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In a TV show discussing the January 6th actions of White Nationalists at the US Capitol, Acton Institute founder blames the left for creating a culture of rioting and destruction

January 14, 2021

As the spectacle of the January 6 actions by White nationalists continues to unfold, it is important that we pay attention to what organizations in West Michigan are saying about what took place.

On Monday, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, posted an article by their lead editor, Rev. Ben Johnson. The article was a summary of a TV segment from The World Over, a Catholic media outlet, that Acton Institute founder Rev. Sirico was on. 

The topic of the TV show that Sirico was on, had to do with the action by White Nationalists at the US Capitol on January 6. Also on the show with Rev. Sirico, was Bill Donohue, President of the ultra-Conservative group known as the Catholic League.

The host of the Catholic TV program framed the issue in a very leading way from the get go, by asking the question: “Why are we seeing more frequent, violent political protests here in the U.S., and what needs to be done about this rioting?”

Such a leading question gave both Donohue and Sirico the opportunity to talk more about the Black Lives Matter protests than the White Nationalists who stormed the US Capitol on January 6.

Rev. Sirico stated, “We need to be outraged – morally outraged – by what we saw in D.C.” for “the same reason that we were morally outraged by what we saw in Seattle, and Portland, and Minneapolis.”

While Rev. Sirico and Bill Donohue kept hitting on the “violence of the left,” the host of the TV show did not question or ask both guests about a fundamental difference between the protests and rebellions that took place after a police officer publicly lynched George Floyd, which was led by Black community members and community organizers, who have been fighting racial oppression for decades all across the US, and the White Nationalists who stormed the US Capitol, primarily to object to the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. The context for these two types of actions are worlds apart.

At one point in the discussion, the Acton Institute founder said, “The ringleaders of riots consist of “a smaller group of irresponsible, ideological people who are bent on destruction, bent on violence, and those people need to be isolated and identified. Those thoughts, those principles, those politics need to be identified and [exorcised] from the body politic.” Rev. Sirico doesn’t provide any information or sources to support such a claim. The fact is, that public lynching of George Floyd by a cop was simply a spark that ignited tremendous righteous indignation from Black and Brown communities that have been subject to various forms of state violence, the effects of brutal Neo-liberal Capitalist austerity measures, on top of a highly radicalized COVID crisis that disproportionately have impacted Black, Brown and Indigenous communities  across the US. This was is sharp contrast to the the pathetic grievances of White Nationalists who were primarily motivated by ideology, unlike the lived experiences of those from the Black community.

This type of posturing by the Acton Institute is consistent with what we have been seeing since they were founded in 1990, right here in Grand Rapids. You can go to SourceWatch to read their information about the Acton Institute and see at the bottom of the page that numerous sources from the 1990s and 2000s are from Jeff Smith and from Media Mouse. Over the past decade, you can see that GRIID has written dozens of article about the Acton Institute, documenting numerous ideological stances they take, especially their racist views and their love of Free Market Capitalism. 

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