It has been more than 17 months since the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on our United States Capitol — 17 months since someone planted a pipe bomb outside a building containing our then vice-president elect Kamala Harris, the first woman ever elected to the vice presidency; 17 months since people erected a noose and makeshift gallows outside our Capitol and cried for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence; 17 months since someone seemingly removed the panic buttons from a Democratic congresswoman’s office; and 17 months since Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters hurled racial slurs and beat Capitol Police officers on duty that day.
And the American public is just now on the cusp of understanding just how close we came to total upheaval in this country.
The Jan. 6 Committee will hold its first public hearing this week.
Members of the House committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol have said these hearings, which kick off during the East Coast’s “prime time” hour (8 p.m. on the East Coast, 5 p.m. here, on the West Coast) on Thursday, June 9, will show “the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.”
In other words, what happened Jan. 6, when the president of the United States directed a crowd of his most fervent supporters to descend on the United States Capitol while Congress was in session, preparing to count electoral votes for an election that same president had lost by more than 7 million votes, was not what some Republicans have called “a peaceful protest” or even a protest-turned-riot, but an attempt to stop our Democracy in its tracks. To overturn the will of more than 81 million American voters.
We should all want to tune in and pay attention to these hearings, no matter our political affiliations. This is the story of how close we really came – really are – to not living in a free and democratic country.
“The hearings will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the House,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the Jan. 6 Committee, said in April. ““It’s anybody’s guess what could have happened — martial law, civil war. You know, the beginning of authoritarianism … I want people to pay attention to what’s going on here, because that’s as close to fascism as I ever want my country to come to again.”
Because you can be sure that those who helped spread lies about the election being stolen and whose rhetoric led to the events of Jan. 6, which resulted in the deaths of at least seven people according to a bipartisan Senate report, do not want us to pay attention to these hearings.
Why else would one major media channel – Fox News, a network being sued by an election technology company for $2.7 billion for spreading lies that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” or rigged – be the only one refusing to air the prime time hearing on Thursday and actively working on “counterprogramming” the hearing’s message.
The decision shows, at the very least, that Fox News is not actually “news,” but, rather, political propaganda. Or, as a former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI said of Fox’s decision to not run the Jan. 6 Committee hearings: “Radicalization includes suppression of truth.”
Since convening 11 months ago, the Jan. 6 Committee has, according to the New York Times, “interviewed hundreds of witnesses and pored over thousands of hours of video footage and more than 100,000 pages of documents.”
And for anyone believing that this committee is a political stunt, it is worth mentioning the diversity of the 9-member Jan. 6 Committee, which includes:
- a Republican lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard (Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.);
- the daughter of a former Republican vice president (Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.) who chaired the House Republican Conference from 2019 to 2021;
- the highest-ranking Latino in Congress (Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.) who grew up in a working-class family in San Bernardino, California, and has championed programs to help grow small businesses and expand job-training programs;
- the first Vietnamese-American woman (Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.) – whose family fled Communist-controlled Vietnam in 1979, on a boat that ran out of fuel during its ocean crossing and was rescued by the U.S. Navy – elected to Congress;
- A former commander in the U.S. Navy (Elaine Luria, D-Va.) who spent more than 20 years assigned to Navy ships before becoming a member of Congress;
- The daughter of a school cafeteria worker and a beer truck driver (Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.) who worked as a staffer for Rep. Don Edwards during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon; and
- the chairman of the Committee, Bennie Gordon Thompson (D-Miss.), who has served as a member of Congress since 1993 and chairs the Committee on Homeland Security. Thompson, who grew up in the deeply segregated South and has fought for civil rights for more than four decades, is the only Black member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation.
To watch the June 9 hearing live, tune in to pretty much any news network (except Fox, of course). CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC and C-SPAN, as well as NBC’s online streaming channel, NBC News NOW, will air the hearings live. The New York Times will provide live video of the June 9 hearing at nytimes.com. And National Public Radio affiliates will carry NPR’s live special coverage of the House hearings. Likewise, the Public Broadcast System (PBS) will stream live coverage of the hearings on its PBS NewsHour Youtube site at youtube.com/watch?v=UiL2inz487U beginning at 5 p.m. Pacific Time, Thursday, June 9.
For anyone who loves this country, it is imperative that we tune in to the Jan. 6 Committee’s hearings this summer and that we not only listen to the facts presented, but that we not be swayed by disinformation coming from social media channels and far-right propaganda outlets. Had we all turned our back on the obviously biased and usually egregiously false “news” coming from places like Fox years ago, Jan. 6, 2021 may never have happened.
But it did. And we cannot turn away from the truth of that day.
As Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson has said: “Some people are trying to deny what happened. To whitewash it … but let’s be clear: The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie.”
Now is the time to tune in to the truth.