11 January

Tests For Us All. Impeach Him For The Right Thing. We May Be Powerless To Prevent Injustice, But We Must Never Fail To Protest It

by Jon Katz

As I see in my Covid-19 test line in Saratoga Springs, I had this thought:

If I were going to impeach Donald Trump for anything, it would be his incompetence, immorality, and indifference to the suffering brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

For months he has spent his time trying to overturn a legal election while people all over America were getting sick and dying, in the greatest numbers yet.

Just as he insisted the pandemic wasn’t serious or real – many of those people did not need to die –  he insisted that the election was stolen from him.

He told an armed mob to march to the capitol and topple a government.

Between these two things, he has helped to kill almost as many people as died in our Civil War.

I can’t say which is more serious, but the coronavirus death toll represents one of the greatest and most lethal crimes in modern history.

For the third time in as many months, I got tested today for Covid-19. Three or four times a week, I get my temperature taken, and I know the Covid questions by heart.

I’ll get a test result in a day or so and plan to resume my life after a couple of days.

What bugs me about being isolated is that everyone involved knows for sure that I don’t have the virus or hardly any of its symptoms.

We live in a world where the abundance of caution has become the universal ethic of our time.

No changes, no risks, no liability.  It could replace e Pluribus Unum on our dollar bills.

I got angry sitting in my car, waiting for the line to move.

The coronavirus experience in America has been a disorganized and politicized catastrophe from the beginning.

If that isn’t impeachable, I’m not sure anything really is.

Both crimes are heinous, but the disastrous way he dealt with the virus is a humanitarian catastrophe.

Trump’s life’s backstory is avoiding responsibility or accountability for any of the wicked, failed, foolish things he has done. That story is going to change.

He grew up expecting to be bailed out by other people, and now he expects to get bailed out by tens of millions of people.

People like that always seem able to get other people to rescue them.

I’ve never known how to do that, and I don’t wish to learn.

A test of our current civilization is whether Donald Trump will avoid responsibility for what he has done yet again.

It seems like the Republican Party may let that happen – again.

I’m sad to see that for many reasons, one of them being that we need a Republican Party in America and the party as I have known it is disintegrating right in front of us.

Five people died in the capitol assault, but 400,000 people have died from the coronavirus, which, thanks to our President, many Americans still think of as a hoax or a political ploy.

One nurse in Oklahoma wrote eloquently about the patients in her hospital who died from the virus, insisting to the very end that they couldn’t possibly die because the virus wasn’t real. They quoted the President.

Trump made that tragic mess, as surely as he instigated the mob in Washington last Wednesday. He persuaded those weak-minded and ignorant people that they could seize control of the capitol and kill or take hostage two of our most important political leaders.

I had no idea that so many Americans were so gullible and malleable and manipulable as most of his followers seem to be. That was Jefferson’s worst nightmare, the people who stormed the capitol, wrapped in American flags.

I can’t say I’ve found much empathy for the rioters that stormed the capitol, but I did feel one twinge for them when I realized every one of them expected the police and the country to rise with them.

They had no inkling that they been fed lies day after day for months. Now they face jail sentences for years.

Many were surprised to see that the police didn’t rise and join them.

Every one of them thought they were patriots risking their lives to save the country, not traitors hoping to destroy it. They expected to go home to cheers and parades, they had done the impossible. Instead, they found FBI agents with search warrants.

They are responsible for what they did, for sure. But the monster who infected and directed them in this way is responsible for what he also did. It is essential.

Taking another Covid test reminds me that the pandemic is real. Watching those horrible videos of the mobs storming the capital reminds me that Trump’s crimes are real.

He must be held accountable for them.

Accountability is about morality, not about punishment.

There is a right and a wrong, a truth, and a lie. A society that can longer tell the difference between these things is rotting at the core. Leadership is all about morality and responsibility.

I’ve wobbled back and forth in my own mind about the proper punishment for Donald Trump; his crimes are enormous in scope and damage.

He has stolen something precious from America that will be difficult to restore. In our country, no one is above the law.

All over the country, business leaders, sports stars, Republicans, and religious leaders are calling out for him to be held accountable.

Sitting in the line for my Covid test, I thought about what justice means for those many thousands of people who died alone in their hospital rooms, gasping to say goodbye to their loved ones with their last breath.

Impeachment is a slap on the wrist.

I write this in their memory and their honor and in memory of Brian Sicknick, whose dream was to be an officer in the Capitol Police Department.

