Category Archives: Agni ad Bellum/ The Lamb’s War

Quotes of the Day

Patti Davis, recalling the passing of her father, Ronald Reagan:

“My hope is that people remember this about the royal family: In the end, though they breathe rarefied air, they grapple as we all do with life and death, with the mystery of what it means to be human. When darkness falls, and they are alone, they sink into the same waters that everyone does when a loved one dies. And they wonder if they’ll make it to the other side..”

Jamelle Bouie quoting Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “‘A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people,” [Lincoln] said. “Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism.”

“You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government,” Lincoln added, “while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend it.’ ”

SERGE SCHMEMANN: Part of [the Queen’s] appeal was the extravagant — some might say excessive — pomp and ceremony that accompanied her every royal appearance. While Scandinavian countries deliberately decontented their monarchies until their kings and queens could barely be distinguished from normal citizens, Britain proudly maintained the full medieval monty: gilded carriages, bearskin helmets, liveried footmen and volumes of tradition.

It was marketing, to be sure; the royals are central to Britain’s brand and identity. But Queen Elizabeth was prepared to treat it all, from wearing a five-pound crown while reading a canned message in Parliament to feigning delight in some tropical ceremony, as the service to which she dedicated her life. . . .Though democracy left her no real governing power, she was ahead of her time in championing equality and diversity in the Commonwealth and, by most accounts, she made her views discreetly known to successive prime ministers, whom she met weekly.”

Eugene Robinson: “I once had the opportunity to attend an investiture, the palace ceremony at which the queen conferred knighthoods and other honors to the great and the good. It was the first time I had seen her in person, and what struck me was how tiny she was.

This woman who had been a larger-than-life presence on the world stage since before I was born — the first prime minister who served under her was Winston Churchill — was minute, dwarfed by her regal accoutrements and surroundings. Her voice was thin and soft, her words hard to follow.

Yet she did have a presence that dominated the vast room. On reflection, it occurred to me that this aura of authority and command was not emanating from the queen herself. It was being projected upon her by the audience.

And so it is with all the anachronistic stature and privilege the British royal family still enjoys in an egalitarian age. Elizabeth’s character, stamina and skill persuaded her subjects to suspend any possible disbelief in the divine right of a mostly German family to reign over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Will they have such faith in Charles? In William?

“Après moi, le déluge,” King Louis XV of France is thought to have said, decades before the French Revolution. After Elizabeth, the British monarchy will find itself in rising waters and struggle not to be swept away.”

Seattle: Later that day, the congresswoman [Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington] was driving from her house to an event in Seattle, celebrating the introduction of a trans bill of rights. [Rachel] Berkson, her district director, was behind the wheel. In the passenger seat, Jayapal pulled out her phone and played some of the voice mails she’d received.

A man’s voice filled up the car.

“ … Your f—in’ day is coming. God damn, as soon as the president’s installed, like on Nov. 4 or 5, we’re f—in’ coming after all you motherf—ers. You’re gonna be scrubbing f—in’ floors for the rest of your life, you f—in’ wh—.”

Another man, a trace of a smile in his voice.
“ … Get ready for the worst year of your life. It’s gonna be turmoil every day. This is gonna be fun. This is gonna be fun. Your life is gonna be miserable. And we’re gonna get rid of that corrupt Biden, and that socialist Kamala, and the rest of the group, and you’re going right along with them.”

His voice deepened.
“You stupid f—in’ b—-. Get ready for turmoil. You’re gettin’ it. You’re gonna get exactly what you deserve, b—-. Have a nice day, b—-.”

Then another man.
“ … I’m gonna send you some knee pads, you f—in’ b—-. You worthless f—in’ c—.”
“ … We’re coming. And we’re really pissed off.”
“ … You are an evil b—- and you need to die and I hate you and I will never vote for you again.”

