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Pepper Provenzano: A nation divided under mob rule

(Albert Cesare | The Montgomery Advertiser via AP file photo) Congressman John Lewis stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Selma, Ala., during the annual commemoration of "Bloody Sunday," the day in 1965 when voting rights protesters were attacked by police as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The passing of lifelong civil rights leader John R. Lewis, who marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, at the side of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965, is especially significant at a time when human rights, civil rights, voting rights, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are more thwarted than ever.

That historic Selma march came to represent an epic struggle for the right to vote and the vicious attempts to block that right by a hate-filled opposition steeped in a century of white privilege and bigotry ingrained in this country since the dawn of slavery.

And that base persists, dividing the United States, undermining our national backbone.

The passing of Lewis coincides with another ruthless attack, this time in Portland, by a militarized force using gestapo tactics, enabled by another heartless, cold-blooded mob, the Republican Party under Donald Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, at what has become the Department of Injustice.

We’ve got a shyster president who is less coherent every time he speaks, blubbering proven lies over and over, desperately striking out at everyone he hires who strays from his pecking order, and damn near everyone else, trying to save his own skin while fleecing short-sighted constituents, backed by a rigid Senate bogged in Republican cement, nearly as self-absorbed, centered on re-election, feathering their own nests, pumping corporate stockholders and printing money like Kinko’s on a drunken bender.

As if that’s not enough, all the president’s men and half of his family are riding high on best-sellers exposing this pathetic, cruel-hearted imbecile at the nation’s helm.

Meanwhile, as the COVID-19 pandemic expands, most notably under GOP governors, one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing in Washington, D.C., as yet another arrogant White House spokeswoman directly contradicts the president’s expert on infectious diseases. With half of his perspective, none of his experience and not a sliver of his wisdom, she issues a 180-degrees opposite message from that of Anthony Fauci, the man of the hour.

On the job since 1984, intellectually self-assured, diplomatic and unshakably good-natured, Fauci is far too popular for his small-minded boss, a megalomaniac surrounded by hand-picked sycophants sanctioned by a self-righteous mob.

But Fauci persists, like Lewis, and informs with scientific certitude just as Lewis guided our better nature, our hearts. At the same time, Trump censors his own director of the Center for Disease Control, blocking his department from disseminating science and statistics to inform the world of another inconvenient truth.

But the base is still there. They ran hippies off the road back then, including me.

Thirty years later, they grew mullets and caught on to pot.

Now they call themselves patriots under the guise of protecting their money, their god, their culture and heritage and weapons, just as they did 55 years ago in Selma.

Pepper Provenzano

Pepper Provenzano was an editor at The Salt Lake Tribune from 1980-2000. He lives and writes in Utah and Arizona.