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In his inaugural speech, President Joe Biden spoke of what is possible through unity. It was exactly what a president should say after a convulsive horror like the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Donald Trump hordes hoping to overthrow the government and deny Biden the presidency. 

And, right on time, Republican lawmakers and pundits interpreted “unity” as adopting their agenda, full-stop.

“A radical leftist agenda in a divided country will not help unify our country,” wrote U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida on Friday. “it will only confirm 75 million Americans’ biggest fears about the new administration.”

Opinion by George D. Lang

Republicans, having shifted into “concern troll” and “deficit hawk” mode following the transition of power, are preaching a false gospel when they push for unity. They do not want consequences for fomenting the attack by Trump loyalists. 

For them, “unity” means moving on, letting bygones be bygones and total capitulation by Democrats to their agenda.

U.S. Representative Stephanie Bice, who voted with the rest of Oklahoma’s representatives to not certify the electoral college on January 5, wrote of unity in an Inauguration Day Facebook post. 

“Today, the 46th President of the United States will be sworn in. I hope that in the days ahead, my colleagues and I can focus on unity and moving forward to accomplish great things for all Americans,” Bice wrote. 

Considering that Bice could be removed from her seat for seditious acts under Section 3, Article 14 of the U.S. Constitution, I get it. But unity will not be achieved by sweeping the recent past under the rug. 

True unity is not possible without accountability. She and her Republican colleagues should brace for that accountability. 

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who famously led the sedition caucus in the effort to delegitimize the general election, is now insisting that the Biden administration not investigate his actions. After seven Democratic senators filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Hawley and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for their actions leading up to the January 6 terrorist attack, Hawley tried the “You wouldn’t hit a guy with unity on, would ya?” approach.

“Joe Biden and the Democrats talk about unity but are brazenly trying to silence dissent,” Hawley said in a statement. “This latest effort is a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge. Democrats appear intent on weaponizing every tool at their disposal — including pushing an unconstitutional impeachment process — to further divide the country.”

First, I do not know if the country could be more divided if you carved fault lines into our states’ borders. 

Second, the impeachment process is not unconstitutional, and can Yale Law School rescind a diploma? 

Third, Hawley is calling on unity in an effort to save his political ass, which shows that he is, in fact, a political ass. 

Throughout the Trump era, the Republican definition of unity was, “Get on board this train or we will run into you with it so fast, you will be reduced to a bloody mist.” They dismantled or neutered many of former President Barack Obama’s key accomplishments. They pitted races against one another, separated children from their parents at the border and fomented distrust in medicine, science and government.

All of this is to say that Republicans have an unusually rotten track record on unity, unless they are referring to their own message discipline, which is the kind of unity that propels lemmings into the ocean. 

This country will not be ready for unity until we confront the pathology that elected Trump and turned a large portion of the population into glassy-eyed conspiracy cultists. I believe that America needs a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)  like the one chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu after the fall of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. 

It was only after the airing of atrocities committed against Black South Africans that the nation was able to transition to a true democracy. Considering we nearly fell under mob rule this month, this seems like a reasonable response. 

Under the TRC, persons implicated in Apartheid-era crimes, including former President F.W. de Klerk, were offered immunity for their actions in exchange for telling the truth about what transpired during their time in power. This understandably pissed off many Black South Africans who wanted to see punishment meted out to de Klerk and his soulless predecessor, P.W. Botha, but the TRC brought out the truth in all of its ugliness, which allowed the healing to begin in that nation under its president and former dissident Nelson Mandela.

The TRC is an example of restorative justice. In a U.S. version of that scenario, Hawley and Cruz can recount everything they did leading up to the January 6 attack, resign their seats in the senate and cobble together lives in the private sector. 

The alternative is retributive justice. This would be more along the lines of the Nuremberg trials that punished Nazis for their war crimes through trial and conviction under the Henry Morgenthau Plan for denazification of Germany. I do not think Hawley or Cruz would like that much, given the outcome of those trials. 

Regardless of how we achieve justice in the wake of the attack, unity might be a tough sell. Personally, I do not think I can find unity with Qanon shaman Jake Angeli, who desecrated the Capitol while dressed like a cross between William Wallace and a Maurice Sendak character. 

And if the congressional members like Hawley, Cruz, and U.S Representatives Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia who helped spur Angeli and the rest of the seditionists to storm the Capitol continue with their disingenuous calls for unity, I do not know if we can trust them with restorative justice. 

Feature photo caption and credit: Early phase of the riot and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by Blink O’fanaye. Creative Commons license. http://www.blinkofanaye.com/

Last Updated January 22, 2021, 3:16 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor