January sick-sth: Today’s pro-Jan. 6 rally in Washington is shameful

·2 min read

In Washington today, an angry crowd will rally on behalf of the 642 people criminally charged for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. It is their right to peacefully protest. It is not their right to go unchallenged as they spread poisonous revisionism.

As the protesters and their beloved former president would have it, poor patriots are being persecuted for exercising a core American freedom. Of course, what the rioters sought to do, in their own words and the words of their absent ringleader, was “stop the steal,” which is to say, negate the rights of the majority of citizens to have their votes counted and install the clear loser in the presidential election as the winner.

It may not have been an organized or well-executed rebellion, but that’s of no moment. The goal was to derail the peaceful transfer of power. That they only succeeded in frustrating the process for a few hours (and getting five people killed and hundreds injured in the melee) is a tribute to the Capitol Police who helped evacuate legislators from their chambers.

The notion that people who violently broke into the Capitol to intimidate lawmakers should face no consequences is offensive on its face, and ought to be especially offensive to conservatives. (Codifying the irony, down in Florida in April, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law vastly increasing law enforcement’s power to crack down on civil unrest.) But the claim is especially obscene when one considers that most of those charged are only facing misdemeanors. In the case of at least 235 defendants charged with the most common felony, “obstructing an official proceeding,” prosecutors are running into headwinds in court as judges question whether the vaguely defined crime is being applied in an overbroad manner.

As for the rioters who brutally assaulted police officers, they rightly have hefty prison terms coming. But don’t put it past Donald Trump and his minions to find a way to turn them into heroes, too. After all, they’re true believers.

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