The Corner

Politics & Policy

What about Liz Cheney?

Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) attends a tribute ceremony for Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick in Washington, D.C., February 3, 2021. (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

Some of my friends and colleagues — more in sadness than in anger, of course! — affirm that Liz Cheney cannot expect to continue in a position of leadership in the Republican Party.

I am sure there are polls she could consult. I think she should consult Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

Today, when all the axes have hewn what they hacked, when all that was sown has borne fruit, we can see how lost, how drugged were those conceited youths who sought, through terror, bloody uprising, and civil war, to make the country just and content. No thank you, fathers of enlightenment! We now know that the vileness of the means begets the vileness of the result. Let our hands be clean!

So has the circle closed? So is there indeed no way out? So the only thing left to do is wait inertly: What if something just happens by itself?

But it will never come unstuck by itself, if we all, every day, continue to acknowledge, glorify, and strengthen it, if we do not, at the least, recoil from its most vulnerable point.

From lies.

When violence bursts onto the peaceful human condition, its face is flush with self-assurance, it displays on its banner and proclaims: “I am Violence! Make way, step aside, I will crush you!” But violence ages swiftly, a few years pass—and it is no longer sure of itself. To prop itself up, to appear decent, it will without fail call forth its ally—Lies. For violence has nothing to cover itself with but lies, and lies can only persist through violence. And it is not every day and not on every shoulder that violence brings down its heavy hand: It demands of us only a submission to lies, a daily participation in deceit—and this suffices as our fealty.

And therein we find, neglected by us, the simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation: a personal nonparticipation in lies! Even if all is covered by lies, even if all is under their rule, let us resist in the smallest way: Let their rule hold not through me!

And this is the way to break out of the imaginary encirclement of our inertness, the easiest way for us and the most devastating for the lies. For when people renounce lies, lies simply cease to exist. Like parasites, they can only survive when attached to a person.

“Live not by lies,” Solzhenitsyn wrote. It is a little promise, the smallest pledge: Not through me.

Good advice then. Good advice now.

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