The dangers in our midst

We need not look beyond the doors for trouble.

For years I feared the dangers outside our doors.

In the 80s, I feared the Communist threat. I feared war and destruction, and wondered if we had the fire power to hold them off. I reveled in President Ronald Reagan – icon of Republican conservatism – winning the Cold War and setting the United States as king of the mountain, once again.

After 9/11/01, I feared radical Islamic terrorism. I feared a culture and ideology that saw us as the enemy and would stop at nothing to bring us down. I was both comforted and driven with patriotic fervor, as President George W. Bush took decisive action in going after those he felt were the perpetrators of an atrocity that took nearly 3,000 of our fellow countrymen. Maybe he didn’t get everything right, but the fact that he was willing to take the fight to them, rather than brush it off, in hopes that they didn’t bring it to our shores, again, made me proud to be a Republican and an American.

For the ensuing 15 years, I likewise feared the threat within. The liberal horde was as dangerous to our way of life, our rights, our culture and economic health as any bloodthirsty terrorist. Their minds were twisted and corrupt. They surely hated this nation and the freedoms granted to us by the Constitution.

It was up to the red blooded, God-fearing, patriotic GOP to plant the flag of liberty through the cold, black heart of liberalism! We, alone, were the bulwark defending the nation from certain destruction.

And then came Donald Trump.

Following with him was the disinformation campaign of Russian bots and random grifters, pushing lies and conspiracy theories more fantastical than any J.R.R. Tolkien novel.

This horrendous phenomenon gave rise to QAnon, a shadowy internet force that seemed only to exist as a way of elevating the notion of the porcine president as a superhero, working behind the scenes, as well as centerstage to bring down evil forces in our government and around the globe.

Of course, those of us with IQs above room temperature understand how far detached from reality this is, but few of us were prepared for how deeply these lies would take root in our society. We gave our fellow Americans too much credit.

And very much like the effect the mystical One Ring had on Tolkien’s Gollum, the combination of Trump, Q conspiracies, and Fox News has twisted Republicans into grotesque shadows of what they once were. They are both savage and pitiable in their responses to a world that has not fallen under the spell of Trump.

They froth, spit, and lie, all in his service. They are immune to common sense or the most basic Civics lessons. In true Tolkien-fashion, however, they do not work alone. Trump world is inhabited by Orcs, goblins, trolls, and purveyors of the worst of human nature. These insidious, bad actors have, unfortunately, made their way into the seats of our nation’s power, via the infected GOP bloodstream. They hold elected office, and it is as if all of Washington, D.C. is in the Eye of Sauron.

Yes, just as Sauron’s lust for power corrupted him, so has the lust for power corrupted the Republican Party, and it has drawn corruption into itself.

I want to tell you that, just as it was with Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series, there is a hopeful, peaceful ending. I can’t do that, at this juncture. We are still in the darkness, and the perils that were, still are.

We drove out the bulbous goblin king, Trump, but his stench, and the wickedness that elevated him, still lingers heavy in the halls of power.

There are too many Trump-faithful Republicans littering the seats of Congress. Some of them have revealed themselves to be totally cowardly and unprincipled. Men like Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Josh Hawley have disgusted and disappointed many with their willingness to put Trumpism above the nation’s overall well-being. Even in the aftermath of a vandalized Capitol, they cling to the lie that perpetuated the violence. They cling to the myth that resulted in injury and death.

Representatives like Louie Gohmert and Matt Gaetz exhibit dizzying glee at how deep the roots of deception from their party run, and even as their numbers dwindle, they are not deterred.

But there’s something else. The lies, corruption, and all the assorted wickedness has been festering under the surface, like an inflamed boil. It has now burst, and the rot has made its way to the light. As the gut-churning putrescence bubbles up, creatures birthed in the bowels of wretched Trumpism gather and feast.

Standouts among the ravenous maggots would be the freshmen Representatives Lauren Boebert (Colorado), and the noxious Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia) – although, they are by no means, the only vermin getting fat at the trough of purulence.

In the case of Boebert, we have a high school dropout and teen mom, who obtained her GED (Good Enough Diploma) fairly recently, although multiple reports remain unclear as to exactly when. Some reports suggest it was as recently as just before beginning her campaign for Congress.

