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Joseph Sabino Mistick: History, including Jan. 6, cannot be erased – TribLIVE

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In the old Soviet Union, the guys in charge often wanted their citizens to forget something that did not fit into their plans or desired image. When Josef Stalin wanted to erase history, his opponents would be erased from photographs, primitively with a sharp blade, and sometimes would disappear from their homes.
After Stalin’s death, new leaders wanted to put Stalin’s brutality behind them, and he got some of his own treatment. In 1961, they removed his body from Lenin’s Tomb, removed his name from official buildings and hoped the world would forget.
Soviet attempts to make history disappear did not work then, and they do not work now — either there or here. That is causing fits for our Republican leaders who want the events of the Jan. 6 insurrection to simply fade away.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy hoped that they could block an investigation of the insurrection by opposing the establishment of a blue-ribbon bipartisan panel. It was a mistake, because the Democratic House leadership had one option: appoint an internal investigative panel.
When McConnell and McCarthy tried to scuttle that panel by appointing political bomb-throwers from their caucuses to the House committee, they were rebuffed. But two Republican members of Congress, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, agreed to serve, and the committee is moving forward.
And there are reminders of Jan. 6 everywhere. When it was reported last week that Trump appointee and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley had contacted his Chinese counterpart after the insurrection to assure him that the wheels had not gone off our democracy and that there were no plans to attack China, some Republicans howled.
That gave White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki a chance to put the insurrection center stage: “The leader of their party fomented an insurrection and many of them were silent,” she said, adding that President Biden is not “looking for guidance” from those Republicans.
In the run-up to this weekend’s rally in support of the insurrectionists, many Republicans distanced themselves from this reminder of the Jan. 6 assault. By midweek, none had committed to appear. And we understand the politics. They are nervous to be seen as supporters of insurrectionist radicals.
Many of us baby boomers remember discovering our parents’ World War II mementos — cards or lapel pins or lockets inscribed with “Remember Pearl Harbor.” And in recent days the nation fully relived every second of the 9/11 attacks, promising again to “Never Forget.”
As George W. Bush said in his remarks at the Shanksville ceremony, “And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within. There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit.
“And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”
We must keep in our sight those who have America in their sights. And that is why we must see the investigation of the insurrection to the end.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at [email protected].
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