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January 6 Hearings Shine a Light on the ‘Vast Carelessness’ of Powerful People

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”  – From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”

In the novel “The Great Gatsby,” the narrator, Nick Carraway, surveys the carnage wrought by people of wealth and power. The carelessness of Tom and Daisy left people dead, ruined others’ lives forever and they walked away unscathed. 

That passage seemed fitting on Tuesday during the U.S. House January 6 committee hearings. Witness after witness talked about the false accusations leveled against them amid the giant lie of massive election fraud. Much like “The Great Gatsby,” people are now dead, lives have been shattered and people of wealth and power have walked away. 

The people who started and preached these lies were careless of others’ lives. But even worse, they were intentional in their attempts to mislead, to create anger that would seek a violent outlet. They packed the atmosphere with gunpowder, doused it with gasoline and lit the fuse.

And when violence erupted on January 6, 2021, they watched with glee. Others, those Americans of good conscience proud of centuries of peaceful transfer of power, looked at the events of that day with disdain.

This is America, an example for the world. This is not a backwards nation where coup after coup transfers power from one authoritarian regime to another. That day the world saw images of our Capitol under attack by our own people. Those images haunt those, both here and around the world, who see America as a “shining city on a hill,” with our centuries-old traditions upholding the rule of law.

Unbelievably, there are those who minimize, downplay or dismiss what happened that day. It’s hard to overstate that day’s events and what has happened in its wake. Threats of violence, threats of “civil war,” and even talk of secession have moved beyond fringe talk. A U.S. Senate candidate has even run an ad holding a gun and stating his desire to “Hunt RINOs”  with no tags needed and with no limits. 

What have we become?

Those who believed the lies and stormed the Capitol are being prosecuted and convicted. Their lives have been turned upside down. They were but  pawns. The puppet masters behind the lies hide behind their wealth, power and battalions of expensive attorneys, paid for by the graft from those who believe the lies. The Toms and Daisys have yet to pay a price for their sins against democracy’s foundations in America.

During Tuesday’s hearings, we heard more about the damage done, this time to innocent people whose lives were cast into this turmoil. 

The witnesses were people who’d chosen public service because they believed in this country. They were not people seeking wealth, or the limelight. Some were elected officials. One was an election worker proud of her role because her grandparents and other relatives were denied the right to vote because of their race.

And from the highest office in the land came knowingly fraudulent allegations and character assassination against anyone; even election workers proudly doing a thankless job. 

Fulton County election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss were ambushed by vicious lies wrongly calling into question their integrity.

“Do you know what it feels like to be targeted by the President of the United States?” Ruby Freeman asked.

She was attacked for correctly doing her job in service to the law of the land.

Republican Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers also came under attack for honoring his oath to the Constitution. But to those attacking him, the concept of honor and fulfilling an oath is meaningless. 

He read on Tuesday from a journal passage he’d written in December of 2020: “I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to with any contrived desire towards deflection of my desire to follow God’s will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace. How else will I ever approach him in the wilderness of life knowing that I asked this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course he led me to take?”

He stood in defiance of the cowardice others asked of him to fulfill their plots. From the Old Testament comes a lesson showing the folly of those conspiring to subvert what is right. 

“They resolve on their wicked plan; they conspire to set snares, saying ‘who will see us?’ They devise a wicked scheme, and conceal the scheme they have devised; deep are the thoughts of each heart. But God shoots his arrows at them; suddenly they are struck. He brings them down by their own tongues; all who see them nod their heads.” –Psalm 64: 6-9

To Freeman, Moss, Bowers and everyone else who has faced ridicule, threats and even worse for standing by the rule of law, vindication is yours in the eyes of everyone who truly loves this country. You avoided the snares set by these people and for that your consciences are clear.

But for those careless and intentional people who have tried twisting the law for your own ambitions of power, you cannot outrun history’s judgment and inevitable verdict.