January 6 Select Committee Report
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I wrote this book to try to understand what the January 6 Select Committee (“Committee”) presented in its Report of the events in Washington DC before and during the occupation of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. I wrote it not with a desire to attack or impugn the motives of the Committee nor to cheer them on in their task, but simply to understand what they wrote.
As I began my task I soon realized that what the Committee presents to us, in 814 pages, is far too long for almost anyone to sit down and read. Even the Executive Summary, at 193 pages, is much too imposing. We needed something longer than a news story or a magazine article but shorter than the Executive Summary that gets at the heart of the report.
This short book is an attempt to fill that need. Each chapter is no more than five pages in length, and the entire book can be read in one sitting. Look at each chapter as a kind of snack or appetizer, one that could become a full meal but often is a teaser to whet one’s appetite to taste or learn more. As a result of reading a chapter, some may want to examine that topic in more detail, and I show you ways you can do that.
My hope is that this book will aid in disseminating knowledge not just of the events of January 6, 2021 in our Nation’s Capital, but of the series of events between the Presidential election on November 3, 2020 and the final Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the wee hours of January 7, 2021.
As mentioned, the tone I try to strike in this book is reportorial and respectful. I respect the work of the Committee as well as you, my reader. You will come to your own conclusions about that day and its meaning for your life or in the life of our Nation, and I hope to be able here to make accessible some very important material to help you move toward your conclusion.
Two brief comments on my own perspective. First, I do believe in the idea and promise of America and that America, despite massive flaws, is a good place and one that needs to be cared for and preserved. This book is my small attempt to show that “care.” Then, even though I wrestle with how to describe the events of January 6, 2021 at the Capitol (see Chapter Thirteen), I believe the illegal occupation of the Capitol was a bad thing for our country and that those involved in the illegal activities should be held accountable.
How This Book is Organized
In addition to this Preface, this book consists of thirteen chapters and an appendix. The first chapter gives an overview of the Committee Report, focusing on the seven themes that are most important to the Committee. Chapters two and three present the leading findings of the Executive Summary (pp. 1-193). Usually the Executive Summary of a report is a brief and faithfully abbreviated version of a longer report, but in this case the Executive Summary I is very long and launches into areas not covered directly by the Report. I try to highlight the flow of the Executive Summary, though it is impossible to cover every issue it mentions.
Then, chapters four through eleven include one chapter each on one of the seven themes as well as one separate chapter the Report calls “Analysis of the Attack.” The goal is to give you a sense of both the complexities as well as what is at stake with each of the Committee’s chapters of the Report. I try to vary my focus, because the Report covers so much, and therefore sometimes my focus is on chronology, such as tracing important events that happened in the nearly 3 ½ hours of occupation of the Capitol by protestors on January 6 but sometimes my focus is simply explaining an issue, such as Vice-President Pence’s role on January 6, 2021.
Chapter twelve discusses the Appendices to the Report. Especially important in these Appendices is the discussion of the role of the police and military establishment on January 6. Chapter thirteen asks a question that the Committee never discussed—how we actually should refer to the events of January 6, 2021. I believe it is important that we think about words and their implications in this chapter, and I invite you to join me in that task. Finally, my Appendix briefly presents the criminal charges that the Committee believes could appropriately be brought by the Special Prosecutor assigned to the case as well as several topics the Committee felt they couldn’t explore in detail.
Suggestions for Using this Book
I wrote this book with four audiences in mind. Three of them are groups and the fourth is individual study. The groups include, first, high school civics or social studies classes, where a unit on the events between November 3, 2020 and January 6, 2021, would be particularly timely. To aid that effort, I have ended each chapter with a brief set of questions designed to aid group discussion.
I also aim this book this at classes of college students and have thus added a few research-oriented questions at the end of each chapter to stimulate further understanding. Therefore each chapter has two types of questions at the end: questions for clarification of ideas and discussion and questions for further study and research. My hope, also, is that there may be book clubs or citizen clubs that might find this nutshell useful. Finally, I urge individuals to use this book to launch their own investigation into the events between November 3, 2020 and January 6, 2021.
Each chapter can be read in about 5-10 minutes, but the questions at the end of each chapter are designed to encourage pursuit of additional areas of interest that might lead in some instances to formulating one’s own test questions, research projects, or further topics to understand. I have also at times tried to help you, the reader, imagine yourself in a position that you most likely didn’t occupy, such as that of a peaceful protestor at the Capitol or a federal police officer on January 6, and wonder what you would have felt or done.
My own recommendation is that the following chapters would provide the most useful study and discussion opportunities:
Chapter One: The Introduction, Seven Themes and one “Analysis” in the Report
Chapters Four-Eleven: Each chapter deals with one of the Eight areas mentioned in Chapter One in greater detail
Chapter Fourteen: How we Should Refer to the Events of January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol?