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Category: Monticello College Comments: 12

A House Divided

I don’t think anyone would disagree when I say that the events of January 6, 2021 at the nation’s Capitol were disconcerting. When people breach the halls of government and in a attitude of desecration invade spaces and disrupt the workings of government, it is frightening, it is distasteful, and uncouth, but it is also a signal of something far more sinister. It is a signal, it is a symptom of something much deeper and much more destructive. In Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 senate acceptance speech, what in fact, proved to be a foreboding harbinger of national crisis, he instructed us that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” that is the great challenge of our time.

 Yes it is disturbing, yes it is unnerving to have a group of people force their way into the Senate and House chambers, even Nancy Pelosi‘s office—but this will pass, what will not pass is the division we face, if that divide is not healed, the events of today will appear as mere child’s play compared to what may be coming in the not too distant future.

In Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796, he gave us the recipe for political success and national happiness: Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Part of the concept of religious obligation must be the idea of the respect and honor we should hold for each other as human beings, even when we disagree. When we lower our standards to no longer maintaining “national morality, ” we open the door for widespread disregard and objectifying.

Lawlessness breeds lawlessness. A year of rioting in cities all over America, with few repercussions, can easily explain why this happened at the Capitol today, regardless whether it is justified or not. You can’t have a double standard. As a Republic, the same rules must apply to all. We abandoned law and order last year, for months Americans watched riot after riot destroy personal property, injure and take lives, and damage faith in the belief in “law and order” while local mayors and governors stood by, and in fact, ordered the local police to do nothing.

I don’t want to downplay what happened on Jan. 6th, but I see the bigger problem as a lack of leadership. I plead with the leaders of both parties to stand up and lead in the protection of human rights, lead in securing private property, reputation, and the life of every citizen. If there is no excuse for the actions at the Capitol today, then there is absolutely no justification for allowing the months of riots across the nation during 2020. Actions and ideas have consequences. And if we are not extremely careful, those consequences just might be our undoing.

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Comments (12)

  • Julie Mathison

    What exactly is the grievance here? A police officer put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, resulting in his death, even as he, and onlookers, begged for help. Here? Donald Trump lost the election. A free and fair election in the tradition of American elections. The fact that he will not accept that doesn’t change the facts. The courts have spoken, the regulatory bodies have spoken, journalists and fact finders who are subject to journalistic standards have spoken. There is no grievance here.
    What we have is a culture of grievance that has supplanted the values that once lay at the heart of our conservative tradition, fed by conspiracy theories, exploiting and poisoning the minds of many well-meaning people. What we have now, in the place of conservatism, is populism with fascist overtones, a cult of an individual who is patently and profoundly unwell. That has been demonstrated time and again, and never more clearly than when Donald Trump violated the most sacred of our norms — after a norm shattering presidency — the peaceful transfer of power.
    And yet you seek to dignify this, to lay the blame elsewhere, to normalize it — enabling the very culture that has led to this travesty. You consider yourself a patriot, dedicated to citizen self-rule, which can only exist in an environment of honesty and accountability. So please, call a spade a spade.
    Julie Mathison

    January 7, 2021 at 9:04 am
    • Shanon Brooks

      Ok Julie, if this is a serious question, I will give a serious answer:
      the manner of treatment that led to George Floyd’s death was wrong, a million times wrong—and rightly so, Derek Chauvin was arrested, disgraced, charged with second degree murder, and is going thru the legal process.
      I don’t know anyone who agreed with Derek’s actions, why are you still bringing this up? The Floyd scenario is no more an isolated event than this election. I am still processing the Trump rally and the subsequent events that followed, but those few rioters who actually broke into the Capitol building were not acting for the masses assembled lawfully there. They did not and do not represent the vast majority of Americans who are sitting in their homes feeling serious discontent.
      What I don’t understand is the months and months of riots around the country using Floyd as their poster child. Months and months of destruction of property, months and months of violation of human rights of people of all races.
      I am strong disturbed by the actions of a few rioters at the Capitol, but they clearly do not represent the hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters that were there at the same time. While those actions were disgusting and 100% wrong, it was a tiny minority with only 50 people being arrested, and I hope they are held accountable for 4 deaths related to this event.
      But the remaining hundreds of thousands of protestors were there because they feel divided from their representatives and government, they feel disenfranchised and they believe themselves to be victims of fraud.
      Let me remind you of a document that is often quoted by such citizens of all colors, who are feeling unrepresented in a supposed representative Republic:
      “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience has shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
      But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
      This is the real issue and will be the end of the Republic if not seriously addressed and changes made.

