"A dud!" That's how some media reported that last weekend's D.C. rally to support the 600 rioters arrested after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. We'd anticipated that Justice for J6 would include protesters battling police, beating them with sticks and pieces of metal barricades, smashing their way into the Capitol building and threatening lawmakers. Security measures were in place, but the country isn't prepared to counteract the message.
Yes, Saturday's event was a yawn. Far-right groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, which had taken part in the Jan. 6 mess, told their members to avoid this demonstration at all costs. And former President Donald Trump declared it a setup. Weirdly, Matt Braynard, the rally's organizer, tweeted "thank you to the 500 courageous patriots who came out today despite a bunch of clowns and dilettantes who tried to convince you it was a trap."
Don't take Braynard's words as a sign of moving on from the former president. We were given a preview of the upcoming 2022 election and the real purpose of Justice for J6: Rewriting history. Do not be deceived by seeing Saturday's rally fizzle. Rather, be wary of the politics expressed by one of the organizers that the jailed rioters didn't "storm the Capitol," but simply "walked in peacefully." Saturday's participants called the rioters "political prisoners" and continued to make claims about a fraudulent election.
This is what is being spread even as the details of the Jan. 6 attack have become clearer. Despite the increased information, condemnation of it has become less widespread. And many Trump supporters downplay the insurrection, echoing an early claim by Trump that there was "zero threat" from the rioters who were "hugging and kissing the police and the guards."
There are pushbacks. Former President George W. Bush compared the Jan. 6 rioters to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists, saying that "their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them."
But do Bush's words resonate with today's GOP? Some not only downplay the riot, but treat it as a heroic act. In his own rewrite of history, Arizona's Rep. Paul Gosar accused law enforcement of "harassing peaceful patriots" and "law-abiding U.S. citizens." Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia also twists the truth. "It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others."
Fake news is winning. Despite the swastikas and antisemitic T-shirts displayed, only a small percentage of Republicans believe that white supremacists were behind the Jan. 6 attack. Conservatives such as Tucker Carlson and Marjorie Taylor Greene even go so far as to suggest that the FBI or Justice Department was behind the riot.
Some would rather bury the truth than rewrite history. Sen. Mitch McConnell objected to an independent commission for investigating the Jan. 6 attack by calling it a partisan effort "to debate things that occurred in the past." I'm reminded of the words of a Russian poet who protested against the Soviet Union, "When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie."
We cannot allow this twisted rewrite of history for political and personal gain. We must remember these words of wisdom: "Justice is the handmaiden of truth, and when truth dies, justice is buried with it."
Contact Deborah Levine, an author, trainer/coach and editor of the American Diversity Report, at firstname.lastname@example.org.