I recently came across an essay one of my BYU professors shared in 1991 or 1992. As an English major at that time, BYU felt far more open-minded and heterodox than it currently does. We weren’t sure where the Church would land on various controversial topics, but progress seemed likely.
These events were in the pre-September Six time frame which occurred just after my graduation. It was in this pre-backlash moment when one of my professors (a real favorite) published an essay that I have thought about occasionally since then, with varying levels of agreement and dissatisfaction. In the essay, he makes a few central points:
- That faculty (and students!) cannot take political positions without reflecting on the university.
- That activism may be immature and wrong, but reactionary anti-activism, to squelch dissent, is worse; you can tell the approach is worse by how defensive its proponents are.
- That ignoring activists’ and minority voices contradicts our stated values of freedom, integrity and respect for truth.
POLITICAL ACTIVISM AT BYU
Where do I stand on political activism? It’s more a matter of where I sit: solidly on the fence. From here on the fence (I’m an expert fence-sitter–been here since the War in Heaven) both activists and anti-activists look wrong.
BYU political activists are wrong to assume they can take political positions without involving the university. As BYU professors and BYU students we represent not only our position but the institution’s, whether we like that or not, intend that or not. No matter how carefully we insist on our personal opinions, in public we will be allowed no private opinions. We see ourselves as ourselves first, BYU issue second, but the citizen in Orem will inevitably see us the other way around; she will rise from the television news where we have said “This is not the view of BYU” saying, “George, that woman from BYU says…”
We cannot separate ourselves from the university in the public eye unless we actually separate ourselves. I learned this lesson the practical way. When a university president attempted to curtail my God-given constitutionally-guaranteed right to political activism, I accused him of coercing me to “lie by silence.” He responded with a reminder that “there is a longstanding tradition in academia–those who disagree with the host institutions go to another institution.”
So my activism was wrong, officially wrong. But the university president’s anti-activism was wrong, too. Wrong to say “love it or leave it.” Wrong to think my opinion didn’t matter. Wrong to fail to realize any university (and certainly BYU with its enthusiasm for freedom and its urge toward integrity and its respect for truth) is not just its president, but us–all of us, students and faculty and staff and all of us.
And maybe most crucially BYU is our minority voices, our dissonant voices, our differing voices. Maybe we contribute most to each other not through our similarities, the things we already have in common, but through our differences. Maybe there must needs be opposition, and maybe that need is greater on this homogenized campus than on most. Maybe institutions grow like trees, with stable orthodox solid deadwood at the core, on the tiny periphery the crucial expansive living edge. Maybe our minority voices are not merely tolerable but vital to our BYU growth, our expansion, our repentance. And heaven knows we need repentance.
So from here on the fence it looks like we’re all wrong at BYU about political activism. Some activists among us appear irresponsible, even immature. Some anti-activists among us seem reactionary, even repressive. But I can clearly see, from this fence-sitting vantage point, who’s least wrong.
I was embarrassingly old when I realized there were other points of view about life than the one I thought was the only one. When I finally got around to asking my mother, “Which ward is the Catholic Ward?” Mom’s answer stunned me. Her revelation that people viewed the universe from other than my true and living perspective stung me to come up with a surefire key to recognize, in an unsettling world of competing perspectives, the best perspective. I think it’s a key we can agree on even though I invented it at the age of eight: Can’t we identify the truest perspective, the most accurate view, as the least defensive perspective, the position least protective of itself, most open to the truth of competing perspectives?
The measure for me of the maturity of a viewpoint and ultimately of its truthfulness is its openness, its capacity for listening to other points of view. From here on the campus fence, BYU political activists don’t do too well by that measure. Anti-activists at BYU, in their refusal to listen to activist concerns, do worse. Sometimes I wish the activists would quiet down. Maybe they could if the rest of us would listen up.SW
We certainly seem to be in another reactionary moment in the Church, and these same controversial conversations keep coming back, still without any satisfactory resolution. The potential of women in the Church feels far more limited than it did when I was a student, although there has been slow, often unacknowledged, progress. The Church’s stance on gay people is both better (in contrast to actual torture) and worse (in contrast to the freedom and potential for happiness that exists outside the Church). The racism in the Church frankly feels worse than it did at that time, although the amazing BYU Black Menaces didn’t exist back then. Sometimes activism just brings the reactive nastiness to the surface, making it hard to ignore. It was doubtless easier when I was a student to imagine that things were better than they were.
