Commentary, National Commentary

Editor’s Column: Bad Faith Confirmed in The January 6 Report

For almost all of us, there is no need to dwell further beyond the detailed and dense 154-page executive summary that the House January 6 Committee presented earlier this week along with its formal referral to the Justice Department for criminal behavior of former president Trump.

Some complained that the executive summary was too long, those with such damaged attention spans that they can’t get beyond five pages or so, which is the common length that such summaries usually take in deference to said attention deficits. But in this case, the summary is what is most likely to become one of the best selling reports of all time, because it reads like a thriller and is so compelling in the indictment it represents.

The point of the extended summary is to tell the whole story, even if not in the intricate detail that D.C. pundits, in particular, seem so easily trapped in such that they miss, as the saying goes, “the forest for the trees.”

The “forest” in this case is the overwhelmingly criminal intent behind the grueling insistence by Trump that he stay in power despite losing a national election by over seven million votes. This man was willing to step all over the basic rights of each and every one of us to get his way. He is no more loyal to his sycophant fans than his sworn enemies, because he demonstrated for us all to see and experience a profound disdain for what we all are entitled to, a fair vote. 

This is the long and short of it, and if it is helpful to see it in the context of this winter holiday season, then it is summarized as one of history’s more compelling cases of actions taken “in bad faith.”

It is not the kind of “good faith” that we celebrate with candles and other symbols of cosmic light in this time of year, but the kind of “bad faith” that is associated with betrayal and deceit. Don’t forget that the stories of supernatural interventions into our small human lives, whether as presented in  the Nativity, Hanukkah or some other form, aim to elicit from us all  “good faith” to endure our human condition with compassion and love to the effect of bringing us all to a better place.

In this context, it is worth noting that in the Christian version of these stories, it is a cynical denial of truth itself in Pontius Pilate’s nihilistic relativism calling into question truth’s very existence, as such, so as to wash his hands of responsibility for the execution of an innocent man of “good faith,” however else traditions may characterize him, that set the stage for the dramatic last phase of this account.

Yes, it is the correlation of truth and good faith that defines these traditions that have endured as the best currents in our shared history for these last couple thousand years, at least. As slow as this progress has been, it has been accelerated in the last couple hundred years by the truly revolutionary concept contained in the American Declaration of Independence that “all men (and women) are created equal,” which led to Abraham Lincoln’s unexpected determination to fight the southern insistence on the perpetuation of slavery and which took the high aspirational form of the Eleanor Roosevelt’s post-World War II International Declaration of Human Rights.

This is the context by which to read in the January 6 Committee’s report the terrible crimes of Trump and his wide array of associates – can we say virtually the entire Republican Party at this point?

Trump has done this: he has eclipsed the crimes of the of Benedict Arnold, of the southern confederates, even of a U.S. president (John Tyler) who chose to become an elected official in the treasonous southern confederacy. Trump is now America’s worst case.

A lot of others were swept into his cauldron of nihilistic lies and deceit, and for many, the pathway to their own redemption will not be easy. But speaking  metaphorically, as Sherman said during our Civil War, “War is hell,” and the only way to end it is to vanquish the enemy.