He is using social media and the pulpit of the White House to advance his demagoguery and pave the road to ruin.
Three days after the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, I received a message from an old high school friend. The message read: “Ayman, I am sure you have seen the news. I made a public statement about the death of my sister-in-law Rosanne Boyland from Kennesaw who died on Wed. at the Capitol. My wife and I believe she was radicalized in a very short time inside of 6 months […] would you be willing to hear her story?”
My immediate reaction was shock. I had been intensely covering the insurrection on the air as part of our wall-to-wall coverage on MSNBC, but I had not yet connected the dots of who Rosanne Boyland was, nor where she was from. Soon after I reconnected with my friend who initially messaged me, Justin Cave, I would learn that not only did Boyland grow up in my hometown but that we had also attended the same high school a few years apart.
I was also surprised that Cave had used the word “radicalized” to describe the transformation his sister-in-law had undergone. Boyland was not a political person. She avoided crowds, and before last year she had never voted in an election. So how did she go from that to becoming a foot soldier in a movement that threatened the very essence of American democracy?
As I would learn, everything Boyland would come to believe — her fervent convictions about Donald Trump and QAnon, which drove her to fight and die at the Capitol that day — she had come to believe in just a few short months before her death, according to her family.