Wineke: Was Jan. 6 worse than 9/11?
MADISON, Wis. — The right-wing websites that call me a “patriot” were brimming with glee this morning because of a major gaffe in President Biden’s speech before Congress Wednesday.
The president referred to the January 6 insurrection in the nation’s Capitol as the worst assault on our democratic society since the Civil War.
Not so, sputtered the patriots. Biden forgot the September 11, 2001 assault on New York City and Washington, D.C. That attack by Islamic terrorists caused 3,000 lives.
They have a point, but it’s not a good point.
The 2001 terrorist attack was an assault on our nation but not an assault on our democracy.
In fact, what it did was to draw the nation together in a way that we hadn’t experienced in some time. Democrats and Republicans alike rallied behind President Bush, passed the Patriot Act and endorsed his attacks on Afghanistan and iraq.
It’s not clear that those were particularly good responses, but the overwhelming percentage of Democrats backed them in a show of unity with the Republican president.
The attack on the Capitol was carried out by American citizens, many of whom were carrying Trump flags and their stated purpose was to overturn the results of the November election. A large percentage of Congressional Republicans returned to their respective assemblies the same day and voted to endorse the same principle, that the counted and certified votes of the American people should be reversed.
That, I would argue, is an assault on democracy.
And it’s still going on.
Even as I write this, the 2000 presidential votes in Arizona’s largest county are being recounted, even though they have gone through previous recounts and were certified by Republican authorities.
Former President Trump is endorsing the effort and encouraging similar activities in other states that gave a majority of votes to President Biden.
That, I wouid argue, is an assault on democracy.
Because democracy can only survive if citizens trust the results of elections. If votes are counted and recounted by those authorized to do so – and in this case, the authorities are almost all conservative Republicans.
An assault on democracy is one that leads citizens to distrust democracy. That’s what Biden was talking about.
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