mob swarming the Capitol, I was confronted by conspiracy theories that somehow were already circulating. It was Antifa, I was told in no uncertain and scolding terms. A closely cropped photo of some guy in horns was posted as some kind of murky proof.
The individuals name, I later learned, is Jake Angeli, a longtime, well-known Trump supporter. The sign he was carrying, oh so carefully cropped out, said Q sent me. The individual scolding me with this proof failed to mention Angelis true purpose at the BLM rally was to heckle them, and to maybe recruit followers.
Weve reached a moment in time where people seem to think nothing of bending photographs, videos, and other details online to fit whatever reality they most want to believe in. This has not come about all at once. I have seen it creeping upon us over the last two decades in my social media feeds.
As a reporter, I have always welcomed all walks of life on my feed. Republicans. Moderates. Liberals. Libertarians. You name it. They are there. I appreciate all of them. They help me see the world through their eyes and educate me as I decide what is worth my words on any given day.
But its also been disturbing to watch over the years as alternate realities have risen to life, with such devoted adherents that you do not dare utter one word of disagreement.
I have even been unfriended over such things. The latest was when I pointed out to an old classmate that Trump supporters are not necessarily supporting him because they are racist. I thought a better understanding of why folks actually supported him might help my liberal friend understand why Democrats are not doing well in so-called fly-over country. For the record, Ive been unfriended by conservatives as well, but I digress.
Theres now a sect in my feed that firmly believes vaccines are harmful. If they were, Ive pointed out, you would see a lot more people suffering, since weve vaccinated literally everyone for decades. Not to mention, the scientist who first made the claim has since admitted he faked his study.
Theres another group convinced Hillary Clinton runs a porn ring in a pizza parlor. Still. Even after some poor soul showed up at said pizza parlor with a gun. That allegation was made up by a guy who later admitted he wrote that story just to boost Internet traffic. It certainly worked.
More recently, theres been an even more outrageous claim that Lady Gaga is drinking stressed out childrens blood to remain young. The photo for that particular myth-information came from an episode of a television horror series.
The folks who believe these outrageously false things are all people I know. People I consider intelligent. Some of them are attorneys. Others are teachers. None of them are stupid. Yet, seemingly, the more outrageous the claim, the more likely they are to take it up, post it, and then fervently argue for it against all comers. Even when it is provably false. The truth, seemingly, has no traction.
This dynamic has culminated in the violence we saw in the Capitol, where men like Angeli, an enthusiastic Trump supporter and QAnon devotee, bragged about, what to me anyway, is unimaginable. Assaulting our Capitol. Intimidating our lawmakers with violence. Talking about bullet boxes instead of ballot boxes and telling elected officials to toss ballots that they have somehow determined from afar are illegitimate or else.
The fact is that we have the worlds best legal process and it has already examined theses allegations of election fraud and found that there isnt just too little evidence. But no evidence. At all.
Charges of unfairness are serious, wrote Trump appointee, Justice Stepanos Bibas. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.
He and 90-some other justices in 60-some court cases filed by Mr. Trump and his supporters.
I can remember, as a callow youth who didnt really understand things as I do now, laughing at third world countries for this type of Banana Republic behavior. But I see now with sadness that there was nothing to laugh about. It deserved much more somber reflection than I was capable of then.
As tough as it may be to take, as angry as it may make you that I say it, we are all of us to blame for this breakdown of our society. There are no high roads here.
Maybe you are a liberal unable to understand the terrible fears that are driving the words and deeds of your Republican counterparts, which seem to you divorced from reality. Perhaps you are a Republican, doing the same in reverse to so-called Libtards who you believe to be truly evil. Or maybe you are a Libertarian, and thinking that makes you above it all, because you are neither of these bickering partisans.
But you are all wrong. All of you. I hope that what we all saw Wednesday, Jan. 6, serves as a wakeup call to you, regardless of which ism you claim.
Your opponent is not Darth Vader, and you are not Luke Skywalker defending Democracy. In fact, when you cast your opponent that way, you are attacking something foundational to Democracy, because you are ignoring the deeply felt concerns that your fellow American has. Its the equivalent of kicking a fellow American when he or she is down. And that is truly un-American.
I saw a scientific study not too long ago that found all these outrageous lies online are like mental chocolate for the brain. They fuel endorphins that make us feel good.
But its time now for all of us to stop consuming these toxic treats.
If something makes you mad online, stop for a moment and ask yourself who profits if you believe this item, particularly if it leads to something foolish, like storming the Capitol of our nation while China, Russia, and other countries that dont like us gleefully look on.
Continuing to consume these outrageous lies may feel good in the moment. But it wont bring any of us anything lasting. It certainly wont preserve our Republic.
And isnt that what we all really want above all else?
Rene Jean is the interim editor of the Sidney Herald and has covered oil and agriculture for the Williston Herald.