Elie Wiesel was right. There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

8 Comments

  1. Great blog. After almost a year in hibernation because it’s too dangerous for me to go out due to Covid, I’m angry. I’m angry and sadden that this pandemic has been handled so badly. I’m angry that some of the Washington Capitol police assisted the terrorists. I’m angry because I’m not suppose to get angry or upset because stress triggers my MS. I’m super angry at the Republicans who have supported Trump’s lies from the start. I’m angry because I don’t believe that the white nationalists don’t know that the election was fair and square. I’m angry at Mike Pence who came close to being hung yet will not fight to get Trump gone. And I’m sick of being angry. I want Trump gone and impeached. I want his enablers like Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin to apologize to Wisconsin citizens, and I want him to resign. I want Biden and his family and Harris and her family to be safe. I want to not feel like I have to pray nightly for their safety.
    I want my country back, and I want to not be ashamed to say I live in America.

    1. My heart aches more with each passing day for the suffering and hardships of our times. My mantra is “this too shall pass.” Wishing and praying every day for this to be behind us, and struggling to be a good example of how to endure during hard times.

  2. Jon… Good luck with your test results.

    I’ve washed my hands with Trump. Whatever is decided can’t be too harsh.

    But I’m concerned about his followers. Among them, education is lacking in critical thinking skills. We need to be more skeptical.

    Regarding cults: First question the object of adoration: Ask “what am I believing in?” Does Trumpism represent an ideology, an action or accomplishment, or am I purely hero-worshiping to some bizarre charisma? If the latter, do those “ideals” offer any qualities that I can apply?

    I’ve listened to Trumpists being grilled on reasons for their fidelity. They often stammer around or blurt out a vague or incomprehensible response. If I chose to “worship” a president, I would at least want to understand why.

    Regarding disseminated information: Why would anyone believe an unreliable source (even if a president) without fact-checking? Why feed your brain a “junk food” diet? Even well-meaning news purveyors can get it wrong.

    And, while opinions are free, I rarely accept purported stories, even from trusted sources, without verification. If you do, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  3. Watching how this is rolling out from across the Atlantic is painful and we pray we do not see any more unnecessary casualties in the coming days.
    Covid-19 and the election results are lies that Trump propagated and brought the country to its knees with blood in his hands. He refused to accept both and every single day he spread lies to brainwash his base. Those around him, supposed to be smarter and educated, knew he was lying but stuck to him for their own personal, and now we see, financial gains. How sad when some Covid-19 victims died still believing it was a hoax because Trump said so.
    Democrats and Republicans have to come together to bring this man to justice. He should not enjoy any perks and should be banned from running for office again. Those still making “excuses” should be banished from politics forever as they are not fit to represent the people they promised to serve. Pence and McConnell have to show some spine and true patriotism and take the necessary steps to get him out asap. It’s a moral and ethical decision for the country. They are still worried about the base and the anarchists who might turn against them. FBI has warned about the imminent dangers lurking in the days ahead, but who is running the country? With the information they have, can these anarchists not be stopped before they do any more damage or are they waiting for freedom of speech turn to freedom of action? The situation is too complicated and so out of control. I agree this is a tough choice but waiting for things to get ugly cannot be the solution. God bless America.

  4. My heart aches more with each passing day for the suffering and hardships of our times. My mantra is “this too shall pass.” Wishing and praying every day for this to be behind us, and struggling to be a good example of how to endure during hard times.

  5. Hi Jon – Great post! I too struggle with understanding what has happened to the America I grew up believing in. One documentary that has helped me change my perspective is on Netflix. It is called “Social Dilemma” and is worth watching. We can no longer assume that everyone sees the same reality. Truth is up for grabs. Also Shoshona Zuboff’s book Surveillance Capitalism takes a deep dive into better understanding how our lives are used by Big Tech. I hope you can get out of quarantine soon. I have already lost one older friend to COVID-19 but hopefully the vaccine will start to turn this mess around. Take care.

  6. I don’t think we have to worry about Trump ever running for office again. If this impeachment fails to convict and he tries to run again, can you imagine the attack ads? Every night we’d see that crazed mob storming the Capitol with Trump smiling and telling them “We love you.” A nice reminder in case we’ve forgotten in four years. The worst punishment for Trump (aside from prison) is to ignore him and treat him like a pariah … shattered friendships, no more golf buddies, broken business ties and no more media attention. Maybe Putin would take pity and invite him to dinner. One can dream.

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