The Virgin founder criticized those who “embrace the big lie of a ‘stolen election,’ spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories shrouded in an idea of ‘patriotism’ that rejects pretty much everything that truly makes societies and nations great, like tolerance, diversity, compassion or solidarity.”
Branson, who lost his mother to Covid-19 last Friday, writes that he sees the violence and “outpouring of hate” as stemming from a “large portion of America’s electorate . . . gripped by fear of a rapidly changing world and the dismantling of privilege and power generations of white people have come to take for granted, knowingly or not.”
He adds that “the complexity of a modern, globalized world is daunting and overwhelming . . . rather than making America work for everyone, the goal seems to be to burn it down to its foundations.”
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Truth And Reconciliation?
Branson, who lives in the British Virgin Islands, closer to the ground swells of U.S. politics than those of the U.K., suggests an approach from history, namely the Truth and Reconciliation Commission used to help ordinary people reconcile the evils of apartheid-era South Africa in the years after President Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom.
“President Mandela and my dear friend Archbishop Tutu knew that the only way to unite their broken and divided nation and prevent a perpetual cycle of violence and armed conflict was to start a national conversation—an honest and truthful conversation about the past, held in a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness,” he writes, adding, “Perhaps this is what America needs now: open, honest conversations in local communities. A collective effort to confront the past and find common ground, to see, as Bobby Kennedy put, that “what unites us is greater than what divides us.”
He strikes a conciliatory note to the “74 million people [who] voted for Trump,” writing, “They can’t be written off. They must be engaged if America and Americans are ever to understand and overcome the roots of their division.”
Branson, who Forbes estimates to be worth $4.9 billion, ends on a positive note for the future: “America’s best days can be ahead . . . I am hopeful that Joe Biden will be President for Blue and Red, willing to build bridges and ensuring that these States remain United.”