A Crisis Of Faith: Why We Should Be Worried More About A Desecration Than An Insurrection

Below is my column in the Hill on the riot at Congress and its implications for our country.  As shown by the unfounded rush for a “snap impeachment,” we are experiencing a crisis of faith in this country — not only in our Constitution but ourselves.  Pushing for a snap vote (and snap judgment) on these issues will only exacerbate our divisions. This is a time for deliberative, not impulsive, action in Congress.

Here is the column:

All the images of protesters scaling the walls of the Capitol and briefly occupying Congress will remain seared in our collective memories for decades. Some called it a riot. Others called it an insurrection. Whatever you call it, it was a desecration. The rioters desecrated the most sacred moment of our constitutional system when the nation comes together to certify our next president. That is why it is too easy to treat this like an insurrection crisis. It is far more dangerous. It is a crisis of faith.

There were some truly dangerous people in this mix, such as the agitators who had pipe bombs and ropes. Groups like the Proud Boys and antifa have fulfilled these roles in violent riots on the left and the right for years. However, the vast majority of protesters on Wednesday were nonviolent. Indeed, if this was a real effort at insurrection, we can take great comfort that many of our homegrown revolutionaries have come across as more Groucho Marx than Karl Marx. Those in the Capitol were spread across the spectrum, from mocking to menacing. There were the various costumed characters but also men in camo with suspicious backpacks. Yet the guy taking a selfie with his feet on the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed more interested in Instagram than insurrection.

The ease with which protesters entered the Capitol was shocking. Despite reports in advance of their plans to march there, Capitol Police seemed undermanned and unprepared. Once inside, protesters seemed to have the run of the building. Many of them seemed as shocked as the members of Congress fleeing the House and Senate chambers. This has happened before, although not to this extent. When I was a young page in Congress, a protest by truckers led to an ornate Capitol building door getting broken down, followed by a rampage through the halls of Congress.

The media portrayed the disgraceful rioters as unimaginable. Yet it was entirely all too imaginable. We have had four years of violent protests, including the attacks on federal buildings, members of Congress, and symbols of our democracy. Former Attorney General William Barr was heavily criticized for clearing Lafayette Square last year after protesters injured numerous law enforcement officers, were injured themselves, burned a historic building, caused property damage, and threatened to breach the White House grounds. There were violent riots during the inauguration of Donald Trump and a lethal assault on some Republican lawmakers playing softball. Indeed, this year started as last year ended, with attacks on federal buildings in Portland and other cities.

Several people viewed those violent protests against the police and the White House as sedition, including Barr. I criticized such labeling of Black Lives Matter or antifa riots as sedition or terrorism. I view those labels as undermining free speech. As with the Black Lives Matter movement, I do not believe most of the protesters this week were rioters, let alone part of an insurrection. As with the protests last year, some instigators pushed for confrontations. But most were at the Capitol to voice an opposition to the certification of votes in an election they believe was stolen. I do not share that view, but it is held by some 40 percent of Americans.

What are these people if they are not insurgents or terrorists? The answer is they are faithless. We face a crisis of faith rather than of revolution. Our Constitution is an article of faith. This republic was founded by a leap of faith taken together by people of different backgrounds and beliefs. Yet the Constitution, no matter how well crafted, is ineffectual if people lose faith in its system or, just as important, in each other.

Our system is designed to give everyone skin in the game. It is meant to bring factional interests to the surface. Unlike those that ignore them, our Constitution forces those out into the open in Congress, where they can be voiced and addressed. Systems that ignore all such divisions explode from within, like in the history of France. Our system is based on a type of implosion in which those pressures are directed into Congress, where factional interests are turned into majority compromises.

The violence this week is not what James Madison hoped for in noting the factional interests in Congress. It was a bit too direct for a system based on representative democracy. However, that is precisely the point. Such action taken reflects the same crisis of faith that was evident in Lafayette Park and on the streets of Portland. That is far more dangerous than a few agitators using a protest to commit mayhem. It is not anarchy but instead alienation that we should fear the most in our nation.

For years, the public has shown a lack of trust and faith in our political system. There also is a wide rejection of the media, which once was a shared resource for information. The media has destroyed its credibility with years of bias, including blackouts on stories viewed as harmful to Democrats. Without faith in our leaders or the media, more than half of this nation appears to be untethered from the political system. That detachment is perilous for a representative government.

We need to hold accountable all those who committed violence in the Capitol. However, after we determine who stormed Congress and how they succeeded in doing it, we have a far more difficult task to address. After all, an insurrection can simply be put down, but a desecration is much more insidious and dangerous for our democracy.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.

402 thoughts on “A Crisis Of Faith: Why We Should Be Worried More About A Desecration Than An Insurrection”

  1. Turley is not only channeling Albert Speer in his intellectual heft while lacking any moral compass, but with this column Officer Krupky from West Side Story.

