The January 6th events at the Capitol were a shocking finale to a national election campaign like none other in modern history.

This is an attempt (just one student journalist here) to give context to the day’s events, a day that ended with four deaths as a result of the activities on the grounds of the nation’s capital. 

Many throughout the nation and the world attribute the events to President Trump spreading hateful rhetoric and misinformation through his social media platforms and rallies, sowing distrust and anger among his supporters. 

How Trump’s words, rhetoric have incited violence, including Capitol breach (Associated Press) 

A timeline of what Trump said before Jan. 6 Capitol riot (PolitiFact)

This was also fueled by lawmakers such as Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham promising evidence of election rigging and promoting debunked conspiracy theories since November. Other members of Congress participated in an attempt to void Electoral College votes in multiple states, even though the president’s lawsuits had already been denied. 

Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz back Trump’s baseless claims of rigged election (Axios)

Conservative media giants such as Mark Levin and The Federalist painted pictures of corruption and deceit, encouraging listeners and viewers to ignore information from outside of their political sphere. 

Trump’s Push to Undo Election Result Divides His Media Allies (New York Times)

Private message boards and apps such as Parler and communities such as QAnon served as echo chambers that encouraged radicalization and violence through the Internet. 

Parler Supporters Shout Censorship, But Check Out What Was Actually Being Allowed On Its Platform (Mediaite)

Many of those who were a part of last week’s attempted insurrection truly believed that a deep-state conspiracy led to President Trump’s election loss and that their actions could change the tide of history for the better. 

 

For many, even those that may support the claims of election fraud or want election reform, the aftermath of these events require a change of mindset in terms of domestic politics.  In order to avoid a repeat of last week’s events, a number of actions must occur.

Adequate punishment of those involved is necessary; the government needs to show that these actions are not taken lightly, and insurrectionists should face serious consequences. 

Capitol riots: Who has the FBI arrested so far? (BBC)

Additionally, deplatforming individuals and communities who have encouraged this kind of extremism and violence is necessary in order to keep them from recruiting, spreading misinformation, and organizing through the Internet. This can occur on a wide scale as tech companies take action, or on a minor scale as individuals refuse to place the validity of concepts like white supremacy up for debate. 

As individuals, there is one thing we should all do: avoid echo chambers and find reliable, factual sources of information. Whether or not we care to admit it, everyone is capable of believing things that are untrue, and falling into mental traps. AllSides is one place to start: there, you can check the biases of news sources and find balanced stories. There is no excuse for rioters’ actions on January 6th, but ultimately we must learn from this and past events in order to keep them from happening again. 

 

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