Jayapal stopped the recordings. Berkson, in the front seat, was one of the staffers who screened the messages. She decides what to forward to Capitol Police, and what to bring to Jayapal’s attention. As she drove, she started to cry. “Sorry,” Berkson said. “I honestly don’t think about it that much.”

At home later that night, Jayapal listened again to the threatening voice mails that [Rep. Adam]  Kinzinger and [Eric] Swalwell released this summer. She thought about how violence begins with the ability to dehumanize the subject of that violence. And she spent that evening replaying the voice mails that had been left for her. There was one calling her an animal. “The unleashing of it everywhere creates this space for other people to be unleashed as well,” she said.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington)

She thought about her decision to talk about what happened. What would she and [her husband] Williamson be saying, to themselves, to each other, to their loved ones, if they did?

“I don’t really want to admit that we’re in danger,” Williamson said, “because that’s not a place I want to occupy.”

“But at the same time,” said Jayapal, “it’s important people understand how ubiquitous this is, and how much a part of our psyche it is taking up.”

She thought about why she had never shared the voice mails before.
“Why didn’t I?”

“Is it like, ‘Oh you’re supposed to take it?’”

“Or you’re not tough enough if you release it?”

These were questions the congresswoman couldn’t answer.

Instead, she asked, “Have we somehow conditioned ourselves to think this is what we should expect?”

Newest U. S. Catholic Cardinal – A Surprisingly “Progressive” Pick

When San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy received his prestigious red hat at the Vatican on Saturday, he brought to the College of Cardinals a fervent loyalty to Pope Francis that has often put him at odds with the conservative majority in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Robert McElroy, a new Catholic cardinal

McElroy, 68, is the only American among the 21 clerics being installed as cardinals by Francis in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. He was chosen over numerous higherranking American archbishops, including two from his home state — outspoken conservative Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and José Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. bishops conference.

McElroy has been among the few American bishops who questioned why the conference insists on identifying abortion as its “preeminent” priority. Echoing the pope’s concerns, he has questioned why greater prominence is not given to issues such as poverty, immigration and climate change.

“The death toll from abortion is more immediate, but the longterm death toll from unchecked climate change is larger and threatens the very future of humanity,” McElroy said in 2020.

The Rev. James Martin, editoratlarge of the Jesuit magazine America, described McElroy as “one of the foremost articulators in the United States not only of Pope Francis’ vision but also the vision of the Second Vatican Council and, more basically, the vision of the Gospel.

“He has been the special champion of people on the margins, both in society and in the church,” Martin said via email. “It’s not surprising that the Holy Father would have singled him out for this honor and that he would want the future Cardinal McElroy present in the conclave that will elect the next pope.”

Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America who has been critical of many Vatican decisions under Francis papacy, said McElroy “often speaks from the ideological margins” and thus would be seen, in this papacy, as an appropriate candidate to be a cardinal.

“But mostly, his elevation reminds me that more senior and substantial prelates like Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Gomez have, once again, been very deliberately passed over,” Pecknold said in an email.

Among his notable stances, McElroy has been one of a minority of U.S. bishops denouncing the campaign to exclude Catholic politicians who support abortion rights from Communion.

“It will bring tremendously destructive consequences,” McElroy wrote last year. “The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. This must not happen.”

Cordileone, in contrast, said earlier this year that he would no longer allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion because of her support for abortion rights.

Last year McElroy was among a small group of bishops signing a statement expressing support for LGBTQ youth and denouncing the bullying often directed at them.

The bishops said LGBTQ youth attempt suicide at much higher rates, are often homeless because of families who reject them and “are the target of violent acts at alarming rates.”

“We stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you,” the statement read. “Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”

McElroy received a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard in 1975 and a master’s in history from Stanford in 1976.

He studied at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California, and in 1985 received a theology degree at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. He obtained a doctorate in moral theology at the Gregorian University in Rome the following year and a doctorate in political science at Stanford in 1989.

