Insurrection is defined as an open revolt against civil authority or constitutional government. What happened inside and outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 was an insurrection by a mob of Donald Trump supporters hell-bent on overturning the results of the 2020 election that gave the presidency to Democrat Joe Biden. Presidents take an oath to defend this nation against “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Those who fought with cops on Capitol Hill, vandalized the historic old building and forcibly entered legislative offices during the right-wing rebellion were domestic enemies of this nation. They besmirched the iconic site where Republican Abraham Lincoln had called for “malice toward none” in 1865 and where Democrat Franklin Roosevelt had reminded Americans that they had “nothing to fear but fear itself” in 1933.
Today, malice and fear stalk the land. The mobs who chanted “USA, USA” and “Blue Lives Matter” during the Capitol insurrection posed as patriots and supporters of police, but their actions were an affront to this country and an assault on law enforcement.
By a bipartisan 413-12 vote in the House of Representatives, a proposal was passed to award Congressional Gold Medals to the Capitol Police and the Washington Metropolitan Police for their service while battling the MAGA mob that stormed the Capitol. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can give to individuals or organizations, and representatives on both sides of the aisle signified their support for awarding it to the police departments on duty during the Capitol Hill melee. All of the “deplorable dozen” representatives who opposed the resolution were Republicans, including Georgia’s QAnon conspiracy peddler Marjorie Taylor Greene and Athens-area congressman Andrew Clyde.
Mob action is nothing new in Washington or across the history of this nation, but a mob backed by members of Congress and emboldened by a former president is unprecedented and disturbing in a nation that claims to champion the rule of law and the peaceful transition of presidential administrations. After the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan rose up to defend white supremacy in the defeated American South. When victorious Union Gen. Ulysses Grant became president as a Republican in 1869, he battled Democrats who backed continued white supremacy and cracked down on the emerging KKK as a domestic terrorist organization that it was then and is to this day.
The specter of white supremacy and domestic terrorism again stalks this land, and what once was “the party of Lincoln” has become the party of fear, malice, repression and authoritarianism. Today’s “Grand Old Party” is so bad that it is making the Democrats look good. The Republican Party that once had dignity with officeholders like Dwight Eisenhower and Everett Dirksen has degenerated into a crybaby conservative playpen of sore losers, religious zealots and conspiracy advocates.
Conservative icon Barry Goldwater said in 1964, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Goldwater lost in a landslide to Democrat Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election, but even the right-wing Goldwater later warned against the takeover of the GOP by religious fundamentalists, and he was one of the legislators who defended the rule of law in 1974 when he counseled his fellow Republican, President Richard Nixon, to resign from the White House in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.
The MAGA mobsters were extremists, but they were not defending liberty on Capitol Hill in January. Authorities have arrested hundreds of the insurrectionists, and the manhunt continues. It is hoped that those extremists who were guilty of crimes in the Congressional workplace of national lawmakers will soon find out in federal courts that “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
On Mar. 17, a government report to Congress warned about the danger of domestic terrorism from militias, white supremacists and “lone wolf” armed attackers. Politicians and voters alike must be wary of threats against America by Americans. Writer Jeffrey Kluger’s words are true in these times of fear and malice: “It is not mere extremism that makes folks at the fringes so troubling; it’s extremism wedded to false beliefs. Humans have long been dupes, easily gulled by rumors and flat-out lies.”
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