More than a year after the event, the most shocking thing about the January 6, 2021 assault of the U.S. Capitol, the Congress and the Vice-President is how many people are not now, and profess never to have been, shocked by what happened.
Even Republican politicians, including the House Minority Leader, who once expressed their shock and horror at what Donald Trump had wrought, now disavow both their pained emotions and their judgment of the former president. And few are shocked at this.
Everybody knows what happened. Almost everybody saw, either live in real time or later on video, on TV or online, the thin line of Capitol Police being overwhelmed and violently overrun. America has seen the Capitol building behind the police line being violated by an angry, overwrought, maybe-chaotic, maybe-directed, mob.
Everybody knows the threats, specifically to Vice-President Mike Pence or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Almost everybody knows the stakes: the presidency, the orderly succession of governments, the rule of the Constitution and law. And yet a shocking portion of the nation just wants to forget about it. Forget and — worse — forgive.
Less shocking but equally frightening is the portion of Americans, reported to be 70 percent of self-identified Republicans, who believe Trump’s Big Lie, that the election was stolen from him. Submission to Trump’s whining claims, to his sedition on January 6, flies in the face of facts everybody knows.
Not that facts matter. In a logical reasoned world, Trump’s election claim, “We was robbed,” would carry a burden of evidence. The absence of any presentable evidence to sustain charges of election fraud has been noted in every courtroom that’s examined and tossed his case.
But faith and reason need not travel together. To the Trump faithful, the absence of evidence is evidence that no one has disproved the “Steal” assertion, as if you could disprove a negative.
Which is to say, the biggest shock is — even after January 6, 2021, how many followers remain in the anti-church of Trump.
Criminologist and civil rights attorney Brian Levin is a professor of criminal justice and director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino where he specializes in analysis of hate crime, terrorism and legal issues. Prof. Levin began his academic career as a professor at Stockton College in New Jersey in 1996.
Previously, Professor Levin served as Associate Director-Legal Affairs of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Klanwatch/Militia Task Force in Montgomery, Al.; Legal Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnic and Racial Violence in Newport Beach, Ca. and as a corporate litigator for the law firm of Irell & Manella. He was also a New York City Police Officer in the Harlem and Washington Heights sections of Manhattan during the 1980s.
Mr. Levin is a graduate of Stanford Law School, where he was awarded the Block Civil Liberties Award for his work on hate crime. He is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and the state of California. He received his bachelor’s degree with multiple honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded a grant to study hate crime.
He is the author or co-author of books, scholarly articles, training manuals and studies on extremism and hate crime. His book, The Limits of Dissent is about the Constitution and domestic terrorism. His research has been cited by The California Court of Appeals and in numerous scholarly journals and major law reviews.