The 2 pressing questions of the Assembly circus

In all respects, the seemingly endless stream of vitriol during the Anchorage Coven’s mandate debate over the past week was a depressing sight. If you showed up in person or listened to the livestream on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday night, you witnessed a festival of hate that lasted for hours and showed how much our politics have gone downhill, even in the past. local level. After watching the proceedings for a while, two questions surely came to mind: “How did we get here? and “Can it get worse?” “

The speech at the meeting was as ugly as this city has seen it. Among the many conspiracy theories and “alternative facts” that witnesses brought up were threats – some directed against members of the Assembly, others against others in the audience who disagreed. . Threats ranged from vague – like “you will see what would happen if you skip this step” – to disturbing specific and violent threats, such as the person who said it was “time to get off the gallows” for the Assembly. On Thursday, someone called our current position “1776,” a reference to the start of the American Revolution that also echoed the far-right rhetoric of those who participated in the January 6 uprising in Washington, DC Wednesday , several people wore yellow Star of David insignia, with a fake Hebrew, intended to evoke those that Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis before and during the Holocaust – a false equivalence that seriously downplayed the scale of this atrocity. Members of the public cursed, shouted insults at members of the assembly and belittled other participants. It was, in plain words, a crowd.

Worse yet, amid the chaos, police discovered a man was carrying a concealed handgun – when he was arrested on Wednesday for disorderly conduct. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why mixing deadly weapons, a volatile mob, and a divisive argument is such a terrible idea. So, in answer to the second question: can it get worse? – the answer is yes, in a way too terrible to consider. And the fact that this is a realistic concern is a sad statement about where we are at.

As to how we got here, there are both complex and surprisingly simple reasons. The more complex have to do with a multitude of external factors – wired news networks and online blogs to confirm prejudices rather than challenge them. Social media algorithms that increasingly separate us in siled echo chambers. A trickle-down corrosion of our politics from the national to the local level, in which politicians and supporters are increasingly willing to break down the safeguards of civility and civility to achieve victories and, worse, to rig the rules of our system.

The simple reasons are those which are more difficult to accept. We have let our political opinions become entangled with our opinions about ourselves, and in doing so, we have chosen to forget that we are all in the same boat. Rather than finding ways to work out our differences, many of us have become fixated on getting our way at all costs, no matter who it hurts, including ourselves.

There are strong moral reasons why the behavior displayed at Assembly meetings last week should be banned. But there are also practical, pragmatic ones. Those who came to testify against the mask’s mandate said they stood up for American freedom and values, but the record shows otherwise. They came to shout, belittle, make the platform and disrupt. They shouted at those who disagreed and made threats against the elected officials. It is not the democratic process, it is anarchy and brutality. The crowd intended to protest those they saw as wanting to take away their rights – and in practice, they did so by taking away the right to be heard from others.

You cannot preserve freedom by enforcing your own will through intimidation tactics, which makes those who oppose you fear for their safety. It has another name: tyranny. And this is something we should all be able to oppose against.

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