    Oh these poor put upon citizens who had to face the harsh reality of losing an election! This cannot happen in the modern world. Give them a participation trophy! Tell them bedtime stories about how they actually won but a bad mean man stole it from their hero and from them. Turley will help spread that and then fret over the loss of faith.

    The WSS tune ends:

    “Gee Officer Krupky, F… you!”

  2. The only fix to return to service in Congress as a true public service:
    • A Term Limits Amendment
    • A Balanced Budget Amendment
    • An Amendment to Repeal the 16th Amendment and implement a national sales tax

    This is the Agenda for Basic Change

  3. The professor professes three times at end of a sentence, for affect, that the United States is a “democracy.”

    Does the word “democracy” appear in the Declaration of Independence?

    Does the word “democracy” appear in the United States Constitution?

    Do the principles and values of “democracy” appear in the Declaration of Independence?

    Do the principles and values of “democracy” appear in the United States Constitution?

    The professor holds a sinecure as a teacher of Constitutional Law. Is he ignorant of meaning and import of word “democracy?” Is he negligently or intentionally misrepresenting a material, relevant material fact of the defining legal document of the United States, its institutions and symbols?

    Do the Federalist Papers authored by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay discuss and reject numerous times the government form of “democracy?”

    Did the Constitutional Convention discuss and reject numerous times the government form of “democracy?”

    Did Benjamin Franklin anecdotally reply to a lady (Elizabeth Willing Powel?) in response to her question, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    Is a professor with sinecure alluding to a form of government which Madison and others wrote:“Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”?

    Is the gravamen here semantics or a material, relevant fact of the defining legal document of the United States, its institutions and symbols?

    Is the discussions and arguments to abolish the Electoral College in furtherance of a Republic or an “impure democracy” or direct democracy?

    Were self described “Patriots” acting in a lawful or unlawful manner? Were self described “Patriots” acting because they think the Constitution, election laws and rules were violated and that evidence supports their claims?

    Does professor perceive the self described “Patriots” actions as a Constitutional crisis or lawlessness?

    The professor professes the self described “Patriots” actions are a “crisis of faith” and that they are “faithless.”

    “…
    It is a crisis of faith. …”
    “…
    What are these people if they are not insurgents or terrorists? The answer is they are faithless. We face a crisis of faith rather than of revolution. Our Constitution is an article of faith. …”
    “…
    Yet the Constitution, no matter how well crafted, is ineffectual if people lose faith in its system or, just as important, in each other.”

    Do the words faith or faithless appear in the Constitution? Did James Madison write in the document or does the document itself declare “Our Constitution is an article of faith?

    Of all things, man is the measure.
    I understand measure or interpretation of what professor saw, heard and experienced. His perception.

    Do reason, logic and common sense offer any support or evidence for the perception or words of a law professor?

    Some may say, the perception and words are intended to appeal to our better, higher instincts. Then, perhaps, the perception and words are of a preacher, but not those of a law professor or one “professing” Constitutional law.

    dennis hanna

    1. The US is a democracy. Specifically, we’re a representative democracy in the form of a constitutional federal republic.

  4. What Trump Actually Told The Rioters

    Here The New York Times shows us what Donald Trump said to his legions of supporters Wednesday morning near the White House:
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    “Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. And we’re going to have to fight much harder. …

    “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

    “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.”

    “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. … And I actually — I just spoke to Mike. I said: ‘Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage.’”

    “I also want to thank our 13 most courageous members of the U.S. Senate, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Ron Johnson, Senator Josh Hawley. … Senators have stepped up. We want to thank them. I actually think, though, it takes, again, more courage not to step up, and I think a lot of those people are going to find that out. And you better start looking at your leadership, because your leadership has led you down the tubes.”

    “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal. …

    “You will have an illegitimate president. That is what you will have, and we can’t let that happen. These are the facts that you won’t hear from the fake news media. It’s all part of the suppression effort. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to talk about it. …

    “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

    Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you. … We are going to the Capitol, and we are going to try and give — the Democrats are hopeless, they are never voting for anything, not even one vote, but we are going to try — give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re try — going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

    From: “Incitement To Riot? What Trump Told Supporters Before The Mob Stormed The Capitol”

    1/10/21
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    MOST SIGNIFICANT PASSAGE:

    “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal. …

    Trump is clearly telling the rioters he has no intention of conceding defeat. Therefore the entire purpose of this event is stop certification of Trump’s defeat.

    1. https://monsterhunternation.com/2021/01/05/one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other/

      So in conclusion, the government loves auditing everything the people do because we are incompetent, untrustworthy, cheaters. But if the people want to audit election results, we are terrible bad conspiracy theorists who need to be shamed into silence. Them auditing us is good and necessary. Us auditing them is silly foolishness.

