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Juan Williams: Let America be America

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It feels like having a weight lifted off my soul.

I’m describing my emotions as Joe Biden was inaugurated as president last week, marking the end of Donald Trump’s time in the White House.

{mosads}I’m not alone.

Dr. Anthony Fauci described his emotion as a “liberating feeling.”

His joy comes from being able to simply speak honestly about “what the evidence, what the science is.” He said with Trump gone he can tell it straight, offering the truth without “any repercussions about it.”

It’s not just Fauci and me.

“I feel lighter,” Sarah Rassey of Chicago told the New York Times. “I’m just grateful, relieved, happy.”

“I am breathing a major sigh of relief,” Joe Johnson, a Nashville veteran, told The Washington Post. “It feels like we’ve been in a fox hole, under siege, running out of supplies, and in the 11th hour…the cavalry came.”

These positive feelings matter.

Biden enters office with a 58 percent approval rating and a plurality of Americans — 46 percent — saying they believe he will make the federal government work better, according to Pew Research.

He also begins his term as the person to receive the most votes for president in American history, 81.3 million. That’s an incredible performance against an opponent with the power of the presidency. 

Incumbents rarely lose.

And to top it off, voters gave Biden’s party control of both houses of Congress.

A Fox News poll from December showed 55 percent of Americans either “fully support him” (34 percent) or are “with him for now — but we’ll have to see how he does” (21 percent). Another 24 percent say they are willing to give Biden a chance, even though he would not be their choice for president.

Trump never had an approval rating of 50 percent or higher in Fox News polls.

Here’s another measure of why Americans are feeling better with Biden in the White House.

According to a new report from Zignal Labs, online misinformation about the 2020 election fell by as much as 73 percent in the week after Trump was banned from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms.

Halting the constant lies, the appeals to political division that led Trump supporters to attack the Capitol, is enough to make Garth Brooks and a whole country sing “Amazing Grace.”

Biden, in his inaugural address, boldly called for an end to “lies told for power and for profit,” by so many on right-wing social media and on too many talk shows.

Biden said he, as president, has a duty “to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

That will be the first battle in what Biden called his fight to end “this uncivil war” of conservative versus liberal and rural versus urban — that divide that Trump, under the banner of ‘populism,’ exploited for political advantage.

Biden’s goal, he said is “that most elusive of things in a democracy — unity.”

And the idea of unity makes me happy.

I want to feel a part of the American community again — instead of another target for Trump’s divisive rhetoric as a journalist who was a repeat victim of his ugly Twitter attacks.

The press is not the “enemy of the people,” as Trump proclaimed. A free press is the enemy of propaganda.

For me as a black man, there was relief that Trump’s racism no longer resides in the White House.

{mossecondads}Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns feels free to call out what ails the nation.

He told NPR last week: There’s “a year-old COVID-19 virus, but also a 402-year-old virus of white supremacy, of racial injustice…And we’ve got an age-old human virus of misinformation, of paranoia, of conspiracies.”

But even more, as the son of a black mother and the grandfather of black granddaughters, I couldn’t hold back tears at seeing Kamala Harris rise to vice president as a direct repudiation of Trump.

My mother, an immigrant who worked in a sweatshop in Manhattan’s garment district, would have cried too at the sight of a black woman, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, being inaugurated as the Vice President of the United States.

My mother would have heard the new president when he called for an end to the last four years of stoking racial hatred.

Biden’s inaugural address was very careful to avoid the all-too-common “false equivalency” trap politicians fall into. He did not say “both sides” bear responsibility. He did not pretend blame was evenly distributed.

One side, the American right, is solely responsible for empowering the hateful nonsense of QAnon and the resurgence of white supremacist threats.

In an essay for the Atlantic, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who seldom spoke against Trumpism, wrote “the Republican Party faces a separate reckoning”.

“Until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon,” he wrote. “They can’t. The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about.”

Correct, senator.

And the only way to do that is for you and your Republican colleagues to vote to bar Trump from ever holding public office again through the Senate impeachment trial or other means.

With Biden as president, there is hope that national politics can be normal. There’s reason to hope that the fever of political hatred and violent extremism is going away.

To quote Langston Hughes, the black poet of the early 20th Century, “Let America be America Again.”

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags Anthony Fauci Ben Sasse Donald Trump Donald Trump Joe Biden misinformation Polarization racial justice

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