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‘Outrageous, Orwellian, revisionist history’: Another Big Lie

I acknowledge that I am somewhat cynical about whether a January 6 Commission can ever be created given the reflexive Republican resistance to any deep dive investigation into causation. But I recently read that Democrat Bennie Thompson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, has reached a bipartisan agreement with John Katko, the panel’s ranking Republican, to begin the process of creating a January 6 Commission. “Inaction — or just moving on — is simply not an option,” said Thompson.

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The independent January 6 Commission would consist of 10 bipartisan members appointed by the House and Senate leadership, and have at its disposal investigators, scholars and historians and would possess the power of subpoena.

But here’s the rub (and why I remain cynical): Four months after incited supporters of Donald Trump attacked the Capitol in what would prove to be a destructive and deadly riot, a growing number of Republicans are now mounting a campaign to create a revisionist, Orwellian history of what took place on that now infamous day.

This was demonstrated during a pair of recent congressional hearings, where it quickly became evident that Republican House committee members intended to downplay or deny the truth of what occurred. As well, they insisted that if the riot was going to be examined, then any such analysis should also include the violence perpetrated by antifa (a loose collective of anti-fascist activists and Black Lives Matter). Their presence in the Capitol that day has long been debunked by the FBI, but remains a hallmark fiction, which is alleged repeatedly by the Republicans.

Also, Republicans are attempting to include in the commission’s investigation an examination of last summer’s civil rights protests, amounting to a premeditated false equivalency and a blatant deflection.

And so the distortion of truth has begun as Republican members, during the hearings, delivered their straight-faced statements prior to questioning those appearing before them.

Republican Ralph Norman, of South Carolina, actually questioned whether the rioters were supporters of Donald Trump, while ignoring the red MAGA hats, T-shirts and TRUMP flags (used to pummel Capitol police officers).

Andrew Clyde, Republican of Georgia, described the rioters as appearing like a “normal tourist visit. Let’s be honest with the American people: It was not an insurrection.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has opined that the commission must also investigate left-wing violence (apparently referring to not only the fever dream presence of antifa participating in the Capitol riot, but to the protests held in the summer of 2020). All while ignoring that some prominent Republicans actually pushed the Big Lie and urged Trump supporters to come to Washington to take a defiant last stand against the election of Joe Biden.

And there is the extraordinary image of Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, walking past the gathering rioters, raising a clenched fist of support and approbation.

Clearly, there is deep concern among Republicans that an independent investigation will reflect poorly on them as the 2022 mid-term elections draw near. Meanwhile the GOP, in all seriousness, insists that they are listening to their constituents who want them to resist any Jan. 6 commission, and stand with Trump.

Republicans are also portraying themselves as victims of Democratic attempts to silence them for their beliefs. Paul Gosar, Republican from Arizona, a leading proponent of “Stop the Steal,” accused the Justice Department of “outright propaganda and lies … used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding U.S. citizens (the arrested insurrectionists), especially Trump voters.”

And there is, of course, Jody. B. Hice, Republican of Georgia, who outrageously stated, “It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day … (it was) not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.” And so it goes.

Chris Honoré is an Ashland Tidings columnist.