Republicans Preaching Unity and Healing? What a Joke
“But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Tellin’ how you are gonna change right from wrong
’Cause if you really want to hear our views
You haven’t done nothin’” — Stevie Wonder, “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” 1974
Donald Trump has left the building.
He may be gone from the White House, but he won’t be soon forgotten — nor will his final acts as an American President, specifically, lying about the validity of the 2020 US election results and encouraging a mob of his supporters to invade the US Capitol building on January 6. His legacy is basically the mess he’s left for his successor, 46th US President Joe Biden, to clean up.
Aside from when the 13 original colonies joined together to extricate themselves from British rule, the United States have never been truly united (and even during the American Revolution, the Mason-Dixon line was already serving as a literal and symbolic divider). Something (or someone) has always seemed to separate us, politically, socially, economically, and/or culturally — slavery, Reconstruction, Civil Rights, Vietnam, abortion, LGBTQ rights, the interpretation of the Constitution — often to the point where we’ve felt more like individual countries than the “more perfect union” James Madison envisioned when he wrote The Constitution in 1787.
Four years of Trump have left us more divided than we’ve been since the 1960s, or maybe even the 1860s. Sadly, the Trump doctrine of division will continue to haunt us, no matter what the US Senate decides to do with the House’s article of impeachment.
Trump was caught with his hand in a cookie jar he’d been fondling for four years, and as usual, his loyal band of enabling sycophants expect everyone to just move on. It’s time to unite and put an end to divisiveness, some of them are now preaching, from flip-flopping Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham on down the line, as if their moral standing makes them the anointed peacemakers.
Unity is already the main theme of Biden’s administration. That’s a positive thing. But is healing our country’s ideological rift possible when a majority of Republicans still thinks his presidency is illegitimate, thanks, in large part, to the goodbye (for now) boy beating the idea into their heads for two months?
In their version of peacemaking, the onus for bringing about unity falls squarely on the other side, as if we’re the only ones holding us back. “Stand down,” Graham warned then-President-elect Biden, by way of a January 17 interview with Fox News, urging him to convince the Senate to back off and not try Graham’s on-off Master Trump for inciting the January 6 riot in the nation’s Capitol building that left five people dead.
I wonder if he realized that his “Stand down” message to Biden echoed Trump’s message to the far-right group Proud Boys during the first presidential debate last September 29.
It’s such a stale refrain, and I hear variations of it nearly every time I write about racism, from (presumably) White conservatives and fence-sitters who would prefer to sweep it back under the rug and talk about the weather (but not climate change, another conservative no-go zone), lest they have to look too closely at themselves. They call me a racist, a separatist, and a divider, as if lobbing hollow accusations at me absolves them of any responsibility for a deeply divided nation, as if the continuing tradition of racism in the US is all on people like me.
“Hypocrites always want to play innocent
Always want to take it to the full out extent
Always want to make it seem like good intent
Never want to face it when it’s time for punishment” — Lauryn Hill, “Lost Ones,” 1998
If one hadn’t been paying attention, one might think the modern Republican Party has been the party of unity all along. Although conservatives like to accuse liberals of playing the victim card, that one has long been their fallback ace in the hole.
They shout from their megaphones about how “radical” Democrats are trying to infringe upon Constitutional freedoms, destroy capitalism, and kill babies. They warn of how liberals use “cancel culture” to muzzle them and take away their livelihoods, as if their leader didn’t spend his entire presidency trying to cancel anyone who challenged him. And now, they insist Democrats are the ones trying to further divide the country because they want to punish a now-former US President who, with a lot of help from soldiers just like them, perfected the art of divisive.
They only talk about unity when they want to shut us up. Do they really think backing off Trump is going to heal anything? It won’t stop them or him from continuing to spread lies about a “stolen” election. It won’t inspire them to work with instead of against the new president. Unity is just a word — and it matters to them now only because they’re on the losing side.
To My Facebook Friends Who Voted for Donald Trump
It’s too late to preach to us about peace, love, and understanding
A crime deserves to be punished, especially one that leaves five people dead, and isn’t their beloved Republican Party supposed to be so tough on crime? Unity should not preclude justice, and it shouldn’t be pursued out of fear.
Now is not the time to back off Trump because it might inspire retaliation from his disciples or delay unity and healing. Should we not punish rapists lest toxic men foam at the mouth? Should White cops who kill unarmed Black people be given a slap on the wrist to avoid angering White supremacists?
We all know how some conservatives would answer that one. They’re the members of the Greek chorus who think Kyle Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense when he gunned down three men during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two. To them, he deserves a slap on the wrist, if not a medal.
The racial unrest in this country began with the White supremacy of the founding fathers, and as those Confederate flags in the Capitol building on January 6 suggest, it’s the cornerstone of everything that divides us.
They’re supposedly all about unity now, but look at what they’ve been supporting for four years, a man who has never met a united front he wouldn’t try to separate for political gain. Look at what he did to brown families at the US borders. His followers are the ones who still won’t accept the legitimacy of the 2020 US Presidential election or a global pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, yet they have the audacity to preach about unity.
The events of January 6, events Trump set into motion and his soldiers carried out, was the most brazen display of divisiveness we’ve seen in this country since the Civil War. The photos and videos taken during the terrorist attack show people carrying Confederate flags, wearing anti-Semitic gear, and beating a cop with an American flag. Is that preferable to burning one? The smoke hasn’t even cleared, and the onus for unity is suddenly on us.
Their leader has yet to unequivocally denounce the January 6 terrorist attack by owning his role in it. There is zero remorse. Yet we are the ones blocking unity?
Nope. That hypocrisy won’t work. At this point, the words of people like Senator Graham seem less like entreaties for peace than thinly veiled threats: Stand down … or else. The US government didn’t stand down after September 11 for fear of pissing off al-Qaeda even more, and we won’t stand down now from holding Trump and his mob responsible for their misdeeds.
Nor will I stand down from dropping cold, harsh truths — about Trump, about racism, about reality. Those who are too delicate to handle them are free to return to their regularly scheduled lies.
Dear conservatives, Republicans, and White people who still don’t get it: Unity begins with you. Acknowledge your mistakes, resolve to do better, listen to Black people when we talk about our experiences without making it all about you and your White fragility. The racial unrest in this country began with the White supremacy of the founding fathers, and as those Confederate flags in the Capitol building on January 6 suggest, it’s the cornerstone of everything that divides us.
It’s in the country’s DNA, and by denying and minimizing it, you perpetuate it. If you truly want unity, it’s up to you, not us, to finish what you started, to end the division you set into motion.