The fallout from the Capitol riot continues to expand, and we are now being told that the entirety of the Trump-voting populace should be labeled “insurrectionist.” With such a label comes, of course, the application of tools the government has at hand in response. Tools that were built for waging the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

Such is a good time to reflect upon the lessons and ethics of the Golden Rule, i.e. “do unto others…;” i.e. “love thy neighbor as thyself;” i.e. “how would you feel if they did to you what you did to them.”

This is a grim perspective through which to contemplate the GWOT. For Republicans, now concerned that they are the target of secret security plans and censorships, consider: we torched half of the Middle East for what 19 Muslims did on 9/11. Now, that precedent is blowing up in our faces: Team Red is having the machine it helped build applied to its ranks. We assembled the intelligence apparatus to do it, but more importantly, we expanded our imagination, our Overton Window of socially acceptable conduct, to the idea that warring on people for what we speculate goes through their minds is the right thing to do. Now, the GWOT experts are investigating the Trump insurgency. Which, they tell us, might be any of the 74 million people who voted for Donald Trump. Social media is de-platforming large swathes of the “Right.” In other words: “they” are “us.” The Golden Rule says they always are.

Our Muslim opponents/victims should also reckon with this irony of the Golden Rule: Muslim autocrats for decades deflected the rightful rage of their people into externalized, scapegoating anti-Western movements, rather than pursue reform. Pakistan cultivated nests of baby snakes (the Taliban), and found they got too dangerous to control. The Palestinians raised the same snakes to confront Israel any way they could. Those violent factions have gained strength to the point where peaceably sharing power with them is likely impossible. Movements against “them” turned into movements biting “us.”

The implications of the pronoun switch loom just as large for us: how would Americans like it if Muslim drones soared over our country, to zap anyone they deem worthy of zapping? How well could any American cooperate with an occupying Muslim army? There are nearly 2 billion Muslims, and granted, much of their creed is concerned with our undoing, to one degree or the other. But rarely does that degree involve an actual threat. Yet we did Second World War-level damage to the Muslim world over what 19 of them did to us. We turned their theoretical hate into reasonable opposition. The reality is that of the people who are motivated by hate, religious or political, righteous or mythological, the ones who actually take action is tiny. And there is simply no way to predict the likelihood of any action. Which is why attempts to use what amounts to dressed-up ESP to do so are always extra-legal.

And another irony: our attacking Muslim nations for their own good did not make them any more functional. Our way of dealing with Islamic radicalism clearly has been a cure worse than the disease (and it’s a macrocosm of the War on Drugs). Meanwhile, in the two decades of the GWOT, has the American system gotten more, or less functional? Is it likely further conflict over the Trump insurgency will make us more, or less functional? Why would we expect “them” (Middle Easterners) to better untangle this Devil’s knot than “us,” the more developed (but where are the trends taking us)?

The flawed principle that we used to fight the GWOT – that you kill insurgent ideas by neutralizing the ideas’ people – is now being used in our internal partisan fight. As unconscionable as the 1/6 insurgency was, the actual actors (at most a few thousand) were a fraction of the Trump rally being held that day. That is a minuscule minim of a percentage of the 74 million Americans who chose Donald Trump at the ballot box.

However, a few thousand divided by 74 million is a much higher percentage than 19 divided by 1.8 billion.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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