The Newport Historical Society recently sat down, by Zoom, with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to collect his experiences at the US Capitol on January 6th for the archives. This “history that we are making now” is a new emphasis for the NHS; we are living in clearly historic times that should be recorded for the future. Senator Whitehouse’s account of his personal experiences during the attack on the Capitol is elucidating and chilling.
As part of the interview, we asked Senator Whitehouse a question that we intend to ask many Newporters over the next few months: If this moment, with all of the disruption and strife we have experienced, may represent a pivotal point for America, what should happen next?
His answer was clearly the result of a lot of thought on this issue. He tells us that we have experienced years, in America, of various powerful entities trying to manipulate facts to serve their economic or political interests: oil companies telling us not to worry about climate change, for example, and now politicians telling us that elections have been stolen. The spread of misinformation and lies that serve one interest or another has resulted in an eroding trust in the very idea of shared facts that we all can believe in, whether from science, or from our government. In addition, the “appetite for accepting lies” has opened us up for a lot of fear and hate-mongering in several directions. Whitehouse believes that we need to find a way to get back to shared truths and dismantle the mechanisms of propagating lies in order to continue with a strong democracy.
See the whole video interview here:
Read about a Civic Conversation at NHS about the truth in America today here: https://newporthistory.org/directors-note-the-truth-in-america-today/
Banner: S/NPG.79.27, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.