Friday, July 23, 2021

In Which Jim Banks Accidentally Has an Almost Good Idea

The other day Kevin Kruse gave Greg Sargent the perfect analogy for appointing Jordan and Banks to the January 6 committee: it was like “appointing Strom Thurmond to the Kerner Commission.” Kruse expanded on this point on Twitter: It seems like an obvious point (too obvious for people like Chris Cillizza, apparently), but it has to be made: you don't appoint people to a project who oppose the project itself.

Banks signaled his opposition to the January 6 investigation with a statement to the effect that the committee should join OJ on a hunt for the real killers:
If Democrats were serious about investigating political violence, this committee would be studying not only the January 6 riot at the Capitol, but also the hundreds of violent political riots last summer when many more innocent Americans and law-enforcement officers were attacked.
This has become a standard talking point for Republicans opposed to any January 6 investigation, and part of a broader campaign to bothsides January 6. (See also today's Washington Examiner, reporting on a Rasmussen poll sponsored by a pro-cop organization.)

The crazy thing about this is that on its own merits, a committee to investigate last year's unrest--entirely separate from the January 6 investigation--isn't a bad idea. In an ideal world, a Kerner Commission style inquiry into the George Floyd protests (with, one hopes, better follow-through) would be a valuable exercise.

Let's look into the underlying causes--not just the precipitating events but the longstanding systemic abuses that got people into the streets.

Let's look at the overall record, and hear testimony from witnesses at the peaceful marches--the overwhelming majority--to provide context for the sensationalized depictions in right-wing media.

Let's look at the violence that did occur, and examine who committed it and why. Provide a full accounting of every single case of bodily harm, regardless of the responsible parties.

Let's look at the police response to these protests. Investigate the instances where police overreaction turned peaceful demonstrations violent, or where police inaction may have abetted the actions of provocateurs.

And let's not stop at the end of the summer. Let's look at how officials reacted. Let's examine legislation that criminalizes the right to peaceable assembly, or encourages violence against people exercising that right.

None of this is going to happen, of course, because this isn't an ideal world. It isn't even the less-than-ideal '60s, for that matter.

But as long as the right insists on its distorted narrative of burning cities and leftist mayhem, it would be worthwhile for our leaders to try to get at the real story--with whatever tools and whatever processes are possible--and push back against the lies.

[Updated to add link I had missed]

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