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Shadows on a wall

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Jim Opionin by Jim Powers
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On October 28, David DePape, a 42-year-old Canadian citizen, was arrested after breaking into the home of Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul and attacking her husband with a hammer. Nancy was in Washington, DC at the time of the home invasion. Paul was seriously injured, undergoing surgery for a fractured skull.

Depape’s social media presence revealed his embrace of far-right political conspiracy theories. He had also made racist, sexist, and antisemitic posts, and also pushed Holocaust Denial and Covid 19 disinformation.

He confessed to authorities that he had broken into the Pelosi home to take Nancy Pelosi hostage and break her knees. He was charged with a host of crimes.

It has been reported that security camera video shows DePape using the hammer to smash in the back door and break into the house at around 2 a.m. Paul Pelosi was upstairs asleep in his bed when the break-in occurred.

Let me share an ancient allegory with you.

The philosopher Plato lived during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC and died at approximately 80 years old. During that long life, he produced an allegory usually referred to as Plato’s Cave where he sought to compare the effect of education and the lack of it on our nature.”

The premise of the allegory, if you aren’t familiar with it, is that a group of people have been chained to the wall of a cave all their lives, facing a blank wall. The have spent their entire lives watching shadows that are projected on the wall from objects that pass in front of a fire behind them. They give names to these shadows.

These shadows are the only reality these prisoners know, but they are not accurate projections of the real world. I’ll not get into the deeper philosophy that Plato explored because it’s not necessary to the discussion here. Basically, the idea is that the philosopher in the group is like a prisoner freed from the cave who comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not the direct source of the images he sees, and wants to understand, while every other prisoner of the cave has no desire to leave their prison.

But one prisoner is freed. He would look around and a see the fire. And as his eyes adjusted to the light, he would gradually come to see the reality surrounding him. And he would return to the cave, wanting to share the truth with the other prisoners. But now, accustomed to the bright light outside the cave, he was temporarily unable to see in the darkness, leaving the other prisoners to conclude that his journey outside the cave had harmed him and they must remain in the cave.

Plato’s conclusion was that as a result, the prisoners would kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave.

What has been the response by far-right media and politicians to the attack on Pelosi? As I’m writing this on November 2, they are still promoting a conspiracy theory that the 82-year-old Pelosi wasn’t the victim of the crime, but that he had known DePape for some time, had let him into the house, that DePape was a Gay prostitute, and while or after engaging in sex, they had an altercation. Some versions of the story have them having returned at 2:30 a.m. from a night at a Gay bar.

To be clear, there has never been any suggestion that Paul Pelosi is Gay. He and Nancy have been married since 1963 and have five children. He is a businessman with degrees from Georgetown University and New York University. Everything the far-right media has suggested, hinted at, and alleged about this incident is baseless conspiracy mongering. None of the salacious nonsense they have been spewing nonstop since the attack is true.

Even though the lies they are telling have been debunked for days, they still spread their nonsense to their viewers, who appear to be accepting it uncritically as fact.

And with that we return to Plato’s Cave.

There are millions of people in this country who have purposely chained themselves facing a blank wall in a rightwing Republican cave filled with flickering shadows. They believe those shadows are representations of reality, but instead are only shadows of the lies far-right media constantly feed them. Because they never see anything but those lies, and in fact seem willing to fight to the death to remain chained in that cave, they are under the complete control of people determined to destroy this country. They cannot be freed because they do not want to be freed. And Mr. DePape has shown very clearly that they are willing to kill to maintain their delusions.

Powerful people have weaponized these prisoners they have chained in this cave and have turned the switch that has loosed their shackles. They have convinced them that everyone outside their cave is the enemy and a threat to their remaining in their safe little prison. I fear there isn’t a way back that doesn’t involve violence.

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