By Dennis Edwards
ViewPoint Editorial Page Columnist
Have you noticed a lingering look nationwide of fear and borderline panic on the faces of whites, blacks, hispanics and just about everybody else? Americans are still reeling and enraged by the “Insurrection at the U.S. Capital” as well as it’s political and legal ramifications. Weeks later we still see and hear it in the stressed eyes and pointed statements of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and now U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. If we look even closer we can also see the same look on the faces of people in our own households.
The look, the fear and the problem isn’t confined to the precincts of government and politics. My sense is it’s the product of more Americans stunned by the troubling realization that they can’t trust family members radicalized by debunked Presidential conspiracy and Qanon theories.
The threats so serious even the U.S. Military’s forced to protect it’s ranks from the same influences. So it’s brass went through an unprecedented series of background checks to weed out any white supremacist, proud boys, boogaloo boys/bois and other anti government supporters from among National Guard ranks protecting the Presidential Inauguration.
Could it be what’s now frightening all of us is that kookie uncle, odd cousin, extremist brother, out of control mother, conspiracy obsessed niece and seething father who’s apparently taking the silence of family members to be tacit approval of their growing leanings toward violence?
Perhaps the best defense against this kind of extremism is for family members to find their own gentle/non threatening way of challenging this behavior at home. To privately and carefully tell those who are carried away “I don’t agree” and or “you’re wrong and I can’t support what you’re doing and saying”. Actually, it’s already happening in relationships where people are reporting significant others, family members and friends for things like stealing Speaker Pelosi’s laptop and allegedly trying to sell it to the Russians. Maybe there’s a need for professional help.
This responsibility doesn’t stop at hearth and home. It extends into barber shops, beauty parlors, church affairs, social, even fraternal and sorority events. If families, friends and co-workers don’t tactfully and clearly signal their opposition, the offenders assume our approval as they go even further. Like a deadly Domino effect, this kind of tacit encouragement can produce even greater uprisings. To not do so could be a tragic example of how silence becomes a dangerous kind of “acquiescence”. (approval)
Some years back I was offered a reporter position by the News Director of the CBS Owned and Operated TV Station in Houston, Texas. At the end of the interview, just before heading to the airport, I asked him “what do you personally expect from me as a Journalist working for you”? He complimented what he called the originality of the question while sharing advice that became my personal Journalistic Mantra. He said “Just don’t miss the obvious!”.
Maybe we shouldn’t miss the obvious truth of how repeated tolerance of debunked, irrational theories have already lead to violent doings from people like Timothy McVeigh to all of the deadly mass shootings and now we have an “Insurrection at the U.S. Capital”.
Isn’t it time for those of us with extremists (harmless or otherwise) living within the intimacy of our lives to let them know we love them? BUT we don’t like or agree with what they’re saying and doing. If we don’t to many have already proven they’ll do it again and again, until one of these times they’ll succeed at destroying the very Democracy we all love and cherish.
(Dennis Edwards is a News Anchor and Analyst with Richmond’s Newsradio 1140 WRVA. He’s also an Emmy Award winning Television News Investigative Reporter and Anchor who’s worked in Detroit, Baltimore, Raleigh, NC, St. Louis and Richmond.)