Jan 6 hearing: Episode 1 — America’s domestic terrorism problem

The first time a Confederate battle flag has ever been marched inside the U.S. Capitol was during the January 6th, 2021 insurrection to overturn our U.S. Presidential election. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Presbyterian Minister Elijah Parish Lovejoy was brutally murdered by a pro-slavery violent mob on November 7th, 1837 in Alton, Illinois. Reverend Lovejoy and his counterparts had become the targets of numerous attacks for preaching against slavery from the pulpit and publishing about its evils in his newspapers. A mob of drunken white “Christian” American men stormed and set fire to the building where Lovejoy, also a white man and a Christian pastor, was hiding his printing press. During the attack, Lovejoy was shot five times and his printing press was smashed into pieces and tossed into the Mississippi River. The men who murdered Reverend Lovejoy were set free by a corrupt and racist jury. Illinois Officials kept silent about this heinous crime and its unjust outcome, except for one. In early 1838, incensed by this violent mob attack and other attacks at the time, a 28-year-old lawyer and state legislator, gave an address on The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois on January 27, 1838. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

The “Lyceum address” is not only one of Lincoln’s best speeches, but it is a prescient and timeless one about the survival of our constitutional Republic, the rule of law, and how the greatest threat to our freedom is among us. Lincoln saw lawless mob rule by American citizens as the most dangerous threat to our country, especially when encouraged by the cult of a dictator who sees himself as being above the law. He said, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” He also said, “Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.” Well before the Civil War in the 1860s, the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and the January 6th, 2021 insurrection, Lincoln knew what could most likely put an end to our great American experiment: domestic terrorism. And not just any form of domestic terrorism, but the kind led by a specific kind of tyrant. The kind of tyrant that Eugene Debs said, “wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both.” Like the pro-slavery Confederates and the pro-segregation KKK that came before them, we now have the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and their MAGA cheerleaders.

White MAGA QAnon Jesus carried to the Capitol insurrection on Jan 6th, 2021. Tyler Merbler / Flickr

The Co-Chairs of the Congressional Committee on the Jan 6th Attack, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Republican Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, like Lincoln, understand what is at stake. They know what Lincoln said is true, “…by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained. Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation.” Under a phony guise of patriotism and Christianity, Trump and thousands of his supporters, mainly white men, attempted to use lies and coercion to overturn our Presidential election and violence to disrupt our peaceful transfer of power. They do not want to “take back America,” they want to destroy America as we know it. They want to install a straight White faux Christian version of America where a White Jesus carries an AR-15 to fend off immigrants, non-whites, and non-Christians. If you need specific evidence of the Jan 6th attack being perpetrated by White “Christian” Nationalists, then read this report written by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. In his opening remarks of the first hearing, Chairman Thompson said, “The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over. There are those in this country who thirst for power but have no love or respect for what makes America great: devotion to the Constitution… allegiance to the rule of law… our shared journey to build a more perfect Union.” Thank God for true American patriots and real Christians like Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney who are doing everything they can to secure the blessings of liberty for all Americans — now and forever.

After watching the first episode of The House select committee investigating the Jan 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, a few things are now clearer to me:

  1. The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers are domestic White “Christian” Nationalist terrorist organizations that are a major threat to the U.S. Constitution and our way of life. Based on Trump’s encouragement, they planned the attack on the Capitol and had even more violent objectives than what they achieved. They committed Seditious Conspiracy and some of these terrorists have already plead guilty to this charge and point to Trump as to why they did what they did.
  2. Trump and his followers— including Senators and Congressmen — perpetrated a fraud against the American people and the U.S. Constitution. Trump and his followers knew, without a doubt, in November that there was absolutely no evidence of any meaningful election fraud, and yet they continued to perpetuate a lie to the American people that led to the January 6th attacks. Some of these Congressional leaders sought pardons from Trump before he left office. In other words, they knew what they did was a crime. They should all be removed from office, sentenced to prison, and never be allowed to serve again.
  3. Trump and the White House knew that there was going to be violence at the Capitol hours and even days before it happened, and they did nothing to stop it. Trump personally did nothing to prepare for or to quell the violent attacks and it was Pence, acting as President, who called in the National Guard to stop it. In fact, Trump did quite a bit to stoke the flames including responding to the news of rioters’ chants to hang Mike Pence with, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it.”
  4. Trump pressured his Vice President on several occasions to illegally violate the Constitution. Thank God Pence put his fidelity to the Constitution above his loyalty to Trump. In some bizarre way, he is an unlikely hero.
  5. We will see specific evidence over the course of the hearings that show how Trump and his lawyer John Eastman and others in Trump’s inner circle committed crimes that violated federal laws. Crimes like Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Obstructing an Official Proceeding, and more. The question will be, do we have the fortitude to prosecute a former President, put him in prison, and not allow him to ever hold office again?
  6. The police officers and Capitol security that fought hand-to-hand for hours defending and protecting our Capitol and our elected officials inside were nothing short of heroic. More than 150 police officers were seriously injured during the attack — pepper sprayed, tear gassed, beaten, stomped, trampled, knocked unconscious, crushed, etc. They are all owed a debt of gratitude from the American people.

What can we do about all of this? How can we save our great American experiment? Liz Cheney said, “Finally, I ask all of our fellow citizens as you watch our hearings over the coming weeks, to remember what’s at stake. Remember the men and women who have fought and died so that we can live under the Rule of Law and not under the rule of men.” In a similar way, honoring our inheritance of the Constitution, Lincoln implored us:

Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; — let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap — let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; — let it be written in Primmers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; — let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

America’s religion is the rule of Constitutional law. Everyone deserves equal treatment under the law, and no one — not even ex-Presidents — are above the law. Stay tuned for episode 2.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Nate Boaz

Nate Boaz

Dad, dog lover, Marine veteran, Author, Ex-McKinsey Partner, Ex-Accenture SMD, Harvard MBA, USNA alum.