Thank you to the editors of the North Coast Journal for last week's editorial, "Truth and Reconciliation," stating the facts about the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.
At the local and national levels, we can all benefit from the use of free speech and calling out lies. Rep. Peter Meijer, (R-Michigan) recently spoke out about the big lie of President Trump. He stated in Congress that while many of his party have argued that since millions of Americans believe the election was stolen, Congress would be justified in preventing Biden from taking the presidency. Meijer pointed out to Trump that many of the voters who believe in the false reality of his victorious election do so because they have heard it from Trump himself and his congressional supporters: "That doesn't make it right. That doesn't make it accurate. It means that you lied to them, and they trusted you and they believed your lies."
During this week of celebrating the nonviolent legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, let us remember the Constitution, which helps hold our country together. Let us keep using our right to free speech to call out lies and represent the truth. And let us remember King's word's, "Don't allow anybody to cause you to lose your self-respect to the point that you do not struggle for justice."
Peter Jain, Trinidad
The Jan. 14 NCJ "Truth and Reconciliation" editorial was excellent, and we need more messages like it.
But even more important is us funding efforts, based on science and track record, to change the minds of misled people, people we understandably may feel "we're done with." Why bother trying? A Jan. 14 NPR interview with a pollster specializing in Republican groups showed the vast majority of the tens of millions of Trump voters still passionately believe the election was stolen from Trump! This is too many people to just write off if we're to start restoring our democracy. We have to try, even if, for now, we continue to mostly fail.
In this misled group, there have to be some people not totally immune to a science-based approach for changing minds. And we can raise enough funding for this approach to keep chipping away at the shell of lies, anger and fear surrounding these misled millions. Doing this absolutely can't wait — we're already seeing new organizing and anger-creation that will cause more attempted disruption or takeovers at all levels of government. We can't just count on time healing these wounds, or on having more police and riot troops than the riot leaders have followers.
If "trying to reason" and "valuing your opinions" haven't worked, we need experts on such things guiding us on what could work, and we then need to follow and fund that guidance.
Jeff Knapp, Arcata
We are seeing firsthand how lying for short-term political or personal gain leads to long-term damage that hurts everyone: bystanders, believers, truth-tellers, liars and enablers. (e.g. the GOP and cohorts lied to change the balance of the judicial branch but if they kill our democracy they won't be able to employ their newly conservative courts.) The Hydra of crises we're facing (pandemic response/acceptance and the most significant threat to our democracy since the Civil War) is the direct result of lies knowingly told and amplified by so many unethical, immoral, selfish, unpatriotic, GOP members of Congress and the executive branch.
This kind of individual and institutional lying is destructive. Instead of shrugging it off as spin or "alternative facts," we must stay hyper-aware of its danger: not just ideological danger, corporal danger. Americans should never again trust people like Cruz, Graham, Jordon, McEnany and their ilk. Their reputations should never recover. Some things can't be repaired with sound bites or eye-rolling apologies. They sold their souls for position and power. It isn't new. But now, we must hold them accountable. We should never again tolerate public servants who don't have honest concern, compassion, and respect for the public. These corrupt, dangerous men and women lied to, manipulated and used their supporters to do their bidding: Citizens in service to leaders is not a democracy. These failed leaders should suffer the worst punishment any egocentric, needy, weak person can imagine: no voice, no power, no consequence.
Whatever is missing in these liars' psychological make-ups makes them pitiable, but not forgivable. Forgiveness only comes with admission, accountability and amended actions; these folks don't seem to have the courage to take these steps. We should never forgive or forget the people who put this country and its citizenry in this dire situation.
Jason Marak, Eureka
Truth is a thing of value that is often undervalued. Truth is often seen as a barrier to success when it doesn't fit into one's perceived agenda. Failure to value truth progressed to problems of catastrophic proportions like the riot of Jan. 6. Had Donald J. Trump respected the results of our November election, many would have been disappointed but our nation would have been at some level of peace. But his ego could not accept defeat in a fair and secure election.
Without the constant hammering on the false claims of a "stolen election," a lot of anger and hatred could have been prevented. Trump would have had a chance to reclaim the presidency in 2024. But his obsession with presidential power prompted him to use many different tactics to try to overthrow the election. If he truly believes in the God he claims to, he would observe one of the Ten Commandments that tells us not to lie. If he was able to do that, his own life would now be much better and the health of our nation would be greatly better. But due to his reliance on lies and inciting the Capitol riot, he is leaving the White House in disgrace.
If Trump was able to humble himself, to admit that he lied to us, and to ask for forgiveness, many of his followers would forgive him. Even a few Democrats would forgive him. That could heal a lot of pain and division and put him in a better position. What is possible is often not probable. Sadly, some of what we hope and pray for is from Fantasy Land.
Dave Tschoepe, McKinleyville
In last week's editorial, the NCJ stated that the "roots" of the Trumpian insurrection of Jan. 6 "stretch back to birtherism and disinformation, if not much further." With this letter I hope to sketch how deep these "roots" go.
In terms of American history, our roots include white supremacy, property rights and other delusions of self-aggrandizement that stretch back through the 80 years of segregation and other Jim Crow policies against Black Americans and, before that, through 235 years of outright enslavement of Black people.
In terms of global history, we witness quite similar and parallel psycho-political phenomena in our contemporary Trumpian regime and the Hitler and Mussolini fascist movements of the early 20th century. Before that, a 3-millennia long and unbroken line of conquerors, kings, emperors, czars and organized religions insured might made right.
Even this cursory sketch begs the question: What explains the global appeal and durability of despotic one-man rule?
The answer lies in the characterlogical aspects male and female humans develop within repressive and controlling environments, such as abusive parents, punishing schools, inhumane prisons, reactionary regimes, patriarchy.
Since Freud, psychoanalysis has revealed that might making right on any scale, in any uniform, generates neuroses and many other psycho-zone pathologies. Megalomania, narcissism and sadism are characterlogical facets common to and manifest among authoritarian control-freaks such as Mussolini, Hitler and Trump.
Their inundating bellicosity and fetishized masculinity appeal to certain demographics because those demographics are — whether they know it or not — familiar with abuse, familiar enough, in transactional terms, to be comfortable with the abusers in charge.
Alex Ricca, Blue Lake
I disagree with the authors that Trump isn't the cause of current "lies and disinformation" because birtherism and death panels preceded him. But, these are still Trump — the early days. In NYC he got used to being a celebrity due to lambasting the Central Park 5, his TV show and his splashy real estate deals. He increased his megaphone and had fun challenging Obama's U.S. birth and the legitimacy of the Affordable Care Act. He luxuriated in the attention and, like other New Yorkers, put the show on the road nationally. But, he peaked too soon and we saw the grift. This was all Trump and now he can join his fellows in Florida. Fore.
Susan Franke, McKinleyville