Sister of Pilot Killed on 9/11 Rips Dems for Comparing Jan. 6 Riot to Infamous Terrorist Attacks


During his speech to a joint session of Congress in April, President Joe Biden gave the most prominent airing to a popular Democratic talking point when he called the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”

This ignored plenty of attacks that were worse, but one, in particular, should have stuck out in everyone’s minds, given the fact that it’s not yet 20 years old: the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which killed almost 3,000 innocent people.

If you think this is just Biden gaffing and going off script, no. There were plenty of other blue-checkmarks that were willing to echo this sentiment at various times — from presidential historian Michael Beschloss during Biden’s speech to popular left-wing Twitter manic street preacher BrooklynDad_Defiant! during former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial:

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Even conservative commentator George Will, one of the individuals whose sense of perspective seems to have been permanently scarred by Donald Trump, said he “would like to see Jan. 6 burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11, because it was that scale of a shock to the system.”

The magnitude of the heartlessness, cold-blooded political cynicism and deliberate cluelessness that goes into political arguments like these seems almost impossible to fully explain, particularly when they’re now being used to buttress a Democratic argument for a 9/11 “truth commission” — although the sister of one of the pilots killed on 9/11 came as close as one can in an opinion piece published last week in The Wall Street Journal.

Should Jan. 6 be compared to 9/11?

Debra Burlingame was the sister of Charles “Chic” Burlingame, a 51-year-old pilot who was murdered during a six-and-a-half-minute struggle onboard American Airlines Flight 77. The Boeing 757 was subsequently crashed into the Pentagon.

“These two events are fundamentally different in nature, scope and consequences. Mentioning them in the same breath not only diminishes the horror of what happened on 9/11; it tells a false story to the generation of Americans who are too young to remember that day nearly 20 years ago,” she wrote in the piece.

“Members of Congress might have had a frightening day on Jan. 6, but on 9/11 some 200 people in the World Trade Center towers chose to jump from 80 to 100 floors above the ground rather than be consumed by fire.

“A woman waiting at a lobby elevator bank was burned over 82% of her body when jet fuel from the first plane sent a ball of fire down the elevator shaft and into the lobby. She spent three months in a hospital burn unit and was permanently disfigured,” Burlingame wrote.

“There are countless harrowing stories like this — of death, destruction and heartbreaking loss. More than 3,000 children lost parents. Eight young children were killed on the planes. Recovery personnel found 19,000 human remains scattered all over lower Manhattan from river to river, including on rooftops and window ledges,” she continued.

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“Victims’ remains were still being recovered years later by utility workers and construction crews. Some families received so many notifications of remains that they couldn’t take it any more and asked for them to stop. More than 1,100 families received nothing. Their loved ones went to work that morning and disappeared.”

On that day, she noted, our aviation system came to a screeching halt. So did the New York Stock Exchange, which closed for days. We’re still rebuilding ground zero in Manhattan almost 20 years later. Our troops are still in Afghanistan — which we invaded because Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida terrorists that plotted the attack were guests of the Taliban-led government there, which ruled the country as the world’s most oppressive and dangerous theocracy.

As for the Capitol incursion?

“On Jan. 6, Congress resumed its session that evening,” Burlingame wrote.

“It is deeply offensive and sad that the brutal and harrowing memories of the worst terrorist attack in American history are being deployed by political partisans. They are using 9/11 not as an example of what the American people endured and overcame together, but explicitly to divide, to stoke hatred and to further a political agenda aimed at stigmatizing the other party and marginalizing ordinary Americans from participating in the political process. That is the real threat to democracy.”

Furthermore, Burlingame argued, most of the people inside the Capitol didn’t intend to cause death or destruction, much less impact the overthrow of the U.S. government. Previous attacks on the Capitol had been carried out by far-left domestic terror group the Weather Underground in 1971 and Puerto Rican nationalists in 1954.

All that should be kept in mind, Burlingame said, when we look at why this argument is being made.

“We are living in perilous times. When a modern democracy deploys forces of intimidation — whether government, corporate media or cultural institutions—to promote the ruling majority’s propaganda, it is time for good people to stand up and object,” she concluded.

“The world-changing attack of Sept. 11, 2001 shouldn’t be used, either as precedent or moral authority, to create a commission whose sole purpose is to turn a straightforward law-enforcement failure into destructive political theater.”

For now, that commission isn’t going to happen — a good thing, since nobody needs a so-called probe into Jan. 6 to turn into a series of shouty donor-clip exchanges. However, as Democrats continue to make the argument, either implicitly or explicitly, that Jan. 6 was worse than 9/11, it’s worth reminding them this argument isn’t just fatuous. It’s slap in the face to the families who lost spouses, siblings or parents on that day in a stomach-churning display of carnage.

If liberals have no political shame when it comes to this pernicious comparison, perhaps they have some personal shame left.

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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).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture