Commentary: 1/6/21 is not 9/11/01

While more than 3,000 children never saw their parents again after the deadliest attack in modern U.S. history 20 years ago, Congress resumed its session the evening of Jan. 6.


I don’t mind some Republican senators voting to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack. Most presented sound reasoning, probably pondered the issue more than others — including the dozen who didn’t even vote — and I can slightly disagree with them without hurling insults.

But corporate media’s incensed reaction Friday was also telling.

National columnists called the GOP “terrorist sympathizers,” to which pundit Erick Erickson noted, “We are in a hyper partisan environment with a media that has relentlessly spread Democrat rumors as fact only to get caught and/or retract them. The national media has become deeply hostile to the GOP in its entirety. Do you really think anything but partisan rancor, media hit jobs, and Democrat talking points is going to come out of this spectacle?”

George Will, a brilliant conservative columnist for decades until losing his mind a few years ago, recently said, “I would like to see Jan. 6 burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11, because it was that scale of a shock to the system.”

I agree it was a horrific winter afternoon, and I’ve told apathetic conservatives as much, but comparisons to 9/11 are lazy and insulting.

While more than 3,000 children never saw their parents again after the deadliest attack in modern U.S. history 20 years ago, Congress resumed its session the evening of Jan. 6

“It is deeply offensive and sad that the brutal and harrowing memories of the worst terrorist attack in American history are being deployed by political partisans,” Debra Burlingame, sister of American Airlines Flight 77’s pilot, wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

“They are using 9/11 not as an example of what the American people endured and overcame together, but explicitly to divide, to stoke hatred and to further a political agenda aimed at stigmatizing the other party and marginalizing ordinary Americans from participating in the political process. These two events are fundamentally different in nature, scope and consequences,” she continued.

Burlingame delineated left-wing terrorist attacks on the Capitol, including a Marxist group bombing the complex in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972, and the State Department three years later. Their leaders included former President Barack Obama’s mentor and the father of San Francisco’s appallingly radical district attorney.

Much of this is political.

Former President Donald Trump’s unrelenting tirade over the election helped Democrats keep many voters, especially in Georgia, who are lukewarm to their fringe agenda. A commission that makes the midterm elections about Trump is Democrats’ best route to avoid losing the House.

Leaders Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell care about winning and know the less conspiracy talk, the better for Republicans. They do not want 2020 election relitigation to be on voters’ minds when the midterms arrive.

We should keep it simple.

Let’s find out why Capitol Police allowed the building to be overrun, including voluntarily admitting the protesters.

Let’s find out if members of Congress or their staffs had any role in helping protesters gain Capitol access. This is nonpartisan; there are Republicans who look bad, while Democrats also lied and made offensive comments.

Sen. Bill Cassidy voted for the bill most Republicans blocked and coherently explained why:

“Without this commission, there will still be an investigation. But it will be a House select-committee set up by Speaker Pelosi — the nature of which will be entirely dictated by Democrats and would stretch on for years. I am concerned about Speaker Pelosi’s role regarding the lack of adequate security at the Capitol on the day of the vote certification. It’s hard to believe that an investigation entirely run by Democrats would fully evaluate this concern. We can be more confident that the independent commission would thoroughly investigate this issue. The investigations will happen with or without Republicans. To ensure the investigations are fair, impartial, and focused on the facts, Republicans need to be involved.”

The Louisianan probably is correct. Congress can still conduct its own investigation. But enraged by May 28, it will now be hyper-partisan for political reasons.

Let’s get important answers and leave partisan squabbles aside.