The actions of a few quashed any hope ushered in with the new year. Six days was all it took to remind us how fragile the fabric of our country is; it continues to disintegrate in front of our eyes. Although I don’t think the obvious needs to be said, I will make it clear… rioting is wrong… no matter who or what group does it. Watching the rioters fill the White House while being bombarded by Twitter updates, made me sick to my stomach. The images echoed the captivating horror I saw as a middle schooler on 9/11. That night I struggled to find any sleep. I was in and out of sleep thinking what the fallout of this event would bring.
The next day, work provided a fleeting relief from my unresolved internal conflict. Throughout the day, there was a churn in my stomach, signaling a growing anxiety. As I wrestled with this internal conflict, I realized that much of it was a feeling of guilt. My guilt was predicated on the fact that I voted for President Trump. And because of that, I wondered if I “enabled his behaviors” and the actions of these rioters. This of course is a fallacy. For example, we would never accept the notion that if the “Tou” robbed a store and “Tou” was Asian and had black hair… all individuals who are Asian and have black hair, must be robbers. When I came to this realization, it also dawned on me that this would be the club wielded to force conservatives or Trump supporters into self-censorship and conformity. It will also be the means to justify overt power grabs… and people who hate Trump will gleefully go along with it.
Am I being hyperbolic in my thinking? Perhaps. But the stage has been set, this is the narrative — if you supported Trump, you are guilty. And the dominos are beginning to fall. There are already calls to purge all Republicans in the House and Senate who objected to the electoral college votes. Conservative voices are being deplatformed across all social media platforms. Many report losing followers by the thousands. Popular alternative “conservative” platforms such as “Parler” have already been removed from the Google Store. Apple had also sent a letter to Parlar, forcing them to comply to “standards” or be removed from the App Store. And while I was writing, a tweet revealed that Apple has removed Parlar from the App Store. As of this writing, you can’t hashtag #1984 on Twitter (I wonder why)… There will be no quarter given to voices with different voices.
Perhaps Alexis de Tocqueville most clearly…
“Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.”
While it may seem “good” to rid particular voices or perspectives from various platforms, people fail to see that if the pendulum can swing one way, it is only a matter of time before it swings the other way. And when that swings happens, history has shown us that it never ends well.
Despite all of this I still have hope in America. She has proven herself resilient many times before. The principles on which this county was founded on are eternally good principles. And as Fredrick Douglass instructed America about the founding principles … “The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”
So I will.