He was ordained in 1980 and assigned to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where he served in a parish before becoming personal secretary to Archbishop John Quinn. Other California parish assignments included Redwood City and San Mateo.

He became an auxiliary bishop in San Francisco in 2010. In 2015, early in Francis’ pontificate, he was named bishop of San Diego. For the past three years, he has served as president of the California bishops conference.

Monsignor Stephen Doktorczyk, vicargeneral for the Diocese of Orange, said McElroys leadership skills have been impressive.

“One thing I respect about him is that while he is confident in the positions he takes, he truly is open to hearing the take of others and engaging in a dialogue with those who have different points of view,” Doktorczyk said.

Allan Figueroa Deck, a distinguished scholar of pastoral theology at Loyola Marymount University, said McElroy’s elevation represents a “clear message” from the pope about the direction the church should move in.

McElroy “understands and takes seriously what Pope Francis means by ‘epochal change’ and the challenge of finding better models, a more effective and inclusive style for the Church to proceed,” Deck said via email. “He approaches hotbutton issues like the pastoral care of LGBTQ persons and the abortion issue with balance and prudence.”

Conservative Catholic activist Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute has been a frequent critic of McElroy, for example condemning his strong support for the Association of United States Catholic Priests. The association is a relatively liberal group whose priorities include expanding the role of women in church leadership and creating “priestless parishes” that potentially could be overseen by laypeople as a way of countering the shortage of priests.

McElroy’s elevation “is a sign of Pope Francis’ desire to marry the Church with the world,” Hichborn said via email. “There can be little doubt that McElroy currently stands as the model for the kind of priest, bishop, and cardinal Pope Francis desires for the future of the Church.”

The Diocese of San Diego runs the length of California’s border with Mexico and serves more than 1.3 million Catholics in San Diego and Imperial counties. It includes 98 parishes, 49 elementary and secondary schools and, through Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego, various social service and family support organizations.

___

More from AP at the Vatican

Of the 20 churchmen named new cardinals in the consistory ceremony, 16 are younger than 80 and thus eligible to participate in a conclave — the ritualshrouded, lockeddoor assembly of cardinals who cast paper ballots to elect a new pontiff.

The 85yearold Francis has now named 83 of the 132 cardinals currently young enough to join a conclave. The others were appointed by the previous two popes, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose unexpected retirement in 2013 paved the way for Francis to be elected.

With the eight batches of cardinals Francis has named, prospects are boosted that whoever becomes the next pontiff will share his vision for the future of the church.

Francis reminded the cardinals of their mission, which he said includes “an openness to all peoples, to the horizons of the world, to the peripheries as yet unknown.”

Underlining Francis attention to those on societys margins, among the new cardinals is Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, India. The prelate, 60, is the first member of the Dalit community, considered the lowest rung of Indias caste system, to become a cardinal.

One by one, the newest cardinals, whose red cassocks and headgear symbolizes the blood they must be prepared to shed if necessary in their mission, knelt before Francis, who placed on their head the prestigious biretta, as the threepeaked hat is known.

In choosing San Diego Bishop Robert Walter McElroy, Francis passed over U.S. churchmen leading traditionally more prestigious dioceses, including San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

Among the newest cardinals is Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr from Wa, Ghana, who has spoken out against LGBTQ rights. The African prelate felt ill when he arrived in Rome on Friday and was hospitalized for a heart problem, the pope told the other cardinals, asking them to pray “for this brother who should have been here.”

Asked by The Associated Press about such contrasting views among church leaders, McElroy replied that “there are always cultural differences within the life of the church as there is within in the human family. And different cultures approach these questions in different ways.”

McElroy added: My own view is that we have an obligation in the church to make the LGBT persons feel equally welcome in the life of the church, as everyone else.” . . .

Archbishop Ulrich Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, became the first cardinal from the Amazon, the vast, environmentallyvulnerable region in South America on the Argentineborn pontiff’s home continent. In remarks to The AP, Steiner expressed concern about increasing violence in the Amazon.

