Whose Side Are They On?

January 16, 2021:

It’s been 10 days since a mob of violent men and women descended on the US Capitol Building, destroying property, threatening, assaulting (and killing) police officers, and fundamentally changing the way we look at the world (or at least America). I didn’t realize just how fundamental that change was until today.

Because today I went to the grocery store. Yep, an innocuous visit to my local Stop and Shop was suddenly something I hadn’t quite expected. Because for the first time that I can recall, I was looking at my fellow shoppers in a very different way. I was wondering, “Whose side are they on?”

Now, that’s not something you generally ponder when walking down the Canned Vegetable aisle. It’s not something you expect to contemplate while socially distanced as you order a pound of Swiss cheese at the Deli.

But that was before I saw my fellow shoppers slamming riot helmets into the glass doors of Congress and throwing fire extinguishers at the heads of police officers, all while singing the National Anthem, waving American flags and claiming themselves on the right side of freedom and liberty.

“Now wait a dog gone minute,” you may say, appropriately addressing my completely inappropriate generalization. “Of course my fellow shoppers weren’t at the Capitol that day. How silly to think so. You’ve gone too far.”

I know. Of course. But I couldn’t help but imagine it anyway.

Because, according to a You Gov poll, 21% of adults said they supported what happened at the Capitol. That’s 40 million people. One out of every five adults. People who believe that the election of 2020 was stolen. People who believe anything our-almost-previous President says, no matter how fantastical it may be. And people who may wish me similar harm if I should take any steps to stop or dissuade them.

So it seems to reason that one out of five of my fellow shoppers is among that crowd. Or one in five neighbors or church goers or policemen or whatever subjective group you want to pick. One in five who want an unelected Shaman to remain on his throne. And, apparently, are willing to do whatever it takes to get it done.

The sad reality, one that seemed unthinkable ten days ago, is that there are a lot of people living among us who support insurrection and overthrowing our democracy.

Maybe those numbers will change as investigations and time away from these crazy happenings occur, but for now those are the numbers the poll takers discovered.

So as I was meandering through the Produce department, I couldn’t help but wonder which of the folks I was trying to keep socially distanced from wouldn’t mind bashing an officer in the head with an American flag pole. Or spray him with mace, or zip tie his hands.

The guy with the longish gray hair tied in a pony tail? The lady with the arm sleeve tattoo? The mild mannered middle aged man with the American flag face mask?

Of course I couldn’t know. They weren’t in uniform. Most of the rioters (except the most extreme) weren’t wearing anything more identifiable than a red hat or an American flag pin. They didn’t look any different than my shopping companions. Except, of course, for their red-faced rage. Inspired by the highest ranking official in the land.

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