Jan. 6 hearings: A national civics lesson on the dangers of fascism

ByTommie C. Curtis

Jul 18, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Home Jan. 6 committee hearings are an act of community teaching: a civics lesson on a grand phase.

That was especially real of previous Tuesday’s hearing, with its fact-telling about race, violence, American history, ability, psychology, and the escalating existential risk to the place represented by Donald Trump, the Republican-fascist movement and the larger sized white ideal.

In his opening assertion that working day, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland summoned up the terms and knowledge of America’s best president, Abraham Lincoln, in the context of the country’s extensive battle to come to be a multiracial “We the Folks” democracy. Describing the explosive situations of Jan. 6, 2021, Raskin reported:

Mr. Chairman, as you know much better than any other member of this committee from the wrenching wrestle for voting rights in your beloved Mississippi, the issue of politicians whipping up mob violence to destroy honest elections is the oldest domestic enemy of constitutional democracy in The united states.

Abraham Lincoln knew it too. In 1837, a racist mob in Alton, Illinois, broke into the workplaces of an abolitionist newspaper and killed its editor, Elijah Lovejoy. Lincoln wrote a speech in which he said that no transatlantic military big could ever crush us as a nation, even with all of the fortunes in the earth.

But if downfall at any time will come to America, he reported, we ourselves would be its creator and finisher. If racist mobs are inspired by politicians to rampage and terrorize, Lincoln stated, they will violate the rights of other citizens and rapidly destroy the bonds of social trust necessary for democracy to operate.

Mobs and demagogues will put us on a path to political tyranny, Lincoln claimed. … [T]his quite previous challenge has returned with new ferocity now, as a president who missing an election deployed a mob, which incorporated risky extremists, to assault the constitutional program of election and the tranquil transfer of energy.

These connections to America’s nonetheless unresolved Civil War and other battles over the coloration line, independence, justice and democracy manifested by themselves in literal fashion on Jan. 6, when Trump’s followers attacked the U.S. Capitol, some of them waving Confederate flags and hurling racial slurs. Trump’s attack drive included neo-Nazis, Kluxers, and customers of a variety of other white supremacist corporations. Trump’s assault power assembled a operating gallows outside the house of the Capitol, with the evident intention of executing Mike Pence, leading Democrats, and other folks judged to be disloyal to the Trump routine.

The lynching rope and lynching tree are both a symbolic and literal act of racial terrorism towards Black Us residents 1000’s of Black males, gals and kids have been lynched during the white terror campaign in the South and other areas of the state that lasted much more than 100 a long time. 

Like their traitorous forefathers and foremothers of the Confederacy, the Trumpists and Republican fascists also consider them selves to be “patriots” and “defenders” of democracy and the Structure, performing the function of God in a “Christian” battle as exclusive heirs to the legacy of America’s founding.

And like the Confederates and other white Us citizens all through the country’s heritage, the Trumpists reject the thought that a Black or brown American’s vote and democratic agency must have the identical merit as people of white folks. Adequately recognized, Jan. 6 was a white rage tempter tantrum and an exercising in a sort of “flexibility” unique to white Americans: the ideal to reject elections and other democratic results not to their liking, via violence if need be.

Like the traitors of the Confederacy, Trumpists reject the idea that Black or brown people’s democratic company should have the very same company as all those of white people today.

As historian Heather Cox Richardson has noticed, the Confederacy, and its allegiance and motivation to a white supremacist get, was in no way thoroughly defeated. Alternatively, people forces and beliefs morphed into the submit-civil rights era “conservative” motion and the present day Republican Bash.

Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesman for the Oath Keepers explained to the Home Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday that: “Who knows what that could possibly convey ,if a president that is ready to test to instill and stimulate [and] whip up a civil war among his followers making use of lies and deceit and snake oil … what else is he gonna do if he receives elected all over again? All bets are off at that level.”

At the Guardian, David Smith presented a effective summation of final Tuesday’s hearing:

It was a chilling reminder that in a country that has the genocide of Indigenous Individuals, slavery, civil war and relentless gun violence in its cultural DNA, bloodshed is never much from the floor. Considering the fact that white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, extremist teams this sort of as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been ascendent.

