A number of recent surveys reveal that up to one third of those polled agreed that it is justified for citizens to take violent action against the government. We saw that in real time on January 6, 2021 at the nation’s capitol in Washington. That number should startle everyone.
The United States has a tradition of solving disputes with legislation and court action. There are exceptions to that of course, such as the civil rights and anti-war protests in the 1960s. Violence has become one of the primary forms of protest. Whatever happened to “Vote the rascals out!”?
Over the past year we have witnessed mobs at the U.S. Capitol, busting doors and windows, ransacking offices and making threats against elected officials. We saw the same type of mob in Lansing, Mich., where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was the target of a violence and an assassination plot. Twenty years into the 21st century has brought us to a place where some feel they have no recourse but to pick up arms to affect the change they seek.
This isn’t the America in which most of us grew up. A civil society has heated debates, it doesn’t strap a gun to its waist, bent on change via bullets. In the late 1990s people were concerned how they would talk to their kids about the information of the president’s sordid and shameful acts. Today’s parents and teachers should be just as concerned about how our children will be affected by scenes of violence against the government.
It is not pacifist to tell a child that violence is never the answer. “Work it out,” a parent may tell their child, yet a bully must be dealt with. The government is not a bully; it does not threaten physical harm.
Any government official, at any level, who does not condemn violence in any situation, should have to answer to the voters.
Our leaders need to take to their collective bully pulpits and call for a lowering of anger. How can we securely and confidently live in a country in which one in three people see no problem using violence to make their voices heard.
People are in pain. Politicians must listen, address that pain and take away the need for mob to descend on government steps.
(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)