AS you drive down Shirley Street, a large screen blocks off the view of construction of the new US Embassy. A new era for the embassy – one which we’re sure those behind its construction will hope will be a bright one.
But as the foundations of a new embassy are being built here, the foundations of democracy in America itself have been crumbling.
Yesterday was a day of shame for the US – and it was a day of shame in which its own President, Donald Trump, was directly complicit.
Protestors trying to keep Trump in power despite his election loss to Joe Biden stormed the Capitol in Washington. Elected representatives – including Vice-President Mike Pence – had to be evacuated to safety as windows were smashed, doors forced open and in poured this motley collection of conspiracy theorists and white supremacists and all manner of people claiming the word patriot but acting like anything but. Protestors is too mild a word for them. Thugs, fascists, hatemongers, racists – take your pick.
Earlier in the day, Trump attacked his own Vice-President, saying “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” – in other words, he didn’t play ball with Trump’s fantasy to overturn a legal election.
And yesterday morning, he urged his followers to march on Congress.
Well, that they did. The sitting President urged his followers to march on the Capitol as part of his effort to undermine a legitimate vote.
After the chaos of people smashing their way into the Capitol, after a woman was shot and killed inside the building, after elected representatives had to scurry for cover taking with them the vital documents needed for the transfer of power process, after all of that Trump tweeted out a video in which he said of the protestors: “We love you – you’re very special.”
His daughter, Ivanka, sent out a tweet, later deleted, addressing them as “American Patriots”.
Yesterday’s chaos falls directly on the shoulders of the US President – and those around him who encouraged him, excused him or failed to stand up to him. He has come to power through encouraging the racists, encouraging resentment, encouraging hate – and in a few short days he will take his leave with a legacy of destruction of the reputation of a nation revered as the leader of the Free World prior to his arrival.
America has fallen far under Trump’s presidency. It has a long way to go to rise again. But though Trump may soon be gone, watch for those who follow his path. Watch for those who lie to your face and call it the truth. Watch for those who stoke people’s fears and insecurities, and never let them anywhere near power. There are those here at home who would do the same, and we should be on our guard.
Perhaps then it can indeed be a new era for all of us – one where we do not let these charlatans and con men take away the democracy that is our most precious possession.
It is a lesson for all nations.
The president of the Christian Council seems to think the solution to the spate of murders over the New Year is a more civilised form of killing people.
Bishop Delton Fernander seems to think capital punishment is the way forward – as if members of gangs aren’t facing their own form of capital punishment every day on the streets without the nicety of a legal process.
Indeed, Bishop Fernander seems to be concerned about the method of execution, wanting us to “figure out what works in our context” before saying “Our neighbours to the north, they don’t do the heinous act of hanging by rope but they do the lethal injection”.
Bishop Fernander wants a “strong deterrent to our young men taking lives” and wants research to be done on the topic of lethal injection.
He might be busily wondering about the method of dealing out an eye for an eye but there already is significant research on the death penalty that shows it has no particular deterrent effect on crime. For example, in the US – those neighbours to the north he’s referring to – states that have the death penalty have a higher murder rate than those without it.
We absolutely want to deter young men from committing murder – but talk of a death penalty is not tackling the issue, just exacting revenge. There are root causes far more important to tackle, dealing with the matter before the trigger is pulled rather than facing up to the aftermath.
Let’s talk more about that – and not whether a rope is too cruel.