I have mixed feelings about my professor’s assertion that students represent the university in the same way I dislike the idea that individual members are obligated to represent the church. Certainly, when I took part in the anti-white supremacist rally, my motive was to represent the Church as being anti-bigotry. And yet, nobody saw Conchar Farr as speaking for the Church as a whole, just as one faithful viewpoint within the ranks. But it’s untenable to expect every individual to consider all their statements and opinions in light of the Church’s current priorities rather than their own experience and values. It renders every individual a propaganda machine.
It also makes the Church look bad when people are clearly not being real. I am reminded of a comment someone made on one of the blogs years ago. He said he wasn’t a member but was in discussion with the missionaries, and just seeing that there were Mormons having these types of discussions made him feel that it was probably a good church to join. Ahem.
Under Pres. Hinckley, the “I’m a Mormon” campaign took the opposite approach from this reactionary anti-activism crackdown, by showcasing individuals as having diverse opinions, life experiences, and trajectories. The project showed that diverse perspectives made the organization stronger and more attractive than requiring all Church members to represent the same correlated opinions and lifestyles. This made us appear far less defensive and more open-minded. Are those days gone?
The other problem I see with my professor’s assertion is that the more conservative a person is, the less likely they are to value diverse perspectives, instead giving extra weight to authority, which in our gerontocratic church tends to be reactionary and protective of the status quo. Expecting those who don’t find the status quo satisfactory or even consistent with the gospel to shut up and toe the party line is to exchange the gospel for a cult of (conservative) leadership; Jesus was a revolutionary, not a reactionary.
Additionally, my professor’s description of activists as “immature” feels like a simple generational tug-of-war. It’s entirely possible to be elderly and immature. As the old adage goes, you can have ten years of experience and wisdom or ten individual years of reliving the same experience without growing, which further crystallizes your existing opinions and conclusions. Are some still fighting battles they lost when they were young? The fact that BYU still equates beards with the sexual revolution is telling.
Leaving one’s Church is easier the younger one is, and if the rising generation isn’t understood and can’t influence the direction of our Church, they will not want to inherit it. If we conflate the Church with the opinions of the elderly and excoriate the twenty-somethings for their idealism as if it’s a sin, we might as well write the obituary for our religion now.
- Is it fair / wise to expect all Church members (and BYU students) to temper their words and actions as a reflection of the Church? Why or why not?
- Do you agree with my professor that the least defensive perspective is the least wrong?
- How do we increase our willingness to listen to other perspectives? Are church members only willing to listen when opinions are backed by leaders?
- Is the Church progressing and growing over time or is it relitigating the past?
- What does the Church call activism? Is their definition the same as yours?
Maybe I just had a different experience at BYU than others. I was among a contingent of law students that were socially conscious and liberal. We organized and hosted a antinuke, antiwar symposium at which Hugh Nibley was the keynote. We protested Casper Weinberger when he spoke on campus. We never had any push back from the faculty or the administration. In fact it was just the opposite. When we petitioned for official recognition as a group we were given a faculty advisor that was supportive and superb. It was my experience at the law school that really set me on a lifetime of liberal politics and causes. Having not attended BYU for undergrad, I came expecting a closed and conservative student body and faculty. I found just the opposite. Granted my exposure was pretty limited to the law school.
Yes, there seems to be a huge contrast between the mildly progressive “I’m a Mormon” Hinckley-Monson era and the reactionary Nelson-Oaks “that’s a win for Satan” era.
LDS leaders see any disagreement as a form of rebellion and any public statement beyond “I love the Church and its inspired leaders, especially our Beloved Prophet” as activism on the road to apostasy. There is no such thing as positive or beneficial activism in their eyes.
It’s amazing how quickly the Church moved from pragmatic and successful accommodation to seige-mentality retrenchment — largely driven by leadership panic over the granting of civil rights to gays and the emergence of gay marriage.
By definition, would not anti- activism be a form of activism?
Regardless, any influence exerted by any member of the church or group of members must fulfill the responsibilities for issue advocacy outlined in D&C 121. And I think it applies specifically to all church leaders.
This: “If the rising generation isn’t understood and can’t influence the direction of our Church, they will not want to inherit it.” Exactly! That was the point of this Parable of the Piano:
The antique piano was a lovely piece of polished mahogany
a symbol of the parents’ good taste presiding in the parlor
expensively displayed for guests to admire and moreso its owners
a testament of fine breeding and culture, the piano bespoke promise.
No one played it of course.
