A columnist learns to grab random thoughts as they come. Here's what's on my mind a few days after the U.S. Capitol is attacked and the COVID-19 assault seems to be winning.
A fantasy: All the participants in the Capitol assault are identified, arrested, tried, convicted or released, and/or herded into an enclosure. Fifty of them are chosen at random, seated separately into interrogation rooms, and then asked the following questions: 1. Exactly why did you take part in the march and invasion of the Capitol? 2. What did you hope to accomplish? 3. Would you join future violent protests against the Establishment? 4. Are you proud to be an American? Why? Why not?
A follow-up scenario: All of the convicted protesters are kept behind bars together for a week. Then former president Donald Trump is released into their care. What might happen? Would they salute and praise him? Or would they pin him against a wall and ask "How could you have talked us into this mess? Where were you when we made our attack?"
As I write this, congressional members from both chambers are preparing to impeach or otherwise get rid of Trump. Evidence is also being gathered against individual rioters who actually entered the Capitol building.
Who deserves the greater blame? It's tempting to point the finger at Trump. He's the guy who — over the course of months — predicted and encouraged the showdown. But Trump needed followers to do the daily dirty work. And he had them, aplenty.
If there's a positive side to the Jan. 6 insurrection, it's this: now all Americans know for certain that our borders (and our Constitution) shelter thousands of citizens who — when the traitorous trumpet sounds — won't give a damn about law, order, the Bill of Rights and the thousands of brave men and women who have fought and died to build and protect our democracy.
OK, now we know these potential revolutionaries exist. So how will we identify them? How do we guard against their future illegal actions?
Damned if I know. But we'd better find out.
And when that happens, what then? I suggested one possibility in the opening of this column: Ask each and every protester: Exactly what is/are the problems you're fighting to eradicate? Who do you consider to be your enemies? What are the lawful remedies you can suggest to make things better?
Final thought: The COVID-19 problem. Will it ever be solved until 98% (or thereabouts) of Americans agree to wear a mask anywhere we go?
Each day the pandemic news is split into two halves: (A) The pandemic is winning, and (B) millions of our citizens keep insisting, "This is a democracy. I have the right to remain mask-free."
Yea, verily. Even unto our graves.
Bob Driver's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.