Dear reporters: The Capitol riot was not 9/11

I have to wonder who is far enough gone in their paranoid bunkers to believe this sort of thing, yet these guys say it out loud without shame or embarrassment. Our system has been through worse. In 2017, a Bernie Sanders supporter tracked down congressional Republicans practicing baseball and fired 70 rounds at them, seriously wounding House Republican whip Steve Scalise. Had things gone down just a little differently, numerous Republican senators and congressmen could have been killed. Nobody treats that today as an important event. Joe Biden has called January 6 the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” when it was not even the worst act of violence within the Capitol in Biden’s own lifetime: In 1954, Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire inside the House chamber, wounding five congressmen.

Then again, maybe the Biden White House has already changed its mind, given that just today, press secretary Jen Psaki described new state election laws as “the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.”

The Capitol riot was both bad and indefensible. Property got destroyed, important democratic processes were interrupted, people got hurt, and people died. But not everything that is indefensible is equally bad. It callously cheapens the death and mass trauma of September 11 to compare the two events for partisan gain, fundraising, or ratings. It would be futile to appeal to the sense of shame of people such as Dowd and Schmidt, but one hopes that some of our national press corps would be embarrassed by their naked opportunism.