By Greg B. Macabenta
Pardon the mixed metaphor but I think that the situation we now face in the US calls for it.
“It ain’t over till it’s over!” is attributed to Yogi Berra, a legend not only in baseball but also for mangling the English language.
“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings!” is credited to Dick Motta, coach of the basketball team, Washington Bullets. Motta paraphrased
Yogi Berra’s malapropism by making a reference to the buxom singer who usually sang the finale of an opera.
In other words, if the “fat lady sings,” then the drama is all over. That applies not only to the turbulent presidency of Donald Trump, but also to the aftermath of the attack on the US capitol building by pro-Trump supporters last January 6.
The last part of the mixed metaphor is my contribution to mangling American colloquialism. Because Donald Trump is now a lame duck president, the temptation for a pun with Donald Duck was hard to resist.
In truth, the light-hearted title of this piece masks the very serious situation confronting America in the days leading up to the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, as well as Trump’s departure from the White House. This will be on January 20.
Last January 6, America witnessed the Capitol Building in Washington DC stormed and taken over by thousands of fanatical Trump supporters, incited by him in a desperate effort to block the final congressional certification of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President of the United States.
Mercifully, the protestors were turned back by the police and the National Guards, with only five fatalities, two of them police officers. It could have been worse. Much, much worse. Some of those who stormed the halls of Congress wore military garb and equipment that could have been used to hold high officials hostage. Subsequent reports reveal plans to harm Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, against whom Trump held a grudge.
One can recall the storming of the Bastille, that kicked off the French Revolution, as well as the raid by anti-government rebels on the Palace of Justice of Bogota, Colombia in November 1985. Both resulted in much bloodshed, including the death of 11 Colombian Supreme Court Justices.
More familiar to Pinoys are People Power One, which ejected President Ferdinand Marcos from Malacanang and People Power Two that cut short the tenure of President Joseph “Erap” Estrada. But neither one was bloody.
America heaved a sigh of relief that no member of the Senate and the House of Representatives was harmed. But the crisis “ain’t over” – and it looks like it won’t be over even after Biden and Harris have taken their oath of office.
The January 6 attack has been described as a Day of Infamy, like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC, as well as the December 7, 1941 Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.
In the wake of the attack on the Capitol Building which has been characterized as an insurrection, for which Trump is being held as mainly accountable, there is a determined move by Congress to impeach Trump. He will go down in history as the only American President to have been impeached twice (although he was acquitted by a Republican-controlled Senate the first time).
But even after Trump is impeached, the “fat duck may not yet quack – or sing. In fact, the crisis could escalate. And there are fears that it could escalate into a civil war!
In an earlier piece, I wrote about such an apprehension expressed by New York Times journalist Tom Friedman in an interview with CNN.
Friedman, who covered the first civil war in Lebanon, said that he was terrified over the prospect of a second civil war in America, fanned by Trump.
US media interviews with Trump supporters, who refer to themselves as “patriots” have echoed Friedman’s fears. One publication quoted the following tweet by Pastor Robert Jefress, a radio and TV talk show host, Fox News contributor and Senior Pastor of the 14,000- member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas:
“….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”
Noting that Trump was echoing Jefress’ warning, the news item added: “It might seem tempting to dismiss this language as of a piece with President Trump’s typical Twitter rhetoric. But it is worth paying particular attention to this tweet—because among the people who read it were militia groups enthusiastic about exactly what Trump portended. And while no violence has yet resulted from the president’s tweet, it would be foolish to underestimate the power of Trump’s comments to call rogue militias to action, particularly if there is an impeachment and he continues to use this rhetoric to fan the flames.”
Will shots be fired by Americans against fellow Americans? We fervently hope not – but from all indications, that is what Trump’s supporters are preparing for – and arming for.
Americans have a history of uprisings, some of them bloody, particularly the revolution against the British and the Civil War. The former may ring a bell because of the references to “patriots” and “militia men” both terms being liberally used by Trump’s supporters. On the other hand, the Civil War may seem eerily similar to the current crisis because this one has heavy racial overtones and also pits people from America’s Southern States against proponents of Black Lives Matters.
The Oath Keepers group, said to be a “far-right armed militia,” sent this post to its 24,000
“This is where we are. We ARE on the verge of a HOT civil war. Like in 1859. That’s where we are. And the Right has ZERO trust or respect for anything the left is doing. We see THEM as illegitimate too.@StewartRhodesOK https://t.co/DjB8TY0vCo
What makes the threat very serious is the fact that up to 70% of the 74 million who voted for Trump appear to have been completely brainwashed by Trump’s lies that the election was stolen from him.
None of his claims has been supported with verifiable proof. Election authorities have recounted the votes in the battleground States that Trump has challenged (as many as three times in Georgia), but Biden’s victory has held. Over 60 law suits filed by Trump’s legal teams have been dismissed by the courts – twice by the US Supreme Court – for lack of evidence.
Still Trump persists. And so do millions of his supporters. That is where the danger is. Biden won the popular vote by over 8 million and the electoral votes by 306 to Trump’s 232. But he and his enablers in the Senate and the House of Representatives continue to repeat the lie – in the manner of Hitler and Goebbels who immortalized the axiom, “A lie repeated often enough will be taken for the truth.”
Trump has often described himself as the greatest American president, next only to Abraham Lincoln.
We fervently hope that the comparison does not include a civil war.
We also pray that the fat duck quacks and quits.