Tuesday’s committee listening to additional highlighted, in stark detail, how 1 powerful man or woman, as a result of the drive of his very own darkish charisma and lies, can corrupt the people all around him. These personalities bring in other harmed and risky men and women into their orbit. Sick societies produce unwell leaders, who all much too usually direct mass movements comprising 1000’s or millions of people today.


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It is now a make a difference of general public file that Donald Trump intentionally and willfully incited violence and terrorism on Jan. 6 as element of his plot to conclude American democracy and make himself into some kind of king or other form of tyrant. On Dec. 18, 2020, some of Trump’s most dangerous confederates, like former general Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell, gathered at the White Home in a now-infamous meeting wherever they tried out to encourage him to impose martial law, confiscate voting machines to “prove” nonexistent voter fraud and start other schemes to steal the 2020 election from the American persons. It has been reported that Donald Trump relished the awareness and the hours of electricity remaining expended on nefarious plots to keep him in power.

Other officers in the Trump’s routine — this kind of as Vice President Pence and Attorney Normal Monthly bill Barr — opposed his blatantly unlawful strategies but under no circumstances explained to the American people today about the growing danger to their democracy, only offering other details under subpoena or (in Pence’s situation) by way of intermediaries. Those previous users of Trump’s interior circle go on to be brokers of American fascism but now have books to provide, funds to make on the lecture circuit and reputations to launder and burnish. They made a decision that self-curiosity and partisan loyalty have been more essential than warning the American individuals about Trump’s threats to democracy.

Young men determined for a put in record — be they white supremacist “crusaders” or Islamic warriors for the Caliphate — are primarily captivated to the dim charisma of leaders like Trump.

As demonstrated by the testimony of Van Tatenhove and Stephen Ayres very last Tuesday and the proof delivered from correct-wing web-sites and social media, Trump’s corrupting electricity spoke to the white rage and white anger of his most loyal followers and their motivation to be part of record and what they considered to be a wonderful and noble battle. Young guys desperate for a position in record and a everyday living of which means — be it as white supremacist “crusaders” or Muslims who want to be Islamic Knights of the Caliphate — are primarily attracted to the dim charisma of leaders like Donald Trump and Osama bin Laden.

Dr. Jerrold Submit, who served as the CIA’s head psychological profiler throughout a lot more than 20 a long time of assistance with the agency, discussed Trump’s electric power over his followers in a December 2019 job interview with me for Salon:

A popular Canadian psychoanalyst noticed, “The leader is the creation of his followers.” This is a extremely potent marriage. In fact, numerous people have been puzzled, specified Donald Trump’s extremism, that the assist and the devotion of his followers to him has been not hugely diminished. Trump’s rallies, in distinct, present an nearly horrifying intensity of the electric power of Trump’s charisma and impact about his followers.

For a core of his base Donald Trump delivers them with several matters, which includes authorization to hate. It is a striking phenomenon. In his actions Trump is also demonstrating some of the ideas which are codified in his e-book on leadership fashion. Of take note, some of these themes are derived from an essential mentor for him, the late Roy Cohn.

There is a different essential facet to Trump’s impact about his supporters and that is the model of the “charismatic leader-follower relationship.” This is the “mirror-hungry identity,” which will come from a wounded self. The other dimension of the wounded self is an “excellent-hungry persona.” In practice this implies that Trump’s core enthusiastic followers really feel incomplete without having a terrific inspirational chief to connect by themselves to, another person to venerate. The mirror-hungry personality, which is Donald Trump, needs the moi-gratifying applause and roars of approval from crowds. There is a normal psychological match in between Trump and his followers….

Past Tuesday’s committee listening to also confirmed the American people today how energy in the improper fingers can be employed to split or exploit the tacit bargains and understandings that maintain our democracy, the “norms” and “values” and “institutions” obsessively reviewed by the country’s political course and information media. Donald Trump and the Republican-fascists do not believe that, for occasion, in the principle of “just one individual, 1 vote,” or in the tranquil transition of energy. For them, democracy is a suggests to an close — a way to purchase and accrue much more energy and its personalized, material, economical and emotional positive aspects. That corrupt and unrestrained electrical power is then utilized to oppress and bring about damage to many others they deem to be enemies or otherwise “un-American.” These are main tenets of fascism.

The Republican fascists have recognized those people aspects of the Structure or federal legislation — the Electoral School, the Senate, the electric power of state legislatures — most vulnerable to subversion.

