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The Daily Planet’s Opinion: Canton merits salute for ‘true grit’ in comeback bid
Thursday, 20 January 2022 18:35
“I have left off crying, and giggling as well. Now make up your mind. I don’t care anything for all this talk. You told me what your price for the job was and I have come up with it. Here is the money. I aim to get Tom Chaney and if you are not game I will find somebody who is game. All I have heard out of you so far is talk. I know you can drink whiskey and I have seen you kill a gray rat. All the rest has been talk. They told me you had grit and that is why I came to you. I am not paying for talk. I can get all the talk I need and more at the Monarch boardinghouse.”
—  Mattie Ross to Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit”
In today’s entitlement-oriented American culture where many citizens exemplify a herd mentality, with a child-like expectation that someone must take care of them, while leading lives with a neurotic level of fear of anything and everything, the nearby Town of Canton is a refreshing throwback to a time when rugged individualism and “true grit” were qualities that were practiced and admired.

Canton had an even rougher 2021 than many other localities in the U.S. as it — in addition to suffering through yet another year of the COVID-19 pandemic — was swamped by a vicious flood from Tropical Storm Fred last August, inundating Canton, Cruso, Bethel and Lake Logan, and resulting in at least six confirmed fatalaties.

Yet, instead of sinking into despair, Canton’s leaders and residents — which always seems to happen in this amazingly spunky, high-spirited town — are springing back and resolving to rebuild. Besides the general disruption from the flooding in and around Canton, even the Pisgah Memorial football field remains damaged to this day. 

Showing “true grit,” Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers recently told Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) that, in 2022, he expects full recovery and victory for the town. “We still don’t have a town hall, police department, fire department, a permanent place to call home.” The TV station added in its Jan. 3 report, “Smathers says — with the grit and grace Canton is known for — his town will survive and thrive again.” 

Sounding more presidential than the president, “paper town’s” mayor told News 13, “The belief in each other and what we can do together, that’s going to get us into next year and I truly, truly believe that ’22 is going to be a great year for Haywood County.”

Again, we salute Smathers and his Cantonites for their ‘true grit.” We also expect them to rebuild in time to be able to mark the project’s finish at the 100th anniversary of the “Haywood County clash:” the Canton versus Waynesville high school football game in October.

Just no way it could ever happen here ....
Thursday, 20 January 2022 18:33
Syndicated Columnist

No way it could happen here.

As you may have noticed, over the holidays many publications abandoned their usual fare of in-depth articles to make room for crossword puzzles, anagrams or trivia quizzes. 

In that spirit, I dedicate this first column of 2022 to a brain-teaser of my own.

Here’s how it works. I’ll describe recent events in some unidentified country — and you guess which country I’m talking about. 

Ready? Let’s go. Here’s what actually happened in “Country X.”

November 3, 2020. The nation’s president lost his bid for re-election by more than 7 million votes yet refused to accept defeat. He declared the election was stolen. He claimed massive voter fraud. He challenged vote counts in several states. Even after losing over 60 lawsuits for lack of evidence of fraud, he still refused to concede.

Over the next two months, the defeated president tried everything — putting pressure on local election officials, filing dozens of lawsuits, demanding recounts, even recruiting the help of the military — to overturn the election. Finally, in desperation, he urged his supporters to come to the capitol and prevent lawmakers from certifying the election results.

January 6, 2021. His supporters showed up in force. The president whipped them into a frenzy at a rally near the executive mansion and then directed them to storm the Capitol building in order to block the final vote tally. 

And, over 10,000 strong, storm the Capitol they did: plowing through barricades, scaling the walls, breaking doors and windows, assaulting and killing police officers, trashing legislative chambers and forcing federal elected officials, including the country’s vice president, to flee the building and seek protection in a secure location.

Yet that same evening, after the building was finally secured, and despite having to run for their lives in the first armed assault on the capitol since the British invasion of 1814, 147 members of the president’s party ignored the violent mob he’d unleashed against them and voted, unsuccessfully, to overturn the election.

Spring and summer, 2021. Even after the duly elected new president took office, the former president continued to promulgate the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him. 

And his supporters in state legislatures passed new laws giving them the power to overturn future elections if they did not agree with the vote of the people.

Meanwhile, the president’s allies in Congress downplayed the violence of January 6. Republicans blocked creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection. Twenty-one House Republicans voted against awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to Capitol Police officers wounded in the attack. The former president said members of the armed mob were actually “hugging and kissing” police officers.

 Some Republicans blamed the FBI for planning and executing the attack on the capitol to make the former president look bad. Others defended members of the mob as “patriots.” And one member of Congress insisted that the violence that rocked the capitol on January 6 was nothing more than a “normal tourist visit.”

January 6, 2022. One year later, the assault on democracy continues. The former president still insists he won the last election. 

The “real insurrection,” he claims was not on January 6, 2021, but on November 3, 2020, when the election was stolen from him  — a claim supported by 66 percent of the members of his own party and almost every Republican running for re-election.

His dismissal of the violence on January 6 has clearly taken its toll among the nation’s electorate. Breaking news! A new poll released on January 6 by Hill Research finds that 33 percent of all voters still believe the 2020 election was stolen  — 13 percent of whom say they would fight to restore the former president to office “by all means possible, including armed revolt.” 

And, to this date, not one top official who inspired, promoted, planned or financed the insurrection has been charged with a crime.

There you go. Those are the facts, which no one can dispute. There’s no doubt what happened. We’ve seen the video. Now you tell me what country I’m talking about. And while you ponder that…,

The one thing we can be grateful for is that such a direct attack on democracy could never happen here. 

Surely, we’d never fall for an autocrat. We’d never look the other way while our democracy’s under assault. We’d never accept the fallacy that “freedom” includes the freedom to launch an armed attack on our own government. 

After all, we’re the greatest democracy on earth. Or used to be.
©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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