“But this violence was not born there, it came from outside, Steiner, 71, said. ”It is always violence related to money. Concessions, deforestation, also with the mines, also with the fishing.

At 48, the youngest member among the cardinals ranks is an Italian missionary in Mongolia, where Catholics number some 1,300. Francis knows how important it is supporting these little communities, said the new cardinal, Giorgio Marengo.

Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Arizona’s Unbroken Election Hero: Rusty Bowers Speaks

The Guardian — Sun 21 Aug 2022

Interview
Ousted Republican reflects on Trump, democracy and America: ‘The place has lost its mind’

Ed Pilkington in Mesa, Arizona

Rusty Bowers is headed for the exit. After 18 years as an Arizona lawmaker, the past four as speaker of the state’s house of representatives, he has been unceremoniously shown the door by his own Republican party.

Last month he lost his bid to stay in the Arizona legislature in a primary contest in which his opponent was endorsed by Donald Trump. The rival, David Farnsworth, made an unusual pitch to voters: the 2020 presidential election had not only been stolen from Trump, he said, it was satanically snatched by the “devil himself”.

Bowers was ousted as punishment. The Trump acolytes who over the past two years have gained control of the state’s Republican party wanted revenge for the powerful testimony he gave in June to the January 6 hearings in which he revealed the pressure he was put under to overturn Arizona’s election result.

This is a very Arizonan story. But it is also an American story that carries an ominous warning for the entire nation.

Six hours after the Guardian interviewed Bowers, Liz Cheney was similarly ousted in a primary for her congressional seat in Wyoming. The formerly third most powerful Republican leader in the US Congress had been punished too.

The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves – that to me is fascism
In Bowers’s case, his assailants in the Arizona Republican party wanted to punish him because he had steadfastly refused to do their, and Trump’s, bidding.

He had declined to use his power as leader of the house to invoke an “arcane Arizonan law” – whose text has never been found – that would allow the legislature to cast out the will of 3.4 million voters who had handed victory to Joe Biden and switch the outcome unilaterally to Trump.

Continue reading Arizona’s Unbroken Election Hero: Rusty Bowers Speaks

YES — Swords (or rather, Guns) Into Plowshares. (Only a few million more to go!)

Raleigh NC News & Observer
BY ILANA AROUGHETI UPDATED AUGUST 07, 2022

DURHAM The line of cars stretched three blocks as Durham County’s second gun buyback in four months began Saturday morning. The event’s purpose was to encourage responsible gun ownership and get guns off the street, said Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead.

Durham’s first buyback event was held in April. Then, the department netted just over 100 firearms before running out of money, The N&O has reported.

After the first event, community interest increased, Birkhead told The N&O. “People, even after the first buyback, continued to call us and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got guns that belonged to my grandfather, he’s now passed away,’” Birkhead said. “Or, ‘We don’t want guns in the house. We have small kids now. When are you going to do another one?’”

Like the first time, the event was held at two locations — Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and Durham Memorial Stadium. Between the two locations, 295 guns were turned in before the department ran out of money, communications manager David L. Bowser told The N&O. Continue reading YES — Swords (or rather, Guns) Into Plowshares. (Only a few million more to go!)

Shining Light on the New Church of Rightwing Dark Money

ProPublica: A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate

Andrea Suizzo — August 2, 2022

Forty members of Congress on Monday asked the IRS and the Treasury to investigate what the lawmakers termed an “alarming pattern” of right-wing advocacy groups registering with the tax agency as churches, a move that allows the organizations to shield themselves from some financial reporting requirements and makes it easier to avoid audits.

Reps. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., and Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., raised transparency concerns in a letter to the heads of both agencies following a ProPublica story about the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian think tank based in Washington, D.C., getting reclassified as a church. Thirty-eight other lawmakers, including Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., signed onto the letter.

