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The 1/6 Committee report

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Terry Kanefield is summarizing the January 6 Committee report:

The January 6 Report appropriately puts Trump at the center of a complex, wide-ranging, multi-pronged plot to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

But from the report we also learn that putting the blame entirely at Trump’s feet means missing the larger picture: The growing threat of right wing extremists who heeded Trump’s call and carried out the attack.

In Bennie Thompson’s words, these extremists “subscribe to racism, anti-Semitism, and violent conspiracy theories; those who would march through the halls of the Capitol waving the Confederate battle flag.”

This danger posed by these groups predates Trump and will out live him. Trump exploited these groups to his own ends, but he didn’t create the problem. (I won’t go into the history of these militia groups over the past few decades. That’s a separate post.)

It is no coincidence that among the first to breach the capitol building was a man wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt or that the Confederate flag was carried through the Capitol.

These extremists share an ideology with Nick Fuentes, an America First leader who participated in the J6 events. Fuentes espouses “a belief that they are defending against the demographic and cultural changes in America.”

In other words, they resent the increasingly diverse electorate. I found this detail about the Proud Boys telling: as part of their initiation, take the following oath: “I am a proud western chauvinist, I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” The oath echoes the Nazi belief in a master race that created all the great civilizations of the world. In other words, it’s about race and male dominance.

The report stresses that various extremist groups who were not previously aligned, pulled together to coordinate the attack: The Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, white nationalist Groypers and others.

We learn from the report how Trump called these extremists to Washington D.C. and let them know what he wanted them to do. They did his bidding: they carried out a well-coordinated armed attack on the United States Capitol.

Their intent was to intimidate Pence and others into rejecting electors from states that Biden won or, should that fail, delay the certification of the election long enough to create chaos and buy Trump and his allies more time.

Repeatedly, Trump transmitted his message to these extremists. To take one example, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli—an avowed white supremacist—heard about Trump’s 2:24 tweet while in the Crypt. He knew it meant Pence had decided not to keep President Trump in power. He therefore understood it was time to storm the building. (Report, 38.) . . .

It’s comparatively easy for Americans to rally against foreign entities that seek to use force to impose their will on our country.

But when the people resorting to force are Americans with a different idea of what kind of country we should become, it becomes much more difficult to rally against them, particularly if they hold official positions at various levels.

If millions of Americans are sympathetic to these views, we have a problem not easily solved. This is particularly true when a major political party is aligning itself to the ideals espoused by these groups.

For example, Christian Nationalism, according to Christianity Today, includes the belief that “America is defined by its “Anglo-Protestant” past and that we will lose our identity and our freedom if we do not preserve our cultural inheritance.”

People who believe that they will lose their “identity and freedom” if the United States does not preserve itself as an “Anglo-Protestant” cannot tolerate America’s electorate becoming more racially and culturally diverse.

This is the cultural clash that brought us the insurrection of January 6.

The catch is this: As we move closer to a true multi-racial democracy (which we’ve been struggling to do since the Civil Rights movement) these groups will get angrier and hence more violent.

If the problem was isolated on the fringes, it would be easy, but in many regions of the United States, a majority of voters will eagerly back these candidates, even with everything we know about them.

Thus, while it was appropriate to put Trump at the center of the report, the larger picture is that we have a growing problem with extremism.

This illustrates well why Trump himself is more symptom that cause, and how his political “charisma” is something projected onto him by those looking to find it, rather than some sort of organic quality he himself semi-magically manifests.

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