Radio Dispute- A U.S. Rep., Jan 6 Caller, and Support for Israel
What a week this has been in U.S. and World News. It's enough to make even those with a level head feel a bit uneasy.
The world has been living with the war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin's aggression. Now, add a new war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and the planet seems like it's turning upside down. Meanwhile, back in Washington, Rep. Jim Jordan has been forced to suspend his third vote for House Speaker leaving no-one at the helm, and our Congressman Brandon Williams (NY-22) protesting the protesters inside the Cannon House Office Building in D.C. - making for a very busy (and scary) news week.
The photo above is our Congressman Brandon Williams, a freshman Republican representing Central New York, including Utica, Rome and Syracuse. Here he waves an Israeli flag from the second floor of the Cannon House Office overlooking protestors from Jewish Voice for Peace, who are calling on Israel to agree to a cease fire in Gaza.
Brandon, speaking to the Keeler Show on Thursday morning, said he grabbed an Israeli flag and began waving it above the protestors who support the Palestinians. Williams said he stood there for a good part of the day exercising his free expression and at one point, Capitol Police told him to leave or he'd be arrested. He refused to exit the building and continued his demonstration, and he said the police didn't return.
Hooray for Brandon. I happen to agree that after the deadly, barbaric attacks on Israel, they need to respond with ten times the force, and while trying to avoid civilians, they need to end Hamas once and for all. Williams, by the way, is a former Nuclear Submarine Officer and a Strategic Missile Officer in the Navy - and after spending several tours in war-torn countries and serving in the Gulf War, he has first-hand experience with world affairs.
A caller into the radio program Thursday asked a loaded question of the Congressman, if he felt that Donald Trump incited the attack on the Capitol and an attempt to change the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. That's when Williams asked the caller, how the protest by Jewish Voice for Peace on Wednesday, where they were trespassing and demonstrating, was any different than what happened on January 6th.
To be fair, Trump is facing several indictments and is the leading Republican candidate for President - so the caller's question deserved a legitimate answer. But I can also understand the Congressman's frustration.
Williams did not answer the question and the comparison between January 6th and this protest opened a whole new can of worms.
There is no moral equivalency when we're talking about what happened on January 6th, when violent protestors broke into and stormed the Capitol with the intention of interrupting the confirmation of Joe Biden. There certainly wasn't any equivalency to the protest that was happening on Wednesday, which wasn't trying to overthrow the government, it was instead trying to influence our government's policy. My guess is the Congressman would rather have that comparison back.
What's the difference between this protest where a handful were arrested? For starters, Brandon Williams wouldn't have been able to stand out in the open on January 6th. He would have most likely been with everyone else in Congress, hiding under desks, in closets and in hallways, fearing for their lives. Both Republicans and Democrats feared for their lives and this was indeed an attack on our country and an attack on Democracy. Yesterday's "sit-in" was a protest of self-proclaimed American Jews siding with the Palestinians asking for a cease-fire, and while a few people may have resisted police, Capitol Police was in complete control and everybody guilty of trespassing was arrested (which we believe was the entire crowd).
A caller asked "Why were these people treated differently than those on January 6th?" Well, for starters - they weren't breaking down doors and windows, fighting with Capitol Police, and chanting for the death of Vice President Mike Pence. These protesters were calling for a U.S. ally to stop bombing their enemy. The January 6ers were intending to remove the recently elected President of the United States, and place the former President Trump - who did lose the election - back in office. Whether or not Donald Trump is guilty of causing what happened on January 6th should be left up to the courts, which is exactly where the case is right now.
Regarding the boat-load of news we have had to consume this week, there's a lot to swallow. The world seems like a timber box ready to blow up into flames. Democrats sit by enjoying their view of the Republicans who've created a disaster in the House which currently places our nation in a legislative standstill. Our adversaries are clearly watching with intrigue - even the leaders of Russia and China held a summit of their own to strategize who knows what. All of this while our Congress can't even agree on something as simple as funding the government so we can continue to operate with some version of normalcy and a seemingly weak Joe Biden will speak to the nation tonight in a prime time television address to convince us that we need to spend billions more on the conflicts in Ukraine, and now Israel and Gaza.
Here's the tense moment i the interview with Lou the Caller, Keeler and Rep. Williams
If there ever was a time where confidence in our government to resolve the issues of the day is at an all-time low, I'd say it would be now. But here's a small bit of optimism to help with your sanity and frame of mind.
While I completely disagree with the protestors in Washington calling for a cease-fire, I defend their right to demonstrate. They certainly broke some laws and should be arrested as a result, but for the most part - they delivered their message somewhat peacefully in hopes that our legislators in the U.S. Senate and Congress would be influenced and ultimately change their direction. That's the way America is supposed to work.
On the flip side, or should I say - on the next level up - we have Congressman Brandon Williams who instead of sitting in an office making fund raising phone calls to constituents, was exercising his own right to expression and opinion showing an unequivocal support for the people of Israel. He was proudly waving the Israeli flag and even though he was asked to leave by authorities, he stayed to present his case (I assume Capitol Police ordered him to leave because they were simply attempting to disperse the crowd and avoid any violence).
In the end we have two opposing sides of an issue, a group of protestors and a lone U.S. Congressman, petitioning their American government to act on their behalf. My conclusion, at least some part of government was working the way it's supposed to on Wednesday in Washington, D.C..
Bill Keeler is the host of First News with Keeler in the Morning on WIBX, airing Mon-Fri 6am - 9am
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