PRESS EDITORIAL: The Capitol riot is history that can’t be rewritten

For as long as history has been written, people have tried to rewrite it to suit their own ends. Usually these efforts to turn fact into fiction occur many decades after the happenings, when memories of them are dim or gone. Not so with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Just months after the riot and invasion of the seat of the American government, politicians with axes to grind are trying to pervert an event that was an attempt to overthrow an election into a citizen protest construed as a patriotic exercise.

A member of Congress from Georgia claimed the Capitol invasion was like a “normal tourist visit.”

A representative from Colorado compared the rioters to freedom loving patriots of 1776.

An Arizona congressman said the insurrectionists were the real victims, law-abiding citizens being targeted by “national security state.”

The revisionist beat goes on far from Washington as well. In a letter to the editor published in Ozaukee Press, the chairman of the Sheboygan County Republican Party wrote that the Capitol insurrection was a scam perpetrated by enemies of Donald Trump.

Nonsense like this could only live at a time when truth has been devalued by the perverse idea that facts one does not want to believe can be dismissed as “fake news.”

The history of the Capitol insurrection was written as it was being made as millions of Americans watched via live television a mob breaking into the Capitol, assaulting police officers, attempting to do violence to elected representatives and desecrating and vandalizing the building that symbolizes American democracy.

Yet the would-be history rewriters keep at it as though the witnesses can’t believe what they saw. It’s not working.

That absurd “insurrection scam” claim drew sharp responses in letters to the editor from Press readers. One pointed out that the dictionary definition of insurrection—“a violent uprising against an authority or government”—fits the Capitol riot perfectly. Another noted that calls by insurrectionists to “hang Mike Pence” and “put a bullet in Pelosi’s head” were recorded.

When Trump claimed last week that “there were no guns whatsoever” carried by rioters, fact-checkers relying on court records and other easily available evidence rated the statement totally false. The fact is, guns were seized from rioters and gun-related charges filed.

Evidence of the insurrection is overwhelming. FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that citizens from around the country had sent his agency 270,000 digital media tips, many of them from posts on social media from the bragging rioters themselves.

The Department of Justice reported that more than 535 alleged riot participants have been arrested and that charges are being prepared for hundreds more individuals who committed violent acts at the Capitol, including more than 200 who assaulted police officers.

Many of the offenses are felonies; jury convictions and federal prison terms are likely for many of the people some call patriots.

Few events in history have had as many witnesses as the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Trying to rewrite that history may be a fool’s errand, but it nonetheless does damage to this nation by keeping alive ill-founded resentments and conspiracy-stoking doubts in democratic government.

The Capitol riot derived from the rumor that voting fraud cost Trump the election, and many Americans still put faith in that unfounded insinuation, yet that cannot be an excuse to indulge the fantasy that the events of Jan. 6 were anything less than an attack on democracy.  

That history can’t be rewritten. America will have to live with it.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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