One needn’t read Nietzsche, Hegel or sociologic discourse to conclude “God” and America share slabs in the morgue. Our gun-maniacal culture of violence fills judicial and legislative dockets with “leads that bleed.” Mark Meadows, slapped with contempt of congress charges, hasn’t given depositions before the Capitol Riot Committee. But, a 38-page PowerPoint and incriminating texts were leaked, including Fox News e-mails “directing” Donald Trump to stop the Jan. 6th incursion. Outlined was the former administration’s plan to overturn President Biden’s election, a handbook for sedition which included fake declarations of national security emergencies, fabricated foreign interference and wholesale invalidation of electronically-cast ballots. Cobbled from memos on overthrowing elections by law professor John Eastman (also subpoenaed), VP Pence was scripted to be a senatorial stopgap to Biden’s election confirmation. That impasse hinged on the lie China had somehow “gained control over our electronic election system,” distorting vote tallies. Ironically, the Jan. 6th riot and Pence’s patriotism and integrity derailed things. Given how society’s so fact-averse, prejudicial and susceptible to rightwing conspiracy theories many would have fallen for the scam.
We’re teetering on the edge of civil violence Northern Ireland once endured. Barton Gellman wrote a piece for The Atlantic recently in which he suggests “January 6 Was Practice,” and the GOP’s actively stacking decks, dictatorially, to decide the 2024 presidency. Over the past year, Gellman explains, Trump and his allies have tested legal strategies to allow state legislatures with GOP majorities to challenge and dismiss bona-fide vote counts. Processes preventing Trump from stealing the 2020 election are methodically being jettisoned. Even Secretaries of State powers to certify accurate elections are summarily being stripped so ballots against Trump and other Republicans can be tossed. Dangerously, a “politically-violent mass movement” has coalesced around the Big Lie that President Biden is somehow illegitimate. An estimated 21 million Americans (primarily underemployed, less-educated men) not only believe that fallacy, but consider violence justifiable in returning Trump to office. With an estimated 20% of our adult population detached from reality, coordinated acts of subversion, even a coup, are numerically possible.
Thankfully, justice prevailed in Georgia, where 3 men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 were found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault with firearms and other hate crimes. Having essentially hunted-down the 25-year old, they’ll be sentenced January 7th for his fatal shooting. Yet, 9 years after Sandy Hook, Congress still hasn’t restricted firearms, even vacillating on a $170 billion/year reconciliation bill necessary to combat climate change, expand health and child care, and increase taxes on the rich and corporations to pay for it. This year’s Defense Spending Bill ($770 billion ─ more than the next 11 top-spending nations combined) passed easily, however, despite costing us 160 million taxpayers about $5,000 each on average.
Johnny Cash wrote the song, “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town.” For open-carry states like Wisconsin, the “Baby Face” Rittenhouse acquittal (3 shot, 2 fatally) has deadly implications beyond its “militia defense” absurdity. Private paramilitaries are illegal, white-supremacist or not. So-called “minutemen,” defiant of curfews, strutting amidst roiling turmoil with assault weapons, are malevolent, brown-shirted mobs. Notoriously unreliable in battle (“broken staffs” Washington called them), militias, like the 2nd Amendment supporting them, originally enforced slavery. Now, that thuggery recruits police/military cast-offs and misfits, many with PTSD. Thanks to the Rittenhouse verdict, people with guns can defend shooting the unarmed, arguing any aggressive movement signaled the victim’s intent to use their own firearms against them. In Kenosha, even negligent homicide, aggravated assault; reckless endangerment didn’t stick. By wielding an AR-15, instigating Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber to physically respond (one brandishing a bag, the other a skateboard), Rittenhouse’s cop-wannabe vigilantism became a “license to kill.” “Have Gun, Will Travel” is America’s business card now, without the intelligence and moral clarity of Richard Boone’s Paladin.
Scott Deshefy is a biologist, ecologist and two-time Green Party congressional candidate.