There are not two sides to every story

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I sat stunned, numb, and disbelieving, watching rioters take over the Capitol building, ransack congressional offices, deface the beautiful Capitol building and chat with police, while sitting on the Capitol steps, as if they were on a Covid 19 outside gathering.

I saw a woman on a gurney, blood all over her face. A few hours later I heard that she had died.

I cried. What I was watching on TV wasn’t distant from me. I sensed that I was in the scene; being threatened, ducking behind a table for protection. I felt that I was being assaulted for no reason other than being on the “other side” of a story.

This story asks and then answers the question, who won the presidential election? The mob believed, unequivocally, that Donald Trump won because he said he did. While I am pleased that the winner is Joe Biden, the only important fact is that Joe Biden won the electoral college. The speechifying in Congress should not rest on opinion or clever semantics. It is not a matter of how one feels or particular political beliefs. There aren’t two sides to the election question. There is only data: 270+ electoral votes.

I was just six when I had my first inkling that some stories are just wrong, misinformed and mean-spirited. I was in the first grade in the early 1950’s, the heyday of the Red Scare. My parents were, in fact, Communists, although I didn’t learn that fact until many years later. My first-grade classmates described Communists as Jews, — evil, unfeeling, hateful people. I knew nothing about politics, but I knew my parents to be very loving, kind people. While it was years before I felt safe enough to contradict those characterizations of Jews and the political left, I knew that my friends were wrong. The message I took from this early lesson was that when someone asserts their opinion as unassailable, or dismisses a debate with the adage, “There are two sides to every story”: Beware.

My parents changed their political affiliation while I was still quite young, but maintained their commitment to fighting for social equity.

As I got older, they told me about friends of theirs who had been arrested and incarcerated because of political membership. I heard words like sedition and treason as reasons given for their imprisonment.

There was nothing in my experience with my parents or their friends and acquaintances, that led me to see a connection between the political discussions I had heard and the notion of sedition.

an act of inciting revolt or violence against a lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing (https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/sedition.html)

On January 6, 2021, I saw what sedition looks like.

I heard the president say,

“We will never give up. We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.” He then told the crowd that they should, “walk down to the Capitol.” (NY Times, January 7, 2021)

When I started watching TV at 2:50 pm EST, I saw hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in the streets and waving Trump flags and Confederate flags, breaking windows at the Capitol, climbing the walls outside and inside the building, sitting in the well of the Senate, shouting that Biden would never be president, sitting with feet on the desk of Nancy Pelosi, menacing and threatening people, property and the law.

I saw sedition, violence, incited by President Trump, and others with the purpose of sabotaging the counting of the electoral votes, and the inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice-President elect Harris.

There are not two sides to this story.

Written by

Author of Headstrong: Surviving a traumatic brain injury, Professor Emeritus, Springfield College, Massachusetts, love family, friends, the ocean and my dog

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