“FRC is one example of an alarming pattern in the last decade — right-wing advocacy groups self-identifying as ‘churches’ and applying for and receiving church status,” the representatives wrote, noting the organization’s policy work supporting the overturning of Roe v. Wade and its advocacy for legislation seeking to ban gender-affirming surgery.

“Tax-exempt organizations should not be exploiting tax laws applicable to churches to avoid public accountability and the IRS’s examination of their activities,” they wrote.

The Family Research Council did not respond to requests for comment. The IRS told ProPublica that it does not comment on congressional correspondence.

The FRC’s website describes the organization as “a nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to articulating and advancing a family-centered philosophy of public life,” noting that it provides “policy research and analysis for the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government.” Continue reading Shining Light on the New Church of Rightwing Dark Money

Seven Years for Russian War Protester

The Guardian: Alexei Gorinov receives first long-term sentence under harsh laws introduced since Russian invasion

Pjotr Sauer — Fri 8 Jul 2022

A court in Moscow has sentenced an opposition councillor to seven years in jail for criticising Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, the first long-term prison sentence handed out under the new laws that restrict criticism of the war.

Alexei Gorinov, a deputy at Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council and trained lawyer, was arrested in April on charges of spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian army.

According to the authorities, Gorinov committed the offence when he and a fellow opposition deputy, Elena Kotenochkina, spoke out against the council’s proposal to hold a children’s drawing contest and a dancing festival despite the war in Ukraine, where Gorinov said “children were dying”.

“I believe all efforts of [Russian] civil society should be aimed only at stopping the war and withdrawing Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Gorinov said during the work meeting, which was recorded on video and is available on YouTube.

The charges against Gorinov fall under a series of new laws that have been introduced since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Gorinov’s long sentence will be perceived as harsh even in the current political climate in Russia, where authorities have embarked on an unprecedented crackdown on civil society and opposition since the invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February.

Human rights groups will worry that Gorinov’s case will be the first in a string of rulings against anti-war figures who are awaiting trial.

At least 50 people face long-term prison sentences or steep fines for “knowingly spreading false information” about the military, while about 2,000 people have received smaller fines for criticising the war, according to a human rights group that tracks cases nationwide.

Throughout the hearings, Gorinov continued his staunch opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During his sentencing on Friday, he held a sign that read “Do you still need this war?” while in his glass defendant’s cage.

“War, whatever synonym you call it, is the last, dirtiest, vile thing, unworthy of the title of a man,” Gorinov said. “I thought that Russia exhausted its limit on wars back in the 20th century. However, our present is Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel. [Scenes of reputed Russian war crimes.] Do these names mean something to you? You – the accusers – take an interest and do not say later that you did not know anything,” he added, referring to the three cities outside Kyiv where Russian troops are accused of committing war crimes.

Among those awaiting trial for spreading “false information” about Russia’s military is the prominent opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza and the St Petersburg-based artist Alexandra Skochilenko, who is accused of replacing supermarket price labels with messages protesting against Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

“Why We Did It” — A Review in Pieces – Part 1

Timothy Miller is a repentant ex-Republican operative, now a key member of “The Bulwark.” This is a group of mostly like-minded  onetime GOP operatives, now Never Trumpers, still “conservative” on many issues, but dead-seriously dedicated to preventing #45’s overthrow of democracy, and who may well have — at least I hope so— the brains & skills to do it.

Yet with a long record of putting his talents effectively to work for many who have become bigtime Trump loyalists and fascism accelerators, not to mention being a completely closeted hit man for many professional political  homophobes, Miller, as the saying goes, has a lot of explaining to do — first all, to himself.

Hence, Why We Did it, just published last week. Fittingly, it’s both a personal confessional, and an insider apparatchik’s look at the rise and reign of you-know who. This latter category is a crowded one at most bookstores, with new entries popping up every week or so.

Will Miller’s book stand out in this crowd? I don’t know yet. And — full disclosure — I haven’t read all or most of the similar output, and don’t plan to. Life is short.

