By Jim Norman
Every night, it seems, I go to bed feeling that I’ve made yet another accommodation to yet another profound assault on my values as an ethical human being and as a citizen of these not-so-United States.
And every morning (and frequently in the middle of the night, as well) I wake up to yet another insult, requiring yet another accommodation in order to maintain balance. We live in an age of face-palming and exasperated and repeated utterances of WTF.
As we watch the well-choreographed and endlessly fascinating January 6th hearings on television, we (and I say “we” because I am certain I am not alone in this) wonder when we will have had enough of the assault on all that is decent in our nation. When will we tell, and demonstrate to, those who think they can impose governance through terror that their infantile tantrums will not be tolerated?
It can happen here
We have been sleeping for too long, the covers pulled comfortably over our heads, lulled by the belief that “it can’t happen here.” But while we have slept, it has been happening here. We may, to some extent, satisfy ourselves with the exposure of the perfidy of Donald Trump and the idiocy of his face-painted MAGA followers, but even if some semblance of justice in the form of prison sentences is imposed, it will still be happening here.
To the relentless forces of evil that motivate and animate people like Trump and his cosplay army of thugs, the January 6th hearings are little more than a speed bump in their path to domination and permanent destruction of democratic government here and around the world.
Case in point: The United States Supreme Court, which had evolved for a brief shining moment in our history as a bulwark against the evils of racism, violence, suppression, and invasion of privacy and bodily autonomy, has now emerged as a leading edge in the ongoing assault against us.
Fifty years of precedent
Most recently, in a decision that was widely anticipated, the high court threw out 50 years of precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade, clearing the path for 28 states to criminalize abortion under all circumstances.
The Roe decision followed on the heels of the court continuing its unwarranted assault on the plain meaning of the Second Amendment, obliterating the words about regulation, in a ruling that prohibits cities and states from enacting laws against carrying concealed firearms in public.
A few days before that, the Supreme Court held that religious schools are entitled to public funding, along with traditional public schools.
Hypocrisy about ‘deep state’ abounds
Even as it complains loudly about what it calls the “deep state,” the right-wing forces of darkness have been working quietly and determinedly to impose exactly that. For decades, it has been keeping pressure on legislative and executive branches of government to populate the judiciary with ideologues who will do its bidding when the time is right.
It should come as no surprise that this supreme Sleeper Cell in Black Robes, as I disrespectfully but justifiably call the Supreme Court, would render decisions like those of the past days. More will be coming, I am certain.
How did it come to this? “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
We must trouble ourselves to take a stand
It is a quote popularly and incorrectly attributed to Edmund Burke, and probably should be credited to John Stuart Mill, who said in an address at the University of St. Andrews: “Let not anyone pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”
Whoever said them, these are good words to keep in mind as we watch the balance of the January 6th hearings. Not only should we apply them to Donald Trump and his enablers and supporters, but these words should to a great degree temper any impulses toward veneration of some witnesses who stuck with Trump through it all, until they became aware that to continue to do so would expose them to criminal liability.
A great awakening is long overdue; I hope it is not too late.
Jim Norman is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.