      I’m glad we got that cleared up.

    2. Aninny:

      Thanks for proving conclusively there was no call to imminent illegality and hence no unlawful incitement to riot. Typical “we will fight on” rhetoric. Hillary did the same claiming she got her election stolen away. You prove our salient points every day and with blithe ignorance. Something so beautiful in that child-like approach to life.

      Now about that reflexive aversion to strong men ….

    3. Either you or the NYT are dishonest. Nowhere in his speech does he call for violence or rioting. In fact, he does just the opposite — in a passage that you, the media, and countless others keep evading:

      “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to *peacefully* and patriotically make your voices heard.” (Emphasis added.)

      He was invoking the First Amendment: “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

      That some chose to not be peaceful is on them, not Trump.

  5. Here’s a simple acid test for yourself Professor Turley. This will help you see where you are at right now. Why could everyone predict what was going to happen at the capitol, except for you? We all knew this was coming, everyone has been warning that this would happen but you kept doubling down making excuses and comparisons. And now after the fact you act as if the whole thing is a shocking surprise. Well I guess it is. To YOU. And no one else. We all saw it coming. The question you need to ask yourself prior to writing another Trump apologetic blog post, is why didn’t you.

    1. Hey Anon, you must have seen Seattle coming. Protests for thee but not for me. What a bunch of stale biscuit. I’m glade theirs water in sight. Go back to sleep my little dear. Momma won’t’ let the trolls hurt you.

      1. @thinkittgtough. I ain’t a liberal you festering piece of sh$t and you can stick your little sissy “what about antifa”whining up your @$$.

    2. “Everyone” is an all inclusive term is it not?

      I am part of that “everyone” you cite.

      I forecast there would be violence….committed by Antifa and/or BLM and other Radical Leftist or Anarchist groups……I was not wrong.

      There are self avowed BLM/Antifa persons clearly shown in the video where the young Woman was shot dead by that Capitol Police Officer.

      Prove me wrong.

  6. You might call it a lack of faith. But I rather think it’s a lack of practical knowledge about civics, how to persuade effectively, and how to gather knowledge in a fog of ambiguity, intentional spin or uncritical belief. Americans can have a great country — immersed in a world brimming with dashed hopes and autocratic plutocracy — if we can apply skills of collaborative problem-solving to national governance.

    Funny, you go into a private company, and see the same Americans supporting common goals, engaged in continuous improvement, and speaking respectfully and with precision.

    You go into the typical American family, and these same people are thrust into forced decisionmaking every week – whether about spending, or childraising issues, or broken down furnace issues — and for the most part, good decisions get made in real-time.

    So why are these same Americans unable to cooperate to get things done at the level of national government? You simply can’t argue that they lack the social graces or negotiating skills. If so, there wouldn’t be any good businesses, any families, or any childraising.

    No. Something more specific is holding us back at the national level.

    What we’re lacking is a strong referee role at the head of each House of Congress, and in the Chief Executive. Look close, and what you’ll see is something akin to a football game with no referee — or a Court of Law with adversarials at each others’ throats without benefit of a Judge.

    Did our Founders err in Articles I and II? I think not. They made no mention of political parties. The “big 3” leadership positions, President, VP and Presiding Officer of the Senate, and Speaker of the House were conceived as leader-managers of their bodies respectively. The political parties over time redefined these roles as partisan bounties, to be won and controlled for partisan advantage.
    The question: Who is responsible for the overall productivity of the body?….and how can anyone other than a neutral, powerful referee make the body perform when it becomes bifurcated into warring parties? A partisan at the top has no credibility as a neutral process manager. There is nobody who can bump heads together and force constructive conflict to PRODUCE RESULTS in real-time.

    Without strong, neutral referees at the top, all we’re getting is unproductive friction — and fantasy hopes of running the table in the next election, and establishing a 1-party, dominance-submission outcome. This rarely happens, and the legislator’s attention is not on governing, but mostly on winning power in the next election.

    How can we break out of this infinite-loop of dysfunction? One way would be to stop electing Democrats and Republicans, and only vote for Independents. Another would be to wage a lawsuit in the Federal Courts, arguing that only non-partisan leaders can occupy the “big 3” offices….a condition of running for any of these offices would be renounce party affiliation before entering office.

    The success of either approach assumes that the national political media align itself as a neutral referee, responsible for the quality and productivity of the national dialog, and the spread of accurate, relevant information.

    The 2-party system cannot effectively run our country with a neutral manager at the top, any more than a pro sports game can be played to completion without referees. Why are we not able to recognize this structural deficit?

    1. Good thing she lost.

      The population of GA will be better served by Warnock and Ossoff, and the country will be better off with McConnell out of the Sen. Majority Leader’s role.

