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Sheila Jackson Lee Claims the 40,000 People at Jan. 6 Protest Were There to Harm Capitol, 'Kill the People Inside'

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Politicians, pundits and political functionaries do not need to make things up to make the Jan. 6 Capitol riot look bad.

Most Americans saw it unfold on television, for one. In the days that followed, details were filled in. There were harrowing firsthand accounts. We learned more about the facts surrounding the incursion. We went through a second impeachment trial of a president who had already left office, during which time more information came out.

No serious individual fails to realize the gravity of what happened that day.

Why, then, would you need to lie about any of this?

I’m not talking about fibs or fulminations, about inflating the danger our republic was in or calling things “sedition” or “treason” that clearly weren’t.

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I’m talking about outright “big lies” — like the one Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee told on Twitter.

The Texas Democrat intimated Tuesday that all of the tens of thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., on that fateful day were there “with the mindset to overturn a legitimate election and to kill the Speaker, the Vice President, and Members of Congress.”

Now, she wants a lot more of them arrested.

In the wake of FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, I have to admit I ducked out for a snack or four while I watched his testimony on the Capitol incursion on YouTube, so perhaps I missed something. However, I’m pretty sure we may have been watching different hearings — or perhaps living in different realities.

“Testimony today on the Hill evidences that in the Portland protests, a thousand people were arrested. People protesting against the violence that was evidenced in the George Floyd murder. People wanting good things to happen,” Lee tweeted.

“In Washington DC on January 6th, where it is alleged that 40,000 protesters were in DC with the mindset to overturn a legitimate election and to kill the Speaker, the Vice President, and Members of Congress, in that instance, only 300 persons have now been arrested and are being prosecuted.”

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“What kind of justice is that?” she asked.

“How clearly does that show a racial and political divide where protestors who want to overthrow the government who were the supporters of the former president and exhibited acts of racism were barely prosecuted and barely arrested?” Lee continued.

“The FBI failed to provide detailed information to law enforcement that needed to have such information so that a stronger response could have occurred against those who were intending to do the seat of democracy harm and to kill the people inside.”

Leaving aside some of the less-coherent aspects of her Twitter thread, I think it’s important to map out Lee’s argument here.

1. There were thousands of arrests in Portland, Oregon, during the violence there this summer. There were other arrests made during the riots that followed the death of George Floyd on May 25. These were “good” riots, in that these individuals were “wanting good things to happen.”

2. Only roughly 300 people have been arrested thus far in connection with the Capitol riot despite the fact there were 40,000 people in D.C. protesting on Jan. 6. Those “protesters were in DC with the mindset to overturn a legitimate election and to kill the Speaker, the Vice President, and Members of Congress” — and were thus complicit.

3. The imbalance in these arrest numbers is proof of racism and a double standard that protects Capitol rioters.

Every one of these “facts” is demonstrably, wildly and deliberately false.

On point No. 1, Lee is citing testimony by Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley, who was unhappy the Democrats were unwilling to focus any attention on last year’s violence from Black Lives Matter and antifa riots. According to a transcript of Tuesday’s testimony, Grassley said there had “been 280 arrests as a result of the Jan. 6th attack, compared to more than 1,000 arrests as a result of riots, just in Portland last year.”

Where this becomes anti-factual is when Lee posits these were people who were “wanting good things to happen.” Lest we forget, much of the violence in Portland came from radical left-wing groups trying to storm and laying siege to a federal courthouse. If it weren’t protected and these antifa members — armed with weapons and explosives — had entered the building, was she under the impression the rioters would proceed to rap with federal law enforcement authorities about the works of Herbert Marcuse, Hannah Arendt and the rest of the Frankfurt school? Just like the Capitol rioters, these were not Good People.

On the second point: As of Tuesday, 266 individuals have been arrested for their role in the Capitol riot, according to USA Today. That is, in fact, less than the number of people who were arrested in Portland, according to Grassley’s numbers. The problem is that estimates of how many people entered the Capitol are also less than the number of people that he said were arrested in Portland.

Voice of America, Feb. 12: “An estimated 800 stormed the building in a melee shocking in its intensity and sustained violence, which left five people dead, including a police officer, and scores of others injured.”

Furthermore, Lee’s argument that every person who came to the pro-Trump protest in D.C. on Jan. 6 was there “with the mindset to overturn a legitimate election and to kill the Speaker, the Vice President, and Members of Congress” is beyond irresponsible for reasons that don’t need explaining.

We don’t even know that the people inside the Capitol wanted to murder people — and, let’s face it, we can reasonably ascribe the ugliest of motives to them.

We learned Wednesday that no firearms were confiscated that day, which blows a pretty big hole in the “armed insurrection” narrative.

To say that every person in attendance at the rally in support of then-President Donald Trump came there with murderous insurrection on their minds is odious — and even if Lee believes this rubbish, these individuals can’t be charged with a crime, any more than a protester in a march that turned violent can be charged with a crime simply for being there.

Finally, let’s examine that last statement, about how the alacrity with which law enforcement has pursued violent individuals involved in the Capitol incursion vs. those involved in riots related to George Floyd is evidence of systemic racism.

It would be impossible to calculate how many people committed a serious crime during last summer’s unrest against how many were arrested. We have a better idea, however, if we compare the current arrest numbers in the Capitol riot against the number of individuals estimated to have entered the Capitol.

Out of the 800 number given by Voice of America, 266 have been arrested — or a 33.25 percent capture rate. Furthermore, unlike in the case of those who committed offenses during the summer’s unrest, federal law enforcement is actively and aggressively pursuing anyone who broke into the Capitol whom they haven’t yet collared. Rest assured, if those individuals are convicted, there won’t be any slaps on wrists to be had, either.

Does Sheila Jackson Lee need to apologize for her remarks?

Jan. 6 was a low point in American history. Lying about it to make it seem worse only debases what actually happened, however.

There weren’t 40,000 insurrectionists trying to overthrow the government in the name of Donald Trump. The FBI and Department of Justice are doing the exact opposite of letting Capitol rioters off the hook. Neither the people who were attacking the federal courthouse in Portland nor those who were engaging in the most abominable excesses of our “fiery but mostly peaceful” summer of post-George Floyd misery were “wanting good things to happen.” And if you want to prove racism via selective prosecution, comparing Jan. 6 with last summer’s unrest is literally the most counterproductive way you can make your case.

Lee’s Twitter thread managed to be both needlessly incendiary and appallingly ignorant.

The only thing she should feel good about is that most of the media have chosen to ignore it.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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