Refinement, though, did not describe the children of the house
much to their parents’ dismay. So unlike the instrument,
smudged and disorderly, the children never behaved
as an instrument should, finely tuned. They lacked the decorum
of an etude; their labors fell short of a concerto’s grace.
No one was allowed near it of course.
“You’re too close. This is a priceless piece.
You might scratch the wood and mar its beauty.
You might chip one of the keys. Do please be careful.
Someday it will be yours,” the parents promised.
No one disputed it was a precious heirloom of course.
Years yawned while the piano sat untouched
a source of pride for the parents and their guests
while the children grew and moved away.
The parents died and now the piano gathers dust
in the backroom of a second-hand music store downtown.
None of the children would have it of course.
This question: “Do you agree with my professor that the least defensive perspective is the least wrong?”
No, I disagree. The least defensive perspective may very well be the person who is not at any risk of losing something important. The least defensive perspective may not have a dog in the fight, any skin in the game, or whatever metaphor you want to use. The least defensive perspective may be a good mediator, and their input may be valuable from a more detached perspective. However, I wouldn’t trust someone without a dog in the fight to come up with a real solution.
“How do we increase our willingness to listen to other perspectives?”
Identify the threat the other perspective presents and find a way to neutralize that threat before talking to the person who disagrees with you. For example, conservatives who believe gay marriage will destroy society could look around and notice that since gay marriage was legalized in 2016, none of the hysterical slippery-slope and worst-case-scenarios have actually materialized. They could also notice that in other countries, in which gay marriage has been legal far longer than in the USA, those worst case scenarios haven’t happened either. They can thus chill out and talk to gays about their civil rights without feeling like all of their own civil rights will evaporate if they extend rights to people who aren’t like them.
I’m hoping that the Church’s recent announcement that it won’t oppose marriage and civil rights for gays will move the Church and many of its members in this direction. Gay marriage isn’t a threat to heterosexual marriage; reactionary panic isn’t necessary anymore.
Just like the liberal universities that conservative members of the Church like to demonize, BYU has its own form of political correctness and virtue signaling. The subjects and parameters may be different but the behavior is the same between far left universities and BYU. At a far left university, you better be careful about the language you use to describe anyone but white hetro-sexual males. At BYU, you better be careful the way you talk about abortion or the Church. Good luck being a Republican at many far left universities. Have fun being a Democrat at BYU. It’s really all the same kind of behavior and group think.
Is there true academic freedom at many of our large universities? I’m not sure. I’ve read plenty of stories about conservatives being shouted down in classrooms and assemblies and other gatherings. As for BYU, are you really allowed to look into the life of Brigham Young the way a UVA student can look into Thomas Jefferson (note: Thomas Jefferson founded UVA)? Is the study of religion and the Church really wide open?
As a BYU grad married to a BYU grad, I was very much against sending any of my kids to BYU for a variety of reasons (and I was a TBM when 3 of the 4 of them started college). I think I’ve come to the conclusion that college is a time to challenge your beliefs and world view. That’s how you grow. I would speculate that 95% of parents who send their kids to BYU want their kids to find reinforcement to their religious beliefs and political views. In other words, the kind of experience I wanted for my kids (even as a TBM) was 180 degrees from BYU’s value proposition.
“We certainly seem to be in another reactionary moment in the Church, and these same controversial conversations keep coming back, still without any satisfactory resolution.”
Absolutely remarkable the evident unconcern amongst senior leaders re: LDS brain drain, especially those gifted young people who opt out of BYU in favor of less indoctrinated climes. Anecdotally it seems that well over half of these leave fellowship. That’s gonna come back & haunt the institutional church in a big way.
In my 70 years, I have seen the church swing back and forth between progress and retrenchment a couple of times now. The progress is never enough, and the retrenchment over time seems to be winning. And as our leaders live longer lives, we are led more and more by leaders significantly older than the average member. The leaders also are further removed from the people, making more of a bubble around those leaders. Are the leaders so isolated from the members that they have stopped learning and are just fighting battles they lost ages ago and fail to recognize that beards are no longer just for drug abusing hippies? I think the situation is getting worse.
As to the idea that anti activism is worse than activism, I agree that the defensiveness of anti activism sure tells you something about the anti activism. The insecurity is pretty good proof that the anti activists are afraid of losing power. They are in the wrong and somewhere in their hard hearted hearts, they know it.
