Every five years or so, I get to write on my birthday, and today, I'm making some birthday wishes. I mean, other than my usual requests of cat photos, jokes, chocolate and world peace (I never get that last one).
• For people to stop excusing what happened last Wednesday in Washington, D.C. As I wrote on my Facebook timeline Thursday evening: "What happened at the Capitol was illegal, period. It was an attempted takeover of a government building, which is why, according to Reuters, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia is considering seditious conspiracy, insurrection and rioting charges against those arrested ... . The president encouraged and advertised the 'event' in addition to endlessly broadcasting claims of election fraud that have yet to bear any actual proof (but tons of conjecture and conspiracy theories), and sought to disenfranchise 81 million voters.
"The rioters were attacking the very seat of our government, which should anger anyone who considers themselves an American. While they feared what might happen, the rest of us have been in fear of what was actually happening, even before Jan. 6."
Our rights come with responsibilities, which are often ignored. While we all have a right to protest, the key is "peacefully." Despite all the conspiracy theories about Antifa and BLM (and George Soros, because he always has to be in there somewhere), officials are finding that participants were largely members of far-right groups like QAnon and the Proud Boys. Trump message boards and sites like 4Chan and Parler were lit up with vague plans between the election and Dec. 19 when the president tweeted, "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
Arieh Kovler, a political consultant who studies alt-right activity online, told GQ magazine, "Once Trump said be there, they interpreted that as a call to action, as their marching orders."
• For whataboutism to at least take a timeout. Again, from my Facebook post: "For those who claim the Democrats have done worse ... first of all, the Democratic Party to my knowledge is not directing anyone to riot and loot (nor is the Republican Party to my knowledge). Second of all, rioting and looting is wrong/illegal no matter who does it. Rioters and looters aren't protesters; they're also not the bulk of the people at marches for social justice. Third, this is not the time for 'whataboutism,' not that there ever really is a time for that. Those who protested after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others were advocating for equal justice, not trying to force anyone to accept their version of reality; those rioting at the Capitol were trying to overturn the certified results of a free and fair election because they didn't like how it turned out."
Courts and Republican-appointed judges have repeatedly turned away challenges, and rightly so. Misunderstanding and disinformation about the process of counting votes has a lot to do with most of the "sworn affidavits" touted (which aren't evidence). Anyone witnessing actual fraud, such as a poll worker filling out someone's ballot, has the responsibility of immediately reporting it to election officials, not waiting till weeks later to post about it on Facebook. The burden of proof is on the accuser to provide actual evidence of malfeasance, and isolated cases that only have an effect on local races are not proof of widespread fraud.
• For reality to reign again. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Right now we have people living in different realities, and in one of them, sedition should just be ignored.
But in the real world and a nation of laws, it's a big deal. Those who participated in the attack on the Capitol, including those who egged it on, must be held accountable. People must know that words and actions have consequences if we are to survive as a nation. If this had been a group of foreign terrorists, people would be screaming at the top of their lungs for justice to be done. But these were our own people laying waste to our seat of government, so the same people who decried calls for unity when President-elect Joe Biden called for it are now calling for us to come together to not condemn what happened.
Yeah, I'm confused too. It'll be really fun to watch them try to claim that the inevitable restrictions (just like after 9/11) to come aren't the consequences of the actions of Jan. 6. Get the popcorn ready.
Lastly, despite the fact that I work in the media, I would love a slow news day. Just one would help.
One where a leader isn't trying to make sure he stays at the top of news feeds by posting outrageous falsehoods and provocations. One where I don't have to worry about my friends and colleagues in the media being killed, hurt or arrested because they're just doing their jobs. One where we think more about helping our fellow humans than depriving them of their rights.
And one where the most exciting email I open all day will be the one full of really bad puns. I miss that.
Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.