Now, I’m not slamming anyone who works and achieves their GED. What I am saying is that for most people to resort to a GED over a traditional high school diploma, something has gone awry in their lives and derailed their progress. I counsel dozens of inmates, weekly, about making the best of their incarceration and going for their GED behind bars. I see education as the best way to set them up for success and keep them from returning, once released.

Boebert and these men have something in common: extensive criminal and/or legal involvement, and very little experience in any other area.

Her background is splattered with petty crimes and citations. One was for cheering on underage drinking and interfering with police officers who were attempting to arrest the teen imbibers. Another had to do with her restaurant business, after 80 people were sickened by BBQ sandwiches she and her husband sold at a local fair.

She’s an avid supporter of gun rights, and on that, I stand with her, but I doubt our ideological paths will converge at any other point.

She boasted of carrying her gun with her to the Capitol, and recently created a fuss, when asked to pass through newly installed metal detectors.

Also, while she’s not a full-on QAnon adherent, by what we can see, she’s certainly Q-curious, and supports the notion that there might actually be some truth to the conspiracies being spouted across social media (there isn’t).

The alarming lack of education and political experience isn’t what should concern us about Boebert. Even with a GED, I’m convinced she’s more qualified for her office than Donald Trump was for the presidency.

No, what should concern us is that there are people out there who put her where she is. Experience and education are no longer valued traits for far too many Americans.

Now add to that her actions on January 6. With lawmakers barricaded inside the Capitol, and a rabid Trumpian mob tearing through the halls, she began tweeting out their (lawmakers) movements, and revealed the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Why did she do that? Some of those involved were clearly out to find Pelosi, and possibly to harm her. We know that hours before the riot, Boebert gave some of the people involved a tour of the Capitol.

As law enforcement continues to investigate what happened on that day, and who was involved, we can only pray they’ve not let their focus stray too far from potentially complicit insiders.

So what of Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene?

Well, she is a proven, full-on QAnon devotee.

And an anti-Semite. We can’t forget that. Hate of the Jewish people and the state of Israel is an ugly vein that runs deep throughout the entire QAnon movement.

In 2018, Greene posted to her Facebook account a wild theory, contending that Jewish space lasers are responsible for California wildfires.

Then there are other views:

• The QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that Donald Trump is secretly fighting a worldwide child-sex-slavery ring that was supposed to culminate in the mass arrest of his political opposition, is “worth listening to.”

(We’re still waiting…)

• Muslims don’t belong in government.

(Neither do conspiracy theorists, but here we are.)

• 9/11 was an inside job.

(The January 6 insurrection was an inside job.)

• Shootings at Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Las Vegas were staged.

(They were not, and attempts to frame them as such are vile, heartless, and completely on-brand for her ilk.)

• “Zionist supremacists” are secretly masterminding Muslim immigration to Europe in a scheme to outbreed white people.

(Just more casual anti-Semitism/racism)

• Leading Democratic officials should be executed.

(Refer to my comment on the January 6 insurrection.)

That people like Boebert and Greene can win elections in this nation should worry us all. It speaks heavily to the rapid decline in civility and reason among the citizenry. Trumpism, itself, is a symptom, only made possible by already existing conditions.

We have not yet reached the Tolkien stage of the Battle of Five Armies, but I fear it is coming: Republicans versus Democrats versus Conservative Constitutionalists versus Radical liberalism versus everyone else. Where do you stand? What can we do?

Sadly, it appears there is no noble Aragorn, nor even a Thorin Oakenshield in Washington to rise and save the day. And while there are a few voices who hold loyalty to our republic above loyalty to a party or a single man (All kudos go to Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, Adam Kinzinger, and the like), they, alone, cannot fight back the tide of ruin that is coming.

Those of us who are still cognizant of what is at stake, and remain rational in our assessment of the dangers must stand willing to fight. We must demand accountability, no matter the party of the offenders.

And we must remain awake, prayerful and vigilant in our efforts to protect this fragile republic. Once lost, we will not see it, again. The dangers we face are not outside the doors, but as January 6 showed us, they are already among us.

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