This essay appeared in The Covington [GA] News on July 6, 2022.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of folly out there.

And it’s important to remember that…

Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than evil…There is no defense against folly. Neither protests nor force are of any avail against it, and it is never amenable to reason. If facts contradict personal prejudices, there is no need to believe them, and if they are undeniable, they can simply be pushed aside as exceptions.” 

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, 1945.

I watched the House select committee’s January 6 testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson on Tuesday, June 28.  More than a couple of times, I heard the word “unhinged” in describing the country’s most famous former reality TV star.

It is worth noting that Brian Kilmeade used that very word last week in describing 45 after the election. If you don’t know who Brian Kilmeade is in our divided left-right leaning news world, he is one of the hosts of “Fox and Friends,” a morning show on which Trump made regular appearances via telephone. When Kilmeade challenged the former president about the unproven claims of election fraud, Trump went into a rage. Kilmeade, who has been a stalwart supporter of the former president said last week on Fox’s “Media Buzz,” “A lot of times things don’t work out and are so-called unfair. Your team couldn’t prove [the election was rigged], move on.”

Concerning fairness or the lack thereof, it’s important to note that back in early 2021, the House passed a bill to form a bipartisan January 6 panel modeled on the 9/11 commission. Thirty-five Republicans voted for it, and five House Republicans of that party’s choosing would have sat on the panel, but Trump’s resistance was unrelenting and a filibuster defeated it. (Dang, them’s the rules.) 

Therefore, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formed a House committee to investigate the attack, thus giving her veto power for adding defenders. Many from the GOP have cried “foul!” (But dang, them’s the rules.) 

There are, of course, two Republicans on the committee, Vice-Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

I know it’s best for me to keep it local for the readers here, so here goes.

On two occasions I have written in this newspaper about the act of voting, not how I voted or my political leanings. No. These were light-hearted and patriotic pieces about the privilege and practice of voting: “All the Technology and None of the Charm” – November 6, 2016, and “Two Hours Well Spent” – November 14, 2020.  In that latter one, I was celebrating being in line with my son, his dear friend, our electorate peers of all political ilks, and the cheerful citizens – professionals and volunteers – who work the polls and make it possible for us to accomplish that most sacred privilege of a democratic republic. 

As with most of us, I remember learning in the fifth grade one of the things that make our country great: it’s the peaceful transfer of power. I well recall Mrs. Meadows at E.L. Ficquett Elementary School putting her hand to her heart as she taught that lesson to us, just as we place our hands on our hearts when we recite The Pledge of Allegiance.

   •   •   •

I have a strict rule with my comedy: don’t laugh down on people. Laughing down on people is easy to do, of course. Some folks like to think of themselves as superior, and pointing out the perceived inferiority of others makes the most ignoble kind of jokesters yuck it up. Such practice is the whoopie cushion of verbal humor. (Okay, I actually like whoopie cushions, but this is a serious piece so stop distracting me.)

Even more important than not laughing down on people: never, don’t never EVER attack down on people. The common term for this is, “bullying.”

When Trump ran out of Attorneys General and his own Justice Department officials to attack and blame, when he could not bring Rusty Bowers, the Speaker of the House in Arizona, or Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to their knees, when the Dominion Voting system stories turned out to be a bunch of hooey, when ridiculous conspiracy theory after ridiculous conspiracy theory did not come to any kind of provable fruition, the former president went after my Georgia sisters, Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman.

Shaye Moss was a Fulton County election worker. Ruby Freeman, Ms. Moss’s mother, was helping with the election as a temp worker.

In 2020 the security video on election workers everywhere was, of course, running nonstop. At one point Ms. Moss handed Ms. Freeman what has become the world’s most infamous single piece of candy, that nefarious ginger mint.

Something I’ve learned in my time on this earth: if you are desperately and passionately looking for trouble, you’ll find it.

Some genius somewhere was perusing the video of election workers in Fulton County, saw that candy exchange, and decided that the mint was a thumb drive full of fake votes.

In a virtual hearing with Georgia Republican legislators, the former president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said that Ms. Moss handed the supposed thumb drive to Ms. Freeman “like they were vials of heroin or cocaine.”

On his recorded call with Brad Raffensperger, Trump said, “I’ll take on anybody you want with regard to Ruby Freeman, and her lovely daughter, a very lovely young lady, I’m sure. But Ruby Freeman, I will take on anybody you want.”

Giuliani said, “They [Moss and Freeman] should have been questioned already. Their places of work, their homes should have been searched.”

Trump called Ms. Freeman a “hustler.”

The former president and his lieutenants have taken these attacks of vitriol on the road, and Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman have had to quit their jobs. They have been attacked online. People have arrived at their homes to make “citizens arrests.” Their lives have been torn asunder. 

As my mama would say, this is low down. And as a citizen of Georgia, I take it personally. 

And now I’ll go one step too far.  You’re welcome to guess at the subtext when I say, “C’mon, as if Trump could take Fulton County.” 

If you live around here, you know I’m right. 

And to believe the Big Lie is the most profound kind of folly.