Home > Uncategorized > Why the January 6 Commission Matters – posted 5/30/2021

Why the January 6 Commission Matters – posted 5/30/2021

By a vote of 54-35, Senate Republicans defeated the bill to establish a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Normally, 54-35 would be a decisive win but under Senate filibuster rules, advocates needed 60 votes so the bipartisan commission failed.

You do not have to look too hard to figure why the Republicans do not want the truth to come out. They are afraid of the truth and what it will show about their complicity. To me this is very similar to their opposition to critical race theory. They do not want to critically re-examine the racial history of the United States. It is better to sweep it under the rug.

The questions a January 6 commission could investigate are straightforward and would be helpful to prevent future insurrectionary events. These questions occurred to me:

  • Who financed January 6 and who planned it?
  • Was the Capitol attack planned by Trump and his inner circle? How much was January 6 an inside job?
  • What was Trump doing before and during the riot?
  • What role did members of Congress or congressional staff play in the insurrection? Did any Congresspeople help plan it or coordinate with others before, during, or after the event?
  • What role, if any, did prominent figures like Michael Flynn or Roger Stone play in these events?
  • Why did security at the Capitol fail so badly? Why did the National Guard show up hours after it was needed?
  • Was physical harm intended against members of Congress, senators, or the Vice-President? Was the gallows set up outside the Capitol symbolic only or were hangings seriously contemplated?
  • What weapons did the insurrectionists bring to the Capitol?
  • How were the two bombs found connected to the insurrection?
  • Did insurrectionists actually believe they could disrupt or prevent Biden’s certification as president?
  • How coordinated were the actions of far right extremists like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Boogaloo Bois?
  • How much were extremist elements within the military and law enforcement involved in the insurrection, did they have any special role and were they coordinated?
  • What is the narrative the January 6 insurrectionists are telling to explain these events?
  • Was the January 6 insurrection a dress rehearsal for any future event? Is it part of a fascist radicalization process?
  • Why were so many Republicans opposed to even a bi-partisan investigation? Was it simply fear of adverse consequences in the 2022 mid-term elections?
  • What steps need to be taken to prevent any future January 6-type events?

When Republicans pretend there is nothing to be learned, you can only shake your head. There are so many questions that deserve real answers. I think many Democrats do not get the urgency and gravity of the situation and many Republicans do not want Trump to be held accountable for the effort to subvert democracy.

Forgetting January 6 serves a political and a propaganda agenda. That agenda is about burying the truth and denying obvious facts. All politicians lie but what sets Trump apart was the absolute lack of any intellectual integrity. Facts that conflict with his goals of power and profit are simply denied.

Trump is squarely within the tradition of fascist and authoritarian leaders who rely on disinformation and propaganda to instill loyalty and to motivate followers to carry out his agenda. Remember in 2018 when Trump said:

“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news…Just remember: what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

The historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat has written:

“At its core, propaganda is a set of communication strategies designed to sow confusion and uncertainty, discourage critical thinking and persuade people that reality is what the leader says it is.”

Republicans have manufactured a mythology about January 6. A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll about January 6 found that 73 percent of Republicans pin “some” or “a great deal” of responsibility on “left wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad”. This is even though we all saw who was there with all the Trump flags and Trump paraphernalia. Were our eyes lying?

Other polls have consistently shown that two-thirds of Republicans believe Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. That Big Lie then feeds the Republican voter suppression efforts.

We are at a bad place when we as a nation lack a common baseline of facts. Fascism thrives on disappearing knowledge that conflicts with its ideology. The total fantasy of a stolen election can only harm our democracy. There is no credible proof of voter fraud in 2020 but millions seem to be buying in.

Without a serious investigation of January 6, Republicans will be even more empowered to allow political violence in the future.

Democrats seem to lack the toughness to deal with these very unpleasant realities and some like Joe Manchin seem genuinely surprised by Republican recalcitrance. Ignoring bad things will not make them go away. It is better to have a Select House Committee investigate, than nothing. Such a committee would still have subpoena power. It could address the many questions raised.

I would suggest it is a mistake to look at January 6 as an isolated event, separate and apart from earlier history. It should be seen as a step in the process of fascist radicalization by a significant part of the Republican electorate. By no means is the January 6 insurrection finished.

Growing up as a Jewish young person, I believed that the struggle against fascism was something that you read about or observed happening in other countries. Never did I think I would be living it here in America. How surprising life can be.

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