Charita Goshay: What courage really looks like

·4 min read
Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former Georgia election worker, becomes emotional as she testifies before the committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol on June 21, 2022. Left is Ruby Freeman, Moss' mother.
Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former Georgia election worker, becomes emotional as she testifies before the committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol on June 21, 2022. Left is Ruby Freeman, Moss' mother.

We watch too much TV.

From cowboy and cop shows to the cartoons, we have been weaned on clear-cut stories of good versus evil, heroes versus heels.

They've taught us that the White Hats always win in the end; that consequence for bad behavior is as sure as sunrise.

Through TV, we've been taught that being courageous is easy-peasy, that good deeds are always recognized and rewarded, and that everything ends happily ever after.

It set us on a collision course with reality.

But every now and then, television shows us authentic courage. This month marks the 50th anniversary of Watergate. Back then, television showcased Republicans who had the courage to face down their own corrupt president.

In 2001, we witnessed the sacrificial bravery of first responders in the hours and days following Sept. 11 terror attacks. In Vietnam and other far-flung places, we watched as young Americans served and died in service to the country.

Last week, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers shared with the Jan. 6 Select Committee how he refused to do the bidding of the former President Donald Trump by reusing to declare Arizona's 2020 election results as invalid.

More Charita Goshay: Sometimes, a plan walks right into a punch

Mr. Bowers Goes to Washington

Not even the virulent harassment of Bowers' family by Trump supporters — including his terminally ill daughter — could move him to betray his oath to the Constitution.

Some pundits compared his refusal to accede to Trump's demands, and his plain-spoken, passionate defense of his oath to that of Jimmy Stewart who played the idealistic Sen. Jefferson Smith in the 1939 classic, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

But the Greeks taught us that every hero has a tragic flaw. Homer wrote: "Ah, how shameless — the way these mortals blame the gods. From us alone they say come all their miseries yes but they themselves with their own reckless ways compound their pains beyond their proper share."

Bowers showed the world his Achilles' heel last week when he also informed the committee that if Trump is the candidate in 2024, he will vote for him again.

Make it make sense.

Critics pointed out that while the house speaker was shedding tears over the Constitution on TV, he has made voting more difficult for Indigenous, Latino and Black Arizonans.

But his refusal to fold under Trump's pressure when so many others have caved like a $10 pup tent still qualifies as courageous.

Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told the committee he has repeatedly disproved Trump's false claims that Georgia's 2020 election was rigged. Raffensperger said that his staff chased every "rabbit trail" and conspiracy that Trump espoused, but the result was the same: It wasn't subterfuge. It was math.

Like Bowers, Raffensperger said his wife, his widowed daughter-in-law, and staffers have been harassed and threatened even as the self-appointed defender of Christendom has remained silent.

Ordinary people doing big things

Being courageous can blow up your life.

Committee co-chair Liz Cheney knows she could lose her congressional seat for daring to serve. Member Adam Kinzinger's wife and newborn son now require security.

Ruby Freeman and Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, mother-and-daughter election workers from Georgia, have become the poster children of Trump's false claims that he was cheated. Because they dared to stand up to Trump, Freeman told the committee that the former president has all but destroyed her life.

Publicly accused by Trump and Rudy Giuliani of everything short of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, the women have been driven out of their homes and repeatedly threatened. Moss testified that protesters even broke into her grandmother's house.

Trump has publicly called Moss "a professional vote hustler," a dog whistle which checks all the boxes.

But the two women maintained their courage and stayed true to themselves, even as the heavens fell.

As long as such Americans continue to exist, we have a chance.

More Charita Goshay: This flag is your flag. This flag is my flag.

This stretches far beyond Jan. 6. Courage is about our walking the talk that the Constitution must be preserved, protected and defended from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

It's about the funhouse mirror we find ourselves trapped in, where Americans who refuse to violate their oath of office are treated as villains, and those who behave with impunity are lionized.

It's about understanding that exhibiting courage always exacts a price.

It's about speaking truth to power, knowing it will outrage some people and scare off others who should be fighting at your side.

Courage is about pressing forward, even when you're scared. Even if a president doesn't like it.

Charita M. Goshay is a Canton Repository staff writer and a member of the editorial board. Reach her at 330-580-8313 or On Twitter: @cgoshayREP

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Charita Goshay: Jan. 6 hearings showed us real courage