According to The Post, Babbitt “avidly followed the QAnon conspiracy theory, convinced that Trump was destined to vanquish a cabal of child abusers and Satan-worshiping Democrats.” The California native came to Washington to attend the “Save America” rally. There, the crowd that believes the lie that President Trump’s reelection was stolen from him were served up a rhetorical diet of red meat.
“Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. … We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women,” Trump told the thousands of supporters who stretched from the Ellipse to the Washington Monument. “We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
Babbitt was part of the insurrectionist throng that violently stormed the U.S. Capitol as the electoral college certification process was underway.
Three other participants died that day and the mini-portraits of them in the New York Times suggested that all were part of a deeply backward, alternative universe: A man who “appeared to have made several combative posts on Parler” and who died of a heart attack on the west side of the Capitol. A woman who “followed the baseless conspiracy theories of QAnon” and who collapsed “while standing in the Capitol Rotunda.” And a founder of a website that “billed itself as a ‘social network where American Patriots can mobilize against the corrupt communist marxist scummy democrats’ ” who died of a stroke at the Capitol.
Now compare those points of view with the record of Brian D. Sicknick, whose death I mourn. Acting attorney general Jeffrey A. Rosen said the 12-year veteran of the Capitol Police died of “the injuries he suffered defending the U.S. Capitol, against the violent mob who stormed it on January 6th.” As The Post profile of Sicknick highlighted, he was a Trump supporter who shared a friendly political rivalry with a Democratic staffer. When Trump won the 2016 election, the staffer told The Post, “He held me as I cried,” she said. “He knew how hard it was going to be for me. Neither of us said a thing. No words needed to be exchanged. I knew that even though it was a celebratory day for him, he was going to hold me up.”
Sicknick’s death and service should not be marred by lumping him with domestic terrorists who came to Washington to overturn the will of the American people. When push literally came to shove, Sicknick put his politics aside to put America first. He did his part to try to safeguard the Capitol and, by extension, American democracy.
So, when writing about the violent attack against the legislative branch of our government, might I suggest something along these lines: Domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed effort to overturn the presidential election, killing veteran Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Four participants in the insurrection also died, including one who was killed by law enforcement as she attempted to climb through a broken barricaded door.
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