Political and religious violence at the US Capitol

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Jeremy LaPointe of Lumberton, Texas (R) carries a cross to a gathering of U.S. President Donald Trump supporters, outside the U.S. Capitol where Congress will meet in joint session to certify the electoral college vote for President-elect Joe Biden, in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. Photo by Mike Theiler/Reuters.

The assault on the U.S. Capitol symbolizes “the culmination of Trumpism” but not the end of it, according to presidential historian Tim Naftali. “Many people believe it is a patriotic duty to overthrow our government … and it’s time to de-radicalize the Republican Party,” he says.

It’s important to understand the religious element too, says David French, a columnist with The Dispatch and Time magazine. “Some folks just flat out disbelieve anything you say about the law or about the fact that Biden won fairly and squarely, and are fully bought into various conspiracy theories.”

As a practicing evangelical Christian, French points out that insurrectionists waved Christian flags and posters saying “Jesus Saves,” while Christian music was being amplified throughout the building. He calls it a “Christian insurrection,” with people believing that Donald Trump was sent by God and that Joe Biden would destroy the country.

“What happened on January 6 was a threat to our democracy, to our constitutional institutions, and a disgrace,” says Naftali. He says this is a signal to Republicans leaders: “They should condemn their actions as their predecessors condemned the transgressions of Richard Nixon.” However, Naftali does not expect this to happen any time soon.

French adds that he and his evangelical pastor are well known for speaking out against Christian nationalism, which has led to ostracism and threats by people in their own church.

Credits

Guests:
David French - Columnist, The Dispatch and Time magazine - @DavidAFrench, Tim Naftali - Clinical Associate Professor of History and Public Service, NYU and the former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library - @TimNaftali

Host:
Warren Olney

Producer:
Andrea Brody