      1. An opinion by Anonymous the Stupid followed by the Brainless Wonder.

        Who wants either of their opinions that add up to zero. Most people are looking for reasons backed up by fact. Neither of them produce fact or rational. If anyone wishes to know why it is because they are Anonymous the Stupid and the Brainless Wonder.

  7. 01/10/2021 08:00 am ET

    Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ Myth Reaches Its Catastrophic Conclusion
    Reflections on violence in the heart of the American empire.

    By Paul Blumenthal

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-make-america-great-again-riot_n_5ff8dc13c5b691806c490ecd

    Excerpt:

    The MAGA myth was made real when, against all odds, Trump shocked the media and Democrats and won the 2016 election, despite losing the popular vote. He had promised deliverance, and he had delivered. Trump would go on to describe that night at his subsequent rallies. This was a recitation of his victory as a dramatic narrative: a myth. The message is clear: Trump won where no one else could, and America was Great Again because of him. Trump was by himself the realization of the myth. As he said in 2016, “I alone can fix it.” Naturally, his reelection campaign picked Keep America Great as its new motto. Removal of Trump through democratic elections had become synonymous with the fall of the republic.

    But Trump did lose reelection. As this complicated the MAGA myth, it could not possibly be true. Trump, through his symbiotic relationship with his base of supporters, both fueled their wildest fantasies by rejecting his loss with a steady stream of lies and amplified his supporters’ conspiracies on social media. These lies had to be true because America had to be Made Great Again, his supporters believed.

    “People who are living in this world of myths are secure from all refutation,” Sorel wrote.

    And so Trump summoned his supporters to Washington on Wednesday to a rally meant to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. It would be a day to “save America,” according to Trump, and “Stop the Steal!”

    “Be there, will be wild!” Trump tweeted. -Paul Blumenthal

  8. Ha! Professor you’re a joke. When the traitors and criminals, some of which will be charged with the murder of a Capitol Police officer, appear in court they will plead guilty or not guilty. They will not plead “faithless”. You’re calling for understanding and reconciliation to be extended to people who don’t want it. You’re Trump’s boy, live with your decision. Your crazy fans have been blaming Antifa for this insurrection since jump street. The FBI says this is nonsense (of course the FBI will be accused of being “Deep State” fellow travelers) You’ve cultivated the fans you deserve.

    1. The above sentiment is the type that has brought our nation to the sewer. What kind of reprobate would write such rude disrespectful insults about a host under an anonymous handle?

      Real men and women show class, gratitude and respect towards their fellow man and fellow woman.
      Yours is the mark of evil people Communists

      1. “Real men and women show class, gratitude and respect towards their fellow man and fellow woman.”

        If we take your words at face value, you’re not a real man or real woman.

        1. Listen to the comments of Anonymous the Stupid accusing another without any rationale, fact or logic. Do you know why he does it? He does it because he is Anonymous the Stupid and should be called out every time he wastes the blog’s time. Anonymous the Stupid is an appropriate label.

          I’m not siding for or against Seamus. He can defend himself. Seamus doesn’t need Anonymous the Stupid’s arguments because Anonymous the Stupid has none. That makes Seamus look bad.

  9. I am a pretty average citizen. I grew up in a poor family, ate a lot of cabbage and potato’s. I was taught a strong work ethic starting full time work at 13 years old for $1.15 per hour. I was taught to respect the law and those in authority. I served in our military and then adapted to civilian life with disabilities.
    But over my lifetime our government has changed dramatically. No longer are elected offices willing to govern by the will of the constituency but to wield power and become wealthy while carrying out personal ambitions and vendettas of which the constituency is unaware. America does not get the candidate for which they vote. They get pot luck or nasty surprise and hold our breath until the next election.
    But even the electoral process has become a mockery with the best offices going to the best funded campaigns. The wealthy hand pick the government most likely to serve their interests. Good laws are no longer passed until they are loaded with a steaming odorous load of pork additions and crony focused spending. Back room agreements guarantee that what happens in office does not represent the average citizen. We are an afterthought..if ever thought of at all.
    Candidates manipulate their voters through fear and empty promises. The low estimation of the voter’s intelligence is an obvious theme.
    Can we trust government? Does anyone believe they can help initiate change anymore or has our common disgust of greedy, reactive and mean spirited politics killed our sense of hope for a better America. I’m a patriot. I’m saddened by the vicious partisanship that we see in government at every level. The greatest problem with any pendulum is that it swings from one extreme position to the exact opposite. The anger and hatred now being expressed will eventually be turned against those expressing it with equal fervor. There is good reason moderation is welcomed. It means that peace an productivity can continue for a time. The liberal party members created the MAGA movement and now they call for the fascist extreme power to reduce it to rubble because they fear what they have created. They are too arrogant to accept their own complicity.
    It is time to begin a discourse of peaceful compromise. But not the consistent moral compromises of the past 40 years.

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