The Back Road: The insurrection and the big lie

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It has been reported that among the Republican members of the House who did not cast an “aye” vote for impeachment, there are as many as 50 who had feared voting their consciences would put them and their families at risk for physical harm. It is not surprising that they would feel this way. Death threats have become commonplace in politics.

After Jan. 6, the threats seem like more than empty rhetoric. Just prior to and during the riot at the Capitol building, it was widely reported that there were calls to hang Vice President Mike Pence and execute House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In fact, only 10 of 211 Republicans voted for impeachment. Many more who did not vote for impeachment argued that the priority should be unity and that impeachment would prevent healing from happening.

Let’s be clear that reconciliation cannot occur without accountability. Justice must be served. This includes holding accountable all of those who perpetrated the violent insurrection and contributed to inciting the attempted overthrow.

Accountability also requires determining whether there were members of Congress and the Capitol Police who colluded with the domestic terrorists who ransacked the Capitol Building and assaulted police, beating Brian Sicknick, 42, to death.

Once justice is served, the process of healing can begin. This will necessitate openly addressing the pretext for the deadly insurrection. That is, the “big lie” that the election was rigged and Donald Trump won. There can be no reconciliation until every member of the House and Senate publicly affirm that Donald Trump lost a free and fair election. Millions of Trump supporters must be disabused of the fairy tale that he told them.

Although Trump’s big lie was the pretext for the armed insurrection, it doesn’t end there. Trump’s big lie was first aimed at invalidating millions of votes by Black Americans, hearkening back to Jim Crow America which, after all, is what MAGA represents.

Many Americans have done great things, individually and collectively. Americans are great, but that is not what MAGA was meant to symbolize.

Trump’s big lie evokes the days of the White Citizens’ Councils, a network of white supremacist groups in the 1950’s South that were organized to oppose voter registration and racial integration of public schools.

The network of organizations, later known as Citizen’s Councils of America, were nothing more than a sanitized version of the Klan. They used intimidation, propaganda, job firings, and threats and acts of violence against civil rights activists to advance their agenda.

As Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nicole Hannah-Jones explains, “Racism was created to justify economic and political exploitation, not the other way around. No one can say that every Trump supporter is racist. But what we can say is that they understand the power of racism as a political organizing strategy and a means of unifying white Americans across social classes.”

In one of my columns, I wrote about structural racism and I was called out by a white business leader who said, “there is no such thing as structural racism, I don’t believe it exists.” Well, It does and white supremacy was the unifying theme behind the January 6 insurrection.

You don’t think so? Think again.

Andrew Malekoff is a New York State licensed clinical social worker.

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