On January 6th, 2021, the Capital of the United States of America was attacked by a mob of Pro-Trump extremists who assaulted Capital Police officers and threatened our representatives in an attempt to topple the newly elected Administration. It was the first violent transition of power since the Civil War. Congress and Vice President Mike Pence were merely doing their duty in overseeing the orderly transfer of power after a highly litigated and fully certified election. Five people died and 140 police officers were injured in the violent attempt to overthrow democracy and install the loser as a dictator.
Far-Right extremists under the influence of false propaganda and verbal incitement stormed the Capital in an attempt to stop Congress from confirming the results of the election. After losing nearly sixty lawsuits where Trump or his confederates alleged fraud, all that was left was for Congress to certify the results. The results had already been certified by all of the States. So Trump called his supporters to a rally in Washington on January 6th promising them that it “will be wild.”
The problems of propaganda and political cults are not limited to social media. Major news outlets and national politicians, among others, are intentionally spreading disinformation.
At the rally, Trump and Guliani stirred up armed extremists and sent them marching to the capital with orders to stop the certification of the election. Trump told them to “fight like hell” or they wouldn’t “have a country anymore” while Guiliani called for “trial by combat.” Over 800 people stormed the Capital leading to nearly 140 assault charges, five deaths, 2 suicides, and over 400 arrests. What’s worse is that this same propaganda is still being disseminated by politicians and unethical journalists on major media networks and social media.
The problems of propaganda and political cults are not limited to social media. Major news outlets and national politicians, among others, are intentionally spreading disinformation. This is not what the First Amendment was designed to protect. Democracy will not survive the coming avalanche of propaganda and voter suppression if we don’t stand up to the widespread dissemination of disinformation. We do not have to tolerate these falsehoods and lies. The truth about what happened on January 6th and about what’s happening in this country is being obscured by the unscrupulous and partisan news media’s purposeful dissemination of false and misleading information.
Americans live in different realities. We can’t agree on basic facts. Many have been caught up in conspiracy theories, false prophecy, and heretical religious nationalism. Politicians around the country are casting doubt on the results of the election and enacting laws designed to make it harder for people to vote. We need a truth commission to separate facts from falsehoods so that Americans can come together and heal the divisions imposed upon us by false propagandists, unscrupulous media moguls, corrupt politicians, and foriegn powers. Our freedoms, democracy, and the American way of life are at stake.
We need a bipartisan commission to investigate the causes of the insurrection. The leadership of the Republican Party doesn’t want an investigation, because they do not want to talk about what happened. Sixty percent of Republicans, some fifty million people, still believe the election was stolen. 10 million of those Republicans also believe that the use of violence to overthrow the government is now justified.
Abraham Lincoln, quoting the Gospel of Mark, said that “a house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). In this time of disinformation and division, we should take those words of Jesus seriously. May we seek to resolve our differences rather than fight over them. Call your Senator and demand a Bipartisan January 6th Commission to examine the causes of the insurrection and to ensure that it never happens again.