To that stop, the Republican fascists and their allies have discovered these areas of the Structure or federal legislation and governing institutions that are most susceptible. The Electoral College or university is just one this sort of focus on. Trump’s abuse of executive orders is an additional. The U.S. Senate amplifies the ability and impact of fewer populous states and locations, and thereby dilutes the respectable electric power of the the vast majority in an significantly diverse democracy. The Supreme Courtroom is now an explicitly partisan and ideological suitable-wing establishment, committed to advancing the tyranny of the minority.

The Republican fascists and their brokers are now doing work on a nationwide strategy to empower Republican-controlled state legislatures and governors to reject the result of an election if the voters have picked out the “incorrect prospect,” that means a Democrat. In practice, the target is a 1-bash authoritarian state, modeled on Vladimir Putin’s Russia or some other faux democracy.

Tuesday’s committee listening to also taught other lessons. Social media companies have an outsized power to impact democracy. As seen on and in advance of Jan. 6, this kind of companies are extra interested in gain — and amplifying negative feelings and discord to that end — than in serving the public very good or actively playing a good job in the community sphere.

The mainstream news media proceeds to pretend that Trump’s perfidy on and prior to Jan. 6 and the Republican-fascists’ escalating assaults on democracy are in some way astonishing or surprising. In fact, Donald Trump and his confederates orchestrated the coup for months (if not decades) before Jan. 6. Nothing that transpired that day can be explained as a revelation: A number of brave general public voices warned that Trump was likely to attempt a coup, and most these types of men and women have been accused of getting “hysterical” or trying to find focus by the gatekeepers of public discourse and centrism.

What’s more, as an alternative of creating the threats embodied by the Age of Trump and American neofascism more legible for the community, way too lots of voices in the information media would alternatively be breathless and dramatic. They will in no way just take a own and public stock of how they enabled this disaster by normalizing Trump and his motion. 

In his closing statement at Tuesday’s hearing, Raskin offered a critical second of public educating, warning about the continuing threat of authoritarianism in The us from Donald Trump and the Republicans and the bigger neofascist motion.

In contrast to Mr. Ayres and Mr. Van Tatenhove, men and women who have recovered and progressed from their descent into the hell of fanaticism, Donald Trump has only expanded his major lie. To protect Jan. 6 alone, he asserts the insurrection was the authentic election, and the election was the actual insurrection. He states his mob greeted our law enforcement officers on Jan. 6 with hugs and kisses.

He threatens to choose a single of America’s two key political get-togethers with him down the road to authoritarianism. And it is Abraham Lincoln’s get together, no less. The political experts explain to us that authoritarian get-togethers have two crucial features in common, in background and around the globe. They do not settle for the results of democratic elections when they eliminate, and they embrace political violence as respectable. …

But this is not the dilemma of 1 celebration it is the difficulty of the whole region now. American democracy, Mr. Chairman, is a important inheritance, one thing unusual in the background of the planet and even on earth these days.

Constitutional democracy is the silver body, as Lincoln place it, on which the golden apple of independence rests. We need to have to defend each our democracy and our liberty with everything we have, and declare that this American carnage ends right here and now. In a world of resurgent authoritarianism and racism and antisemitism, let us all hold difficult for American democracy. The American men and women and the leaders of the so-identified as pro-democracy motion now have a series of alternatives to make.

Will Raskin’s text of warning be an epitaph for The us, or rather an inspiration to mobilize, organize, marshal the demanded means, and interact in acts of huge resistance at the ballot box and in the streets? Will Legal professional Normal Merrick Garland and the Office of Justice take these classes to heart and prosecute Trump and his confederates for their lots of apparent high crimes?

Will Joe Biden and other the Democratic leaders eventually jettison their aged patterns of working with Republicans as nevertheless they were being dependable companions in governance and in its place take care of them as the danger to democracy, freedom, the Constitution and the rule of regulation that they obviously are? Will the American individuals as a whole combat for their democracy towards the soaring fascist tide? Or will they as a substitute succumb to discovered helplessness and quietly surrender to the “new typical” of a Christian fascist apartheid plutocracy where most People will be addressed as next- or 3rd-class citizens – if even that?

The American individuals and their leaders are jogging out of time to answer these thoughts.

As the Residence Jan. 6 committee carries on its community hearings, investigations – and educating – will their lessons be uncovered or disregarded? America’s upcoming relies upon on the answer.

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