Insurrection Day: The First Breaching Of The Capitol Since 1812
The events of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot are defined differently across the political spectrum. Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde compared it to a “normal tourist visit,” while President Biden called it a “dagger at the throat of American democracy.” Senator Ted Cruz has recently been criticized after calling the events a “violent terrorist attack” but later backtracking on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Cruz described his wording of terrorism as “sloppy,” but was his original assertion, correct?
The Jan. 6 insurrection certainly fits the bill of a terrorist attack. If chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” halting a congressional proceeding with brute force and assaulting police officers over a political belief is not terrorism, I do not know what is.
Congress defines terrorism as “violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state” intended “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” Regardless of whether the 2020 Election was stolen or not, the riot was dangerous to human life and intended to influence the proceedings to certify the election results. It fulfills the definition of terrorism, and Cruz’s initial response was right.
The riot was certainly dangerous, as the Capitol Police officers’ union reported 140 injured officers, one dead and four others who committed suicide after the insurrection. Interestingly, the invasion by the British army in the War of 1812 was the last time the Capitol was breached by an organized group, according to PolitiFact.
Trying to point to individual cases of people that did not directly commit terrorism or assault does not alleviate the reality that the riot as a unified movement that broke police lines and infiltrated the Capitol was a terrorist attack in its grand function.
Jan. 6 was a horrific day for our country, and Republicans have dropped the ball in clearly condemning the insurrection. Cruz was right in describing the event as “terrorism” 17 times before pleading for Carlson’s forgiveness. He knows how he truly feels about the incident, but he has chosen to pander to the Stop the Steal crowd by speaking contrary to his own beliefs.
Sloppy wording is not a 17-time thing. Cruz failed to stand up for the truth: more than 700 people assaulted and killed police, destroyed $1.5 million in property, and obstructed a congressional ceremony according to the Department of Justice. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement reported rioters carrying guillotines, guns, bear spray and various other weapons.
A group that supported “Blue Lives Matter” killed five cops. A group that mocked Democrats for saying “Trump is not my president” said “Biden is not my president.” A group that claims to uphold the Constitution ignored it.
Rioters that broke into the Capitol are criminals, not patriots.
It is an ugly truth for the Republican Party, but not calling a clear, violent attack on our government as such is failing to acknowledge reality or ignoring reality to score political points. Lying and backtracking is not a path forward. Asking “What about the Black Lives Matter protests?” is not a path forward.
We must recognize how terrible the insurrection was. Ted Cruz must recognize how terrible the insurrection was.
Violent protests have no place in the United States. Republicans must bear responsibility for the political violence from their side after condemning political violence on both sides in the summer of 2020.
What moves the divided United States forward is acknowledging the horrendousness of the Jan. 6 riot, bringing criminals to justice, and preventing future attacks on the electoral process in the future. Senator Cruz should have continued to call Jan. 6 a violent terrorist attack, because that is what it is.
browder is an opinion writer.