Burke: We’re so smart, why do some deny what they’ve seen?

We can fly a helicopter on Mars, yet one party insists that tourists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6

By Tom Burke / Herald columnist

I bought a new computer last week. My laptop was teetering on the brink of oblivion and I figured it would be smarter to replace it now, rather than try to recover my data after its demise.

So I found a guy, a really smart, highly-recommended guy (Jeff Chapman from Greenlight Techs in Bothell) to help me choose the precise model I needed and then do the install.

And what I got was an HP “All In One” (AIO) with all sorts of amazing storage, processing time, and a bunch of other features I only kinda understand.

Now I had no idea what an AIO was, but did some research and discovered tech had advanced to now offer tower-like performance and a monster-size monitor in a very compact footprint. Who knew?

And as I write this I am still amazed at how smart, how really, really smart, people are. Not just Jeff, but the whole internet/worldwide web thing, which is, of course, too wonderous to truly comprehend. And I’ve come to terms with how other folks figured out how a bunch of little excited electrons and some ones and zeroes can make words appear on a page as I type (and correct my spelling as I go along).

All of which causes me much despair and sends me plummeting into a fit of semi-depression.

Because what dismays me is — if there are all these smart people who can design computers or invent the internet — why are so many dunderheads in the Republican Party?

Like all the R’s who believe The Big Lie; 70 percent of Republicans believe Joe Biden didn’t win the election.

Like why 55 percent of GOP House members refuse vaccination? Or why wearing a mask, to save your own life and the lives of others if you haven’t been vaccinated, is some sort of abridgment of freedom?

Like why rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, and restoring taxes just to 2016 levels for those earning over $400,000 to pay for it, is a bad idea?

Or, especially, why examining the “causes and influencing factors” of the Jan. 6 insurrection isn’t something Congress should do (like they did for 9/11 or the 10 Republican Benghazi investigations)?

I mean Jan. 6 was a riot. It was a deliberate, violent attack on our Capitol and our democracy. It was an insurrection. It was aimed at stopping Joe Biden’s certification as president. Police were beaten senseless. People were killed. Mike Pence was hunted and a gallows erected to hang him. It was an abomination.

And there’s no doubt it happened. We all saw it happen, live and in color.

But one congressional Republican, Andrew S. Clyde recently called it a, “normal tourist visit.” Except video from the House chamber shows him screaming in terror and helping barricade the door to prevent rioters from entering.

And another Republican, Jody Hice, claimed, “It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.” Tell that to Brian Sicknick’s survivors or the 140 police officers injured by the insurrectionists.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said, “By and large, it was peaceful protests … and that’s really the truth of what’s happening here.” (Which is like saying, “The Titanic’s voyage was just fine, except with that thing with the big ice cube.”)

At least one Republican, however, has it right. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, spoke truth when he said, “I was there. What happened was a violent effort to interfere with and prevent the constitutional order of installing a new president. And as such, it was an insurrection against the Constitution.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed with him, stating, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.” (Until Trump said “Jump” and McConnell bleated, “How high?” and opposed the commission.)

So did House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who initially said, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters;” and then flip-flopped on the former guy’s command and, last week, whipped his House members to vote against the commission, thus denying the insurrection.

To me, Republican stupidity, hypocrisy, lust for power, obedience to Trump, ignorance, extremism, white nationalism, nativism, Q-fueled conspiracy, racism, oR — call it what you will — stand in stark contrast to those who’ve given us the wireless mouse, put a helicopter on Mars, developed the COVID vaccine, or even invented Huggies, the can opener, or the Keurig K cup.

If American democracy fails, it won’t be because we rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, passed the American Rescue Plan, or rebuilt U.S. 2 from Everett to Skykomish with federal dollars.

If America sinks, it will be terminal Republican stupidity and their unquestioned, violent featly to a wanna-be dictator that brings us down.

Stay safe. Mask up.

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

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