America is an armed camp this Inauguration Day. Troops are stationed at the Capitol in Washington and at state Capitols across the country to protect our government against Americans who want to overthrow it.
No one can say with certainty what the future will bring. The next president of the United States is to be inaugurated Wednesday, but the FBI is vetting National Guard troops assigned to the White House to make sure there are no insurrectionists and assassins among them.
The barbarians, you see, are no longer at the gate. They are within.
They consider themselves patriots. Yet they threaten our elected officials. They engage in domestic terrorism to get their way. They dishonor the Stars and Stripes by carrying it alongside the Confederate flag, a symbol of treason and slavery.
Many of us are confounded by the changes that took place in our country in the four years Donald Trump was president.
Millions of people still adore the man. They still believe his lies, no matter how fantastic. They will choose loyalty to him over their country’s Constitution.
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn into office on the east portico of the Capitol with 30,000 people gathered to hear his address, the largest crowd ever assembled for an inaugural. But the military stood by with artillery and snipers manned rooftops because there had been rumors of assassination and kidnapping plots.
Civil War had not yet erupted, but Lincoln was forced to disguise himself on his way to Washington to become one of our greatest presidents because so many people hated the man and his cause.
Southern states believed they had the power to separate from the young Union, to destroy it, in order to preserve their right to enslave other human beings.
Despite claims to the contrary, the racism that ignited America’s Civil War has never vanished. For decades after the war, Black people in the South were murdered for exercising their constitutional rights. That’s actually an understatement. Black people were actually burned alive, raped and lynched just because of the color of their skin well into the 20th Century. They were denied jobs, refused permission to live among whites, forced to attend separate and inferior schools and prohibited from voting.
And many patriotic Americans, white Americans, were proud of this. You will find many of their ideological offspring today among those who are campaigning to overthrow our government.
The Republican Party, the party that gave us Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, is now the party of Trump.
Civilians armed with rifles walk the streets of some cities claiming they are there to protect our nation from its “enemies.” Those enemies include Democrats, the news media and even any Republicans who would dare to denounce their activities.
To renounce Trump, in the eyes of the insurrectionists, is to renounce America.
Trump might have stopped this uprising by speaking out in support of the Constitution and national unity. Instead, because his ego was unable to accept election defeat, he inspired the mob.
Millions of people voted for Trump and they believe in him still. Yet he has never loved them or his country.
Historians will have to determine how a nation as great as America chose Trump as its leader.
He is a malignancy, a cancerous mutation that has spread through a political system weakened by decades of corruption, toxic hatred and neglect.
Racial hatred, religious intolerance and bigotry born of ignorance must be actively and vigorously opposed or they will destroy us.
As John F. Kennedy, restating a famous observation, once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.“
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