      January 7, 2021 at 10:57 am
  • Travis Slade

    Julie M,
    Neither scenario you mentioned in your reply justfy the responses by either side. I’m glad the violence was put down quickly yesterday compared to months on end of other violent protests. George Floyd should have been kihelped even if he had lethal amounts of fentanyl in his system. Destruction of private and government property and months of violence are still not an appropriate response…ever. No one wins in either of these scenarios. The average American citizen is the true victim of all these protests no matter the cause.
    So, yes protesting an election by the actions yesterday are wrong period. Protests should never cause loss of life or property.
    I don’t speak for Shanon, but I think the point I took from his comments are this country has a problem when violence and destruction are viewed as the only remedy to fix a wrong whether perceived or real.
    I hear some calling for civil war from various directions. That is the worst possible solution to any of this. The rule of law has been ignored and trampled on by various powers and parties for far too long. And when people see this they have several choices as to how to rectify or protest. None of the violence and property damage especially yesterday and even the past 10 months is a reasonable response to air grievances, yet we as a people have watched as extremists on both ends decided on this tactic.

    January 7, 2021 at 9:43 am
  • Julie Mathison

    Let me ask you a question which will help me frame my answer. Do you believe they were a victim of fraud? Do you believe this election was stolen?

    January 7, 2021 at 11:31 am
    • Shanon Brooks

      I believe that every election from Adams/Jefferson on has had some level of fraud or at least misrepresentation. Fraud and elections seem to be distastefully symbiotic.
      I believe that the affidavits and eye witness testimonies of hundreds of Americans, the allegations of election place infractions of law, common sense, alleged violation of state voting laws, and apparent distain for the process was grievous enough to warrant further investigation.
      I am troubled with accounts of ill treatment of plaintiffs by the judicial system. I have always been wary of electronic voting systems and their potential weaknesses.
      So while I can not say with certainty that the alleged fraud happened, I think we agree that the vitality of democratic systems and peaceful transitions of power is 100% dependent on the people’s confidence in fair elections.
      I had hopes that all reasonable and sound measures would have been taken including 3rd party verification, exaggerated confirmations etc. I had hoped for efforts designed to put concerned Americans at ease, to more that prove the validity of the results, but instead I am troubled by half measures and dismissiveness on the part of election officials, elected representatives, the media and the courts.
      What would have been the harm to preform recounts that included signature verification? Why not openly resolve claims of deceased and illegals voting? If transparency is the goal, why give Nevada plaintiffs two hours to prepare for trial? The voting machine concerns are complicated and frankly beyond my expertise, but to say “just trust us” doesn’t fly. Swing states are always under more scrutiny, why can’t we anticipate it, embrace it, and go out of our way to calm unsteady nerves? It just all seems fishy to me.

      January 7, 2021 at 12:16 pm
      • Julie Mathison

        That’s a lot of equivocation. It matters what kind of evidence a person has if they’re going to allege widespread voter fraud and stolen elections. I can’t walk into a crowded building and yell “fire” with impunity. There are serious consequences.
        Here, from the beginning, the conclusion came before the facts. Trump began alleging fraud BEFORE the election. During the election we were bombarded with any incendiary scrap that could be had, and most of it of this “smells fishy” variety — covered up windows, the allegations of random poll workers — and sweeping generalizations were drawn that were in no way supported by those scraps. The message was always this — we know the election was stolen because this can’t be the result. Now, we’re going to look for evidence to support our version of the truth.
        A huge portion of our population has been disenfranchised from their fellow Americans and their own government — as a direct result of the representations of their own, insular base. They have been groomed for months to believe in election fraud — by Trump, by his congressional enablers, and by an alt-right press silo that traffics in misinformation and conspiracy theories. The poison comes, not from the factual evidence, not from actual grievance, but from the talking points that have been clear from the get-g0 — the Dems are the enemy and if we lose, it can only be because they cheated.
        From the minute he took office, Trump has done three things that are straight out of the dictator handbook. Delegitimized the mainstream press (thereby controlling information); turned his base against other marginalized groups and his perceived enemies, namely the “Dems” (divide and conquer); and laid the groundwork for the retention of power at any cost (burning down the house to save your own skin). These tactics have no place in American society, and any patriot, of any political stripe, would call them out as un-American. Trump’s conduct undermines the civic well being of his own constituents — endangering the very foundations of the freedoms they enjoy.
        Here you are, Shannon, jumping on the “well maybe there WAS fraud” bandwagon, which is exactly the kind of enabling environment that has produced this situation. “Gee, well, where there’s smoke, maybe there’s fire.” And a person can always drum up some smoke, can’t they.
        There was no way, in the environment of suspicion that has been cultivated, that any level of evidence would be accepted supporting the validity of this election. And the cost of this kind of pandering has been exactly what you’re pointing to — a nation divided — but not because of genuine grievance. It is a direct consequence of rhetorical warfare.

        January 7, 2021 at 1:22 pm
        • Shanon Brooks

          I haven’t brought Trump into this conversation once, because I am not a Trump supporter, but you appear to be very anti-Trump.
          I too thought it was problematic for Trump to take his preemptive approach before the election even happened, but I have done my due diligence based on what several media outlets and the Trump campaign have provided and I am sorry but a smoking gun is a smoking gun.
          Video doesn’t lie, hundred of affidavits are hard to ignore, 3rd party analysts make enough sense in their points that I believe I would like to explore the offered evidence. Neither of us are naive enough to believe that human nature is guided by innocence, always good intentions, and well wishing.
          I am sorry but I seldom take the word of others without verification, I do not follow a party nor a party’s platform, I am independent and demand full transparency from all elected officials, I see it as my civic duty, as it is yours.

