Last week’s televised hearings addressing the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, were nothing short of riveting and disturbing.
The House committee has been gathering information and investigating the attempted act of sedition for more than a year, amassing at minimum 140,000 plus documents and investigating more than 1,000 witnesses. They learned all sorts of appalling facts, including that former President Donald Trump flippantly said his former vice president “deserved” to be hung after hearing rioters were reciting “hang Mike Pence.”
Newly released footage and original testimony nullified the pathetically disingenuous remark made by Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde who equated the behavior of violent insurrectionists to that of a “normal tourist visit.” Several capitol police officers and other witnesses provided testimony to the committee, all of whom were riveting and captivating to listen to.
Engaging commentary notwithstanding, the highlight of the evening was Liz Cheney. The Republican congresswoman’s performance was nothing short of a tour de force. She put her fellow MAGA Republican counterparts to shame, exposing them for both their cowardice and their dereliction of duty. Among her most deliberate comments (one of many) was when Cheney stated “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.”
For the record, I am not a political supporter of Liz Cheney. Her politics differ dramatically from mine. Despite her honorable and arguably courageous stance in challenging a sizable segment of her Republican colleagues for their habitually untoward behavior, the truth is that Cheney is a right of center conservative who overwhelmingly supported much of Trump’s agenda during his presidency. Considerable partisan allegiance aside, when it came time to stand up for the protection and preservation of democracy, she disregarded so-called “party loyalty” and aligned herself with the virtues of truth and honesty. For this, she deserves accolades.
Among other facts, the initial night of the hearings revealed that many of those around the former president were well aware of the fact that Trump had lost the election to Joe Biden. William Barr, Trump’s attorney general, testified that he dismissed the claim that the 2020 election was stolen as “bullshit.” Interestingly, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, concurred with Barr’s assessment.
Notably, “numerous” Republican congressmen, such as Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry, frantically sought pardons from Trump for their role in attempting to overturn the election. It goes without saying that people convinced of their innocence don’t seek to be pardoned, and it’s old news now that many Republicans in Congress who knew better perversely embraced Trump’s election lies.
There are a number of historical parallels to draw from as it relates to this horrid event. One that seems most evident is the fact that a large percentage of the anarchists who journeyed to the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, are rabid white supremacists.
These were men and women who were inspired and motivated by a fellow white supremacist who was unable to garner the votes of most non-white citizens, failed to successfully win re-election and thus, sought to overthrow the government and dismantle democracy. There has been a long history of this sort of activity in America.
Perhaps Liz Cheney’s most iconic statement made during the opening night of the hearings was the following: “I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible, there will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”
She spoke truth to power here.
Copyright 2022 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate
Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.