Guest Column

A Threat to Democracy

The Republican Party continues to minimize, deflect, or ignore the Jan. 6 terrorist attack

By David R. James

Recently, America remembered 9/11. I remember watching the horrific events unfold with my visibly shaken history students all that day. I also remember our community coming together by meeting at River Park and the fairgrounds to reaffirm our commitment to each other in spite of the devastation caused by this act of hate. But to this historian, the most poignant event of that weekend was the speech given by No. 43, former President George W. Bush near Shanksville, Pa.

Please allow me to highlight some of his words. Now for full disclosure, I didn’t always agree with GW; in fact, I didn’t vote for him. But his words resonated with me as he talked about the “audacity of evil” and the sacrifice of the first responders, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who possibly prevented the devastation of our capitol and our lawmakers – many of whom are still serving this day.

What really impressed me were these words: “And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence within. There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But their disdain for pluralism in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

Bush’s words were an indictment of the MAGA insurrectionists but also of his party who pampers them and the person whom the Jan. 6 terrorists wanted to install by force. When I look at Jan. 6, the actions of the former president and his party should horrify all decent Americans. As Jennifer Rubin describes in the Washington Post, one can imagine how their actions and rhetoric would have sounded if the other “children of the same foul spirit” were radical Islamists. Then-President Trump announced that he “loved” the insurrectionists and said, “they’re very special.” No president and no party could have survived if the object of these remarks were foreign rather than domestic terrorists.

The Republican Party continues to minimize, deflect, or ignore the Jan. 6 terrorist attack. Would Mitch McConnell ask senators as a “favor” not to investigate the 9/11 attacks? Or imagine Kevin McCarthy insisting not to investigate 9/11 because the other side was simply seeking to score political points? In each case, if the Jan. 6 terrorists were foreigners, we would have accused Republicans as anti-American, or traitors. After listening to Bush’s speech, it is hard not to realize that today’s GOP operates outside of and is a threat to peaceful democratic and multiracial democracy.

David R. James is a former history teacher who lives in Eureka.

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