- Were the Capitol Rioters Really Libertarians? - Foundation for Economic Education - January 29th, 2021
- A Florida Senator Wants to Exclude People With Felony Convictions from the State's Minimum Wage Increase - The Appeal - January 29th, 2021
- A new Chatham Elections Board member was sworn in last week. This week, she resigned. - Savannah Morning News - January 29th, 2021
- The political beliefs of the Class of 2024 by race, gender and other factors - Duke Chronicle - January 29th, 2021
- Livorno, the Rebel City Where Italy's Communist Party Was Born - Jacobin magazine - January 29th, 2021
- HB79 Allowing Minor Party Members To Vote In Primaries Passes Government, Elections And Indian Affairs Committee - Los Alamos Daily Post - January 29th, 2021
- Mostly libertarian demonstration gathered outside of closed, guarded Texas Capitol Sunday - WJTV - January 23rd, 2021
- Groups across Texas head to Texas Capitol for "mostly libertarian" demonstration - ArkLaTexHomepage - January 23rd, 2021
- Wikipedia 20th anniversary | The libertarian internet dinosaur has become the worlds largest encyclopedia - Inspired Traveler - January 17th, 2021
- Marshawn Wolley: Like the tea party, Trumpism will die - Indianapolis Business Journal - January 17th, 2021
- How the right claimed liberty and made it a toxic word - New Statesman - January 17th, 2021
- What is a libertarian? | Libertarianism.org - January 9th, 2021
- 5 things the Libertarian Party stands for | TheHill - January 9th, 2021
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- Libertarian and Green parties cry foul over ballot change - Niagara Gazette - January 7th, 2021
- Libertarian, Green parties file injunction in lawsuit aimed at state efforts to quell third parties - The Daily News Online - January 7th, 2021
- Yellow Gadsden flag, prominent in Capitol takeover, carries a long and shifting history - The Conversation US - January 7th, 2021
- 17,000 Onondaga County voters have a decision to make: Should I enroll in another party? - syracuse.com - January 7th, 2021
- Sue Lani Madsen: End this madness of brother against brother - The Spokesman-Review - January 7th, 2021
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- Boris Johnson's lockdown rebels have gone quiet. But it won't be for long - The Guardian - January 7th, 2021
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- Libertarian Ron Paul: Legalize Bitcoin and Abolish the IRS - Decrypt - December 6th, 2020
- Why conservatives in the US today are really libertarians - Business Insider - Business Insider - December 6th, 2020
- Be Cool Like Kennedy! Donate to Reason, and Help Us Spread #HotFreedom - Reason - December 6th, 2020
- The Libertarian Argument Is the Best Argument Against Immunity Passports. But is it good enough? - Practical Ethics - December 6th, 2020
- From Libertarians To Nationalists, Millennials Are Shaping The New Right - The Federalist - December 6th, 2020
- Pinecone: The fringe political party saving the youth from political nihilism in Georgia - New Eastern Europe - December 6th, 2020
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- Opinion: Please don't let me bleed to death in the street - easternnewmexiconews.com - November 29th, 2020
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- Meet Marshall Burt, Who's About To Become the Libertarian Party's Only Sitting State Legislator - Reason - November 7th, 2020
- Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate puts a wedge in a race that is too close to call - WCNC.com - November 7th, 2020
- Newly Launched Chicago Thinker Aims to Promote Conservative and Libertarian Views on Campus - The Chicago Maroon - November 7th, 2020
- Maybe Jo Jorgensen Finishing With 1% Would Actually Be Pretty Good? - Reason - November 7th, 2020
- Libertarian candidates share conversation and coffee - The Wellsboro Gazette - November 7th, 2020
- Cotton win good news, say parties of two rivals - Arkansas Online - November 7th, 2020
- Libertarian Free Will and the Kalam, Revisited | Jonathan MS Pearce - Patheos - August 17th, 2020
- Floating Cities and Sea-Level Rise - an unsinkable idea - Anthropoce - August 17th, 2020
- When Joe Biden Tried To Paint Clarence Thomas as a Crazy Libertarian - Reason - July 31st, 2020
- Libertarian Assembly candidate calls for line item veto to rein in spending, elimination of property taxes and more to get rid of 'tyranny' and bloat... - July 31st, 2020
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- Trump Wanted To 'Throw Massie Out of Republican Party!' but the Libertarian-Leaning Congressman Just Won His Primary Anyway - Reason - June 24th, 2020
- Google's warning against the Federalist is why libertarians will lose fight over Big Tech - Washington Examiner - June 24th, 2020
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- Non-mask wearing fools - The Real Nurse Jackie - McKnight's Long Term Care News - June 24th, 2020
- Morelle with big lead over Wilt but absentee votes still to be tallied - WXXI News - June 24th, 2020
- Lockdown easing analysis: Boris Johnson's libertarian instincts returned... and he went further than anyone really expected - Evening Standard - June 24th, 2020
- How a fringe sect from the 1980s influenced No 10's attitude to racism - The Guardian - June 24th, 2020
- Radley Balko on George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the Libertarian Case for Criminal Justice Reform - Reason - June 17th, 2020
- While pro-marijuana parties thrive, other minor parties struggle - Southernminn.com - June 17th, 2020
- Letters: 'It is suggested that Boris's Libertarian beliefs were the reasons for delayed Lockdown' - The Northern Echo - June 17th, 2020
- OPINION EXCHANGE | At the center of that Supreme Court ruling were people - Minneapolis Star Tribune - June 17th, 2020
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- 'Where Are Libertarians on Police Reform?' Right Where We've Always Been. - Reason - June 13th, 2020
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- Santa Cruz Shooting Suspect Preached Libertarian Ideals, Was Pushed Over the Edge By Police Actions Against Protesters, Friends Say - SFist - June 13th, 2020
- Libertarian Think Tank Praises Pelosis Call to Remove Confederate Statues from Capitol: Slavery is The Least Libertarian Thing Imaginable - Mediaite - June 13th, 2020
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- Scared for their jobs, Iowa Republicans are gaming the democratic process - The Gazette - June 13th, 2020
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- Nelson lead up to 23 votes over Tarkanian - The Record-Courier - June 13th, 2020
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- Third Parties Unlikely to Wreak Havoc in 2020 Election - New York Magazine - May 14th, 2020
- Modest meat reforms would help Americans stay fed during the pandemic - The Maine Wire - May 14th, 2020
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- Drop off or in person, 8 p.m. is deadline to cast your vote in the primary election - North Platte Telegraph - May 14th, 2020
- Another ludicrous Thought of the Day from the BBC: The Bishop of Manchester assures us that we have libertarian free will - stopthefud - May 14th, 2020