January 6th Commission, or Wrongthink Inquisition? | Opinion

The contemplated January 6th Commission has little to do with January 6th and most everything to do with railroading the tens of millions of Trump voters represented by the tens of thousands of peaceful protesters in Washington that day, whose views the Ruling Class has ignored and whose interests it has undermined.

It is part of a continued, rolling effort to exploit the inexcusable, pathetic and disgraceful actions of several hundred people to further the narrative that up to half the country constitutes would-be or potential domestic terrorists, justify the pervasive use of Ruling Class power to pursue them and, in the near term, hang the events around the necks of Republicans to retain and augment political power.

This should have been blindingly clear since the prospect of such a commission was first raised. If it wasn't, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made it blatantly obvious when he recently quipped: "Republicans can let their constituents know: Are they on the side of truth, or do they want to cover up for the insurrectionists and for Donald Trump?"

This rhetoric should have proven the death knell of the exercise, but several dozen GOP House members evidently did not see it for what it was. There are two possible explanations. One is that they did not "know what time it is"—that their political opponents care not for a good-faith, sober fact-finding mission, aimed at securing liberty and justice for all in defense of our republic, but rather seek to rout them and punish their constituents. The other is that they did not believe it worth making the case to said constituents that the proposed commission is not only a needless and nakedly partisan component of a broader political onslaught, but downright chilling on its own ostensible terms.

House Democrats evidently do not believe such efforts might boomerang on them—nor do they seem to care about the long-term consequences to liberty and justice of the actions they are now taking.

Set aside the bevy of other congressional probes examining the various aspects of January 6, 2021. Set aside, more importantly, the dubious narrative the January 6th Commission seeks to feed: That what transpired that day constituted an armed, murderous insurrection, if not coup, aimed at overthrowing "democracy" by Trumpism personified—proof of a scourge of right-wing violent extremism that poses the greatest threat of all to the homeland, thereby justifying a whole-of-society War on Domestic Terror.

The text of the bill itself should make Americans of all political stripes shudder.

Yes, the bill hypes as a "domestic terrorist attack" an event in which, mercifully, the sole person killed was a protester shot by Capitol Police, the majority of those charged were hit with essentially trumped-up trespassing offenses and none of those charged were carrying firearms. Julie Kelly's dogged reporting at American Greatness has compellingly laid waste to this narrative, which the Department of Justice's own prosecutorial struggles help confirm as disingenuous.

Yes, the bill casts as a threat to "the peaceful transfer of power" the exploits of characters like "QAnon Shaman."

Yes, the bill elevates January 6 over the murderous and destructive 1619 Riots, and related violence, that took place across the country over the last year, including attacks on federal buildings and police stations. This is rank hypocrisy.

U.S. Capitol behind waving American flags
U.S. Capitol behind waving American flags Samuel Corum/Getty Images

But perhaps most disturbing is this: The proposed commission is to be charged with investigating and reporting upon, in part, "the influencing factors that fomented such [an] attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process." In pursuit of this effort, it "may secure directly from any Federal department or agency information, including any underlying information that may be in the possession of the intelligence community, that is necessary to enable it to carry out its purposes and functions."

The danger herein is obvious. This commission would give partisans the ability to use the full powers of the federal government to investigate their wrongthinking political foes. "Influencing factors that fomented such [an] attack" are, of course, virtually limitless. Are you a politician who dared question the legitimacy of any aspect whatsoever of the 2020 presidential election? Are you a think tank that pointed out any of the anomalies in that contest? Are you a law firm that litigated against state executives and administrators who made election law over and above state legislatures themselves? Are you a media organization that printed stories covering these themes, or a social media maven who promoted them? Why would we assume anything other than all of the above, and more, would end up in the commission's crosshairs?

We have witnessed more than four years of weaponization of a hyper-politicized national security, intelligence and law enforcement apparatus at its highest levels, targeting their greatest perceived foe in President Trump, the agenda he put forth and, ultimately, the sovereign citizens he represented. Why would anyone have confidence that vesting a commission like this with such awesome power would not be abused to the nth degree? Looked at from a purely political perspective, would Democrats ever be complicit in vesting an equivalent Republican-led commission with such powers?

The January 6th Commission is a test of America's understanding of the stakes. That the leaders of the Republican establishment understood this to be a sign of political overreach is reassuring, and hopefully it will end the effort. But the point that must be internalized is that this is about more than just combating another partisan Kabuki exercise aimed at the midterm elections. It is about more than mere differences over scope or process. This is about a large percentage of America's purported leaders continuing to leverage January 6 to maximum effect to chill, silence and stifle approximately half of the country—and to do so, for many, due to simply questioning some of the extraordinary, ostensibly pandemic-driven election measures implemented during 2020 that Democrats now wish to make permanent.

The contemplated commission must be seen, narrowly, against a backdrop of the crumbling nature of the narrative that what transpired on January 6 was on the level of Pearl Harbor or 9/11; the apparent mistreatment—even recognized by the likes of Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL)—of many of those in pretrial detention, who, often without prior criminal records or commensurate charges, are languishing in prison, sometimes in solitary confinement; and the efforts by the authorities to conceal the 14,000 hours of footage from the Capitol around the events of that fateful afternoon.

More broadly, the effort must be seen in context of the use of the Capitol Riot to deplatform dissenters on social media and entire social media platforms themselves, target conservative media, mandate Wokeism in the national security and intelligence bureaucracies and vastly expand their powers to pursue Americans—including by means of non-governmental proxies—in ways that dramatically threaten civil liberties. And this is all without proponents ever making any effort to demonstrate the size, scope and extent of the undefined "extremist" threat allegedly justifying it.

Call it the Capitol Riot Inquisition.

Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at bit.ly/bhwnews, and follow him on Twitter: @bhweingarten.

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