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MAGA rioters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Frankly, This Is America. It Shouldn't Be, But I Guess That's the Way Things Are

Abby Zimet

Whew. On the scorching first day of the Congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 MAGA insurrection, four Capitol cops - for once in this nation's history the good guys, each more eloquent, honorable and traumatized than the last - offered consistently harrowing, often tearful testimony that outed once and for all the GOP's despicable gaslighting about that day's carnage. The ruthless rebuttals by Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and Pfc. Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the D.C. Police Department, all in their dress blues, repeatedly exposed what Fanone called "the worst that America has to offer," from MAGA goons screaming  "Fucking nigger!" at Dunn to the evil "hit-man " who sent them. Backing up their horrific accounts was video so devastating many lawmakers could barely watch; much of it came from the officers' own truth-telling body-cams that, in a twist of history, police departments had long opposed. Though the four cops each told different stories, they shared vital common threads. All four used the same terms: insurrectionists, terrorists, mob, MAGA. All four thought they and their colleagues were going to die. All four remain scarred, physically and mentally: Said Gonell, "That day continues to be a constant trauma for us." And all four knew who was to blame. "All of them - all of them were saying Trump sent us," said Gonell. "Nobody else - there was nobody else. It was not Antifa, it was not Black Lives Matter, it was not the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent over to the Capitol that day."

Astonishingly, pro-insurrection House GOP leaders kept up the "sick and cynical" lies until moments before the hearing, when they announced who was really to blame: Nancy Pelosi. Brutally, one after the other, the four anguished officers shut them down. You can see highlights here, but the whole hearing is worth watching. Gonell, who's from the Dominican Republic and who fought in Iraq, said this was worse: "We were fighting for our lives" even as rioters vilified him as "not even an American." MAGA thugs told the white Hodges, famously crushed in a door, he was "on the wrong team" and would "die on your knees." On their sea of flags: "It was clear the terrorists perceived themselves to be Christians. To my perpetual confusion, I saw the Thin Blue Line flag more than once as (they) continued to assault us." (The Liberal Redneck on the subject: "These people are immune to irony.) Fanone, a self-described Republican repeatedly tasered at the base of his skull who later had a heart attack, blasted "disgraceful" GOPers "I put my life at risk to defend (who) are downplaying or outright denying what happened...I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them (but) too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist or that hell actually wasn't that bad." Said the black Dunn, who was trashed by Tucker Carlson and then called "a fucking nigger" while defending his country, "It was just so overwhelming and so disheartening (that) we live in a country with people like that." His final, potent words: “To the rioters, insurrectionists and terrorists of that day, democracy went on that night..Democracy is bigger than any one person or any one party. You all tried to disrupt democracy that day. You all failed." We thank him, and the rest.

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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