Why Capitol rioters must be held accountable

Afer the January 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists intent upon preventing the counting of electoral votes and overthrowing the 2020 presidential election, the news media pointed out the Capitol Building hadn’t been attacked since the War of 1812.

But this isn’t a unique episode in American history. Violent mobs and militias were commonplace during Reconstruction following the Civil War. An article by Mitch Landrieu, former New Orleans mayor, in The Atlantic says, “The events typically followed a similar pattern: White rage and terror were normalized. No one was held accountable.” (Read it here.)

In short, tolerating violence begat more violence. That’s why the Capitol rioters must be held accountable.

“In the case of the January 6 insurrection, the U.S. cannot allow the same pattern to unfold. Some Republican politicians are calling for ‘unity,’ but the country cannot come together without truth and accountability,” Landrieu says, and he’s right.

What happened on 1/6/21 wasn’t protest or free speech, it was a riot in which people died, and many others were injured. The rioters’ objective was to overthrow our democracy and install an unelected dictator. Their actions constituted an attack against the electoral rights of 81 million American voters. Above all, as Landrieu points out, it was a violent reassertion of white supremacy, a throwback to Ku Klux Klan terrorism.

The people who stormed the Capitol are terrorists. You can’t stop terrorism with leniency or amnesty. We have to confront it with the full force of the law, or we’re going to have a lawless society under mob rule.

Photo: Wanted by the FBI. Do not approach. Assume these fugitives are armed and dangerous.

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