Hello. My name is Michael Langley. I am, among other things, a Tracy native and former editor of this newspaper.
One of the other places I have been fortunate to serve in my 25-year career is with Fox in Washington D.C. I watched with horror the events of Wednesday and a distressing thought about my hometown began to take shape within me.
Part of my dismay stemmed from the images of journalists – some my friends – attacked while covering the radical insurgents who staged an unsuccessful coup at the United States Capitol – a building beautiful both in form and function. Some cowards even tied a microphone cable into a noose, leaving it hanging on the National Mall. A symbol of oppression and hate scarring the face of a place dedicated to honoring America and Americans.
These people were actively trying to mutilate our Republic, seemingly unsatisfied with the ways in which leaders have been decided since 1788.
Now, I’ve been threatened with violence plenty of times in my career, including by Tracyites who promised me pain and worse for writing about Tracy City Council. But I never considered that some might choose to overthrow our government.
If you believe I am stretching the point, imagine for a moment what these violent radicals might have done had lawmakers not been evacuated by incredibly brave law enforcement officers – many who now bear injuries from their defense of liberty. Consider what they would have demanded and what might have happened had anyone not capitulated. This was their stated goal, after all.
The President of the United States certainly bears much of the blame in this. Every one of the radical insurgents stormed the Legislative Branch and symbol of our representative democracy at the behest of the Executive Branch. But I think this group has been emboldened by those who enable and those who do nothing.
As I have stated many times, I am an unapologetic proponent of our First Amendment, including the right of those violent insurgents to speak and express their hate. I defend their right still. But I had forgotten that the right to speak does not confer the right not to be challenged. And in towns across this nation, including Tracy, they have not been challenged nearly enough. They have been largely dismissed as fringe elements or ignored, which as we saw Wednesday has made them dangerous.
In this, we are all culpable. They speak in the Tracy Press and other public venues and are sometimes challenged by a few. Perhaps they would be less inclined to sedition and attempted coups if they were challenged by many voices together, demonstrating the opposition of the many.
I too have been derelict in the exercise of this most basic responsibility of my citizenship – acting in the best interests of the nation, unified and united as one. No more will I, by my silence, allow fascism or hate to take root and grow unchallenged. I hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with you.