But in 2020, deep in the gloom of the pandemic’s first autumn, I was captivated by one of the other major confessional tomes, Disloyal, by Trump’s longtime fixer, Michael Cohen. That experience produced a review, not only of the book but of its times, that filled several posts (which can be found here). Continue reading “Why We Did It” — A Review in Pieces – Part 1

Remember “The Stench”? More Comment & Dissent on Roe’s End

The formal dissent, jointly written by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sotomayor, minces few words but primarily adopts a tone of deep concern or even alarm about the implications of the majority’s ruling. Probably the harshest attack on the majority comes on Page 5, where the dissenters assert: Continue reading Remember “The Stench”? More Comment & Dissent on Roe’s End

Democracy In Peril: Progressive Billionaires to the Rescue?? (Well, Maybe . . .)

“Money,” truthfully spake the legendary California pol Jesse Unruh, “is the mother’s milk of politics.”

And if money, rather than love, is All You Need (as spake, or crooned, the legendary Beatles), Democrats & their worried (“terrified” is more accurate) and beleaguered progressives ought to be breathing easier today, despite the fate of Roe.

The morning papers bring news that, busting through the encircling hordes of vote suppressors, election stealers and insurrectionists, the cavalry is coming. They’ve been sent by a pentagon of the biggest Dem billionaire campaign donors, and bear saddlebags stuffed with cash (and bitcoin?) to help the Dems fend off the MAGA assault:

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, one of the nation’s top political donors, gathered more than a dozen billionaires or their representatives over Zoom Friday to sound an alarm about the coming elections.


“MAGA leaders intend to use 2022 midterm wins to install Trump in 2024 regardless of the vote,” read a slide of the PowerPoint Hoffman presented to the group, which was obtained by The Washington Post.


He was pitching some of the nation’s wealthiest people on a doomsday idea that has become a growing obsession among the liberal donor community. Another slide, titled “How MAGA midterms can install Trump,” laid out a step-by-step hypothetical scenario: Republicans win statewide offices in key battleground states in 2022 and then change state laws in 2023 to give legislatures control over presidential electors. After the next presidential election, they declare votes from urban centers “tainted” and overrule the popular vote by sending their own slate of electors to Washington.



The goal [here] . . . was to raise tens of millions of dollars for groups that the PowerPoint described as being able to increase Democratic turnout, persuade swing voters to vote Democratic and “dissuade” Republican voters from going to the polls.


You get the idea. The plot to use 2022 as the stepping stone to a Trump or successor MAGA coronation will be familiar to most of us who can read, listen, or remember their nightmares. I for one am not a doubter.  The MAGA-orange drive is as real as Covid; and stopping it, if that can be done, will cost beaucoup bucks.

However. Continue reading Democracy In Peril: Progressive Billionaires to the Rescue?? (Well, Maybe . . .)

It CAN Happen Here, Like It Did In Zimbabwe

Washington Post — Opinion

I saw Mugabe wreck a democracy. The Jan. 6 hearings matter — a lot.
Opinion by Evan Mawarire
 — June 14, 2022

Evan Mawarire, an evangelical pastor and the director of education at the Renew Democracy Initiative, is the inaugural Agora Institute-RDI dissident in residence at Johns Hopkins University.

In 2008, the sitting president of my country, Zimbabwe, lost his bid for reelection but simply refused to leave office. Robert Mugabe, the dictator who went on to rule Zimbabwe for a total of 37 years, mobilized his party thugs to brutalize those who voted against him and proceeded to claim the presidency.

My countrymen and I watched helplessly as African leaders rewarded Mugabe by brokering a supposed shared-power deal that gave him the immense powers of the presidency and awarded a token, ceremonial prime minister role to Morgan Tsvangirai, who had actually won the election. (Tsvangirai died in 2018, Mugabe the following year.)

Evan Mawarire.

