It has been described as America’s darkest day since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But as September 11 is solemnly commemorated in stone, a concerted effort is underway to end the U.S. Capitol insurgency. the story.
Six months after the January 6 chaos, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the heart of American democracy to disrupt the confirmation of Joe Biden’s election victory, Republicans and the right-wing media attempted to minimize the attack or to reject it on infiltrators of the left. and the FBI.
Interviews with die-hard Trump fans suggest riot denial works. Many refuse to condemn the insurgents who beat police officers, smashed windows and demanded the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence. The whirlwind of conspiracy theories, combined with Trump’s misleading claims that a stolen election, raises fears of a replay that could be even more violent.
“The right-wing media and some Republicans, including Republicans in the Senate and the House, are trying to make it appear that what was a Capitol seat was not in fact a Capitol seat,” said Monika McDermott, professor of political science at Fordham University in New York.
“We’ve all seen it. We have seen them break down doors. We have seen our members of Congress take cover and try to escape. We saw Mike Pence being taken out of the bedroom. All of these scary things we’ve seen happen are now being denied, or being laid at the feet of Antifa or the FBI or some other source, which at this point seems ludicrous.
Hours after the insurgency in Washington, members of Congress returned to the chambers to complete certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. Some Republicans seemed shocked and aware that a dangerous new line had been crossed. Yet 147 still voted cancel the election result, a gesture ultimately futile.
A month later, a minority also voted to impeach and convict Trump for his role in starting the insurgency, but not enough to prevent his acquittal. Since then, many party members have been eager to “move on” and downplay the events of that day.
Senator Ron Johnson told Fox News: “We saw a lot of videos of people on Capitol Hill, and they didn’t revolt. It doesn’t sound like an armed insurrection when you have people walking through the Capitol – and I don’t tolerate it – but they stay in the ropes of the rotunda. This is not what an armed insurgency would look like.
Congressman Andrew Clyde – who was barricade photographed the House of Representatives’ chamber – said in a hearing that, based on TV footage, “you would actually think this was a normal tourist visit”. His colleague Louie Gohmert added: “I just want the President to understand. There have been worse things than people without guns entering a building. “
Even Kevin McCarthy, the minority House leader who said the former president “bears responsibility” for the attack, ultimately bowed to Trump’s will and supported the congressman’s impeachment. Liz Cheney – who was clear-headed and open to the seriousness of the assault – from the House leadership.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader who also condemned Trump’s role in the insurgency, nevertheless ensured that Republicans were deploying a rule of procedure known as systematic obstruction to block the creation of a bipartisan commission. in the manner of September 11 to investigate. And this despite the warning from the Ministry of Justice that domestic terrorism is now a greater threat than attacks from abroad.
Kurt Bardella, a former Republican congressional adviser who is now a Democrat said: “I am old enough to remember when the Republican Party was ready to launch this country into a world war, fought on several fronts over many years, because of what happened on September 11th. And yet we’re only six months away from something that happened on our own soil and on our own Capitol and Republicans are actively trying to rewrite history to make it something it wasn’t. .
Bardella, a contributor to the Los Angeles Times and USA Today newspapers, added: “If those who would deny the gravity of what happened on January 6 came to a position of power, it is almost a guarantee that it will happen again. , only that will happen. to be even more violent and more deadly.
“The Republican Party creates a construct in which it allows its supporters to consider any election that does not lead them to win as illegitimate and it is a very dangerous and destabilizing position that will have violent consequences.”
This isn’t the first time Republicans have been aided and abetted by right-wing media figures amplifying their message, not necessarily to change their mind but to muddy the waters, leave the events of January 6 open to speculation and give Trump supporters a way to rationalize and justify them.
Conservative television, the fringe website, and right-wing podcasts spread propaganda and disinformation. Laura Ingraham, a Fox News host, told viewers categorically, “This was not an insurgency.”
His colleague Tucker Carlson, who has a large following, launched the baseless “false flag” theory that the The FBI secretly orchestrated the riot. As he spoke, a banner popped up on the screen that read, “The Left wants new information on January 6 to disappear.”
Chris Hayes, host of rival MSNBC, commented : “The goal here is not to communicate information. It’s breaking the consensus of reality so that people can be manipulated and radicalized. And it is incredibly dangerous. And it works. “
It actually works. Denial of the riots was rife at Trump’s first post-presidential rally in Wellington, Ohio on June 26, where supporters assumed the election had been stolen.
Gary Sherrill, 65, a cement mixer operator wearing a “Make America great again” cap, said the insurgency was justified. “They said these people were invading but they own the building. The people inside are working for them.
Rose Kidd, 63, a retired nurse, said without evidence: “It was all staged. [House speaker Nancy] Pelosi knew. Antifa and BLM [Black Lives Matter] were all brought by bus. The video shows that they were the ones who broke the windows. Patriots don’t do that.
And Gary Bartlett, 65, a retired auto worker, added: “99% of the people there were peaceful. Those who got in, I don’t know if they were Trump supporters or Antifa who infiltrated. Most of them came in and came back. “
Democrats are working to understand January 6 and make sure it takes its rightful place in the history books. On Wednesday, the House passed a resolution to form a select committee to investigate the carnage, with Pelosi appointing eight members and McCarthy appointing five. Many believe that such a calculation is necessary for national catharsis and healing – the struggle of memory against oblivion.
McDermott, a political scientist at Fordham, commented: “This is an unprecedented historic event and it is not an event that should be wiped from the history books or hidden as if it did not happen. or be minimized in any way. What happened was very real.
“It’s something the country has to come to terms with, which I don’t see happening right now. We really risk forgetting that there is a part of our society that is ready to use violence to get what it wants from government. And I’ve done polls on that myself and these people are out there. They think violence is a legitimate avenue and by giving them cover it is a very dangerous precedent that we are setting. “