The Hired Hand – Not just another blah-blah-blog

January 21, 2021

Our nation has gone coup-coup

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darcy Grabenstein @ 8:46 pm

The image haunts me. A grown man, in a fur hat with horns, his shirtless torso revealing a swath of tattoos that extend the length of his arms. His bearded face is painted with a design representing the American flag. My American flag. He holds a large American flag in one gloved hand, a megaphone in the other.

At first glance, it looks like a skit from “Saturday Night Live.” But this isn’t funny. It’s a real-life nightmare, playing out on our TV screens, our mobile devices, and in our nation’s Capitol.

I find it ironic that this horned caricature of a man is representative of those, misguided by ignorance and fear, who think it’s the Jews who have horns.

But that’s not the image most disturbing to me. The images that keep me up at night, postponing nightmares of my mind’s own making, are those of the “Americans” wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “Camp Auschwitz” and “6MWE” (6 million wasn’t enough), referring to the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews, along with hundreds of thousands more — including the disabled, homosexuals and German political opponents — were exterminated.

Anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head yet again. What really troubles me is that, unlike in earlier decades when KKK members cowardly hid their identities beneath hooded white robes, today’s bigots boldly flaunt their racism and anti-Semitism, showing their faces for all the world to see. They wave Confederate flags which, just as the swastika is a painful reminder to Jews of Holocaust atrocities, is a slap in the face to Blacks still trying to free themselves from the yoke of the white man. I grew up in the South, where I witnessed, only several decades ago, blatant racial discrimination.

The throngs that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, threatened our democracy. They attempted to mount nothing less than an insurrection, flamed by a fascist president (thankfully now ex-president).

Equally disturbing is how easily this mob breached the Capitol, raising the question whether some police officers were complicit. News reports showed uniformed officers taking selfies with the rioters. If we can’t trust the police — as many Black Americans have unfortunately come to realize — whom can we trust to protect us? Or, even worse, there’s the theory that Capitol insiders aided and abetted the insurgents.

On. Jan. 6, the unimaginable happened. And now, I ask you to imagine a totally different scenario. Imagine a couple thousand Black citizens, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter” and other civil rights slogans, descending upon the Capitol. Think the National Guard would have delayed its response? Oh, wait. This did happen, on June 2, 2020, when BLM supporters descended upon the Lincoln Memorial in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. The two events were marked by stark contrasts:

  • The Capitol coup attempt was violent; the BLM rally was peaceful.
  • The Capitol crowd was predominantly white and male; the BLM rally was predominantly people of color.
  • Police took selfies with the Capitol rioters; police released tear gas and fired rubber bullets at the BLM protesters.
  • Rioters forced their way into the Capitol before the National Guard arrived; BLM protesters were met by armed and camouflaged National Guard members.
  • The Capitol coup attempt threatened our democratic values; the BLM rally upheld them.

Talk about white privilege. However, it is not “white privilege” to attack the very seat of our democracy. It is not “white privilege” to terrorize and attack our public servants, to commit hate crimes, to forcibly determine the outcome of an election.

The “Proud Boys” is a misnomer. They are Nazis, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

I’ve always taken pride in my country. That is, until Donald Trump took office. For the past four years, I was embarrassed to say I’m an American. America was the laughingstock of the world. But I’m not laughing. I’m mourning. I even wrote a prayer, “Kaddish for Our Country,” based on the Jewish prayer for mourning the dead.

Today, with a new president and administration that pledges unity, not division, I am cautiously optimistic.

Never again.

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