          January 7, 2021 at 6:44 pm
    • Steven Cox

      I believe that there is sufficient evidence that warrants a full and comprehensive investigation of all the facts so we can all be assured that our election process – the very heart of our democratic republic – is secure and valid and provides every legitimate citizen with a voice in their governance.

      January 7, 2021 at 2:33 pm
      • Shanon Brooks

        Thanks for commenting Steve, fair and untampered elections are the foundation of a free society.

        January 7, 2021 at 6:31 pm
  • Julie Mathison

    Well, I will just close by saying a couple of things. First of all, I appreciate you engaging with me. Secondly, you can’t talk about yesterday without talking about Trump. That’s my point. That’s exactly why I chose to comment. Whether one supports Trump of not, one can’t fail to see yesterday’s events as a direct extension of his rhetoric and intent.
    You’ve characterized yesterday’s events as a regrettable but understandable extension of the summer of protest. I’m saying yesterday was the inevitable outcome of a lengthy, brutal campaign to divide Americans from each other and to poison their faith in their countrymen and their institutions. I’ve made that point as well as I can, and you’ll take from it what you will. Democrats have been dealing for many years with issues around voter suppression, gerrymandering and other forms of voter disenfranchisement. I am all for strengthening our electoral processes so that every vote counts. But what I saw — and heard — in the footage from yesterday was heartbreaking footage of people who have been sold a coup dressed up as a revolution.

    January 7, 2021 at 8:22 pm
  • Rachelle Ottosen

    1) all laws should apply to all people all the time; everyone should be equally invested in the law.
    2) only dedication to true religion/religious principles/love of God and all his children will save us, whoever is in the White House notwithstanding.
    God bless you, and carry on (endure) Shanon!

    January 10, 2021 at 9:48 am
  • Theresa Gutierrez

    Hi Shanon,
    I realize I’m a little late to the party here 😉 but I got your book, “American: Killing the American Dream” and I am really enjoying the clear information. In the book you go deeper into why virtue and morality (religious or non-religious spirituality) are so important in creating and maintaining a free republic. I believe a study of what it means to be truly human has been made blatantly clear by January’s riot as well as last years’. I can see how a complete disregard for human life (which includes our struggles, our sorrows, our histories, our feelings) seems to be lost and is killing our country. Your book, your blog and your college are SOLUTIONS you are offering to your readers.
    All of the solutions in your book are useful and practical and totally doable, so I thank you for that!
    As for the riots in January, I admit that I didn’t know it happened until some days later when someone called and told me. I don’t watch the news and I don’t scroll the socials very often… that day I happened to decided to take a total break from my computer. I do not watch the major news media because I frankly do not trust them. I think my distrust comes from believing our system is full of corrupt politicians that do not have my best interest at heart nor the liberty of the people as we clearly see by all the regulations we face.
    I am not registered or associated with any political party because so far, none of them truly represent me. I have had many discussions with my 18 year old son about this topic. I frustrates me completely that I am presented with only two options that do not represent me nor most of the people I know because we’re told if we vote for someone other than the main two we are basically wasting our vote.
    The riots this year and last represent a sickness and division in this country that breaks my heart; I have shed many tears. And this is another reason why I’m glad your book offers solutions!
    I think the politicians knew this election would be close and I genuinely believe that they knew that no matter who won, the other side would claim fraud. This has happened many times and is no shocker to me! If I’m not shocked, certainly they weren’t either! I believe it was irresponsible of our government officials (who are supposed to represent us in protecting our rights) to not plan ahead for this type of scenario.
    If a football team (because of it’s leader) can have the stoic forethought to plan ahead and practice for ALL possible contingencies even as seemingly small as an extra 15 minutes added to half-time, certainly our public LEADERS (?) could have planned ahead and solved for this “voter fraud” ahead of time. They refused and failed to provide as much assurance as possible in such an incredible time of uncertainty. Then, they made it worse by refusing to do the forensic audits. Why can’t we have forensic audits every election?
    Why can’t we have more “parties” with a much better representation of the people’s spectrum of principles, standards and stances on the issues? Maybe it would be more time-consuming and costly to have election “playoffs” of the top 16 parties having a vote-out until we are down to the top two, but for the sake of my Liberty I would totally do that! Is it possible to get rid of the party system all together? It doesn’t seem right that the most well known politicians have deep pockets of money, while perhaps the best candidates have short pockets… all of which effects who the media listens to or airs… I want equal air time in all elections no matter the who has the most money.
    How do we prevent from voter fraud while still maintaining our privacy in how we choose to vote?
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Shanon. Now, back to that book I’m reading 😉

    February 4, 2021 at 9:35 pm

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