I can pinpoint the exact talk that caused my to decide the church is not at all the truth loving institution it claims. Boyd K. Packer when he said that the three greatest enemies of the church were homosexuals, intellectuals, and feminists. The defensiveness in the statement against people who wanted to find truth and people who wanted to be treated like human beings, told me that the church is against truth and equality. Yikes.
But Janey is correct also that you don’t want someone with no dog in the fight. Either because they are totally uninvolved in the situation with nothing to lose, or because they have nothing *left* to lose. If they have absolutely nothing to lose, they can be dangerous. Which is why sometimes the anger from the oppressed is so scary. Think French Revolution. Do the women currently protesting the Taliban have anything to lose?
So, it s best if those in power start listening before the oppressed have nothing left to lose.
“That activism may be immature and wrong, but reactionary anti-activism, to squelch dissent, is worse”
I can see that view to some extent. Granted, much activism in the past, i.e., union movements in the late 1800s to protest practical slave labor treatment of mill workers and the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, have been some of the most important activism we’ve ever had as a country. So no, activism is not entirely “immature” and “wrong.” However, I thought that some of the George Floyd protests got a bit out of hand and that the Defund the Police slogan was unwarranted. Besides everyone who sympathized with “Defund the Police” seemed to either turn it into a metaphor and say, “well, what the movement really means is reallocate resources.” And many on the left outright rejected it. It didn’t gain any traction in the least.
But the right-wing counterreaction to the protests and the wave of antiracism has been full-throated racism. So if anyone raises the issue of “how bad” the George Floyd protests were (93% peaceful, by the way), I counter by raising the point of just how the right somehow managed to outcrazy itself (who thought it was possible) in its hyperventilative reactions to the antiracist movement and how it has embraced overt racism (especially against immigrants) in a reactionary response. Plus, the cost of the small percentage of destructive protests, many of these not actually left-wing protests but racist Boogaloo boys and radical libertarians, was at most $2 billion nationally. Not great. But why the radio silence on the $9 billion in damages to the US economy that Texas governor Greg Abbott’s 10-day border stunt caused, wherein he tightened border control causing massive delays and spoiling food?
josh h, “Is there true academic freedom at many of our large universities?”
More than there has ever been. Statistically speaking, there is no free speech crisis at universities. In fact, many statistical studies show a vast expansion of academic freedom at universities over the last five decades. On the so-called freedom crisis, all there are are anecdotes. And there have always been anecdotes. The anecdotes have changed in nature, sure. But there have long been outlier severe reactions and overreactions that get ample media coverage but don’t reflect general norms. Don’t get fooled by charlatans crying wolf about a non-existent problem.
John W: I like data as much as the next guy but I really don’t understand your statement that the George Floyd protests were “93% peaceful”. I saw many of our cities burning in the summer of 2020 (including where I was living at the time in Scottsdale Az) so were my eyes lying? As for your assertion that statistics show our universities are mostly free, I guess you haven’t had a kid in college lately? I’ve had four and they’ve all told me how careful you have to be these days including what kind of Halloween costume is “appropriate”. My kids are all moderate to liberal (no conservatives) so no they don’t have an ax to grind.
Josh h, from a very comprehensive ACLED report on the George Floyd protests: “Approximately 94% of all pro-BLM demonstrations have been peaceful, with 6% involving reports of violence, clashes with police, vandalism, looting, or other destructive activity. In the remaining 6%, it is not clear who instigated the violent or destructive activity. While some cases of violence or looting have been provoked by demonstrators, other events have escalated as a result of aggressive government action, intervention from right-wing groups or individual assailants, and car-ramming attacks. In contrast, demonstrations involving right-wing militias or militant social movements have turned violent or destructive over twice as often, or nearly 14% of the time.” https://acleddata.com/2021/05/25/a-year-of-racial-justice-protests-key-trends-in-demonstrations-supporting-the-blm-movement/. You have to take into consideration that the 2020 protests were the largest protests ever in US history, with some 16-25 million participating. Seven percent of 25 million is 1,750,000, so that is a large number, even if it is a small percentage. Yes there was lots of destruction. $1-2 billion, as I said in my previous comment. And yes, some destructive protesters were leftists. Shame on them. They should be prosecuted. But antiracist protests weren’t the only protests happening in 2020. Lots of right-wing and accelerationist counterprotests. Lots of unwarranted and illegal police brutality during the protests.
