“Whereas January 6, 2021, was one of the darkest days of our democracy, during which insurrectionists attempted to impede Congress’s Constitutional mandate to validate the presidential election and launched an assault on the United States Capitol Complex that resulted in multiple deaths, physical harm to over 140 members of law enforcement, and terror and trauma among staff, institutional employees, press, and Members”
That is the first clause of the instructions that created the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
Our country was founded, in part, with the idea that each and every one of us should have a say in how we are governed. With that, the founding fathers created what they deemed to be an experiment: democracy.
That experiment was attacked, physically, philosophically and emotionally, when a group of extremists, who were manipulated to think the 2020 election was stolen, laid siege upon the seat of our democracy.
Last week, the Committee held its first public hearing and has since held two more. Testimony given by a Capitol Police officer who was rendered unconscious, to never before seen footage of what happened as terrorists broke through barriers broken our collective hearts.
Testimonies from members of Trump’s inner circle expressed his failure to acknowledge the election results.
Knowing that his claims about election fraud were baseless, President Trump’s lawyer, John Eastman, went on to create a conspiracy theory centered around manipulating the 12th amendment in the U.S. Constitution. This theory revolved around the idea that the Vice President had jurisdiction to overrule an election. There was no proof to this theory and yet Trump still went on to incite his rabid followers with these lies as they went on to occupy the Capitol.
These hearings will continue in the coming weeks and a discussion about what happened will go on for generations.
At the Muslim Public Affairs Council, we have been dedicated to ensuring the preservation of our Democracy.
We must not allow for the system of governance that so many of us or our parents or our grandparents moved to this great nation to be eroded.
It is for that reason we are holding a year long series of events around the country– we must ensure that as we pass the baton of democracy to the next generation, it is stronger and more vibrant than the one we inherited.
That series is called the Democracy Forums and we started it in Washington D.C. with two conversations, the first with Representative Ro Khanna whose district is home to many social media companies– those platforms were used to spread the hate and misinformation that propelled the violence on that fateful day. We are working with the Congressman on how best to ensure that our first amendment rights are protected while also ensuring hate speech cannot be propagated.
The second conversation was with Congresswomen Marie Newman, who is now being primaried, in part because of her vocal support of the rights of Palestinians. She is a prime example of someone who is using her platform to do the right thing.
While their approach and influence may not seem connected, they each represent the essence of pluralism, which is that backbone of our democracy.
Defending and enriching democracy is what MPAC is striving to support through the Democracy Forums. We cannot afford to allow what happened on January 6th to become a norm and we must learn from what the Committee continues to uncover.