“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” — Paul McCartney
I make my living in English classes. Sure, I’ve taught every social studies class on the books, but I’ve actually spent as many years teaching English as I did social studies. In English classes we analyze speech, books, poems, and short stories. A large part of the course is the ability to read and understand fiction and nonfiction work.
So, we are going to do that today. I am going to take the president’s video remarks to “protesters” in their entirety. They won’t be edited. They won’t be truncated. They won’t be paraphrased. You will see them exactly as they were delivered. Often seeing the spoken word in written form is enlightening.
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side.
But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time.
There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election.
But we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated — that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace.”
Of course, to completely appreciate these comments we have to backtrack and go over the events of the day and the events leading up to that day. Trump hosted a rally in Washington that morning. He played all the usual hits. The election was stolen. There was obvious fraud. You know the stuff. He then told them that we will take them out together. I’ll be with you.
What makes the first stanza so infuriating is that we all know these claims are false. He knows it. Those carrying his water in Congress know it. His lawyers know it. Most of the media pundits on the right know it. He is willing to play on the fears and emotions of a bunch of idiots and didn’t particularly care what they did. Some of them even know its false and don’t care. They just want to burn it all down. Even if the statements were true or possibly true you still don’t tell an angry mob that has already caused tons of damage that they are justified in their anger.
The second stanza seems fine on its own and wouldn’t be so horrible if we didn’t know that he sent out the crowd in a rage earlier that day. Imagine shaking up a bottle of coke and then expressing shock and dismay when it spews coke everywhere. Given his comments earlier in the day this whole stanza rings hollow.
In the third stanza we double down on the lie that the election was stolen. Of course, now that Congress has certified the results the president has no leg to stand on. He’s assured us there will be a smooth transition of power. He hasn’t conceded of course. He stills says he won in a landslide and that everything was stolen. Repeating the same lie twice in the same statement is just beyond comprehension.
The last stanza requires a whole new level of Zen to get through. Some folks call it gaslighting. Psychologists call it projection. Essentially you just take everything you’ve done and accuse the other side of doing it. It is whataboutism. The Antifa and black lives matter protesters are the evil ones. You know the ones protesting racial injustice and budding authoritarianism. You know the ones that didn’t bring guns and didn’t destroy government buildings. Those are the evil ones. You, the folks that threatened government officials, destroyed government property, and did it all at gunpoint. You are the good people in all of this.
The only word I can use to describe the way I feel after hearing that is rage. Imagine having a speech that is supposed to calm people down inducing rage. Of course, my rage is directed at him. For anyone inclined to agree with him it would ratchet up the rage towards those in Congress, the capital police, and anyone else trying to keep order. It’s hard to imagine him not knowing that. It is hard to imagine him thinking this speech was really going to calm anything down.
Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media weren’t buying it either. They shut him down for at least twelve hours. In light of yesterday’s events, that seems extremely light. Supposedly, the cabinet was considering invoking the 25th amendment and removing him from office. Some of his staff were considering resignation. Wow, with 13 days left. We will have to be satisfied with hearing that some people are considering the minimum level of moral courage just for a fleeting moment.
In terms of the Beatles chronology, the line referenced above was actually the last line McCartney wrote as a Beatle. The album “Let it Be” was actually recorded before “Abbey Road” even though it was released later, and they jumbled the order of the songs in “Abbey Road”. “In the end” was supposed to be the last song. The line is short, sweet, and to the point. It is the most brilliant thing McCartney has ever written lyrically. It has the added bonus of being true even in reverse. The hate you take is equal to the hate you make. McCartney would go on to have a long and distinguished solo career, but he would never equal the power of that one lyric. Nothing Trump says or does will top this or erase this. This will be his lasting legacy. May God have mercy on his soul because I’m not sure anyone else should.