On Standards and Principles

What is our guide

The shock of the events of this week have only begun to wear off; and then only the raw jagged edges of that shock. The full impact to my senses will take weeks and perhaps months. It’s been said a thousand times by now; you’ve all heard it I’m sure.

I never thought I’d see the day when the United States Capital would be overrun.

And yet here we are.

Over the years there have been many days that have shocked us, saddened us, horrified or shook us. We’ve witnessed untold tragedy, pain, suffering savagery. We’ve seen human pain brought on by craven humanity. And as each of those events have played out, I’ve tried to resist the temptation to lurch into the ‘politics’ of it all. I’ve tried to observe a period of calm reflection and deliberate fact-finding before commenting, before passing judgements and prevent rushing to conclusions that are inappropriately forged in the fire of passion.

And that’s good; calm minds careful with facts, and processes and deliberate understanding of the events produce superior conclusions and prevent mistakes both in facts as they are known and in causing rifts in relationships between people who might be impacted.

However, I live in a world where such deliberate reflections are not observed by the society that we live in. Like it or not, we exist in a world that is impacted by Twitter, by cable news and its 24×7 drumbeat of information. I am finding that if I take too long to raise my voice and to make myself heard, the moment is lost, the next crisis has pushed this one to the side and the events have been shaped by those who yell; yell loudest and first.

So, I am going to try my best to be quick and be good.

This past Wednesday, January 6, Trump supporters gathered in Washington DC to support President Trump and protest the election that took place this past November. At some point during this rally, this protest, a non-trivial subset of the peaceful protesters overpowered the Capital Police, forced their way into the Capital building where a joint session of congress was taking place, forced lawmakers to evacuate the building and rioted and vandalized the Capital building leaving only after hours of such behavior.

They are the facts as we know them. The details of the day’s events, the names of the perpetrators, the crimes they committed have yet to be recorded, the brushstrokes are straight forward.

A pro-Trump rally degenerated into a riot that resulted in the occupation of the United States Capital by members of those Trump supporters.

In the immediate aftermath, and I mean almost literally immediately after the news hit, blame was being assigned, facts were being disputed and sides were being taken with the usual suspects lined up one against the other. The Trump folks claimed that the riots and the vandalism was instigated by leftist infiltrators; Antifa or BLM members. The other side, the folks in our nation that are critical of the President, were equally quick in their condemnation of all things Trump, republican, and conservative.

The mainstream media was in full force, castigating the rioters [they are correct to do so] and castigating all Trump supporters [they are wrong to do so] as criminals, as terrorists, as enemies of the state. Calls for arrest, for charges of sedition, of treason and of insurrection were immediate and universal. Which seemed strange to me. These same media outlets and reporters had no such language when it came to the reporting of the events of the violent clashes we saw take place across America all year.

In fact, while the cities in America burned, people were being killed and police were being targeted and assassinated, the very same media were extolling us to understand the people, to understand that protests and riots have a long and storied history in American politics. Rather, the tones were now tones of anger and rage; filled with righteous condemnation.

So, I am going to ask you to take a minute. To stop the screaming and the chest thumping and the noble outrage. Just stop. For. A. Minute. Look inside yourself and identify what you would consider to be your ‘guiding principle.’ What is your ‘bedrock principle’, your ‘right principle’? What is it that you expect ‘the other side’ to live up to. Then write that down in plain English.

And apply it to yourself. To your team. To your tribe.

For example, if your ‘Guiding Principle’ is:

“In the pursuit of political freedoms, of liberty and the desire to construct a government that is fair and just and equal, it is permissible for the citizen, or the resident, to engage in protest and to engage in behavior that could bring about occasional damage to property, to bring about occasional harm to human life or even to bring about the occasional death of anther human.”

Then say that. Write that down and own that belief. And then, when faced with an individual who believes in that same principle but not the same politics, be objective in your application of that principle.

Do you think that our black friends, neighbors and families, in pursuit of an equitable claim of freedom, of economic equality, of equal protection under the law are entitled to protest in our cities and in our streets even if it means that buildings, vehicles, businesses – property in general be damaged, destroyed or stolen? Do you think that violent reactions in the face of political opposition is okay? Then you must be prepared to allow for the fact that another human being, in opposition to your politics, has the same right to the same strategy.

On the other hand, if you are of the belief that while protests are fine and understandable, violent and wanton destruction of property are not the acceptable forms of the airing of grievances. If you see the disregard for the rights of the individual to live and exist without fear of harm or of death, if you believe in the rule of law and the authority of the police, then you too, Ought be prepared to extend that same ‘first principle’ to yourself. If it is the mark of a mob to riot in the streets, to occupy police precincts and vandalize and loot businesses, then apply the same to your tribe, your team and your political party.

And so here I am jumping out quicker than I feel that I should but later than almost everybody else. SO late as a matter of fact, that I may be too late; the world has moved on. But, be that as it may, hear I am with my observation.

The democrat party and the media in our mainstream America has no ‘first principle’ that it will apply equally to those of us on the right and to themselves. All year we have been lectured by those who know better that the riots and the violence visited on American cities one after another are not only not illegal, but are noble. Are honorable. Such violence, when even acknowledged as violence as most of the time these actions are described as ‘mostly peaceful’ is excused or even seen as necessary to accomplish the goal of the people.

Wednesday night we witnessed a mob out of control take control of the Capital of the United States. And very nearly every single conservative republican condemned that action. Commentators, politicians and everyday Americans were appalled at the events of that night and called it what it rightfully was; a riot by criminals that needs to see the perpetrators punished.

Now, are their exceptions? To be sure. There are those on the right that cheered the rioters on, there are those on the right who claim that it was antifa or even BLM plants that instigated the violence. These people are wrong and should be called out. We cannot have two working sets of facts.

But make no mistake about it, there is near universal condemnation from the democrat left and the media outlets allied with them of the actions of those criminals that breached the Capital while not a single one of them issued a similar statement of responsibility as America burned.

And THAT is what is wrong with America today.

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