Caputo did the job he was hired to do

President* Trump,

So yesterday’s weather forecast was off and we actually got some rain last night. Not a lot, but it took a little bit of the smoky edge off this morning and it was easier to breathe. Right now the air quality index is at 180, which is just “unhealthy” instead of “very unhealthy” or “extremely unhealthy,” so things are looking up some.

It’s probably a really, really good thing that your guy Caputo isn’t phoning it in from the West Coast since he’s already teetering on the edge; being forced to stay indoors because of shitty air quality wouldn’t be good for him. Just because I can’t bring myself to be totally bitchy about someone who may be having a mental health crisis, I will say that I hope he gets whatever help he needs, both for his sake and for his family’s sake.

Ok, now that the above appropriate comment has been duly made I’ll go on and tell you what else I (really) think. What I (really) think is that it doesn’t matter one bit how crazy you all make Caputo out to be or how sincere sounding his apology is (or isn’t) for accusing government scientists of sedition. The point is he did his real job and planted that poison seed and it’s conveniently out there for others to water. Plus, Caputo’s claim that antifa militants are training to target your supporters if you win is giving your right-wing nut jobs the order to lock and load their arsenals. Regardless of whether Caputo is eventually deemed mentally unstable or judged appropriately apologetic, you managed to get that sick call to arms out on very well traveled air waves where it can reverberate and give cover to angry white men who’re itching to pull their triggers.

Right? It’s not unlike the countless other walk-backs you and your proxies have done over the years, but this one of Caputo’s is currently the cake-taker. We have a f*cking government official calling out the posse, priming them to see ANTIFA around every corner and setting up conditions where they feel wholly justified to shoot first and maybe (or maybe not) ask questions later.

The other day in a WP editorial Rachel Kleinfeld, who is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, drew out the ways that our political and cultural climate are similar to others around the globe that devolved into widespread violence perpetrated by state actors (and civilians) against civilians (https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/america-political-violence-risk/2020/09/11/be924628-f388-11ea-999c-67ff7bf6a9d2_story.html). She described how countries with very stark inequalities and histories of past violence, both of which characterize the US, are susceptible to such violence, particularly when their leaders cast some as sub-human threats to the social order. After laying out a whole lot of scary shit that seems to be pointing pretty darn inexorably to a very bad scene involving a lot of blood, she says that such a catastrophe can still be averted if we stop casting blame and start working to find common ground.

I can’t say she’s wrong. Technically. But this is obviously a “it takes two to tango” deal and if one side is using a director of a major government agency to tell supporters to buy ammunition, it seems pretty unlikely that we’re going to establish much common ground on which to de-escalate.

You know, it’s surreal to write about this in my cozy house in my calm, quiet neighborhood and it’s easy to chalk it all up to an over-active imagination, but so many unthinkables have come to pass (we went over 200,000 COVID deaths today) that I am feeling scared of where we seem to be heading.  On this, I’d really, really like to be wrong or very, very surprised by stand up behavior from you that I didn’t think you’re capable of.

May we be safe from angry, armed people and their instigators.
May we be willing to be clear-eyed about the dangers we face.
May we be strong enough to take the high roads (including away from the mayhem if need be).
May we accept that reconciliation and common ground are the last things our POTUS wants to find.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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