Riot 2.0

OPINION: The Rhetoric of Violent Domestic Extremism Comes to the Halls of Congress

As both the political and legal process moves forward to hold those responsible for the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, we are reminded of the words that Sen. Mitt Romney spoke that same night.

“The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.”

Truth, while seemingly easy to agree on, has been in dispute between Republicans and Democrats for too long now, amplified by President Trump’s Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway “alternate facts” statement in 2017.

Not accepting the truth is what led us to the actions of our fellow citizens this past week. Media companies—and we include social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter—for too long have played a role as well in amplifying the falsehoods that so incited pro-Trump supportors to storm the houses where our members of Congress were meeting to certfiy the election that was won by President-elect Joe Biden.

Untold millions believe the election was stolen from the Republican nominee. What may be more disturbing is that over half of the GOP members of the House voted against certifying the election because they believe it as well.

Let state some truth here: The election was not stolen. It was not rigged. There was no voter fraud and no credible evidence presented to reverse the outcome of the election.

Freedom of speech does not give you the right to trespass, loot and physically assault your fellow Americans, especially if you are protesting police reform. Extremism, especially the violent rhetoric on the Right, must be confronted and stopped. 

During his campaign, we were shocked at the defense GOP challenger Frank Pallotta gave to a right wing extremist group, the Oath Keepers, in his debate with Rep. Josh Gottheimer. When confronted with their literature of hate, Pallotta said “I stand by them” despite the fact the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness had designated them as a homegrown domestic terrorism group.

Unfortunately, this is a position held all too regularly by prominent leaders of the Republican party. And while not nearly as prevalent, Democrats would be wise to take steps to eradicate hate groups in their ranks as well.  

A message must be sent by law enforcement and political officials that these groups have no place in our country. The domestic terrorists that marched on the Capitol must be brought to justice and punished, including those who had a hand in the killing of U.S. Capitol Guard and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick. Those who incited the pro-Trump supportors must have their day of reckoning as well. 

It should be a priority of the Justice Department to prosecute the actions of these hate groups going forward as they are the number one threat to our homeland. 

More importantly, a bipartisan effort must be made to rid those who are supported and give air to these extremists groups. Politicians must disassociate themselves from these hate groups and the media companies that profit from them in an aggressive manner that leaves no doubt hate has no place in either party. 

That is a truth that all of us need to make clear going forward.

2 comments

  1. This was not right ! A real American tragedy . But The riots and anancy we had all summer long were much worst. Where is the unity President elect Biden, please speak up with a strong voice. not the timed one you have been using.

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