Words matter

By Reade Brower | Feb 18, 2021

What we say is important; it is the way humans communicate. The intent of what we say is not always crystal clear, but usually people get the gist, especially when put in context, including the body of work preceding it when that work is extensive, consistent and conclusive.

Donald Trump once said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it; he has been proven right. His acquittal at his recent impeachment trial shows there are many who don’t care what he does and others without the guts to say “enough.”

Before Trump there was Charles Manson. He created a cult of worshipers to do his bidding. Did he order them to kill Sharon Tate and others, or was it just a subtle suggestion? How about Pamela Smart motivating her student lover to murder her husband?

Semantics are important in courts of law, but often intentions are clear, even when words aren’t. After months of the false narrative that the election was stolen from him and “the people” (his tribe), Trump was clear it was time to revolt. Lots of politicians use phrases like “fight like hell,” but they don’t mean literally that their followers should storm the Capitol building in a coup-like insurrection. It was obvious to many what Trump was advocating; "stopping the steal" could only be accomplished by disrupting Pence in his job of certifying the electoral votes.

Then, with the Capitol under siege, Trump watched on television, popcorn in bowl, not lifting a finger to stop it, after encouraging his mob to take care of traitor Pence and all others who stood in the way.

During this second impeachment it became clear what Trump’s intentions were; proving it beyond a reasonable doubt would be the stumbling block. The impartial jurors (the Senate) were not really impartial or jurors in some cases. At one point about one third of the Republicans were not even in the room listening to evidence being presented. Several prominent jurors (Republicans) met with the Trump defense team to discuss strategy. Many Republicans continued their mantra of “witch hunt” in an effort to avert their eyes from the facts and videos presented at trial, skirting their responsibilities to the American people by having their minds made up before opening arguments began.

These are the same Republicans who criticized Colin Kaepernick, helping create backlash and leading to his being blackballed from ever playing again in the NFL, just for taking a knee during the national anthem, peacefully protesting racial inequality.

Words matter. When people use the words “witch hunt,” “media mob,” “fake news” and “enemies of the state” and now “stolen election,” these mantras' intent is to create narratives of mistrust and to deflect from what is really happening. Trump has been a master manipulator, as were the aforementioned Charles Manson and Pamela Smart. They know how to motivate supporters with their special language. Nuances like “there are good people on both sides” and “stand ready." When talking about hate groups there really aren’t good people on both sides.

In the end, Trump was acquitted even though 57% of the jurors voted to convict. Among those votes to impeach were seven Republicans, including Maine Sen. Susan Collins. They will go down on the right side of history for voting their conscience. That represents about 15% of Trump’s inner family voting against him; not enough to convict, but enough to make a statement that the "witch hunt" comment is as flat as the rigged election one — you can say it over and over, but that does not make it true.

Perhaps the most poignant aftermath of Trump’s second impeachment was longtime all-in Trump supporter during the last four years, former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s impassioned speech. Though McConnell didn’t vote to convict (on technical grounds), it was obvious to him that Trump was guilty of encouraging and leading the insurrection using the false narrative of a stolen election as his backdrop. It was equally obvious to McConnell, and most Americans that the timeline presented by the prosecution proved Trump, our then acting commander-in-chief, did nothing to stop the coup attempt, putting our Congress and Senate men and women in jeopardy, including his own vice president, Mike Pence; a clear dereliction of duty.

"Treason" is not too harsh a word for what transpired, but the foregone conclusion of an impeachment trial where no fewer than 15 jurors would be MIA during the body of the trial should not be ignored.

Sen. McConnell’s speech may have elevated him from hell to purgatory, because it was a rare moment of truth-telling, and his sharing the realization that justice could still be served now that former President Trump is again just a U.S. citizen. McConnell said the acts committed may not have been impeachable, but may have been criminal. Those were McConnell’s words, not mine. Let the chips fall where they may.

***

“If I can do more, let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth’s sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.”

---Louisa May Alcott, writer, reformer (1832-1888)

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 18, 2021 08:45

Yes, words do matter. How refreshing to hear words of hope and healing from the White House. May our words do the same for those doing their best to put us at rest.



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