Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the January 6 breach of the Capitol Building was driven by white supremacy, not a protest of the results of the 2020 presidential election, during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
“We must not forget the horrors of January 6th or allow revisionists to rewrite what happened that day,” he said. “The hate on display that terrible day is not a new phenomenon in our country. America’s first domestic terror organization the Ku Klux Klan was born in the aftermath of the Civil War to terrorize formally enslaved African Americans.”
The insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6th did not wear white robes and hoods, they might as well have. They are the latest incarnation of violent white supremacist movements that has terrorized fellow Americans on the basis of their race, religion, and national origin for more than 150 years.
Durbin cited multiple instances of white supremacist hate crimes over the last decade, including the 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the 2015 shooting at the Mother Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the 2019 mass shooting at the Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
He then called comparing left-wing violence to the violence January 6 a “false equivalency”:
I join my Republican colleagues unequivocally in condemning left-wing violence, but let’s stop pretending that the threat of Antifa is equivalent to the white supremacist threat. Vandalizing a federal courthouse in Portland is a crime. It should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But it is not equivalent to a violent attempt to overturn the results of elections, nor is it equivalent to mass shootings targeting minority communities.
“This false equivalency is an insult to the brave police officers who were injured or lost their lives on January 6th, as well as dozens of others who’ve been murdered in white supremacist attacks,” he added.
Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) also condemned the violence on January 6, but criticized Durbin’s “intellectually dishonest” narrow focus on white supremacy and extremism on the right and not all violent extremism, including that perpetrated by the left. Grassley said:
“We’re not serious about tackling domestic extremism if we tolerate mobs that attack some police officers but not all police officers. We’re not serious about tackling domestic extremism if we care about some government buildings being attacked, but not others. We’re not serious about tackling domestic extremism if we only focus on white supremacy movements, which isn’t the only ideology that’s responsible for murders and violence.”
“We must examine the issue of domestic terrorism broadly–very broadly to include all forms of political extremism, domestic terrorism… wherever it falls on the political spectrum,” he added.