For the last twenty-four hours I have listened to you abhor the sacking of our nation’s capital by hoards of your party’s base, waving Trump flags, looting and vandalizing as they went. “That isn’t who we are,” is the constant refrain I keep hearing from you. At the risk of being indelicate, bull shit. Those are the people you have been courting for the last four years. Those are the people you have been defending while ignoring their racist rants and threats of violence. These are the people your president has been inciting for the last four years, whipping them into racist and sexist chants at his rallies. That despicable mob you now pretend to excoriate carried the banner of your president as they smashed the windows of our capital, terrorized our elected officials and desecrated the halls of congress. Please don’t pretend they were a renegade band of extremists. They are your people.
Don’t tell me either that you never believed your support of Donald Trump would come to this. During his presidential campaign, you heard him mock a disabled reporter at one of his rallies while his audience howled with laughter. You saw how the 2016 Republican National Convention cheered as Trump mocked the family of a soldier who died in combat. You heard him refer to women who offended him as “pigs” and “dogs.” You heard him boast about how he sexually assaulted women whenever he had the inclination telling you, with a sneer, that “when you’re a celebrity, they let you do it.” You know that he referred to African nations as “shit hole” countries and called Mexicans murderers and rapists. You heard him declare that he would not concede the 2016 election if he were to lose. You gave him a pass when he threatened to withhold military aid to an American ally under attack in exchange for “dirt” on his political opponent. If you had any objection to his trying to steal the election by intimidating a state official into “finding” him enough votes to change the outcome of the election, I didn’t hear anything from you. You stuck with Donald Trump like white on rice-until yesterday.
I guess it’s kind of hard to keep pretending that the lynch mob you call your base is just a group of faithful patriots when they are smashing down your doors, screaming threats at you and ransacking your offices. Trump’s hateful rhetoric and violent threats didn’t matter much when they were directed against people of color, the disabled or your political opponents. But I guess that when your own skin is in the game and the mob comes looking for you with rope in hand, you get religion fast. Nothing like a deathbed conversion, is there?
I hope you all got the elephant crap scared out of you. I hope you are still having nightmares about what could have happened to you if that angry mob had managed to bust into that chamber before the police were able to spirit you away. Because I have been having those nightmares for the last four years while you gambled recklessly with our national security, toyed with our health care and played games with our very lives in the midst of the worst pandemic we have experienced in a century. You flat out ignored the constant, willful, persistent lies your president told the American people-lies that destroyed the careers of faithful public servants, lies that endangered our crucial national alliances, lies about Covid-19 that cost untold thousands of lives-all to rack up votes. You all supported Donald Trump or remained silent when he launched a campaign to convince his base-your base-that the 2020 election had been stolen from them. You have demonstrated a reckless disregard for your country’s wellbeing by championing a man that you knew was a cruel, racist bully-and you did it to buy the votes of the lowest, meanest, most ignorant and malicious elements of our nation’s population. And it worked for you-until the day it blew up in your face and the monster you created came stalking you.
Unlike you, I understand men like Donald Trump. They were the guys I knew in high school who thought it was funny to dunk the head of a special needs kid in the toilet. They were the guys I knew in college who gang banged freshmen girls and joked about it. They were failed supervisors who tried to keep their jobs by blaming and firing their subordinates to cover their own mistakes. They are criminals convicted of unspeakable crimes who complain that they, not the people they have injured, are the true victims. Guys like Trump and his mob know nothing of loyalty, nothing of affection, nothing of duty. They’ll use you for as long as they need you. Then you are yesterday’s newspaper. Just ask Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen and Mike Pence. Or, better yet, ask anyone in that crowd Trump incited to attack you. After all, Trump promised from behind his bullet proof screen to march with his worshipers to the capital steps on their crusade to save America. But in fact, the valiant Commander Bone Spurs raced back to the safety of his bunker to watch the spectacle he unleased on TV. Bottom line, you all brought this bull into the china closet with the tragically mistaken belief that you could ride him. So tell me, who rode who?
Now you are shocked. Now you are horrified. Now you are appealing for order, respect and civility. Now you condemn Donald Trump for inciting violence. I only wish you had been as eager to protect the United States Constitution, the rule of law and the wellbeing of the American people as you were to save your own precious skins. Thanks for nothing.
Rev. Peter A. Olsen (retired)