There’s a lot of commotion to come as we wait for the details of the indictment and watch Donald Trump’s arraignment, and the circus around it, unfold over the next 24 hours, but I wanted to bring your attention to a small yet concerning trend I’ve noticed taking shape in the past week as Republicans continue to downplay the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Last week we noted the arrest of Manuel Oliver, the father of a Parkland shooting victim, after he interrupted a House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun regulation a few days after the latest school shooting tragedy took place in Nashville — leaving three young children and three adults dead. While Oliver’s heckling was disruptive, these kinds of interruptions happen from time to time during contentious House hearings.
Oliver spoke up during Rep. Pat Fallon’s (R-TX) line of questioning, as the lawmaker argued that guns are “merely a tool” that should not be banned. In response to Oliver’s impassioned shouting, Fallon looked around the room and compared the peaceful protest of a father whose son died in a school shooting massacre to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capital.
“Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same — I don’t want another Jan. 6, do we?” he said.
Now this week, another Republican is pushing the same narrative in response to protests over the same shooting — and taking it even further. The state Republican House speaker in Tennessee is currently on a crusade to try to punish three Democratic state lawmakers who participated in a protest at the state capitol last week in the wake of the shooting at The Covenant School. The protest mostly consisted of a large group of parents and their kids holding signs and chanting in the gallery, pushing for gun control legislation.
Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton compared the protest and three Democratic lawmakers’ participation in it to the insurrection. Sexton told local news reporters the three Democratic lawmakers — Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Pearson and Justin Jones — did worse than breaching decorum and warned they would be punished.
“Two of the members — Representative Jones and Representative Johnson — have been very vocal about Jan. 6 and Washington, D.C., about what that was,” Sexton said. “What they did today was equivalent, at least equivalent, maybe worse depending on how you look at it, to doing an insurrection in the State Capitol.”
“It could be removal of committees, it could be censorship, it could be expulsion from the general assembly. Anywhere in between,” Sexton said, according to a piece published by WPLN News Sunday.
By Monday afternoon, it appeared action had already been taken against the Democratic lawmakers. Jones told activists outside the capitol building that the Democrats have been booted from their committee assignments and their member ID badges had been shut off.
Democrats are calling out the Republican House speaker for conflating two entirely different events, pointing to the difference between peaceful protest and a deadly coup attempt.
“You show me the broken windows, you show me anyone who went into the speaker’s office and put their chair up on his desk and trashed his office, you show me where a noose was hanging anywhere on the legislative plaza,” Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons told WPLN.
While Republicans and the MAGA world has been downplaying the insurrection for years at this point, this new trend of bad faith insurrection comparisons may be becoming right-wing politicians’ tactic du jour for avoiding engaging seriously in policy discussions they don’t want to have.
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