Hope in an Anne Arundel dog park: Folks in Odenton discuss their president, Capitol storming
A spry Great Dane and energetic young Dalmatian alternated between growling, nipping and playing in the brisk afternoon air of Towsers Branch Dog Park, Thursday, January 7, 2021. Despite markedly different backgrounds and perspectives, their owners found common ground during a half hour interview that discussed the storming of the U.S. Capitol yesterday, during a pandemic that is reported to have killed over 350,000 Americans. Dante D., a young man from Queens, NY who just got engaged to his fiance talked about what happened in Washington D.C. yesterday. Brad, a 62-year-old Trump supporter, jumped into the discussion as well. “How could this ever happen?” Dante said was the first thing he was thinking when he learned of the invasion of the Capitol. One half of the bi-racial couple—Dante’s fiance, seemed perplexed and conflicted about what had occurred. “It’s all very sad, how it came to this,” she said. “It was confusing. It would have been a different It would have been a different outcome had it been a Black Lives Matter Protest. How could they just break into the Capitol like that?” Brad said he supports the U.S. Constitution, explaining you need something to go by. “The Second Amendment right is to bear arms,” he said. “It’s not to bear arms against your fellow citizens. It’s to bear arms of the tyranny of the government.” During the storming of the Capitol yesterday, the American flag was outmatched in numbers by a cacophony of other banners---the blue and white Trump flag, the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, and a Confederate flag waved at one point inside its halls. Although Brad supports Trump, he said he did not support a Trump dictatorship. “Trump does have a tendency to row people and stir up things—he shoots from the mouth,” he said. “He goes against the grain of the establishment, and I think the establishment is corrupt. We don’t want one person or one thing having the power. We have checks and balances, and I think that’s the way it should be.” Brad said he has paid a personal cost for his conservative views. Customers have refused to patronize his business because of his opinion. He believes much of the media—both social and mainstream-- is to some extent to blame for creating current divisions in America, in part by leaning into liberal biases and ignoring conservative viewpoints. “I believe the right and conservative view is suppressed, where the left is wide open,” he said. Dante agreed with Brad that “The media has the people scared to death.” Dante presented a measured view when he considered Trump. “I don’t hate anyone,” he said. “But he (Trump) is a little incompetent. Some of the decisions he made I haven’t always agreed with. He’s always on Twitter, but when it comes to big things like yesterday...” All three believed America may be more vulnerable now, to foreign adversaries. Dante cited a sarcastic meme he saw of fictional Russians and Chinese being amazed at how easy it was to break into the Capitol. But all three also agreed on the way forward. “It starts with us having a conversation...with respect,” Dante said. “We all obviously have different viewpoints. We can solve a lot of our problems by talking about them with respect.” “Along with listening to each other,” his fiance added. Back in the parking lot, Renee A. of Gambrills, waited in her truck with her dog in the back. “I think political violence always begets political violence, and doesn’t get you anywhere,” the federal employee said. She said she was encouraged to stay home from work Wednesday, because there were indications that their might be unrest in Washington D.C. that day. She described herself as thinking independently on different issues. “I fall in the middle on a lot of things,” she said. “I’m probably more Libertarian than anything.” She also finds fault in the powers at the head of both social media, and mainstream media. “The media and all these social media engines—the people that run those—are censoring everything, and they’re saying what they want people to hear. Most people believe what they hear. There’s so much fake news and bullshit out there. People don’t do research.” She said she has been a Trump supporter, primarily because of the positive impact she believes he has had on the economy. But she also didn’t give him a free pass for what happened yesterday. “He definitely is culpable for some of what happened,” she said. “I think he did a lot financially for our country, but Trump is a complete narcissist. For him it’s more about the win than anything. He has definitely ruined his chances of running again in four years, in my opinion.” As for those who stormed the Capitol, she said none of them are above the law and should be prosecuted. But she believes those there who created the most trouble were a small number. “The one percent of radical morons—the media makes it look like it represented the entire party. I don’t think most of the Republican party is in agreement with what they did.” Renee also wondered about the way the internet is impacting human behavior. She said she recently called out a friend on social media who threatened to unfriend anyone who disagreed with them regarding a political subject. She said when she asked him if he was going to unfriend her, the man relented and sent her a “kiss’ emoji. “People write things on the internet—on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—that they would never say to your face,” she said. “The hypocrisy is funny.” The dialogue at the dog park was not hypocritical Thursday. Those who spoke, though they declined to have their photos taken or provide their full names, treated each other with civility, and maybe even a bit of fondness, as they let their dogs stretch their legs together. Perhaps a small part of America in Anne Arundel County, found a way to put one small step in front of the other our undiscovered 2021.