Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties. The state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie. And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.
The reimagining of Jan. 6 has not so much evolved as it has splintered into rival, but often complementary, false narratives with a common goal — to shift blame away from Mr. Trump, his supporters and a Republican Party maneuvering to win back control of government. The riot was a “false flag” operation by antifa, the loose left-wing collective; the F.B.I. planted agents to stir up the crowd; the protesters were mere “tourists” wrongfully accused by a Democratic-led Justice Department and vilified by a biased mainstream media; police officers recounting their injuries and trauma were “crisis actors.’”Mr. [Tucker] Carlson has emerged as a leading proponent of Jan. 6 revisionism, most prominently with his three-part “Patriot Purge” series. Carried on the Fox Nation streaming service, it amplified a debunked “false flag” conspiracy theory that the F.B.I. had instigated the violence as a pretext to lock away peaceful but concerned Americans because of their political views, creating a class of patriot martyrs. On Thursday night, he aired excerpts from “Patriot Purge” on his prime-time show, spreading those conspiracy theories to one of the largest audiences on cable television.
The latest in this revisionist genre comes from Eric Lendrum at American Greatness, who calls January 6 the left’s Reichstag fire and the right’s storming of the Bastille.
Lendrum’s assessment of January 6 is so filled with contradiction that it would flunk freshman composition. January 6 was a Reichstag fire because it was a pretext for progressive authoritarianism, he asserts, but the fact that progressive authoritarianism was already upon us justified the riot. The insurrection, meanwhile, was simultaneously peaceful, as though the rioters had knocked politely on the door and been let in for a tour by the Sergeant-at-Arms, and the second coming of the Bastille, whose commander, Jourdan de Launay, was stabbed to death after surrendering. Therein lies one essential difference: Lendrum’s proof that the protest was peaceful is—this is for real—that Trump supporters killed “[n]ot one person” on January 6. Refraining from assassination passes for a laudable accomplishment. Do they get a participation ribbon for that? The emphasis in the original suggests they should.
But permit Lendrum his paradoxes. Perhaps, like Rousseau, he cannot think without them. He apparently cannot think without morally repulsive Nazi analogies either. Conservatives, he proclaims, are “on a course for being every bit as ostracized and alienated from broader society as Jews were in the years leading up to Nazi Germany.” Republicans outnumber Democrats by 27 to 23 among state governors. They control a majority of state legislative seats. The Jews, by contrast—is it actually necessary to say this? Yes, apparently it is—were marched into gas chambers by the millions. Their descendants will have to set aside our snowflake impulse to take offense at this execrable trivialization of the Holocaust. Lendrum is after bigger game than respecting the memories of the Six Million: He is out to save civilization from the progressive hordes seeking our “enslavement by the state.”
In a December 21 statement, Trump called January 6 a "completely unarmed protest." Similarly, in a tweet on December 17, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia wrote, "One of the biggest holes in the lie about J6 being a planned insurrection is that all the people there were unarmed. Anyone with half a brain knows that gun owners only leave their firearms at home when they don't feel the need to carry a gun or are obeying the law."
Facts First: It's not even close to true that all of the people at the Capitol on January 6 were unarmed -- and the claim is still false even if it is specifically about guns. People who illegally entered Capitol grounds during the insurrection were armed with a wide variety of weapons, including guns, stun guns, knives, batons, baseball bats, axes and chemical sprays. The Department of Justice said in an official update last week that so far "over 75" people charged in connection to the attack "have been charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon."