GUEST COLUMN: Agree or not Jan. 6 hearings are history we need to witness
June 16, 2022
A once-in-a-generation political crisis that’s systematically tightened its grip on the foundations of America’s democracy is coming to a crescendo with this month’s hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Thursday’s prime-time hearing held by the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack was the first of many. The committee has promised detailed accounts of how former President Donald Trump and a militant group of his supporters plotted and acted to overthrow the 2020 presidential election and thwart the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden.
These hearings are not only a necessary exercise in governmental transparency, they’re historic.
Whatever your politics and whether or not you believe the findings of the committee — or that there should be an investigation at all — we must be citizen witnesses to them.
Both sides of the political aisle battling across at each other claim they’re motivated by patriotism. Members of the committee, including Wyoming’s Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, say it’s their patriotic duty in defense of the U.S. Constitution. Those opposing, including the Jan. 6 rioters, rally around patriotism as their flash point for saving a United States that’s lost its way.
The truth is, to a great extent patriotism is in the eye of the beholder. More importantly, it’s in the heart of every American. As the nation prepares to watch at least four more of these Jan. 6 select committee hearings, consider this:
The most patriotic act we can commit now is to watch and listen. History needs as many witnesses as possible and true patriots are willing to listen to what’s said. We don’t need to agree, and in fact can vehemently disagree.
What we can’t do is violently disagree. That’s what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and it must never happen again.
Our parents and grandparents (Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) watched, listened and learned in 1973 when the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities held its televised hearings. Better known as the Watergate Hearings, these findings ultimately led to the Aug. 9, 1974, resignation of President Richard Nixon.
A generation later, we watched, listened and learned again when joint select Senate and House committees held hearings from May through early August 1987 to reveal to the American public details of what became known simply as the Iran-Contra Affair.
The then vice-chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran was U.S. Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyoming. Now 35 years later another Cheney representing the Cowboy State is vice-chair of a House select committee that’s taking the political center stage.
Regarded by many conservatives and Republicans as the greatest U.S. president, Ronald Reagan took a drastically different path than Trump so far has in responding to the Iran-Contra scandal, which happened under his watch.
As both Senate and House committees conducted their investigations, Reagan waived executive privilege, ordering all relevant government agencies and officials to cooperate, provide documents and testify, if summoned. Trump has repeatedly claimed “executive privilege” to avoid cooperation with multiple inquiries.
In fact, a report issued at the conclusion of the Iran-Contra joint hearings credited Reagan for “acknowledging his mistakes and reacting precisely to correct what went wrong.”
It seems unlikely any such note will be forthcoming about Trump’s involvement in the process following the conclusion of the Jan. 6 hearings.
Whatever the conclusion and final outcome of these Jan. 6 hearings, the special thing about America is we can disagree with government and safely express that without fear of harm or retribution.
What’s dangerous is letting those feelings fester through ignorance and close-mindedness. Especially if you don’t support this investigation or these hearings, a true patriot will watch.
In a way, much of what we hold dear as Americans is on trial here, and we’re the jury. Let’s be an attentive, open-minded one.
The above editorial was originally published June 12 in the Laramie Boomerang. It has been reprinted with permission via the Wyoming News Exchange.