January 6, One Year On: The World Is Watching 

On this day, one year past, the sovereign people of the world’s oldest constitutional republic pause to reflect on the horrific events of January 6, 2021, the single most traumatic day in our Congress’s history and in the history of our nation’s elections for the office of the American presidency.

Many rightly choose to recall and hold in their memories the singularly appalling and deadly details of the riotous invasion of the U.S. Capitol as the United States Senate convened to certify the Electoral College votes duly cast in the 2020 presidential election.

Five persons died because of actions on this day. Also, 140 police officers (including 73 U.S. Capitol Police and 65 from the Metropolitan Police Department) were injured and many in the U.S. Capitol building that day – from members of congress who donned gas masks, to witnesses of desecration and vandalism in the hallowed Rotunda and on the House and Senate floors, to staffers and support workers who barricaded themselves behind file cabinets in offices – continue to suffer trauma.

We must pause to consider, in the wake of events one year ago, our place in the world of nations. Much of the world now doubts whether the American experiment in constitutional and democratic governance within a federal system will survive.

Our nation’s closest partners around the world, our NATO allies, voting peoples in friendly nations, and those beyond our borders who aspire to a democratic way of life have watched wearily and with mounting concern as our nation —  proud to have elected its first Black president just a few short years ago — turned to another American president of more authoritarian persuasions who so brazenly employed from the outset the “firehose of falsehoods” technique of domestic misinformation favored by Russia’s President Putin.

By keeping the barrage of lies and contradictions flowing, the seeds of confusion among the populace are sowed and people’s will to resist exhausted. “How can so many Americans accept the Big Lie that President Biden stole the presidential election?” our friends ask. When the Washington Post documents President Trump’s lying to the American people more than 30,000 times during his administration, why does this not dampen support for the man?

Evidence of former President Trump’s use of the “firehose of falsehoods” technique on this day last year abounds. At 4:17 p.m. when —  after watching televised scenes of over three hours of violent rioting and mayhem in the U.S. Capitol building and not lifting a finger to call off the violence despite multiple pleas from his own children and desperate, besieged members of Congress — this American commander-in-chief broadcast a video message to the world saying in the same breath that he supported law enforcement while telling the rioters “We love you, you’re very special, you’ve seen what happens, you’ve seen the way others are treated… I know how you feel, but go home…”

How can any American “love” people who storm Congress on election certification day? The very thought is repulsive, but the people are exhausted. Of course, the president also expressed nary a concern that his supporters threatened to hang the vice president whom he had publicly ridiculed for the cowardice of not rejecting election results after the rioting had begun.

For our international rivals and enemies – Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and various non-state actors – the events of January 6 have provided an enormous propaganda boon. “Look at the United States,” they intone. “Unable to prevent violent right-wing, Q-Anon supporting, neo-Nazi, pro-Confederacy extremists from storming the U.S. Capitol.”

As American intelligence services have amply demonstrated, these foreign adversaries have mounted major disinformation and disruption campaigns within our borders to fuel American political divisions, interfere in our electoral processes and sow the seeds of political violence and domestic terrorism.

Revisionist attempts to distort and erase our memories of what occurred in our nation’s capital on this day last year are easily fueled and manipulated by these actors who are all-too-ready to fuel the “firehose of falsehoods.”

Given the shadowy worlds of online and financial support for Trump and his increasing cult-like control of national and state politicians, we can be sure the siege of our republic and his quest to return to power has only just begun.



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