Garry Kasparov and Alexandra Petri on What Should Come Next

Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, left Russia in 2013, fearing persecution for his political views. He became a citizen of Croatia and now lives in New York City. He has some thoughts post-January 6th:

As terrible as the events of Jan. 6 were — and I’m on the record warning of “the unimaginable” — I’m going to repeatย what I saidย after Election Day: It’s not over.

There will be more violence, especially if the Capitol perpetrators and those who incited them — starting with the President — are not held accountable.

The correct response is the dispassionate application of the law. Not political persecution, but not politically motivated leniency, either. We don’t have to choose between unity and justice. Avoiding doing the right thing will only prolong the crisis and give aid and comfort to enemies of the state and of the peace.

[The] Founding Fathers failed to resolve the historical challenge of slavery, passing a bloody Civil War on to future generations. Despite Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Reconstruction allowed the South a “defeat with honor,” decades of Jim Crow, and the pernicious Lost Cause mythology that persists today.

. . . No new mythology should be allowed to sprout from this vile transgression. The worst result would be letting the mutineers off the hook — and this includes the elected officials who encouraged them, . . . especially President Txxxx. That they, and scores of other Republicans, continue to attack the integrity of the election even now is beyond the pale. . . .

History teaches us the cost of well-meaning but shortsighted attempts to sacrifice justice for unity. Russians learned this in the hardest possible way after the fall of the Soviet Union. . . . They declined to root out the KGB security state in the interest of national harmony. It would be too traumatic, our leaders said, to expose the countless atrocities the Soviet security forces committed and to punish their authors.

A feeble truth commission was quickly abandoned by President Boris Yeltsin, and soon even the Soviet archives were closed, although not before researchers . . . revealed some of the KGB’s atrocities. The KGB’s name was changed to the FSB and its members quietly stayed in touch and intact. The result? A mere nine years after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia elected a former KGB lieutenant colonel, Vladimir Putin, to the presidency. It was the last meaningful election we ever had. We chose unity and we got dictatorship.

America should not make a similar mistake. The truth may hurt, but lies will do far greater damage in the end. Americans should be prepared for a long fight against these anti-democratic forces. The attack on the Capitol has opened every eye; there can be no more feigned ignorance of the crisis.

Many Americans were shocked by how many of their compatriots, including nearly all GOP officials, have been willing to go along with Txxxx’s open assault on the pillars of their open society, from the free press to fair elections. . . . Demagogues don’t find radicals to lead, they steadily radicalize their followers one outrage at a time. The culmination, so far, was January 6.

Hemingway wrote in “For Whom the Bell Tolls”: “There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.” The time has come, and we are finding them out. . . .


Alexandra Petri writes a humor column for The Washington Post. One of her columns last week was called “I See No Choice But to Resign from this Death Star as It Begins to Explode”. Today she has “Now Is Not the Time to Point Fingers, Julius Caesar. Now Is the Time for Healing”. She’s very good at her job:

Now is not the time to cast blame and call out names. Now is theย time for healing. Please stop bleeding on my toga; that is a sad reminder of a hurtful time I hope we can put behind us. Theย lastย thing we need is to be thinking about the past, when I have already dropped my dagger, forgotten every threatening or negative thing I ever said, and am, frankly, ready to move on. Now is the time to come together, for the good of Rome.