We’re all busy doing all sorts of things this month.
I, for one, am particularly excited and obsessed with Judy Garland being Turner Classic Movie’s Star of the Month this June.
This is partially in honor of her 100th birthday this week, perennially in recognition of her status as an LGBTQ+ icon during our annual June month of Pride, and obviously because she is one of the great talents and stars in the history of entertainment.
You may quote me on that.
Twenty million+ people watched the first day of six planned, live televised hearings on Thursday (the 9th), of the House Jan 6 Committee and their findings about the mob of thousands of rioters who tried to take down American democracy a year and a half ago in Washington, DC.
That might not sound like a lot in a country of 330 million but if you consider Monday Night Football these days gets on average only about 14.18 million viewers per game, it’s not bad.
Does it give me hope Trump will wind up in handcuffs, as Daniel Goldman, lawyer extraordinaire and lead majority counsel for Trump’s first impeachment trial way back in 2019, opined on MSNBC on Thursday night?
Despite the fact that I deeply respect his opinion and have a secret crush on him.
But at least it’s a start.
What the committee essentially found, in a case laid out painstakingly clearly, and scarily, by committee vice-chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), is that Donald Trump IS responsible for the historic attack on the Capitol last year.
In various ways over two hours of very watchable television, his efforts were categorized as part of an extensively planned and very deliberate attempt to stay in power and prevent the certification of votes confirming Joe Biden as our 46th president and the fact that he, Trump, LOST.
In other words, there is NO WAY Trump was going to let anyone portray him as a LOSER, even though more than 60 appeal court judges across the country, many of them Republican, ruled that he was indeed just that in the 2020 presidential election.
As Rep. Cheney more directly and eloquently stated on Thursday night:
President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.
For those who don’t think these are strange times, recognize that up until this day, in my wildest dreams I could never imagine giving Rep. Cheney, a key vocal objector to gay marriage and pretty much every other thought I’ve ever had, credit for anything.
Also know this is likely only the beginning of how the Trump of it all will continue to reshape each and every one of our lives, both good and bad, and in decent and indecent ways, as time marches on.
Without getting into the emotional testimony from Capitol Hill police officer Caroline Edwards, who recounted hours and hours of carnage, slipping and sliding in her fellow officer’s blood in a hopeless battle to defend the People’s House, here are some highlights of what new information we have so far.
– The far-right fascist group The Proud boys began their march on the Capitol building long before Trump began his speech to mobilize the crowd that day, thus confirming their attack was pre-planned and not spontaneous, as previously espoused in endless Republican talking points and Fox News sound bytes.
– Several Republican congressmen frantically lobbied Trump for a presidential pardon for their activities after the Jan. 6 attack. This clearly indicates their consciousness of guilt since, well, why would you need a pardon for something you didn’t do?
– Numerous entrances to the Capitol were breached, vandalized, wrecked and invaded. This clarifies that the building was attacked by many hundreds of coordinated rioting groups than were thought, many of which seemed to have a plan of exactly what they were going to do and when, according to one excited female rioter shown in seized documentary footage.
– Trump was told by his attorney general, Bill Barr, and others, that his bogus election claims were “bullshit” weeks prior to the attack but he kept espousing the BIG LIE anyway.
– Trump never called a single person, office or agency to try and secure the Capitol Building or deal with rioters that day. And when in real time he was told that the mob wanted to hang his vice-president, he was quoted as saying, ‘maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence ‘deserves it.’
But back to Judy Garland and Turner Classic Movies.
Late Friday night and well into Saturday morning I re-watched Judgment at Nuremberg, the classic 1961 film based on the real-life Nuremberg Trials that attempted to bring Nazi War criminals to justice in the late 1940s.
The movie was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including one for Judy as best supporting actress. Included were two wins – best screenplay for Abby Man and best actor for Maximillan Schell, the latter portraying a zealous German lawyer attempting to defend his clients, all judges in the German government, as well as the honor of his country for future generations.
The film was not an easy one to sit through but after viewing the first of the Jan. 6th hearings the night before I suspected there might be some parallels to help untangle my jumbled, seething and soon to be exploding brain.
Of course, I’m not talking about the intercut real-life documentary footage of thousands of dead, emaciated Jewish bodies of all ages in ditches; starved, beaten and gassed at the hands of a political movement gone amok. Or even the skeletal, traumatized, barely alive, barely human-looking ones of various ethnicities, seen walking or carted away.
At least, not literally.
Instead I’m referring to the rationales citizens of an imperiled country give themselves regarding what to do and/or tolerate when faced with a political party and system run amok, or at least in crisis. What do we make of death and destruction in the name of freedom, hope and survival to better times – especially in those times when we, the people, are hurting due to outside forces and, seemingly, through no fault of our own?
Well, here are some key, unedited quotes of characters from the screenplay:
– Hitler did some good things – He gave some people work. A maid, when asked about living under the National Socialist Party of Germany.
– The American public is just not interested anymore. It’s been 2 years. An American politician when speaking about the advisability of U.S. judges prosecuting German citizens for war crimes.
– Very few of us knew what was really going on. The rich widow of a highly ranked German officer.
– There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace. We had a democracy but there was fear. Fear of today, and tomorrow, and ourselves… Hitler said, ‘lift your heads, be proud to be German… there are devils among us – communists, Jews, gypsies… devils destroy, you won’t be destroyed. A judge explaining his country and himself.
– We participated because we loved our country. What difference does it make? The country is in danger… And we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
Things denied to us as a democracy were open to us now. The final testimony of that aforementioned judge.
I’ve always felt to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
It doesn’t guarantee victory. But at least it gives you a fighting chance.
The next Jan. 6th House Committee hearing is Monday, June 13th at 10am EST and it will be carried live on every American TV network EXCEPT FOX NEWS.
Make of that what you will. But be among the 20 plus million plus who tune in.