Despite the Hype, Americans Had Tepid Response to Jan. 6 Anniversary

January 12, 2022 Updated: January 12, 2022


The most remarkable thing about the massively coordinated “Day of Remembrance” on Thursday, Jan. 6, designed to commemorate the anniversary of last year’s U.S. Capitol break-in, was … the general indifference.

For Democratic politicians and their media allies, Jan. 6, 2021, was one of the “darkest days” (as one outlet called it) in American history. For everyone else, it was a yawn.

That included liberals. Progressive groups had organized more than 150 “vigils” in public spaces nationwide to denounce the “insurrection,” as Democrats and their media allies have dubbed the invasion of the Capitol by several hundred Donald Trump supporters while Congress was voting to certify the election of Joe Biden as president. But even in blue-state strongholds where Trump-hatred reaches fever levels, attendance at the vigils was spotty. Photos showed a thin crowd at a “candlelight” rally on Manhattan’s Upper East Side despite the presence of such Democratic Party favorites as New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

A “Vigil for Democracy” in California’s Napa Valley, which went 73 percent for Biden in the 2020 election, drew only about 80 participants, according to news reports. Even in Washington, D.C., where a coalition of more than 100 liberal groups coordinated a Jan. 6 vigil on the National Mall just outside the Capitol, the chanting and singing crowd numbered just “a few hundred people,” according to a Washington Post report. “It’s not enough,” one disappointed activist complained to the Post. “There should be thousands of them here.”

And those were the core anti-Trump diehards. As for the rest of America, the one thing it wasn’t doing much of on Thursday was watching the wall-to-wall televised hyperbole on CNN and MSNBC. They weren’t taking in Chris Hayes calling the riot “Donald Trump’s failed coup” or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) telling Anderson Cooper that the Capitol rioters “were going to shoot me in the brain” if they found her—even though not a single one of them was carrying a gun. Fox News Network, where host Tucker Carlson called the Jan. 6 fracas a historical “footnote” that had posed no real threat to either the lawmakers or the certification vote, easily outran both of its liberal cable rivals in numbers of viewers, even in the supposedly more woke age 25–54 demographic. During primetime Fox garnered 2.8 million and 449,000 viewers, respectively—to CNN’s 751,000 and 164,000.

All this was in the face of a day-long display of lugubrious Jan. 6 hysteria on the part of Democratic politicians that was either hilarious or depressing, depending on your point of view. It began at the top. In a speech in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, Biden called the invasion “a dagger at the throat of democracy.” Vice President Kamala Harris compared the riot to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 (2,400 dead), and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (3,000 dead). Pelosi brought the grandstanding to a farcical peak with a Zoom display of the cast of “Hamilton” singing a song, “Dear Theodosia,” from the hit musical. No one had apparently informed Pelosi that the “Theodosia” in the song was the daughter of Aaron Burr, an actual suspected traitor and the murderer of the musical’s hero, Alexander Hamilton. Even progressives had fun on Twitter with that one.

Somehow the American public wasn’t buying into much of this. Much as Democrats and the media love to call the Jan. 6 melée an “insurrection” (“armed insurrection” was Biden’s term), a CBS News poll has revealed that 76 percent of Americans, a bipartisan supermajority, believe that it was simply a “protest that went too far.”

That seems a fair characterization. Most of the tens of thousands of people who attended the Trump-led rally to protest the election results went home or back to their hotel rooms afterward on Jan. 6, 2021. Of the hundreds of people who trespassed onto Capitol grounds and have been charged with crimes, none has been charged with insurrection, sedition, treason, or conspiracy to overthrow the government. Their most serious alleged offenses consist of assaulting police officers, and the most common charges have been disorderly conduct and unlawful entry into restricted areas. That doesn’t excuse their behavior that day, which deserves both punishment and public denunciation. But most Americans sensibly realize that a riot isn’t the same thing as an attempted coup. Hence, the tepid public response to all the overblown rhetoric from the White House, Congress, and the press.

Of course, there’s a method to all this madness. Democrats hope to use the Jan. 6, 2021, mess to push legislation through Congress that would enable the very conditions for election fraud—ballot harvesting and nullification of state voter ID laws—that Trump and his supporters were protesting on Jan. 6, 2021. Or, at the very least, they hope all the “insurrection” talk will stir up enough outrage against the Republicans who have downplayed the Jan. 6 hysteria to distract voters in the coming November midterms from the real problems that the Biden administration has created: soaring inflation and a sluggish job market.

Every Day is Jan. 6 Now,” a New York Times editorial headline blared a few days ago. To which most Americans seem to be responding: Good luck with that.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Charlotte Allen is the executive editor of Catholic Arts Today and a frequent contributor to Quillette. She has a doctorate in medieval studies from the Catholic University of America.