Burke: We can fight the Big Lie by taking on the smaller lies

Maybe we can’t do much about the Big Lie and its backers, but we can challenge in our own cities.

By Tom Burke / Herald columnist

Bob Martin is the outspoken, quotable owner of a strip-mall barber shop in Snohomish and has refused to comply with the most basic (legal) measures to mitigate against the spread of covid-19.

He, and his customers, appear to be either massively misinformed or uninformed about basic human physiology and pandemic-preventing health measures; indulging in some misguided anti-masking political theater, or are so self-absorbed they have no regard for public health.

And while he’s a tiny tempest in a very small teapot, he is a sign of the times: not only trumpeting absurd, ersatz-political “statements” about freedom, ignoring the $90,000 state fine for breaking the law, cutting hair without a license, and abrogating his personal responsibility to fellow citizens and buying into a complete fiction and parroting it back as “truth” (“$90,000 fine doesn’t stop defiant Snohomish barber,” The Herald, Oct. 8).

Like those promulgating the Big Lie.

We see the same truth-adverse attitude via Donald Trump’s attempted coup to stay in power after losing the election. And make no mistake, he lost — BIGLY — along with the other insurrectionists who contributed to the Jan. 6 attempted violent usurpation of our democratic process.

By thumbing their grifting noses at American societal norms, especially congressional subpoenas, Trump and his henchmen are setting the example for the Bob Martins of the world.

We see the result of their behavior every night on television, where near-foaming-at-the-mouth MAGAs refuse to act like responsible citizens, caring parents, or mature adults and scream at school boards and local officials, threatening their lives and their families and warning of a second Civil War: Over masks. Over covid vaccines. Over measures to save lives.

But it isn’t just covid.

I look with mounting horror as an ignorance infection spreads. A new YouGov poll shows fewer than half of Republicans — only 46 percent — now say parents should be required to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases. So I guess we’ll be welcoming back polio, measles, m umps. hepatitis, influenza type B, German measles, diphtheria, chicken pox, tetanus and whooping cough.

Way to go.

And QAnon ain’t gone, neither.

A recent “Daily Show” clip showed a Q-man, “150,000 percent” certain Donald Trump was still president and claiming Trump was “flying around the world in Air Force One” and was still in complete control of the government and military.

But it’s more than simply a barber in Snohomish being anti-mask; or a bunch of yahoos yelling at school boards; or poor, deluded QAnon followers convinced Trump is still president; or that 77 percent of Republicans favor a Trump run in 2024.

Or that Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and the congressional Republicans are trying to spike not just voting rights legislation but even debate about voting rights; as well as refusing to cooperate in the Jan. 6 insurrection probe; raising the debt ceiling (and holding the health of our economy) hostage; voting “no” on the criminal contempt referral for Steve Bannon; and caring not a lick for building back better. (On a lighter note, who recalls the week-after-week-after-week Trump promise that “Infrastructure Week” was coming “next week?” I guess he meant it was coming the next week after Biden’s inauguration.)

It’s much more than the Big Lie, or the tribal divide tearing our country in two, or the racism of new red state voter suppression laws depressing me.

The big downer is, as Historian Sean Wilentz says, “the obvious Republican virtual secession from the American political system” compounded by their commitment to hypocrisy (lying) as a strategy that has me frightened.

David Blight, Sterling professor of American history at Yale University, put it this way, “Hypocrisy is not just a moral failure. (For Republicans) it’s a strategy. … Hypocrisy is a strategy and it has to be treated as a strategy for power.”

So how do we do that? How do we beat the hypocrites and their deliberate web of lies?

Simple. By voting the liars out. Get them off the school boards, out of local governments, out of Congress, and keep the Liar-In-Chief, Donald Trump, out of government until the day he’s put into the ground.

So vote for those who support “Build Back Better,” who are committed to voting rights, diversity, equal justice, and don’t support the Big Lie. (Whatever happened to failed candidate for governor Loren Culp and his whining?)

I was in Snohomish the other day and guess what I saw? A bunch of supporters for Snohomish mayoral candidate Linda Redmon waving homemade signs, enthusiastically cheering for their candidate.

Know what I didn’t see? Folks dressed in camouflage, wearing tactical vests, MAGA hats, waving Confederate flags, swilling beer and toting guns. (I don’t live in Snohomish, so I can’t vote for her; but I am sending the campaign a couple of bucks to help.)

Obviously, there’s not much we in Western Washington can do in places like Texas or Florida. But we can exorcise the Big Liars/insurrectionists/Trumpists wherever we can here.

I mean, it’s only our country at stake.

Tom Burke’s email address is t.burke.column@gmail.com.

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