Two Excellent Illustrations of What Happened and What It Means
January 6, 2021 – A Day That Shall Live in Infamy
With apologies to FDR for borrowing his phrase in describing the Pearl Harbor attack, this is what comes to mind for me in thinking about the assault on our democracy that took place earlier this year. Make no mistake about it – this was a direct, violent assault on the very foundations of our republic.
The intent was crystal clear – to stop the count and certification of a valid national election and to install by coup an illegal government. We came closer to that disaster than many realize. That some, including those who know better, because they were there, continue to tell the lie that this was not an attempt at violent overthrow is inexcusable.
The Congressional Investigation is About to Begin – Prepare Yourself
Finally, a congressional panel, complete with the power to compel testimony and documentation, is about to begin its work. That congressional Republicans shirked this duty, save one member of the House, is shameful and irresponsible. It is also unforgivable. I suspect that when all is said and done, they will regret that decision.
They were offered generous terms to be a part of this in the national interest. In my view, they were offered terms much too generous, and still they chose to walk away. The nominees that McCarthy finally submitted were, for the most part, at least a joke, at worst an insult to America. At least two of those nominated are likely to be found out as direct collaborators with the insurrection. If the process and results of this investigation are as clear and damning as they should be, Republicans will be in a hurt they deserve.
As citizens, we have two obligations. One is to pay attention. Listen to and read about the investigative work about to begin. Two is to prepare ourselves up front, to remind ourselves of what we all saw happening live, on the 6th and in the weeks leading up to it. In furtherance of that second obligation, I offer you two easy resources, one text, one audio visual to remind us of what we are dealing with.
Take an hour or two and get yourself up to speed.
A LOT has been written about January 6th. In my view, none have been more compelling and accurate than one written right after the events on the ground. Among the Insurrectionists (Titled The Storm in the print edition), written by Luke Mogelson in the New Yorker, January 25 edition, is as powerful a bit of work as I have seen on this crucial moment in our national history. It is complete, detailed, and written by one who was in the middle of it all while it happened.
The photographs by Balazs Gardi alone are worth looking up the article. The video footage also offered is equally immediate and compelling. Do yourself a favor, citizen, and read this now. If you read it earlier, pick it up again. This is essential reading for us all.
Video As It Should Be, in Service to Truth
The New York Times published, on 30 June, a 40-minute video capturing what happened on January 6. The video represents six months of research and production. It is tough to watch. You can smell the violence in the air, can see first-hand the mob mentality. The video is narrated and filled with recorded clips that were made before and during the assault on the Capitol.
It is compelling and deadly accurate. It also carries forth the emotions that are a part of such a thing in a way that only high-quality video work can deliver. It’s less than an hour to watch. You have something more important to devote an hour of your time? Tune in.
There Were Two Kinds of People in That Mob. Why That is Important
We already know there were people in that mob (and people who were not there but who played significant roles) that clearly had disruption, usurpation, and insurrection as their goals. Violence was a byproduct for some, a welcome component for others.
There are others who came with less clear goals and more a general sense of unfocused anger and being under siege. Many of them got swept up in the moment and perhaps found themselves taking part in something they had not foreseen.
In one sense, making the distinction between these two types is important. The first group were organizers, instigators, and agitators. They knew exactly what they were fomenting. Some members of Congress and other elected or political figures are included in this group. They must be identified, singled out for the most grievous culpability, and punished accordingly. They bear more responsibility than does the mob at large.
What happens to them needs to be a lesson to others, for this type of thing is not just in the past. There are still people plotting such violence. They need to know the cost is high, or this will become a part of our landscape far into the future.
And Why It’s Not an Important Distinction
But, on the other hand, the distinction between types of people there is not total. Those on the mall that day all made decisions, throughout the day, to do what they did. That you did not come with plans to do violence to our democracy, that you got swept up in the emotion, or picked up by the crowd is no excuse.
You chose to be where you were and to do what you did. It was your decision to believe the terrible things being said. You chose to believe and follow the worst among us. You own responsibility for your conduct that day. Just punishment is the minimum owed our country.
Are We Done Yet?
Not by a long shot. This investigation will take time. Longer than it should as a result of Republican obstructionism and efforts to rewrite history. Criminal cases have a long time to run as well. Most importantly, there are people who consider their failure on January 6 to topple our government to be a setback, not a defeat. Extremists (political, social, racial, religious) continue to feed the beast. If we fail to deal with January 6 clearly and forcefully, we invite endless repeats. Just this month, people were arrested for planning to blow up a political party state HQ in California. The rationale and rhetoric is the same.
Pay me now or pay me later, as the saying goes. Let’s get this done right. And while we are at it, waste no opportunity to call out, in detail, every sitting member of Congress who aided and abetted this travesty, and are trying now to rewrite history. They are a national disgrace.
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