I want to open this week by acknowledging John Gottlied’s references to my column last week. I can honestly say the same things about his writings that he said about mine: I often disagree (sometimes vehemently), I agree more often than people might expect, and I eagerly await each week’s new installment.
Now on to this week’s topic.
Sometimes my irony barometer is strained to the point of breaking. Oddly enough, it usually occurs as a result of Trump or his followers. Take, for instance, this refrain we are constantly hearing nowadays: “Joe Biden is weaponizing the Justice Department by going after his political enemies!” Or this nugget: “We have a two-tiered justice system, with conservatives on the bottom being persecuted!”
Let’s take that second one first. We DO have a two-tiered legal system, all right. What if Trump really had won in 2020 (instead of just pretending to), and those Jan. 6 protesters had been Black Lives Matter activists? Do you think they would have all gone home and slept in their own beds that night? How many do you think would have never gone home at all? I think we all know it would almost certainly have been more than the one rioter who was killed in the real attack. This, despite the fact that all the numbers show that the vast majority of terrorist attacks in this country since 9/11 have been perpetrated by far-right extremists.
But that first one, about “weaponizing the justice department,” that is a real doozy. It was Donald Trump who had, as one of his main campaign slogans in 2016, “Lock her up!” This was over Hillary Clinton’s alleged carelessness with classified documents online, when Trump illegally kept more sensitive documents (involving, among other things, nuclear secrets) in his pool-house and bathroom. It was Donald Trump whose two Senate-confirmed attorneys-general, both of them in ideological lockstep with him, wound up losing their jobs because they drew a line at how far they were willing to abuse their offices at his command. In fact, just 26 days before the 2020 election, Trump called for Bill Barr to indict Joe Biden for the “greatest crime in history,” allegedly “perpetrating the Russia hoax.” Heck, just nine months ago Trump said that “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”
Before you think I am practicing the sort of what-aboutism I criticize in others, allow me explain the difference. Hillary Clinton did not get locked up, and Joe Biden did not get indicted, for one simple reason. There was no evidence. It was not political - it was Republican officials who declined to do what Trump wanted, for the simple reason they could not win in court with nothing more than accusations. Everything that Donald Trump and his cronies have been indicted for, and are being tried for, is backed up by massive amounts of evidence. This is further reinforced by the fact that, as we learned last week, the Georgia grand jury also recommended indictments for Lindsay Graham, Mike Flynn, and several others (including both former Republican senators from Georgia). If the whole thing was a political hit job, a Republican as prominent as Lindsay Graham would surely have been getting his mug shot taken - but the D.A. declined to indict those individuals because there wasn’t as much clear evidence against them in this case.
To decline to prosecute someone with this much evidence of criminality, just because of an election… THAT would be the miscarriage of justice. Laws matter.
--Troy D. Smith, a White County native, is a novelist and a history professor at Tennessee Tech. His words do not necessarily represent TTU.
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