On academic freedom, here is from the Academic Freedom Index, which shows academic freedom in the US and Western Europe at a high, peaking in 2021: https://www.fau.eu/2022/03/03/news/research/academic-freedom-on-the-decline/. I do stand corrected, though. Because it does show: 1) a drastic decline in academic freedom outside the US and EU. 2) A recent drop in freedom in the US/EU just last year. However, the data does not show a decline during the Trump years, when conservative media was blowing its horn about losses of academic freedom at universities due to an ill-defined “wokeness crisis.” Other metrics I’ve read actually show a decline in the US due to “bills [that] were enacted restricting universities from teaching ‘divisive concepts’ which often include race, gender and sexuality, while historically black colleges and universities received targeted bomb threats throughout 2022” (https://sciencebusiness.net/news-byte/academic-freedom-under-threat-around-world). So I really don’t see left-wing “wokeness” as having impinged on academic freedom. And yes, I know the anecdotes and I condemn them just as much as you. To hell with the idiot girls who kicked out of a university study room a guy with a Police Lives Matter sticker on his laptop and his friend with a Didn’t Vote for Biden T-shirt. To hell with people who falsely accused Gibson Bakery of racism, thus putting it out of business. Gibson Bakery rightly deserved the $36 million they got from Oberlin College by court order. To hell with the students who accused a professor of racism for saying “neige” (meaning “uh, well” in Mandarin), which he clearly stated was Mandarin, when they wrongly heard the n word. To hell with all people who wrongfully accuse others of racism, homophobia, and sexism thus resulting in their job losses and public shaming (different story if they are correctly accused of racism). Let’s also not pretend that the right doesn’t also love to accuse people of racism.
They throw that word around idly and wrongfully as well. Consider how Trump recently called New York Attorney General Letitia James a “racist” because of her efforts in investigating fraud in Trump’s business activities in New York. But all right-wing criers of racism seem to have made up a fake racism. The left-wing criers of racism have more basis and evidence behind their cries of racism. There are extreme wokists out there for sure. But I don’t see those anecdotes showing up in the stats. If anything the threat to freedom seems to be coming from the right, who is actually passing legislation banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory, more than the left. Halloween costumes have long been a point of controversy. In decades prior, the controversies were about the appropriateness of revealing Halloween costumes and crossdressing. Now no longer as much of a controversy. Norms change. But there has always been cultural controversy.
To put things in perspective about speech, I’ve been watching the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime. It is a fictional story that integrates the story of Lenny Bruce, in part, who was a real person. He was convicted for obscenity just for saying some swear words in his bits. That was just in the 1960s. We’ve come a long ways.
Josh H: Scottsdale “burning” during the George Floyd protests? I also lived in Scottsdale during the George Floyd protests. There was looting & destruction at the Fashion Square Mall in Old Town, but nothing was “burning.” Friends of ours had their store ransacked (thankfully they were insured, and they were also fairly sympathetic about the cause). There were also several peaceful protests, including the two different ones my kids participated in, although one was more focused on Dion Johnson who was murdered by AZ cops by Desert Ridge who said their bodycam was turned off, and then ADOT had footage that contradicted the cop’s account of what he did and when Dion died. The cops were incredibly aggressive toward protesters, including training snipers on them and “kettling” the crowd.
So, what are you referring to when you are saying Scottsdale was burning?
I will agree that the current generation of college kids have to be more sensitive than we were or face backlash and social ostracism. It’s true that they can’t use the R word or the N word or the gay-slur that starts with F (although according to my daughter, plenty of them do, you just know their political views if they do). I for one am not lamenting the loss of those specific freedoms.
Dave (not B): The activism you engaged in while at BYU is similar to my experience as well. College students SHOULD be involved in activism. That’s part of determining your adult values and growing up.
Janey: You have put your finger on the exact problem with my professor’s statement! People for whom the stakes are low will always be less defensive, but that doesn’t make them right (unless we are arguing that the status quo is always righter than progress, which he was not). I think he was more focused on the polarized reactionaries and activists, not the “impartial fence-sitters” like himself who basically don’t really lose out personally if women, gay people, and people of color are marginalized, except in that personal growth way. Missing out on valuable life lessons is always lower stakes than wading through oppression, making less money for the same work, or being burdened with additional mental labor.
Angela C: I guess we are now in fact-check-mode. I am not able to confirm that there were any fires during the vandalism at Fashion Square Mall. So my assertion that Scottsdale was “burning” might not be technically accurate. However, there was destruction and looting that resulted in millions of dollars in damage. That really hit home because we frequent that mall. `I think you’ll acknowledge that there were multiple instances of our cities “burning” in the summer of 2020 but let’s celebrate that for Scottsdale it was simply vandalism and looting.
