Why we need an inquiry into January 6

22 February 2021

6:17 AM

22 February 2021

6:17 AM

I support Nancy Pelosi’s call for a ‘9/11-style inquiry’ into the mêlée at the Capitol on January 6. I do so not because I think there is any valid analogy between the terrorist attack on the United States by Muslim fanatics on September 11, 2001 and the low-level riot at the Capitol. There isn’t. On 9/11 some 3,000 innocent people were murdered, billions of dollars of property was obliterated and important symbols of American economic and military might were attacked, utterly destroyed in the case of the World Trade Towers, seriously damaged in the case of the Pentagon. On January 6, a pro-Trump rally got out of hand despite the president’s instructions to proceed to the Capitol ‘peacefully and patriotically’.

Despite the chasm-like discrepancy between the events, Democrats instantly seized upon the riot, elevated it into an ‘armed insurrection’, and bewailed the assault on ‘our democracy’.

Indeed, so quick was the construction of this narrative that the cynics among us speculated that the riot, if not exactly premeditated by anti-Trump forces, was at least foreseen as an exploitable possibility. Something similar can be said about the deployment of the phrase ‘our democracy’. In this case, the first-person-plural possessive is very clearly intended to be exclusive, not inclusive. No one wearing a MAGA hat or waving a Trump banner is included in that ‘our’. The thousands of loyalty-tested National Guard troops and the tall, razor-wire-tipped fence hastily erected to surround the Capitol communicated the same message. It’s Us vs Them, comrade: talk about ‘unity’ and ‘our democracy’ but practice division and exclusion. Nancy Pelosi called the Capitol ‘the people’s house’, the ‘citadel of democracy’, but the armed troops and the fence bespoke a different reality.

I do not mean to minimize the outrage of January 6. It is never a good thing when a crowd tips over into a mob, which is what happened that day. They did far, far less damage than did the scores of mobs rampaging through America’s cities — including Washington DC — this summer. To observe that the BLM/antifa anti-Trump rioters were given a free pass by the media and nearly all Democrat politicians is not to condone the behavior of the pro-Trump crowd on January 6. But it is to highlight a discrepancy, what someone who thinks low might even describe as a double standard.

Which is the main reason I support Speaker Pelosi’s call for an inquiry, if not, exactly, a 9/11 style inquiry into the events of January 6. Like her, I think it is important to ‘get to the truth of how this happened’. I am not, however, sure she is going to like what a free and unbiased inquiry would reveal. Were she serious, she would be supporting the suit brought by Judicial Watch against the Capitol police to make public emails, videos and other material about what happened that day. Why, for example, did the Capitol police at some entrances open the doors to protesters and welcome them inside?

It is absolutely critical to the Democratic narrative that the January 6 incident be made to seem as violent and crazed as possible. Only thus can pro-Trump Americans be excluded from ‘our democracy’ and transformed into ‘domestic extremists’ if not, indeed, into ‘domestic terrorists’.

Five people died at or near the Capitol that day. None was murdered by the protesters. Ashli Babbitt, a pro-Trump activist, was shot in the neck at close range, apparently by a law enforcement officer, and died of the wound. That was the only shot fired at the Capitol that day. The liberal commentator Glenn Greenwald further diminishes the ‘armed insurrection’ meme in an important column titled ‘The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot’. Kevin Greeson, Greenwald notes, was killed not by the protesters but:

‘…died of a heart attack outside the Capitol; Benjamin Philips, 50, “the founder of a pro-Trump website called Trumparoo”… died of a stroke that day; and Rosanne Boyland, a fanatical Trump supporter whom the Times says was inadvertently “killed in a crush of fellow rioters during their attempt to fight through a police line.”‘

So, four of the five who died were pro-Trump protesters. And the fifth? Well, that was Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Hill police officer (also a Trump supporter) who, the New York Times and every anti-Trump pundit in Alpha Centauri told us, was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher by the mob.

That contention was a centerpiece of the Democrats’ latest effort to impeach Donald Trump. But it didn’t happen. Sicknick left the Capitol and later texted his family that he was fine. There have been reports that he, like Benjamin Philips, died of a stroke. As I write, no medical report of the cause of death has been released, though a medical examiner has said that there was no evidence of blunt-force trauma.

Brian Sicknick was the poster boy for the Democrats’ effort to transform Trump supporters into ravening extremists bent on destroying democracy. That’s why they had him lying in state at the Capitol and made his supposed murder such an important part of their impeachment effort. Once again, the New York Times, where the story originated, has been shown to be an organ not of the news but of partisan misinformation. They heard something that fit their narrative, so they ran with it without checking.

Which is one reason I support Nancy Pelosi’s effort to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6. To do that, she would surely agree, what is needed is an unimpeded and truly bipartisan inquiry, overseen by an equal number of Republicans, picked by House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and herself. Or maybe it should be undertaken by an independent but genuinely non-partisan investigator. In any case, I look forward to the results of the inquiry.

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