Democrat Congresswoman Calls for ‘Truth Commission,’ Reckoning with ‘Racial Injustice, White Supremacy’

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Sara Jacobs attends EMILY's List Pre-Oscars Brunch and Pane
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA) in an interview Sunday with CNN reiterated calls for a “truth commission” aimed at community-wide conversations about “our history” in order to reach “a common narrative moving forward of what we want our country to be” as well as a “reckoning with the racial injustice and white supremacy of our past.

Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter, the California Democrat spoke about the next steps after former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial ended in acquittal this week.

Stelter introduced Jacobs as “a congresswoman who went to study extremism abroad and then came home and found it here in the United States.”

Claiming “there’s something very broken in our democracy” regarding the former president’s acquittal this week in his second impeachment trial, Jacobs implicated “far right media” and the social media “ecosystem” in the Capitol riot in early January.

“I think we need to look at far right media, which I know, Brian, you have been such a leader on calling out,” she said. 

“And also the role of social media and the whole ecosystem of social media where the kinds of information and the kinds of posts that get the biggest reactions are the ones prioritized by their algorithms.”

Jacobs then claimed that “leaders take existing fault lines in society, in our case white supremacy and racial injustice, and mobilize around them using the enabling environment of our media ecosystem and our lack of trust and decreasing trust in our institutions.”

Asked about the “truth commission” she had pushed for in an earlier interview, Jacobs spoke of a reckoning that had yet to occur.

“So, I think part of what we’re seeing now is because we haven’t really done the reckoning with the racial injustice and white supremacy of our past that we need to do,” she said. 

“And so, you know, a truth commission, a lot of people will think of South Africa. We’ve used them in countries around the world.”

Jacobs described such a commission as “communities all the way up to the national level having conversations about both the gory and the glory of our history and what happened, both throughout the history of our country and leading up to and on January 6, so that we can come to a common narrative moving forward of what we want our country to be.”

Many were less sympathetic to the congresswoman’s notion of a “commission” targeting right-wing outlets and individuals.

“And what makes the people who would sit on this commission worthy of deciding who is right and wrong?” asked Beth Baumann, an associate editor for Townhall.

“What a weird and dark aspiration: ‘Truth Commission’—on Stelter’s increasingly creepy show,” noted podcast host Greg Kelly.

“What could go wrong,” asked Hudson Institute senior fellow Rebeccah Heinrichs.

“An actual truth commission would jail CNN staff,” wrote Dan Gainor, vice president at the conservative Media Research Center.

“Seriously?  Don’t you think the American voters should be deciding what’s true and NOT the government?” wrote one Twitter user.

“What she describes is Orwell’s Ministry of Truth,” wrote another.

“Just imagine a federal council to write our history and our future,” wrote yet another.

The notion of taking control of narratives while “deprogramming” elements on the right has been fiercely promoted by those on the left in recent days following the November presidential elections and the storming of the U.S. Capitol in January.

Earlier this month, the New York Times published an essay detailing a range of recommendations for the Biden administration to adopt to fix the “reality crisis” and “de-radicalize” citizens, including setting up a “reality czar” and “truth commission.” 

The essay, penned by Times technology columnist Kevin Roose, accused “millions of Americans” of embracing “hoaxes, lies and collective delusions” while detailing actions the Biden administration could take “to help fix our truth-challenged information ecosystem, or at least prevent it from getting worse.” 

One expert interviewed by Roose was Harvard research director Joan Donovan, who suggested the Biden administration set up an investigative “truth commission” led by those familiar with extremist factions including white supremacist groups and far-right militias behind the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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