Middlesex College history professors compared the Insurrection on Jan. 6 to other historical events at their “A History of January 6: A Coup?” event via Zoom this month.
There were three small presentations from Professor Cristobal Espinoza-Wulach, Professor Franklin Halprin and Professor Terrence Corrigan with questions at the end.
Espinoza-Wulach said, “The events on Jan. 6 can be traced back to Dec. 19.”
He said one of the former president President’s advisors wrote a report on Dec. 19 that used statistical analysis to determine that the former president couldn’t have lost the election.
Espinoza-Wulach said Trump’s tweets expressed how all institutions, including the FBI, have failed and have done nothing about the election.
He said, “Not only that but he [Trump] also accused how the supreme court had been incompetent and weak about this election fraud.”
Espinoza-Wulach said on Jan. 6, Trump wrote on Twitter, “Put pressure on Mike Pence to overturn the election vote.”
He said, 24 minutes after the attack began, Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our constitution. USA demands the truth.”
Espinoza said, “These messages are important because it’s the President of the United States of America telling his supporters these institutions have failed and it’s up to them, being the people, to do something about it.”
Halprin said there is a disconnect between how the founders designed our democracy to work and how it's been going lately.
He said, “The way Benjamin Franklin put it is that our system is a republicif you can keep it. He gave us that dire warning. So, now more than ever we need to try and keep it. We need a national dialogue on our responsibilities as citizens.”
Halprin said, “We like to brag that the election of 1800, where John Adams lost to Thomas Jefferson, was the first peaceful transition to power in modern history, and that was an extraordinary achievement. But starting Jan. 6, we're starting over with that streak. That streak ended with the violence at the capitol.”
Halprin said, “We need a shared reality in order for democracy to work. We need to identify as all being citizens of a democracy and embody those values. Now a good way to start is with a civic education.”
Corrigan said he read a book title “The Death of Democracy” by Benjamin Carter Hett. He talks about the downfall of the German republic at the time, and the rise of the Nazis and how a thriving republic could collapse pretty easily.
He said, “Five years after WWI, in one of the most prominent areas of Germany, a coup took place in a beer hole where a lot of people were drunk. They decided, with Hitler leading it, they would take over Munich and march over to Berlin and instill an authoritarian state with Hitler in charge.”
Corrigan said, “It was a complete disaster. It failed. It was put down by the army and police. Four police officers were killed, dozens of civilians were killed, Hitler was thrown in jail. Eventually, the leaders were put in jail, very short jail sentences.”
He said that is when Hitler realized that if you want to take down a modern democratic state, you must work from the inside.
Corrigan said, “Ten years after this disaster of a coup, they were able to successfully sort of overthrow the government and do away with democracy.”
He said, “Everybody knew Hitler was a liar. I mean, they openly said this guy just lies about everything, but I like what he says. I don't believe him, but I like what he says.”
Corrigan said, “Most of the right did not like Hitler, but they refused to work with the leftand also the left was disunited as well.”
He said, “Without any sort of compromise or collaboration, Weimar Germany, the republic, was doomed to fail.”
An unnamed MC student that attended the Zoom event asked if the events of Jan. 6 should be considered a terrorist attack.
Corrigan said that terrorism is defined as political change by violent means.
Halprin said, “To add to that, this event was planned. There’s a ton of evidence on [the] chatter and all these websites explaining exactly what they’re going to do and where. So, it seems to have been a lot of strategy here with very specific purposes in mind.”
MC student, Hina Naqvi, said, “As an immigrant, I am scared of the future. I really think we should do something at this point, such as our lawmakers should personally go to these communities and talk to them, do the town halls and tell them the truth. Otherwise, get ready for increased domestic terrorism.”