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Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

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posted by alias outtacontext on Tuesday 8th of June 2021 09:38:20 PM

Ring Around the Rosie Pockets Full of Posies Ashes, Ashes We All Fall Down Despite what Americans witnessed during the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, it’s not altogether surprising this event continues to be up for interpretation. During the Trump presidency, “alternative facts” were the official dictum emanating from the Oval Office and official Washington. They continue to be central to American politics even after Trump left office. Interpretations of “Ring Around Rosie,” this familiar children’s nursery rhyme, offer comparisons with Republicans’ perceptions of the attempted coup. To my friends and myself, who walked around in circles reciting this nursery rhyme, it was simply a game devoid of any deep meaning. Many folklorists believe its true sense was much grimmer: references to the Black Death of 1357 or the Great Plague of 1665 (“Rosie” was the round rash, one of the first signs of the plague; pockets full of flowers warded off the disease; with ashes and everyone falling down, the death and ultimate cremation of the victims). Yet others see it as a simple children’s courtship game of love. We can only surmise the real meaning behind this rhyme. But televised and visual records of the January 6 Capitol assault offer infallible proof of its intent. People died, and the crowd chantedHang Mike Pence” (while constructing gallows), “Take the Capitol,” and “Stop the Steal,” while searching for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and calling Black Capitol police officers the n-word. Unlike “Ring Around the Rosie,” our understanding of the Capitol riot isn’t just a scholarly difference of opinion. Academics researching the rhyme’s origins, whether it be a grim telling of history or just a game, encourage discourse as a way of understanding history and our connection to it. The Republican Party, however, isn’t interested in any further inquiry into the insurrection. They’re telling us what the meaning should be, and they are ready to move on, specifically to retake the Senate and House in the 2022 midterm elections. Winning is their only goal. And they ignore anything that distracts voters from the failings of the Trump Administration, which are really failings of the GOP. All hands on deck to stack that deck with conservative voters using Gerrymandering and state and local laws to suppress the votes of people of color. It’s their only platform. Democrats are calling for a bipartisan, independent commission, modeled after the 9/11 Commission, to investigate causes and security lapses that led to deaths and the sacking of the building. Republicans, like Representative Paul Gosser, reduce its ominous nature by calling the rioters “peaceful patriots.” While the gaslight award goes to Georgia Republican House member Andrew Clyde, who refers to it as “a typical tourist visit.” They think it’s obvious who we should believe. On May 28, 2021, only 6 GOP Senators voted with Democrats to establish an investigative panel, not enough to survive a Republican filibuster. So, that independent investigation is dead. Our biggest concern is what to make of the GOP. A majority of Americans hoped the results of the 2020 election would finally bury Trumpism. But as Chauncey DeVega wrote in Salon, the GOP isn’t in disarray. They’re united on their assault on American democracy. State parties are censuring those Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the storming of the Capitol. The twice-impeached, one-term president still runs the party. Although without his social media bully pulpit, his ability to scare moderate party members into submission for fear of a Trump-anointed primary challenger still reigns. After the January 6 insurrection, many expected the GOP to face a reckoning. DeVega states, “The media has desperately tried to find ‘good,’ ‘decent,’ ‘reasonable’ and ‘responsible’ Republicans who will ‘save’ their party from Donald Trump.” In her defiance of Trump, many characterized arch-conservative Liz Cheney as her party’s (and our country’s two-party system) savior. But her positions are far from centrist. DeVega calls Cheney a “friendly fascist.” So, what can the American people look forward to? New York Times opinion writer, Ross Douthat, offers us three theories. The first, the “maximalist,” suggests the Democrats will either enact major electoral reforms that will weaken the Republican Party, or Trump and his supporters will make good on their promise to steal the 2024 election. Like Cheney, non-Trumpist Republicans should continue to speak out against Trump’s attempts to destroy our democracy. Biden should give up on bipartisanship and kill the filibuster to enact voter reforms. In the second “moderate” path, the Democrats’ goal should be to hold on to the House and Senate in 2022 by showing voters the party is open to bipartisanship, a focus on the economy, and opposes obstructionists. Concentrating on the moderation of the Democrat Party rather than more extreme measures will be attractive to suburban voters in 2022. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will undoubtedly beg to differ. The third way relies on sensible Republicans doing nothing. According to Andrew Prokop, writing for Vox, if these moderate officeholders speak out against Trump’s lies, they could lose to Trump loyalists in the primaries. Then there’d be no one in the party to curb extremism. If they can outlast Trump, they can play the same restraining role they played in 2020 when the Supreme Court and important Republican governors and secretaries of state refused to go along with Trump’s election lies. Douthat can’t tell us which theory will prevail. Given the idiosyncratic nature of Trump’s approach, all three are plausible. “Which means,” he says, “in our era of guaranteed surprises, all three will probably be rendered irrelevant by some turn of events between now and 2024.” We are recovering from a sustained and dangerous plague. We have lost many and are hesitant to simply and joyfully throw caution to the wind. I still keep my mask handy and will use it outside my protective bubble for the foreseeable future. COVID-19, with its mask-deniers and anti-vaxxers, shattered any illusion of trust I had in my fellow Americans. Trump and his sycophants did the same to any sense I entertained about American Exceptionalism. It’s depressing that as the constant danger of the pandemic recedes, it reveals the extreme danger of the GOP’s metamorphosis. Ashes, ashes. We all fall down. Feel free to pass this poster on. It's free to download here (click on the down arrow just to the lower right of the image). See the rest of the posters from the Chamomile Tea Party! Digital high res downloads are free here (click the down arrow on the lower right side of the image). Other options are available. And join our Facebook group. Follow the history of our country's political intransigence from 2010-2020 through a seven-part exhibit of these posters on Google Arts & Culture.



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  • Published 01.18.22
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