WASHINGTON—Even as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris tour the country, touting the benefits of the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package recently enacted by Democrats in Congress, the political swamp created by former President Donald J. Trump seems to get deeper and deeper, with new creatures exposed every day.
After the Senate ratified the measure, House Democrats passed the relief package and Mr. Biden signed it and addressed the nation.
“I signed into law the American Rescue Plan, an historic piece of legislation that delivers immediate relief to millions of people,” Mr. Biden said from the East Room March 11 in his first primetime address, marking one year since much of the country shut down due to the pandemic.
“It includes $1,400 in direct rescue checks, payments. That means a typical family of four earning about $110,000 will get checks for $5,600, deposited if they have direct deposit or in a check, a Treasury check. It extends unemployment benefits. It helps small businesses. It lowers health care premiums for many. It provides food and nutrition, keeps families in their homes. And it will cut child poverty in this country in half,” he said.
Democrats hailed it as the largest anti-poverty bill in a generation. Some stimulus checks were deposited in bank accounts of taxpayers within 48 hours. One study projects the law will lift almost 14 million Americans out of poverty, including 5.7 million children. Mr. Biden said the U.S. was set to “mark independence” from Covid-19 by the Fourth of July, thanks to a mass vaccination effort that’s reaching about 2.25 million U.S. residents a day.
Republican opponents of the measure—not one of whom voted for it in either the House or the Senate—condemned the relief bill, contending it is too large.
At the same time, more Republican lawmakers were exposed and condemned for their role in enabling the Jan. 6 coup de état attempt called for and encouraged by Mr. Trump.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a top Trump supporter, admitted that he felt safe during the Jan. 6 insurrection because he trusted the MAGA crowd, thousands of whom were breaking not only the law but government property and causing physical harm and death. But Rep. Johnson also proclaimed that if those rioters had been Black Lives Matter protestors, he would not have felt safe—he would have felt “concerned.”
“I’ve made the comment that on January 6, I never felt threatened,” Sen. Johnson said on conservative Joe Pags’s radio talk show. “And mainly because I knew that even though those thousands of people there, they were marching (on) the Capitol, were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those are people that love this country that truly respect law enforcement and would never do anything to break a law. And so, I wasn’t concerned,” he continued, despite the fact that practically every person who stormed the Capitol was breaking the law.
A police officer was killed, two policemen later committed suicide, more than 100 other officers were injured, some severely, including one whose eye was nearly gouged out. More than 300 insurrectionists have been arrested and charged, and the Dept. of Justice announced it plans to indict another 100 of the rioters.
“Now had the tables been turned—Joe, this could get me in trouble,” Sen. Johnson confessed, “had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”
That right wing, Jan. 6 revolt featuring Confederate Battle and Trump flags, and the subsequent political bifurcation of the country into virtually warring ideological camps exposes the myth of “American exceptionalism” which has been the guiding principle in this country for centuries.
“The United States has grounded itself in a rhetoric of exceptionalism that flies in the face of world history,” Dr. Greg Carr, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Howard University told The Final Call. “They say this is the most advanced country in the history of the world. It has the most perfectable structure in the history of humankind. All of that is rhetoric that is not backed up by history. It’s fantasy. And what is being exposed is the fantasy.”
As the country cleaves along ideological lines, the family of one insurrection-supporting member of Congress has also begun to disintegrate. Three siblings of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), have renewed their push to remove their own brother from Congress, accusing him of being a White supremacist following his speech last month at a conference hosted by a notorious White nationalist.
Mr. Gosar, who allegedly helped organize the Mr. Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, skipped a late February House vote on the coronavirus relief bill to headline the America First Political Action Conference organized by right wing extremist Nick Fuentes.
Mr. Fuentes gained prominence in the deadly 2017 Charlottesville, Va., White nationalist march and was later banned by YouTube for violating its hate speech rules. At the February conference, Mr. Gosar lamented that America was losing its “White demographic core,” and praised the Capitol riot as “awesome” after previously musing about murdering lawmakers.
In the face of these incidents, Rep. Pramila Jayapal is calling for a congressional investigation into whether three Republicans—Congressmembers Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Mr. Gosar—took “active roles” in promoting the deadly assault. Ms. Jayapal was one of about a dozen lawmakers trapped in the House gallery that afternoon as violent pro-Trump insurrectionists pounded at the doors. She tweeted, “I didn’t know if I would make it out alive. … GOP members who aided insurrectionists or stoked the flames that day must be held fully accountable.”
“By disintegrate, I mean fracture into regional blocs and formations,” said Dr. Carr. “We move further into divisions between urban and rural. The hierarchy is based on racial difference, which is absolutely a European invention.
“People can argue over this. All societies have had differences. But the difference of racial hierarchy, hard wired into the idea that some human beings are not human, which is … that’s them. That is, for good or for bad, and now you’ve set up probably the least likely society to succeed.”
The racial disparity in the law enforcement response to the Jan. 6 event and Black Lives Matter rallies is stark. Last June in Washington, demonstrations calling for police reform following the death of George Floyd became a priority for top Defense Department officials. District of Columbia National Guard commander Maj. Gen. William Walker told Congress on March 3 that the head of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, spent almost a week by his side at the D.C. Armory to facilitate the guard’s response to those protests. Nothing similar happened for the planned protests on Jan. 6.
A Jan. 5 intelligence bulletin from an FBI field office in Norfolk, Virginia, has generated significant attention by The Washington Post which described individuals sharing a map of tunnels beneath the Capitol complex and locations of potential rally points, and quoted an online thread calling for war: “Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in …. Get violent.” But the FBI said that the intelligence had not been fully vetted.
ProPublica published a report in February, drawing on interviews with 19 current and former members of the Capitol Police. The officers described how internal failures put hundreds of Capitol cops at risk and allowed rioters to get dangerously close to members of Congress. “We went to work like it was a normal fucking day,” said one officer, according to the report. Another said his main instruction was to be on the lookout for counter protesters.
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman acknowledged that the department’s communication system became overwhelmed during the riot, and that fending off a mob of thousands would have required “physical infrastructure or a regiment of soldiers,” she said, and no law enforcement agency could have handled the crowd on its own. She said that on Jan. 6, the department had roughly 1,200 officers on duty out of a total of more than 1,800. On a normal Wednesday, she said, there are more than 1,000 officers on duty.
It took more than three hours for the Pentagon to approve the request for National Guard forces to aid in suppressing the Jan. 6 insurrection. During the Black Lives Matter protests, D.C. National Guard commander Gen. William Walker said such approval was given immediately.
“And so, more and more people are being confronted with the reality that American exceptionalism is really American mythmaking and propaganda,” said Dr. Carr. “Once that happens, we get perhaps to make a different set of choices. And in a society that is not only a settler colony, that awesome, not only spawned out of settler colonialism, but is anchored in racial hierarchy and White nationalism and White supremacy, Whiteness, the choice people, too many people to change the trajectory, continue to make, is to pick whatever they perceive to be the advantages of Whiteness.”