It is, however, the pernicious and sinister intent of the liars — not their staged protests — that poses the real threat, which is no less than a slur on democracy.
That makes the work of the House select committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 attack of paramount importance. The peaceful transfer of power was threatened by the Trump-inspired rampage. His “big lie” as CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale reports, has spawned nationwide Republican efforts to change election laws to make it more difficult to vote, spurred Republican crackdowns on election officials who are doing their jobs, and provided ammunition to conspiracy theorists inclined to take matters in their own hands.
Which calls to mind Floyd Ray Roseberry of Grover, N.C.
He showed up last month in a truck parked near the Capitol threatening to set off an explosive device and airing grievances against President Biden and other Democrats. No bomb was found in his vehicle.
Roseberry was followed by Donald Craighead, 44, of Oceanside, Calif., who was arrested on Monday with multiple knives, a bayonet and a machete in his truck adorned with a swastika and other white supremacist symbols, according to Capitol Police. He wasn’t in town to take in the sights. He said he was “on patrol” and was spewing white supremacist ideology, police said.
Craighead’s father said Craighead has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and Roseberry reportedly has also been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
Both, however, had the presence of mind to find their way to Washington.
Recalling scenes from that dreadful Jan. 6 day on Capitol Hill, and accounts of Republicans passing suppressive state voting laws and pushing “audits” to overturn the 2020 election results, conjures up another group of aggrieved Americans.
They thought of themselves as “Redeemers.”
Humiliated and angered by post-Civil War Reconstruction, they saw their Southern social order in ruins. Formerly enslaved Black men, once firmly under their boots, were being appointed, even elected, to positions of authority, thanks to Southern occupationby victorious Northern Republicans. It was that coalition of former Confederates, White Democratic farmers and businessmen who organized themselves as redeemers to rid the South of “Negro misrule,” to put Blacks back down where they belonged, and to restore white supremacy to its rightful place in the world order. By 1877, through waves of violence and intimidation, and horrible attacks such as the 1873 Colfax, La., massacre in which a white Democratic militia killed more than 100 Republican Blacks, Reconstruction was dead.
All that followed — from the voting booth to the schoolhouse to land ownership to the means of feeding a family — were Southern state actions devoted to rolling back whatever progress Blacks had made, and to making sure it never happened again.
Clearly, the vengeful spirit of the Redeemers never died.
The storming of the Capitol cannot be disassociated from the corrosive impact of the Trump presidency on American democracy and on the quest, though bumpy, for equality.
It is in the context of the Redeemers movement, and all that it stood for, that Trump and his Republican Party acolytes should be viewed. Watch what they are doing in Congress and statehouses across the country.
It pays for Democratic leaders not to be distracted by the ephemerals — job titles, ego-strokes, press notices and campaign checks — and lose sight of what’s at stake.
Today’s redeemers, just as with the Old South, hope to “rise again.” They are unlikely to rise very high this weekend in Washington. But their Donald Trump is no Jefferson Davis. Trump firmly controls what he has unleashed.
“Justice for J6” is junior varsity. Defeating Trumpism, in all its ugly forms, is what should matter most. All else, politically speaking, comes in second.