Rioters loyal to Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. Credit: Jose Luis Magana / AP

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Phil: How did Jan. 6 become so divisive?

Ethan: You mean like how come almost every single Republican in the Maine House of Representatives voted against commemorating the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection?

Phil: Rather, how Vice President Kamala Harris used the anniversary to compare thousands killed at Pearl Harbor and 9/11 to an event where five people died. And the only death on Jan. 6 found to be a homicide was an unarmed American woman who was killed by a Capitol Police officer.

Ethan: Harris didn’t compare the deaths, she compared the attacks on our democracy and the legacy they hold in our collective and individual memories. 

Phil: House Republicans didn’t vote against commemorating Jan 6. They objected to the incendiary language in the resolution. If Senate President Troy Jackson sincerely wanted to bring the Legislature together, he could have spent more time working to get Republicans to co-sponsor the resolve and he would not have called the Jan. 6 protesters domestic terrorists.

Ethan: What would you rather we call them?

Phil: Rioters, trespassers, the crimes they have actually been charged with. Just as we should be calling all rioters — not peaceful protesters — anywhere in America. 

Ethan: Please don’t tell me you are among the fringe who claim individuals committing arson is the same as a mob trying to overthrow our government?

Phil: I am among those who see a problem with then-U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris encouraging people to bail out rioters in Minnesota but not in Washington, D.C.

Ethan: Except she didn’t. She solicited people to help post bonds for low-income protesters. Very few of them were tied to the riots (maybe two), but I’m confident every person who broke into the Capitol was committing domestic terrorism. According to the Patriot Act, “Domestic Terrorism” is a criminal act occurring within the United States that is “intended to … influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; [and/or] affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction.” That sure describes what happened at the Capitol that day.

Phil: They were almost entirely gun-free activists believing the election was fraught with irregularities and that Vice President Mike Pence actually could have overturned the election.

Ethan: It was actually former President Donald Trump who believed those things. They just followed his lead.

Phil: The protesters should not be charged as a terrorists for speaking their mind, or trying to steal a lectern, or for perching their feet upon Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. All unbecoming, but miniscule in comparison to flying planes into buildings or blowing up sleeping soldiers at a U.S. Naval Base.

Ethan: Look, I understand your point that the loss of life on Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept . 11, 2001, not to mention the sacrifices made in the wars that followed, are uniquely powerful. But, can you at least acknowledge that what happened a year ago is uniquely significant in American history? Not since the War of 1812 has our Capitol been violently besieged, and never has a legitimate election been threatened like this.

Phil: Sure. But when put into context, approximately 75 people out of thousands have been charged for using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer. The rest, approximately 640, are summoned for entering or remaining in a restricted area.

Ethan: Unfortunately, that is wrong. Hundreds have been charged with assault, destruction of or stealing government property, obstructing government operations, etc. But I am not sure why the number of people matters. Only 19 flew the actual planes on 9/11 and approximately 350 pilots initially attacked Pearl Harbor. Whereas 2,000 to 2,500 attacked our Capitol.

Phil: Because equal justice for rioters, wherever they create mayhem, matters. 

Ethan: So does the truth.