Glossing Over a Threat to Democracy

Under The Hood

Not long ago, most people agreed the events of Jan. 6 deserved condemnation, with. Certainly, those who witnessed first-hand rioters breaching the U.S. Capitol to disrupt an election certification viewed the behavior as unacceptable at the time.

Every U.S. representative from Florida criticized the events then. That included U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, a long-time supporter of police who took offense as criminals pushed past and through officers. He issued a statement vividly illustrating the horrors up close that most of us watched unfold on TV screens, events we at first could only could judge based on news footage shot from a distance.

“I condemn the actions of those today who broke through security, U.S. Capitol Police and law enforcement to force themselves into the Capitol,” Steube said in a statement. “I witnessed our law enforcement officers being injured, gassed from their own tear gas and afraid for their lives as they attempted to hold the line. I and three other members were barricaded in a room surrounded by demonstrators until the hallway was clear for us to get out. I want to personally thank Kim Campbell with Sergeant-at-arms, Officer Reginald Cleveland and the two other officers who were barricaded in the room with us for their professionalism.

“The violence and lawlessness we saw today was completely unacceptable, and as a nation, we must do better. As I condemned the violence we saw in our nation’s capital from BLM and Antifa, I condemn violence and rioting of any kind, by any group or organization.”

But Steube since took that statement down from his House website’s press release section. He left a statement explaining why he would object, along with a majority of Republicans, to certifying votes from several states on Jan. 6 that helped Joe Biden wrest the presidency from Donald Trump.

It’s disappointing so many who spent careers in politics went along with objections. But then, representatives on both sides of the aisle have frequently objected to electoral votes seemingly with no reason besides a disdain for the electoral outcome. Up until now, it mostly served as a symbolic expression of a sense an incoming president doesn’t deserve to serve. Steube is within his rights to feel that way about Biden.

But rioters went much farther. They interrupted a long history of peaceful transfers of power, perhaps the single greatest attribute elevating U.S. democracy as a model for civilization and symbol to the world.

In year and a half since the events of Jan. 6, Americans have only consumed more upsetting images and alarming stories of what occurred. We saw what prompted Steube to express his outrage so poignantly at the time. While we will never view the violence in person, we see it through cell phone and surveillance video.

Yet, Steube’s own assessments have shifted in a completely inexplicable direction. He now categorizes the rioters and insurrectionists as “trespassers.” He has directly compared the events to other out-of-hand— and certainly criminal — protests like when radical environmentalists forced their way into the Department of Interior last year. 

This week, he attacked the Department of Justice for not charging seven staffers for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for entering the U.S. Capitol and refusing to leave when Capitol Police asked in June.

“Biden’s DOJ announced they won’t be prosecuting Colbert’s team for trespassing at the Capitol complex,” Steube tweeted Friday. “Meanwhile, they continue to make January 6th arrests for the exact same crime. What happened to equal justice under the law? Not political justice.”

Maybe politics has hazed the imagery Steube once described so clearly.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA.

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