I know there are people on here who think “cry me a river” or “first world problems” when they see a high end mall in Scottsdale or a Mercedes Benz dealership in Oakland vandalized. They probably think the “eat the rich” mentality is OK. In fact, I heard a justification that “property can be replaced” but lives can not. I condemned Jan 6 and I condemned the race riots of 2020. But I know many people who are only willing to condemn one or the other.
The George Floyd protests were the largest and costliest in U.S. history. Roughly 15-26 million people were involved–out of which 14 thousand have been arrested. So, yes, the majority of folks were peaceful–but because the overall numbers were so great the small percentage of those who were violent still amounts to a lot of folks doing a lot of damage.
I participated along with several members of my ward in BLM protests. There were no acts of violence by the protestors. There was one case where a car was set on fire and as it turned out it was done an outside agitator. I was part of the legal team that gathered evidence and represented BLM protestors that were injured by police crowd control devices that were deployed for literally no reason. So I’m pretty done with the narrative of BLM protestors instigating violence. In our city we had a police killing of an unarmed naked man in mental distress a few months before George Floyd. The death was covered up by the mayor who was forced to resign. So if there ever was a city at the boiling point it was ours and the crowds were entirely peaceful.
“Sometimes I wish the activists would quiet down. Maybe they could if the rest of us would listen up.”. This line really struck me as profound. It reminds me of when I calmly ask my kids to stop fighting but they don’t respond until I yell at them. Then they look wounded because I yelled. We really do need to listen more. For me this is why I love the long form of Mormon stories. The individual lives are more interesting than rehashing Joseph smiths polygamy over and over.
Josh h: I’m sure you are aware of this but there are plenty of conservative leaning universities out there. Your comment makes it sound like BYU is the only one. It’s not.
Also josh h and Jack: Peaceful protests rarely make history, or headlines. All the protests in my county were peaceful. Also let’s remember that stores can be rebuilt. But George Floyd is still gone.
josh h, “But I know many people who are only willing to condemn one or the other.”
I share your frustration. Honestly, when the protests first emerged in Minneapolis in 2020, I was utterly appalled at the vandalism and arson taking place and flustered that many on the left seemed slow to condemn it. I was also appalled to hear people minimizing the problem of damage to property. Imagine if that was your house. Your car. You would feel extremely distressed and violated.
However, I reject “both sides” arguments. 1) The two sides are complex. In a country of 330+ million people, there are many different shades. 2) It is important to weigh the egregiousness of the actions and words of one side against that of the other. They aren’t equal in weight. Nor are they equal in type and shape. In the end, the 2020 protests were protesting something real, which was police brutality and lack of police accountability in several horrific incidents. Additionally they were protesting structural/systemic racism, which by many different metrics is a real phenomenon. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was held accountable for in murderous negligence and rightfully so. I have strong reason to believe that he wouldn’t have been were it not for the protests. By contrast, the Stop the Steal protests, which resulted in the deaths of 5 police officers and the injury of 140+ police officers on Jan. 6, were about no real problem at all. They were based on complete fabrications and lies. There was no voter fraud on a scale that would affect the outcome of the 2020 election. Trump lost. It was a basic demonstrable fact that far, far too many refused to accept. More importantly, why did they refuse to accept this reality? Because the leader of the Republican Party and the President of the United States himself Donald J. Trump refused to accept the reality at hand and galvanize his supporters to action. Had he conceded, even if it were not until the electoral college vote, there would have been no Jan. 6 insurrection. Contrast that with the Defund the Police movement. That is a movement that is completely grassroots. No leading Democratic politicians supports or supported it, let alone the very leading figures themselves. So yes, as a proud registered Democrat who faithfully votes every year for Democrats and donates money to Democratic campaigns, I am willing to acknowledge some faults on the left, although many of these so-called faults appear to be made-up or based perhaps on a sliver of truth and then blown out of proportion and/or ignorant of the context. But the problems on the right simply seem far weightier and more dangerous. “Both sides” aren’t equally as bad. And it perplexes me that a number of people insist, just insist, that they are and that I am closed minded not to agree with them.
John W: I appreciate your perspective. And I don’t want to equate the two sides either. The Jan 6 / Stop the Steal movement is total crap. I lived in Argentina for almost 5 years and even there they would laugh at a Trump-like argument about a rigged election.
“Demilitarize the police” would have been a more meaningful slogan. The extra 3 syllables are worth it for the clarity.