S. E. Williams |

“Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.”

– Dan Nielsen

They could not take no for an answer. . .that message was clear when Republican hate mongers and former President Donald J. Trump plebes, Congressional Representatives Matt Gaetz, (R) Florida, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R) Georgia, settled for a less than impressive rally on the steps of Riverside City Hall Saturday, July 17.

 (source: twitter)

In the days leading up to the impromptu event, the belligerent duo were unceremoniously denied opportunities to present their dog and pony show at  three separate Southern California venues, including the Riverside Convention Center. Concerns over safety and vigorous pushback from local communities played a pivotal role in decisions to cancel the events. 

The America First Rally, as they are being advertised across the country, are typically filled with Gaetz and Taylor Greene’s repetitive laundry list of rantings reinforcing the Big (2020 Election) Lie, condemnations of Black Lives Matter, unfounded allegations against the current administration and the Democratic Party, and unwarranted homages to Trump.

Claiming at Saturday’s gathering they would never be silenced or shut up, the pair did what they could to save face for failing in their Southern California mission which I believe was merely to stir up trouble between opposing political factions in the region.

In the shameful tradition of fascists throughout history there seems to be no end to their senseless, yet dangerous blathering. Their treacherous lies threaten the fabric of democracy because too many Americans who revel in sustaining the worst of White privilege embrace their lies. They help validate their own desires to block access to equity for Blacks and other minorities to maintain power, control and to perpetuate the benefits of White privilege.  

Those who oppose their ideology, like me, can take comfort in knowing they do not represent most people in this country, and they do not represent all White people in the country—but, they do speak for a good number of them. A Pew Research Center study shows only 57 percent of Whites in this country voted for Trump in 2020 and most may subscribe to the Big Lie, however, I’m encouraged by the 42 percent of White people in this country who roundly reject him and those who support his divisive  rhetoric.  

Even as people continue to suffer and die from COVID-19, Gaetz, Taylor Greene and others work to confuse discussions around the severity of the disease and the value of the vaccine. They repudiate/confuse/distort reality putting those who follow them at risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to others. The consequences of such disregard for the truth can be deadly.   

Gaetz was dismissive of the Coronavirus even though he contracted it and Taylor Greene was forced to apologize for  comparing the nation’s  coronavirus mask and vaccine policies to the brownshirts of Nazi Germany. The comments, of course, were in reference to Hitler’s paramilitary group known for its brutality and role in medical experimentation.  

Her apology proved disingenuous as within days of offering it, she was at it again. This time, in response to President Joe Biden’s announcement of plans to send medical personnel into communities to assist with the vaccine process.

In a twitter post Taylor Greene taunted, “People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brownshirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations. You can’t force people to be part of the human experiment.”

 (source: twitter)

In truth, many Americans across demographics are vaccine hesitant for a variety of reasons and as experts advise, if many remain so, the virus will continue to spread and mutate and loved ones will continue to die.

To continue telling untruths, to discourage people from being vaccinated who might otherwise consider doing so if there was not so much garbage in the air, is costing lives.  

Republicans like Gaetz, Taylor Greene, their idol, Trump, our own Riverside County Sheriff  Chad Bianco, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin and other elected officials right here in the inland region who either downplay the Coronavirus and/or perpetuate the big lie, or both, are harming this community and this nation. 

You would think Hestrin and Bianco would be embarrassed by loud mouths like Gaetz and Taylor Greene bringing their clown show to the region they call home. Are they? Maybe they are, but I doubt it. Some people are willing to dance with the devil if it means preserving their power.

One of the biggest dangers is that these people, these truth destroyers, fallacy embracers, and Big Lie perpetrators, hold positions of power and unless all of us who care about truth, righteousness and justice join the movement to pressure congress to pull out all the stops and pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act this is just a prologue of what may come.

According to reports, the circus act at Riverside City Hall on Saturday attracted barely 100 people and some of them were there to protest the event. We should all applaud members of the community who made their voices heard in opposition to this affair and to local politicians who called it out for what it was.

What we are experiencing poses a risk to all our futures. Republicans, with the political affinities mirroring those of Trump, Gaetz and Taylor Greene run state houses and legislatures in most states across the country, voting rights are being curtailed everywhere while the president and congress appear impotent on this most critical issue.

Biden does not get a pass for talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to voting rights. We need him to act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer  does not get a pass for his inability to put pressure on certain members of the Democratic caucus to modify the ”Jim Crow” era  filibuster rule and force a  vote on these pieces of legislation so essential to our democracy.

It is so often said, “As California goes, so goes the nation.” For those who disagree with the direction of the Republican party, just because we sit in a blue state does not free us from our responsibility as citizens to advocate for what is right. The right to vote is one of those rights.

California has a role to play that begins by speaking out in solidarity with right-minded people across the country on the critical issue of franchise. It is as simple as picking up your phone.

If you agree with me, call the White House (1-202-456-1111); call Schumer’s office and our own two senators at (202) 224-3121 and ask for the office of either California Senator Dianne Feinstein or Senator Alex Padilla and insist they speak up, speak out, and play a leadership role in pressuring  Democratic leadership to put aside the filibuster and act on voting rights legislation immediately.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.