Democrats are pressing forward with new attacks on free speech and rights working people need. Their bludgeon is an all-points campaign claiming the Jan. 6 disruption of Congress was nothing less than an “insurrection,” carried out by some right-wing militia forces, conspiracy theorists and a tiny minority of the thousands of supporters of Donald Trump rallying in Washington that day.
The liberals’ offensive includes efforts to further unleash the capitalist rulers’ political police, the FBI. It is dangerous for working people who need free speech to defend ourselves from assaults on our jobs, wages and working conditions by the bosses and their government.
Jan. 6 was “the most heinous attack on democratic processes that I’ve ever seen,” Merrick Garland, Joseph Biden’s nominee for attorney general, said during Senate confirmation hearings Feb. 22.
Garland said his number one priority as attorney general would be the fight against “domestic terrorism.” FBI Director Christopher Wray said he would vow to do the same.
“It was a planned insurrection, we know that now,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar insisted Feb. 23.
The Justice Department has arrested and charged some 300 people in the Jan. 6 intrusion, including with thought-control conspiracy charges.
Sedition and conspiracy laws make advocating ideas a crime, and have long been used by the government and the FBI to try to frame up vanguard workers, including leaders of the Socialist Workers Party.
Garland dismissed comparison of the Jan. 6 action with the provocative attacks on federal buildings and stores carried out by antifa and some Black Lives Matter leaders over many months in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere. Only Jan. 6 was “a core attack on our democratic institutions,” Garland said. In fact both actions are dangerous for the working class, opening the door to government attacks on political space working people need.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Markoyas chimed in, saying the agency would widen its hunt for “domestic extremists,” including “white supremacist, anti-government or anti-authority extremists.” Such people, he added, must be prevented from using “the banner of the First Amendment to disguise their attempts to incite.”
‘New York Times’ invents attack
Conspiracy laws are crucial to efforts like this, because there was a paucity of real violent attacks Jan. 6. The liberal media has done its best to remedy this, even if it had to promote a “narrative” that just wasn’t true.
The New York Times ran an article Jan. 8 titled, “Capitol Police Officer Dies from Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It claimed that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was murdered when “he was struck with a fire extinguisher.” In another article, the paper said, “With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support” and died. They attributed these “facts” to unnamed “law enforcement officials.”
The Times continued to repeat this for weeks, as did other media. In fact, the charge was incorporated into the Democrats’ bill of impeachment against President Trump.
But none of it was true, a fact they knew long before they admitted it. While the Times said Sicknick was on life support, his brother told ProPublica, he “had texted Wednesday night [Jan. 6] to say that while he had been pepper-sprayed, he was in good spirits.”
To this day no one knows why Sicknick collapsed and died.
The Times never printed a retraction. They quietly went back to the early articles online and posted what the editors called an “update.”
In fact, every one of the five people who died Jan. 6 — Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by cops, three who had medical emergencies, and Sicknick — were supporters of Donald Trump.
Liberals push press censorship
Homeland Security chief Markoyas also says steps are urgently needed to suppress “media disinformation and false narratives.”
The foundation for more censorship was advanced by Democrats at congressional hearings Feb. 24, under the guise of eradicating “misinformation that causes public harm,” code words for anything they don’t agree with.
In his Times column March 2, Ross Douthat quotes “experts” who have called for Biden to appoint a “reality czar” tasked with enforcing the administration’s version of reality.
Bosses at Facebook, Twitter and other “social media” are on the bandwagon, canceling accounts of those they deem questionable — on both the right and in the workers’ movement.
The right wing of capitalist politics seizes on moves like this to claim for themselves the mantle of defenders of free speech, while they push their own course to defend capitalist rule.
The liberals drive to censor and attack the political rights of Republicans and Trump for partisan advantage is rooted in a deeper fact. They hold working people in contempt, and fear struggles to come against the bosses’ attacks on us.
Millions of workers and farmers have been subjected to years of worsening conditions and increasingly recognize that changing administrations in Washington has done nothing to halt this. Until workers break with the Democrats and Republicans and build our own party, a labor party, millions will be attracted to capitalist politicians like Trump who claim they will take steps to create jobs and drain the political “swamp” in Washington.
Neither of the bosses’ parties offer any way to address what working people confront.
“Socialist Workers Party candidates in 2021 champion struggles that workers and our unions are organizing today for jobs, better wages and conditions, and to defend the rights we need to decide and act on a course forward,” Joanne Kuniansky, SWP candidate for governor of New Jersey, told the Militant. “We use our campaigns to explain that only through our own struggles can workers fight for what we need, not what the bosses and their Democratic and Republican parties tell us is ‘possible.’”