The Democrats say that Jan. 6 was the worst attack on American democracy since the Civil War. They call it an insurrection, but if it was indeed the worst since 1865, no one but a fool would dare claim it even remotely approached the scale of the bloody war between the states.
And if you weren’t a fool, you might conclude that Jan. 6 was nothing like an insurrection. It wasn’t violent in the sense of an armed rebellion. It wasn’t organized. And it didn’t seek to overthrow the government, but to protect the Constitution. In more ways than not, it was a defense of American democracy, not an attack on it.
In every particular, Jan. 6 was a pale shadow compared to the Civil War. To start with, it lasted less than six hours, whereas the Civil War lasted four long years. The war between the North and South cost the lives of 620,000 soldiers and another 50,000 civilians. The Jan. 6 incursion at the U.S. Capitol, on the other hand, claimed the lives of just two women protesters, Ashli Babbitt and Roseanne Boyland. Among the defenders of the Capitol, police officer Brian Sicknick died after suffering two strokes the next day, but without a direct known connection to the riot. Two other protesters died of natural causes during the siege, and four law officers died by suicide in the months following the attack. If you count all of those as legitimate casualties of Jan. 6, then the total comes to nine compared to a minimum of 670,000 in the Civil War.
It would be impossible to exaggerate the stark differences between Jan. 6 and the Civil War.
Yet somehow, the Democrats (yes, members of the same Democratic Party that instigated the Civil War) were able to use the Jan. 6 incursion of the Capitol as a means to terrorize their political enemies and to punish those who used their rights of free speech and free thought to question the legitimacy of the Biden presidency.
As of March 6, 2023, more than 1,000 people have been charged with crimes stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. But the Biden administration is not done seeking its pound of flesh from Trump supporters. Last week, we learned that the Department of Justice (hereinafter the Department of Retaliation) had sent a letter to the chief judge of the D.C. federal court warning that between 700 and 1,200 more people will be charged with Jan. 6 crimes. More than two years after the fact! That brings the total of citizens likely to be charged to approximately 2,000, and according to the White House these are all domestic terrorists.
Now, to be clear, there was at least one instance of terrorism on Jan. 6, 2021, when pipe bombs were planted at the national headquarters of both the Republican and Democratic parties. But the perpetrator of that failed attack has never been identified, let alone charged. Instead, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the House Jan. 6 select committee and the White House have focused on making examples out of American citizens who believed that a corrupt election had been held in 2020.
By insisting that U.S. elections are always beyond reproach, the Democrats and their allies in the media have de facto criminalized the formerly protected speech of millions of Americans who have lost confidence in the electoral system. And the Justice Department, on behalf of President Biden, has decided to make an example of the Jan. 6 protesters in order to quell dissent among Republicans who might otherwise be tempted to carry a Trump flag to the Capitol.
If you don’t think that the prosecution, and accompanying lengthy jail sentences, of 2,000 protesters for entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 is excessive, consider this:
Following the real insurrection, the Civil War, hardly any of the 1 million men who fought on behalf of the Confederacy were charged with any crimes, let alone treason. That’s because President Abraham Lincoln, and President Andrew Johnson after him, recognized the importance of binding the nation together following the tumultuous war years. Instead of seeking retaliation, and humiliation of former enemies, they (and most Northerners) sought reconciliation and understanding. Forgiveness, not punishment, was the watchword.
In a Christmas Day proclamation in 1868, Johnson granted “a full pardon and amnesty to all persons engaged in the late rebellion.” He wrote, in part:
[A] universal amnesty and pardon for participation in said rebellion extended to all who have borne any part therein will tend to secure permanent peace, order, and prosperity throughout the land, and to renew and fully restore confidence and fraternal feeling among the whole people, and their respect for and attachment to the National Government, designed by its patriotic founders for the general good.
Further, Johnson declared:
…unconditionally, and without reservation, to all and to every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion, a full pardon and amnesty for the offence of treason against the United States, or of adhering to their enemies during the late civil war, with restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution and the laws which have been made in pursuance thereof.
Now compare that to the zealous and unyielding pursuit by Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice of the Jan. 6 protesters, the vast majority of whom neither waged war, nor committed treason, but only trespassed in an effort to assure that their grievances were heard. Unbelievably, many of those protesters remain in jail 26 months after the riot without ever having received the speedy trial they are promised by the Constitution, and others – once convicted – face lengthy prison terms in unfathomable conditions.
What does the DOJ say about its mission? Here’s an excerpt from the department’s March 6 update:
[T]he investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the attack continues to move forward at an unprecedented speed and scale. The Department of Justice’s resolve to hold accountable those who committed crimes on January 6, 2021, has not, and will not, wane.
As I said before, it’s the Department of Retaliation, and there’s no reason to think it will end there. The special counsel appointed to investigate Donald Trump’s possession of classified documents and his actions and words on Jan. 6 represents a new low in American politics. No matter how Merrick Garland or Joe Biden spin it, this is not about justice, but about eliminating the biggest threat to Biden’s reelection.
Where is James Comey when you need him? Remember when the former FBI director recited the not insubstantial case against Hillary Clinton for possession of classified information on an illegal server, and then declared “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case”? That is exactly how most nonpartisan people feel about the case against Trump, who, unlike Hillary, was president and actually had the power to declassify any documents in his possession.
Even more outrageous is claiming that Trump was guilty of treason or inciting a riot because he asked his supporters to walk from the Ellipse to the Capitol on Jan. 6 “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” That’s not incitement; it’s First Amendment-protected political speech. And when Trump said, “We fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore,” he wasn’t talking about invading the Capitol; he was specifically talking about fighting against election fraud. Any other interpretation is disingenuous.
Yet the Department of Retaliation continues its relentless assault on Trump supporters like a bureaucratic version of Inspector Javert from “Les Miserables.” Instead of showing the magnanimity of President Johnson following the Civil War, the Democratic administration of Joe Biden insists on fracturing our society even more than it was at the end of the Trump administration.
Remember Andrew Johnson’s words? He said that a pardon “will tend to secure permanent peace, order, and prosperity throughout the land, and to renew and fully restore confidence and fraternal feeling among the whole people.” Why can’t the Democrats and their sympathizers like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger see that their obdurate persecution of Trump voters will have the opposite effect? Instead of bringing their opponents to heel, they will just foment greater hatred and distrust among those who already feel abandoned and rejected by their government.
Or maybe the Democrats do know exactly what they are doing. Spanish-born and American-educated philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but maybe even more dangerous are those who distort the past. They condemn the rest of us to a legacy of permanent chaos, lies, and animosity, and of course they expect us to shut up and take it. There was no insurrection on Jan. 6, but that doesn’t mean the people will be patient forever.