“Do you know how it feels to have the president of the U.S. target you?” asked Ruby Freeman, a former Black election worker from Georgia. Her life, and that of her daughter, Wandrea Shaye Moss (also a former election worker), were turned upside down when they were falsely accused of having participated in rigging the 2020 presidential election in their state. These brave women testified at the January 6 Congressional hearings, Moss in person, and Freeman on video, to refute those charges, and to describe what followed.
They both have endured violent threats to their lives, many of them racist in nature, and have suffered physical and verbal harassment to themselves and their families. Moss said that many of the messages were “hateful… a lot of threats wishing me dead, telling me I’ll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’” And the threats were not exclusively verbal ones. Trumpers tried to break into her grandmother’s house, searching for evidence of fraud. According to court filings, the names of both Moss and Freeman appeared on a “death list” kept by Thomas Caldwell, a leader of the militant Oath Keepers.
In response, Moss and Freeman effectively went into hiding. During the week of January 6, Freeman left her home for her own safety, as directed by the FBI. Moss, was, and no doubt still is, afraid to go to the grocery store, for fear that acquaintances might say her name and call attention to her from Trumpers. Freeman had a T-shirt inscribed “Lady Ruby;” she won’t wear now. “I’ve lost my name and I’ve lost my reputation, and I’ve lost my sense of security… All because a group of people, starting with Number 45 and his ally, Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.”
Such threats were perpetrated by the Donald Trump administration and those who support it, and represent the stock and trade of autocratic regimes from the Third Reich to dictatorships in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. Now it is happening here. Freeman and Moss are not alone. More recently, Cassidy Hutchinson has received death threats for testifying before Congress. The courage displayed by these women in stepping up to testify, their patriotism and resilience are extraordinary. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) must be added to the list of women heroes, perhaps to the top of the list; she is chairing the January 6 hearings powerfully and brilliantly, at great cost to herself, as her reelection to Congress, her political career as a whole, and her life are all being threatened.
No doubt many Trump’s supporters, senators among them, persist in their loyalty to a delusional tyrant because they have been, or are afraid they will be, threatened with similar threats and/or exposure. So long as Trump continues to hold the Republican Party in thrall, Biden may be president, but we will continue to be subject to the abusive tactics of a man who will stop at nothing to retake the power he feels entitled to.
We may take some solace in the knowledge that fascist regimes have historically been short-lived. In time, Adolf Hitler, Juan Peron, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, were all vanquished. But we can’t afford to be complacent about such a dire threat; the wolf is at the door. It is imperative that we act to stop the drift toward fascism by voting across the board for Democrats, the party that represents our values, the lives we want to lead, and our democracy.