In Letters to the Editor to the Powell Tribune dated Aug. 17, 2021, Mary Keller, current Wyoming Rising chair, spoke out against the Cheney “firing” and the Big Lie. Former chair, Harriet Bloom Wilson, criticized the Trump train in the recent parade in Powell. Thank you leaders for your opinions!
Last November, sensing trouble while anticipating renewed civility, I wrote about Honeybee Democracy as a prayer of sorts that people in the county facing disappointment after the election (whichever way it went) might consider the wisdom of bees. The natural world is such a breath of fresh air. When the hive isn’t flourishing, bees follow the scout bees whose collective intelligence leads democratically to the new home where the colony can thrive.
Sensing more trouble after the election, I turned to Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s short handbook “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century,” listening to the audiobook while skijoring with my dog, breathing in the fresh air of Sylvan Pass. Published in 2017, Snyder had been watching the Trump candidacy as a historian immersed in the lessons of 20th century tyrants. When Jan. 6 happened, I was informed, not surprised. Snyder had laid out all the components of the Big Lie that led people to violence that day. I write now because of the opportunities opened by recent Park County Republican leadership activities. This is a moment for scout bees to rise above
the circumstances, restore basic conventions of truth and move forward with anticipation.
We are a community that preserves honesty and works for our children’s ecological future. I understand what the local leadership is doing with their message to the world that they will no longer recognize Rep. Cheney as “the official Republican Congressional Representative.” They admit they can’t fire her. Who’d be silly enough to take them seriously? I am.
They are normalizing the Big Lie. The antics of the letter are not window dressing. The antics are at work, making the unreal real. “You’re fired” is farce from a reality TV show being applied to an actual election (lesson No. 9). They are abusing jargon, delivering the absurd (against the root), rendering silent the majority in the Park County Republican Party whose ethics should otherwise be resisting the circus (No. 5).
1. Do not obey in advance. (Tyrants count on the majority being overcome by obeying in advance.)
2. Defend institutions.
3. Beware the one-party state.
4. Take responsibility for the world.
5. Remember professional ethics.
6. Be wary of paramilitaries.
7. Be reflective if you must be armed.
8. Stand out. (One Republican in Park County voted against the wording, not the intent, of the letter. She stands out a little).
9. Be kind to our language. (Repetition of outrageous lies makes them true. Final solutions become mundane jobs. Violent insurrections become tourist visits.)
10. Believe in truth.
11. Investigate. (Read books rather than scrolling.)
12. Make eye contact and small talk.
13. Practice corporeal politics.
14. Establish a private life.
15. Contribute to good causes.
16. Learn from peers in other countries.
17. Listen for dangerous words (“we will no longer recognize her” is a childish pout and a direct threat to the democratic process)
18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. (Jan. 6? Canceling Rep. Cheney?)
19. Be a patriot. (He contrasts patriotism and nationalism.)
20. Be as courageous as you can.
I’m guessing that the letter writers understand themselves to be the ones fighting tyranny, but rejecting Cheney because she is speaking the truth about the election result and what happened on Jan. 6 (No. 10)? She is participating with the institutions of Congress to provide evidence and testimony (Nos. 2, 11). There’s nothing courageous in groupthink.
Next? Look for profanity on flags at a corner near you. That’s the game and it’s meant to numb our will to resist while eroding the standards of civility so that Jan. 6 is successfully revised as a banal tourist visit. Hold my beer and watch this.
Thank you for your editorial calling on our better angels to strive for civility, at least in public settings. I wish that simple concept would have prevailed at the Park County Fair Parade when the organizers apparently saw no problem in allowing a highly partisan group to enter not one but two floats alongside community-conscious organizations, local businesses and several enrichment entrants, like Stomp and Company and the Wyoming Fiddlers.
For the organizers to include the Trump Train as one of the entries that “made the parade a huge success” is deeply troubling. It’s divisive, as are the businesses in town who put their political views front and center at their entrance.
Is it their intention to make some residents feel unwelcome here? Whatever the motive, the result is a damaged community.