During his Inaugural address, just as he had done many times on the campaign trail, President Biden once again delivered a heartfelt plea for national unity, saying:
Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this:
Bringing America together.
Uniting our people.
He continued, saying that Americans need to rally together around the common foes we face:
Anger, resentment, hatred. extremism, lawlessness, violence. disease, joblessness, hopelessness.
I believe the President’s soul is indeed in this and mine is as well. I echo his sentiments and agree on these beautiful shared aspirations. But as the Right is now weaponizing the word unity and using it to avoid accountability, sidestep justice, disregard equity, and ignore criminality, there is a unity that decent Americans do not need:
Decent Americans don’t need unity with willful liars.
While a substantial portion of Americans and the vast majority of the opposing party still knowingly cling to the big lie of a fraudulent election, they do not deserve our unity. Such manufactured claims are fundamentally divisive, and intentionally so. Only when human beings stand together on the solid bedrock of objective truth can any commonality be unearthed and any compromises carved out.
After 64 lost lawsuits and dozens of failed recounts, there simply is no evidence of any kind to merit these fabrications of a corrupted electoral process, and as long as our friends, family members, and lawmakers reiterate such a falsehood, unity is neither possible nor required nor helpful.
Decent Americans don’t need unity with domestic terrorists.
On January 6th, our nation sustained one of the worst domestic attacks in our history; a brazen and bloody assault upon the very seat of our Constitution intended to violently seize control of the government and overturn the election results. This very likely occurred with the foreknowledge, aid, and support of many Republicans lawmakers and the former president himself.
The fact that the Republican Party has not only failed to universally condemn this attack, but has allowed many involved in it to still retain their seats as lawmakers while pushing hard against Senate impeachment of the former president, makes uniting with them tacit approval of terrorism. To align with people who will not hold the perpetrators of such ugliness accountable, would be to embolden lawlessness, bless murder, and co-sign insurrection.
Decent Americans don’t need unity with people disconnected from reality.
The nonsensical QAnon conspiracy movement that has polluted the Right and burrowed itself into partisan media and into our very political machinery, is predicated on fantastical and baseless claims intended to ratchet up irrational fear: invisible dangers operating in the shadows, Popes being secretly arrested, widespread rolling blackouts, massive child trafficking rings working under the direction of the Democrats.
These wild and reckless myths perpetuated by people who exist fully untethered from objective reality can simply not be tolerated by responsible, rational adults. We can and should work to find common ground across the sometimes vast chasms of politics and religion, in the turbulent trenches of immigration, healthcare, climate change, poverty. But there is no common ground to be found with unstable cultists, and we should not be burdened to find any.
Decent Americans don’t need unity with unrepentant racists.
Watching the same people who violently objected to athletes of color kneeling silently before a football game, or to disparate Americans marching to affirm the values of black lives, or to diverse Americans standing together to condemn the assassinations by police of human beings of color—now so casually brush off or completely ignore the violent white mobs at the Capitol has been grief-worthy.
These phony ANTIFA false equivalencies and Black Lives Matter whataboutisms, illustrate how deeply embedded into so many people’s psyches racial prejudice is, and this moment must be a time when we confront it and do not shy away from it under the pretense of ceremonial unity. Proud Boys don’t deserve unity. Boogaloo Boys don;t deserve unity. Klansmen without robes and hoods don’t. Black lives merit our passionate disunity with such people.
Unity, though invaluable is not given freely.
While lawmakers like Josh Hawley, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Mo Brooks, who are heavily implicated in the Capitol attack still hold their seats of undeserved power—unity is impossible.
While politicians like Ted Cruz, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz continue to double down on the knowing lie of a stolen election—there can be no unity. While Republicans compare protests demanding that black lives not be made expendable, with an act of white terrorism intending to overthrow the Government—unity will not be forthcoming.
America needs people to step across lines of political and religious affiliation to craft a way forward in consequential matters right now, and I want to be one of those people. I agree that we need human beings of every walk of life to, as the President said during his Inauguration:
Listen to one another.
Hear one another.
See one another.
Show respect to one another.
We desperately need to unite around our shared and interdependent humanity. Yet those needs do not supersede the elemental virtues of honesty, fairness, equity, decency and they do not override the Constitution.
The call for unity cannot entail abandoning the very heart of this nation’s laws and the solid bedrock of objective truth or the intrinsic value of all human beings. Unity that requires us to abide terrorism or perpetuate inequity or ratify violence, isn’t unity, it’s coddling evil.
Unity between compassionate, truthful, human beings burdened to a collaborative effort at restoring our nation is essential. Unity with unrepentant darkness is not. America and the people who call it home or dream of calling it home, deserve better.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com