January 8, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Interviews, analysis, commentary and more in the Editorial Board’s weekend edition
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Welcome to the weekend edition of the Editorial Board.
I’m your host, John Stoehr.
We had a busy week catching up after the holidays and examining where we’ve been and where we are one year after the J6 insurrection.
And now to the week that was …
Mark Jacob, in an interview with me, explains why the Washington press corps’ treatment of the January 6 insurrection and its aftermath is a “dereliction of duty.” “A big task for both journalists and pro-democracy advocates is to make it clear to regular citizens that their lives would be far worse under a totalitarian system — that dictatorships are a way that the elite steals from the public.”
Richard Sudan calls out the Department of Homeland security for getting caught spying on journalists. “This is a far cry from government powers being used to protect the borders. More apparent, though, is that government powers created under the pretext of national security might have been exploited and remain exploited for politically expedient and nefarious purposes.”
Rod Graham explains why critics of social justice moments are wrong about the decline of classical liberal values. “To be sure, we need liberal values for our democratic, capitalist society to function. But I do not detect any real decline in those values. If anything, social justice movements are trying to extend rights to more individuals.”
Magdi Semrau explains why the former president’s coup failed. He ran out of time. The Republicans now have three years to prepare for their next shot. “Many have viewed these two threads – the ostensibly soft coup and the hard coup – as perhaps independent events. It’s important, now, to outline what we know and what questions are outstanding about the extent to which these various plots – from quiet proceduralism to violent insurrection – were intertwined.”
David Pepper, in an interview with me, explains why the J6 insurrection never ended. “We are blinded by an assumption that this couldn’t happen here. If we saw the steps taking place in statehouses happening in another country, we’d call it out and see it for what it was. But because it’s here, we still assume the best.”
Noah Berlatsky argued that the United States should pay for vaccinating the whole world. It would be cheaper than our annual defense budget. “The US should be doing whatever it takes to vaccinate not just its own population, but the world’s population. Yet politicians and much of public opinion see expenditures as zero-sum charity rather than as a necessary investment in a collective good.”
Matt Gabriele, in an interview with me, talks about his new book with David Perry, The Bright Ages, and why so much American fascism is rooted in glorious but wrong visions of medieval Europe. “Collective decision-making in medieval Europe was often very practical. Even the Carolingians – an imperial family in the 9th century – were deeply reliant on the nobility as councilors and power-brokers. The age of absolute monarchy is an early-modern thing, not a medieval thing.”
Lindsay Beyerstein says Merrick Garland sees the big picture when it comes to bringing the J6 insurrectionists to justice. “Threats against public officials are crimes that undermine the First Amendment rights of the entire community. Garland emphasized that threats themselves are crimes and that the Justice Department will intervene at the threat stage and not wait until someone follows through on violence.”
Mia Brett says the Republicans want us to focus on the politics of free speech, but not whether the speech in question is true. “First of all, and I can’t believe this needs to be explained, Twitter and other social media companies are not the government. They literally can’t engage in censorship even if they wanted to.”
Jennifer Mercieca, in an interview with me, breaks down step by step how the Republicans are memory-holding the J6 insurrection. “One way to understand this is through the rhetorical form of apologia (self-defense). The common apologia strategies are denial (“it didn’t happen”), differentiation (“it happened, but it’s not what you think”), bolstering (“patriots love what happened”) and transcendence (“we should look at the bigger picture about what happened”).”
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.