As members of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6., 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol hold televised hearings, it might be easy for many people to ignore the proceedings, chalking them up to Washington infighting. That’s understandable — millions of Americans are dealing with more immediate, pressing concerns, such as spiking inflation and chronic gun violence.

But the hearings represent much more than just the political jockeying that Americans have come to expect from Washington. These proceedings, in particular their focus on the role played by then-President Donald Trump on that terrible day, represent the very thing that Zimbabweans never had with Mugabe: accountability. These hearings seek to hold those people accountable who would have taken America down a path that I know all too well.

In Zimbabwe and in many other unfree countries, leaders are often able to avoid the accountability and transparency that Americans have come to take for granted. As has been widely noted, the Jan. 6 committee hearings are occurring as the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in arrives on June 17 — another event that ultimately showed U.S. democracy functioning exactly as it should.

For all of its flaws, scandals and mistakes, democracy in the United States has been remarkably resilient. Dissidents like me have often looked to it for inspiration.

The failure of democracy in our own countries helps us understand that a history of success shouldn’t make anyone complacent. All it takes for this tradition to crumble is for one leader or group to seize the reins of power and refuse to move on. The Jan. 6 hearings underline the difference between the United States and countries where sham elections make a mockery of democratic values.

What might not be obvious to everyday citizens is that the hearings are a testament to the rule of law. The stakes are high: Not only will the country as a whole see whether the wrongdoers of Jan. 6 are held accountable, but the world will also bear witness. Authoritarian governments that defy accountability for their anti-democratic actions — and long to see U.S. leaders do the same — are no doubt taking notice of how the hearings unfold.

Six years ago, when I launched the #ThisFlag citizens’ movement in Zimbabwe seeking to end Mugabe’s corrupt rule, our goal was to hold the country’s leaders accountable. Instead, I was jailed and tortured for my efforts. I moved to the United States in 2020 after escaping Zimbabwe, which remains a repressive state in the post-Mugabe era, and I am pleased to live in a country where the citizens enjoy collective rights to demand answers and justice from those in power.

The Jan. 6 hearings should command the attention of everyone who cares about living in a free and fair society. I hope — and, as a pastor, I pray — that they will reveal the integrity of my adopted home’s democracy in the face of a naked challenge to its very existence.

A public that neglects this process would risk telling the world that Americans can’t be bothered to care all that much about their own republic, and that accountability is elusive even in the United States.
That would send a dangerous signal. For if even the nation that is the leader of the free world can’t bring anti-democratic forces to justice, who will?

In my home country, the judiciary and parliament did nothing as Mugabe destroyed our institutions and what was left of our democracy. I’ve seen this happen once; I couldn’t bear to watch it happen again.


from Wikipedia: Evan Mawarire (born 7 March 1977) is a Zimbabwean pastor and democratic activist. He came to prominence during the 2016–17 Zimbabwe protests that challenged the rule of Robert Mugabe’s government. . . .

He worked in business for a number of years, while at the same time volunteering at his church, teaching Sunday school.He found the work at his church more fulfilling, and in 2002 he quit his job and went to Bible college.From 2002 to 2007, he was the young adult and youth pastor at Celebration Churches International in Harare, before serving as the church’s regional director in the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010.In 2010, he established his own church, His Generation Church, in Harare. . . .

Arrests

In July 2016, Mawarire was arrested on charges of inciting violence in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Republic Police seized his phone. On 1 February 2017, Mawarire was arrested in connection with a charge of trying to overthrow Robert Mugabe at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airportin Zimbabwe on his way back from the United States.[16][17] In June 2017, Mawarire was arrested for praying with protesting students of the University of Zimbabwe.In September 2017, Mawarire was arrested for citing Zimbabwe’s economic problems by the Zimbabwe Republic Police at his church. Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested again on 16 January 2019 after calling for and organising a national boycott against rising cost of living and misgovernance. Under the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mawarire was charged with subversion.