Well, we’re almost done with the first batch of hearings of the U. S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. There will be more in July, but there’s a particular lesson to be learned from what we’ve already seen, and I for one think it should be taken to heart before going any further down this road.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but when it comes to demographics, most white folks (58%) voted for Trump in 2020 while most people of color voted for Biden (61% to 87% depending on which group). So white folks voting for Democrats is a bit of “out of tribe” behavior.
What we have already seen from at least some of these white folks is an over emphasis on the bravery of other white folks like Mike Pence and Liz Cheney, while providing the caveat that “I don’t agree with them on virtually anything politically, but I admire that they…blah blah blah.”
Now, I admit that Ms. Cheney is the most fascinating member of the committee and has really good hair (hella good hair, I think it’s called these days by younger folks). But when she’s wrong, she’s really wrong. (Remember her opposing marriage equality and, by extension her own lesbian sister’s family?) Sure, she’s probably going to lose her seat in Congress, but she’s got all those Cheney millions to fall back on, right?
But honoring her oath of office to defend the Constitution of the United States—or doing her damned job—has earned Ms. Cheney widespread respect for her bravery. She, along with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have received the Profile in Courage award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. I don’t suppose there’s a higher imprimatur of one’s “courage” than that.
Mike Pence honored his oath of office, too, by defending that same constitution. Technically, that was still just doing a day’s work. But even so, one shouldn’t have to do one’s job while running and hiding from a violent, seditious mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence” while the gallows for doing so were already erected. Of course, had he done what Trump was directing him to do, he might have kept his job as vice president. Yeah, but not a Profile in Courage, according to those Kennedy folks.
Now meet Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers, who also received a Profile in Courage award this year and whose testimony at Tuesday’s hearing was powerful and emotional. He spoke eloquently about his duty to his oath to defend our constitution, his voice faltering as he described his foundational beliefs in the divine inspiration of the document, and the havoc let loose on he and his family by Trump supporters after his refusal to go along with the scheme to decertify the Arizona election.
He talked about the pain of being turned on by his friends with such rancor when he choose to stand almost alone among Arizona Republicans. I must admit to being truly impressed with his testimony, and I wasn’t alone.
But then the news broke that Bowers had told the Associated Press that, given a Biden vs. Trump face-off in 2024, he would again vote for Trump. One can only assume that his oath is only part of his day job, and that privately it isn’t his responsibility to try to prevent the presidency from going back to the very man he’s been awarded and praised for standing against in an effort to overthrow a legitimate election.
Basically, as far as Bowers is concerned, what Trump et al. did isn’t disqualifying, because, well, Trump made the trains run on time.
Shaye Moss also testified on Tuesday, and she also received a Profile in Courage award last month. Ms. Moss was a Georgia elections worker who, with her mother, drew the fire of Trump and Giuliani in their attempt to cast doubt on the Georgia election results. While Bowers’ testimony was at times emotional but always polished, Ms. Moss told her story, and it was raw in the telling.
It was a family story of three Black women, including her grandmother, who had been targeted simply to further one part of a multi-tiered conspiracy to keep Trump in power. Her feelings and fears, displayed so openly, told as much of the story as her words. There were moments when the camera, showing her full face and not a profile, projected an image of her pain almost too potent to watch.
So when thinking of these other “profiles in courage,” please keep in mind that a profile only shows one side of one’s face.