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The dominant US Commercial Media and the January 6th insurrection – One Year Later

January 4, 2022

We are on the eve of the one year anniversary when White Nationalists and other Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building in a desperate attempt to claim that the 2020 Election was fraudulent.

It will be interesting to see how the dominant commercial news media in the US reports on the one year anniversary of the insurrection. It will also be interesting to see if the news coverage will provide an update on the charges and sentencing of those who were arrested on January 6th and those charged and arrested since, because of further investigation. 

Will the dominant US news media provide any new information or updates on the US government response to the insurrection and which politicians may have been involved in supporting or promoting the actions of those who stormed the US Capitol? In addition, it would be instructive to provide a much broader assessment of which groups or organizations were part of the insurrection, assisted with planning or supported those arrested. Lastly, it will be interesting to see if the dominant US news media will investigate or discuss the larger significance of the January 6th insurrection and what it means for the broader political culture that exists within this country.

A larger question for all of us to ask is whether or not the federal government’s response to the January 6th insurrection will provide further opportunities to suppress political dissent in the US? This is an important question, for several reasons.

The fact that politicians on both sides are calling for new domestic anti-terrorism laws should concern us all, for several reasons. First, the history of domestic terrorism laws has disproportionately been used against Black, Indigenous, Latin, immigrant, Arab-Americans, Muslims, and other communities that are fighting for a more just world. Second, these kinds of laws are always passed during what are often framed as “periods of a national crisis,” thus taking advantage of moments when the public is vulnerable to swift and harsh state responses. 

Third, whether it is the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Guard or state and local law enforcement, we need to come to terms with the fact that every one of the groups listed have engaged in state terrorism. When cops murder Black people, that is state terrorism. When the National Guard is brought in to put down an uprising, that is state terrorism. When ICE agents round up members of the undocumented community, that is state terrorism. When the FBI targets Black organizations, that is state terrorism. 

Lastly, when people, who are not normally the targets of state violence, remain neutral or support existing/increases in state repression and state terrorism, that makes it easier for the state to get away with the violence they perpetrate against people every day! 

Local news media and local groups who ideologically align with January 6th

Over the past year, we have tried to pay attention to the responses from groups in West Michigan, specifically those groups which are ideologically aligned with what happen at the US Capitol a year ago.

We wrote several articles in the past year looking at how local groups were responding to the January 6th insurrection. The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and their founder, Fr. Robert Sirico, have addressed the political violence of the January 6th insurrection. In a TV interview nearly a year, we wrote:

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.

Another group that was more intimately connected to the January 6th storming of the US Capitol, was the American Patriot Council. In fact, as we reported last year, both of the group’s co-founders (they like to call themselves “founding fathers”) were participants in the January 6th insurrection. One of those men, Ryan Kelley, is also running as a Republican against Governor Whitmer in the 2022 election. 

In February of last year, American Patriot Council founder Ryan Kelley stated the following on their YouTube TV show called Bamboozled:

A few bad actors assaulted police, broke windows, and entered the building before police opened the barrier, letting hundreds more inside. The problem for the FBI, is that they have already alleged that some of the protesters planned an “insurrection” in advance. The FBI has vowed to take a hard stance against anyone involved on the 6th. This new, hard line against protestors has already raised questions because they have largely done nothing as terror groups like Antifa and BLM have been rioting steadily since last May. Now, even more questions arise as many ask: if Trump incited the few bad actors on January 6, how did protesters plan it in advance?

In response to these unsubstantiated claims, we wrote:

White Supremacists and White Nationalists have long been known to be the most threatening to people in the US, particularly towards Black, Indigenous and other communities of color. Hell, even the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have identified these groups as representing domestic terrorism. However, the FBI nor the DHS should be considered credible sources on this matter, since both of the groups have a history of targeting Black, Indigenous and other communities of color. More recently, the FBI has targeted, what they refer to as “Black extremist groups”, and historically Black militants and moderates have been tracked by the US government, from Marcus Garvey to Dr. King. In addition, the FBI created a program named COINTELPRO, which was used to monitor, harass, infiltrate and even assassinated Black Freedom Struggle leaders in the 1960s and 70s. (See The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States, by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall.) The Department of Homeland Security, which was created after 9/11, has done a great deal to monitor, suppress and persecute Black, Indigenous and Arab Americans, a practice which was codified after the Patriot Act was adopted in October of 2001. 

The American Patriot Council then goes on to say that law enforcement groups have, “done nothing as terror groups like Antifa and BLM have been rioting steadily since last May.” First of all this is patently false. Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies have engaged in significant repression of Black Lives Matter and antifa groups since last May. Even in Grand Rapids, the level of harassment and intimidation against those who have been protesting since the May 30th rebellion is significant, as we have documented.

In communities like Portland, the level of state repression against groups has been significant, which even included federal agents in unmarked vehicles attacking and arresting people involved in the anti-White Supremacy and anti-police brutality protests. Not only are these claims false, we have noted in previous posts that the American Patriot Council has gone out of their way to denounce Black Lives Matter groups, even referring to them as fascists in a video they posted in November.

It will be interesting to see if the West Michigan-based news media bothers to make these connections during their one year after the January 6th insurrection. Our next post will be an analysis of the local news coverage for the one year anniversary.

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