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Punishing Sedition Won’t Only Divide Us Further

Johnny Townsend: Letting bullies, criminals, tyrants, and corruption go unaddressed, on the other hand, can never bring the peace and unity Republican apologists are pretending to believe it will.
Punishing Sedition

We hear it over and over. “Impeaching Trump/charging insurrectionists/holding GOP leaders accountable for lying about the election will only further divide us.”

As infuriating as those words are, the fact is they’re true. What’s also true is that no course of action exists that will please Trump supporters/party over country supporters/collaborators.

Well, no course other than complete surrender and abdication of our rights.

We see the dynamic repeatedly. A burglar breaks into a house, is surprised by a homeowner brandishing a gun, and shoots the homeowner in “self-defense.” Or perhaps it’s not a burglar breaking in but a police officer with a no-knock warrant. Or a patriot threatening Black Lives Matter protesters. “I feared for my life,” the accused killer says. “I wasn’t there to hurt anyone.”

Letting bullies, criminals, tyrants, and corruption go unaddressed can never bring the peace and unity Republican apologists are pretending to believe it will.

In a scene from the classic film Bonnie and Clyde, the infamous outlaws rob a bank and jump into their getaway car. But a determined bank employee chases after them, jumping onto the vehicle’s running board. Clyde doesn’t want to shoot him, but he’s forced to. If only the stupid, petty guard would have let him steal all that money without making such a fuss.

This was Bonnie and Clyde’s first murder, but as the movie (and the real-life events it portrayed) develop, the outlaws kill again. And again.

And killing others gets easier each time.

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Accountability is non-negotiable, but accountability doesn’t mean revenge. After WWI, allies “punished” Germany so severely that they created conditions making it easier for the German people to follow a murderous dictator who would “save” them.

After WWII, however, while the U.S. held both Germany and Japan accountable, it also helped them with the Marshall Plan and other aid programs. The aid came with many conditions, of course, some of which were paradoxically harmful. But both former enemies became allies as a result of accountability combined with cooperation.

Accountability can bring both peace and unity if enacted appropriately.

Letting bullies, criminals, tyrants, and corruption go unaddressed, on the other hand, can never bring the peace and unity Republican apologists are pretending to believe it will.

If GOP lawmakers and right-wing pundits truly desire to bring people together, they can start by disavowing the lie that the election was stolen from Trump. Truth offers a path to healing. Lies and excuses never will.

Apologizing for their bad behavior will go a long way toward rebuilding trust and integrity, too.

Complaints over being called out for supporting an insurrection, however, do nothing to make America great again.

Johnny Townsend

Punishing sedition will divide us further. That is unfortunately true. But it won’t “only” divide us. It will also offer accountability and a chance to carve out a safer, healthier path forward.

Johnny Townsend