Democrats' Own 'Big Lie' Will Be the Focus of Jan. 6 Hoopla | Opinion

Will Jan. 6 be our next new national holiday? Perhaps it won't go so far as that. But there's been a campaign to make next week's anniversary of the Capitol riot the most important date on the calendar.

Democrats and a tiny cohort of their Never-Trump former (or soon to be former) Republican allies hope the day will live forever in the American memory. As far as they are concerned, every day since then has been Jan. 6. They have never stopped talking about it and the perfidy not only of the rioters but also of former president Donald Trump and, by extension, everyone who supported him. Almost all Americans felt outraged at the appalling spectacle of a mob breaking into the Capitol. But Democrats are now seeking to inflate the events of that day out of all proportion to what actually happened in order to distract the country from their own disastrous conduct since assuming control of the White House and both Houses of Congress.

As far as Democrats and their media cheering section are concerned, what happened on that day wasn't a riot. Within days they hit on the idea of reimagining it as an "insurrection," a term that has become standard usage in many fora. From that point on, it has been variously described as the moral equivalent of the Confederates firing on Fort Sumter and even the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, in the view of some, recalcitrant Trumpists of all sorts amount to "domestic terrorism."

Many now tell the story of Jan. 6 with the same reckless determination that for years characterized the ultimately debunked claims that Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election.

The House of Representatives' Jan. 6 Committee has similarly embraced the "insurrection" idea. The events of that day unfolded live on television so there isn't really much doubt about what happened. But that hasn't stopped the committee from turning it into fodder for a new set of conspiracy theories in its ever-widening fishing expedition for "evidence." It has now resorted to issuing subpoenas for persons wholly unconnected to the riot, so as to give credence to the notion that Jan. 6 must have somehow been orchestrated by the Trump White House, Republicans in Congress or even Fox News Channel personalities.

The rioters were inflamed by speakers at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington largely predicated on conspiracy theories about Democrats stealing the 2020 presidential election. The rally, at which Trump spoke, included a protest against the congressional certification of the Electoral College vote. Trump and others encouraged the attendees to think that there was some legal method of halting or rejecting the votes that had already been cast by the states.

That was both incorrect and deeply wrong. There was much to criticize about the way the election was held, and how Big Tech oligarchs and certain media companies sought to help Joe Biden beat Trump. But by Jan. 6, 2021, the outcome was settled. While many Republicans planned to make a symbolic protest by voting not to accept the certification of the vote, some who came to Washington that day believed the election was literally stolen.

A group of those people broke away from the rally once it concluded and then stormed the Capitol. Some engaged in violence against the police while others were, inexplicably, allowed in, sending members of the House and the Senate scurrying for safety. That discredited the otherwise peaceable Trump rally—as did the former president's slowness to condemn the riot.

January 6 riot
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Crowds gather outside the U.S. Capitol for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Yet contrary to the misleading reporting about the incident, those who entered the Capitol did not have actual plans to kidnap or harm anyone. They wandered about the premises like misplaced tourists. Their conduct was inexcusable and all those who participated deserve to be punished for any violence they committed and for breaking and entering into America's shrine of democracy.

Yet as awful as that was, it wasn't an attempted coup d'etat. After a year of investigations, not a shred of proof has been produced to the contrary.

Nor, despite claims from some Democrats and media outlets, did they commit murder. The only person who was actually killed as a direct result of the riot was one of the rioters: Ashli Babbitt, an unarmed 35-year-old Iraq War veteran who was fatally shot by a Capitol policeman despite—based on video of her killing—posing no direct threat to anyone.

Had Babbitt been a Black Lives Matter protester at any one of the hundreds of "mostly peaceful" convulsions of violence and looting—including attacks on police and assaults on government buildings—that took place in America's cities last year, she would have been acclaimed as a martyr and her killer would have been indicted. Instead, she was widely derided as a "traitor" and the investigation into her shooting was quickly dropped.

The BLM riots are a useful analogy because, only months earlier, the same people who have embraced the insurrection myth shrugged their shoulders or rationalized away far more violence when it was done on behalf of a cause they liked.

Jan. 6 has become the focus of a new set of conspiracy theories in which Trump and Republicans can be presented as the foes of democracy. These theories allow the Left to categorize resistance to either the Biden administration's pandemic policies or woke doctrines as another version of the insurrection, similarly deserving of federal investigation.

Even as inflation rages out of control and the pandemic continues on Biden's watch, for liberals, the only thing that matters is that their political opponents—and not just an unruly mob—are proto-authoritarians who must be discredited and defeated at all costs. That's why the narrative surrounding Jan. 6 is so important to them.

What really happened on Jan. 6 was bad enough. But by transforming it into something that it clearly wasn't, Democrats have overplayed their hand and convinced even many on the Right who were ready to blame Trump for his behavior that the goal of this exercise is to cast all dissent as treasonous. This has injected another toxic meme into our already poisoned political discourse and made it all the harder to imagine any future election being accepted by the losers regardless of which party wins. That's a big lie that will do as much damage in the long run, if not far more, as anything said or done on Jan. 6.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org, a senior contributor for The Federalist and a columnist for the New York Post. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.