In his January 5 column, Ben Shapiro summarized the 1/6/21 events as “an ugly but not pivotal moment in American history.” Shapiro did describe the “horrifying images of rioters bashing police officers”, etc., but also said the rioters “shouted for Mike Pence,” leaving out what they were shouting — that they wanted to hang him. And he mentioned just one death — of a rioter; no mention of death among the Capitol Police. And no mention whatsoever of what we now know about who organized, motivated and possibly even funded this event. Peter Navarro has been considerably more up front than that.
Republican politicians initially denounced the former President for his role in the event. But their voting base’s mistrust in the election process has persisted despite a whole lot of looking and no real finding. Politicians of all stripes love their power but many Republicans seem to want it so badly that they can no longer call a coup a coup. They have done an about face and supported the Big Lie ever since — tiptoeing around January 6 as if we did not come terrifyingly close to having a presidential election overturned by force.
Since then, Republican state legislatures have used the myth of election fraud to pass law after law that stacks the electoral deck in their favor, moving us away from the “more perfect union” rather than closer to it.
I really want Shapiro to be right — for 1/6/21 to really be “not pivotal,” but that seems like whistling past the graveyard to me. In September, the Public Religion Research Institute found that 30 percent of Republicans agreed that “Because things have gotten so far off-track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” And in late December, an AP-NORC poll found that 29 percent of Republicans rated the events of Jan. 6 either “not very violent” or “not violent at all.”
Unlike Shapiro, at least 29 percent seem to think January 6 did not go nearly far enough. I want to think most of us still find that prospect frightening — and that this will be enough to save us.