In Pursuit of “Bread and Circuses”
John Goldberg’s recent column included the following headline: Both sides need to ditch whataboutism and condemn bad actors. The overwhelming level of irony, which is contained in his commentary, is apparently lost on him. His piece is saturated with so much irony that it borders on the fringes of humor, albeit a dark humor.
To his credit, Goldberg, correctly identifies “the hothouse summer of riots.” He resists the more politically expedient habit of referring to repeated series of violence and destruction as “mostly peaceful protests.” Goldberg decries “whataboutism,” but he goes out of his way to describe the single protest-turned-riot of January 6th as “uniquely despicable … American carnage.” He warns against “gross generalizations,” but he alleges that the defining motive and singular goal of “MAGA-hat wearing Trumpists … was to override the Constitution and install an unelected demagogue as President.” He collectively refers to some segment of those in attendance as “cop killers.”
Goldberg ignores that many Trump supporters, who traveled to Washington, D.C. on that day, learned of the occupation of the Capitol not via first-hand experience but from media and on the evening news like most of the rest of us. He ignores the fact that the vast majority of the crowd, which was estimated by NBC to be as many as 30,000, never set foot inside the building much less directly participated in the resulting destruction.
Goldberg omitted references to the not less than nineteen (19) deaths that occurred during the summer riots. He made no mention of the $1–2 Billion in property damage resulting from regular and repeated incidents of vandalism, looting, and arson. Most importantly, he ignores the support (tacit or overt), which was extended to the rioters by politicians and aligned activists. Their unjustified silence or tacit support is indicative of the benefits, which they derived (either directly or indirectly) from the unrest and turmoil.
Those benefits now having been received, its easy for those parties to follow Goldberg’s suggestion “to be at the forefront of condemning the rioters.” That condemnation would have been more meaningful had it been timely and contemporaneous to the summer riots. Goldberg’s admonition, which in essence commands Republicans to fall on their swords after watching Democrats benefit from the previous chaos, will almost certainly fall upon deaf ears.
Just as Trump was the inevitable byproduct of an Imperial Presidency, which was embraced and advanced by his predecessor, Barack Obama, the Capitol Riot was seeded by the 2020 riots. Those, who benefited but stood back and did nothing, and others, who offered insincere explanations and self-serving excuses, bear similar responsibility in fomenting violence and nurturing unrest. The natural consequences and predictable results of their errors and omissions came to fruition on January 6th.
Circumstances as they are, it is more than a little too late to take the high road. The legacy parties and their political minions diverged from the moral straight-and-narrow decades ago. This is not about having the wrong person(s) in the wrong office(s). This is not about one political party being superior to another. It is about commanding of government things, for which that institution is ill-suited and which are incompatible with the inherent nature of the beast. It is about unreasonable expectations. It is about blatant lies and unabashed hypocrisy.
The legacy parties are complicit in declaring “war,” and each believes itself and its supporters to be deserving of the spoils of war. “Whataboutism” is just both sides pointing out flaws and shortcomings, which should be conspicuously obvious to everyone already. It should be similarly obvious that politics and government are unlikely to provide suitable solutions to personal challenges or viable answers to societal ills. Nevertheless, an increasingly dependent populous will continue to look to government as a panacea and eagerly await their next unsatisfying short-term “fix.” They crave and covet what Juvenal called, “Bread and Circuses.”