Will the January 6 insurrection become the Lost Cause narrative of the 21st century?

In the last 100 years, the false narrative of the lost cause has littered our history books. Was the Civil War about slavery? Of course not; it was about states’ rights. Well, that is what I was taught in high school. When would you ask the states’ rights to do what? Of course, the teacher would say “whatever they wanted to do.” Pointing out that all but one of the Articles of Secession from the Union specifically stated slavery, the teacher would fall back on states’ rights. This brings us to today, given how the Republican lawmakers have started changing the narrative on the January 6 insurrection. I wonder what textbooks will describe the events of January 6th, 2021.

At the end of the civil war, the Lost Cause narrative was created. Southern politicians and authors used this narrative to promote the idea that slavery wasn’t the leading cause of the Civil War; northern aggression caused it. This narrative has been taught in schools for decades.

The Republican lawmakers are beginning to change the narrative of the January 6 insurrection. Will we return to a false narrative, or will we be able to see past our histories and start teaching the truth? It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, but will our future generations even know what happened?

In 2022, the Republicans are changing their tune on January 6, 2021, which shows much potential for this narrative to become popularized again.

The facts are pretty simple for January 6th.

  • Around noon, President Trump calls on VP Pence to overturn the results
  • 1:00 PM Congress gavels in to begin the certification process
  • 2:00 PM, Rioters, enter the Capitol Building
  • Around 3:00 pm, the first death is reported when law enforcement shoots and kills Ashli Babbit
  • Between 4:00 and 4:30 PM, Biden and Trump respond to the events on Capitol Hill
  • 8:00 PM, The House return to the chamber to continue the certification process
  • 4:36 AM, The House certify Joe Biden as president

The facts are clear about what happened on January 6th, unless we alter history and start teaching a false narrative. These facts will be remembered and taught about the events of January 6th, 2021.

These are the facts that all political parties do agree upon. The truth of who instigated the violence, whether this was an insurrection, and who the Capitol rioters were, will be the question.

Republican lawmakers and white nationalist organizations are already starting to argue that this was not an insurrection, and it wasn’t a riot. They use language like “Peaceful protests.” and “This was not a riot” in their statements.

These groups also start talking about, especially when Joe Biden is no longer in office, pushing to stop investigations. The Biden administration initiated these investigations trying to determine who started the violence and if rioting should be a federal offense.

In the future, Republicans will push the idea that this was not a riot and was just a peaceful protest gone wrong. They will say it wasn’t because they instigated the riots but because of the left-wing groups trying to stop them from having a peaceful protest regarding the election results.

In this false narrative, these Republicans will say the only people arrested or killed on January 6th were from Antifa or other leftist groups. This false narrative is even more dangerous because of the potential of being taught by teachers across America.

Currently, most republicans support former President Donald Trump and go along with the so-called “Big Lie,” the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. According to a study completed by PPRI in May of 2021, less than three in ten Americans (29%) agree with the statement that “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.” However, two-thirds of Republicans (66%) agree that the election was stolen. Among all Americans, more than two-thirds (68%) disagree with the “big lie,” including 57% who disagree entirely. Only 33% of Republicans disagree, and less than one in five (18%) disagree entirely. 

A year later, every day, another Trump loyalist goes on Fox News or other right-wing talk show and pushes their narrative or what they say the truth is for January 6th. Like the Lost Cause, how events of January 6th will be taught depends on where the student goes to school. If today foreshadows the future, several states have explicitly instructed teachers not to “wade into” discussions with students about the January 6 insurrection in Washington D.C. “due to the current polarization and strong emotions.”

I can see this as the foundation of creating the Lost Cause of the 21st century. We will have a state that overwhelmingly supported President Trump talking about a President and his followers attempting to overturn a stolen election. The FBI, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and Democrats staged a conspiracy against President Trump, the duly reelected President.

The states that did not support President Trump will talk about an insurrection, a President using all means at his hands to overturn a fair election, and the will of the people—going to an extent never seen in history, actions that would have made Niccolò Machiavelli proud.

Former President Trump may not be a bigot or a racist himself, and many of his followers may not be either. However, Trump took advantage of a hateful and bigoted culture that felt disenfranchised because of the presidential election of a young, articulate, and liberal black man. There are eerie ties between the legacy that the United Daughters of the Confederacy anchored in our history and the beliefs and lies that the many on the Republican Party are attempting to seed today.

Will the narrative of January 6th follow in the footsteps of the Lost Cause narrative? Or will we tell our children and grandchildren that this was not a riot but an insurrection that republicans instigated to destroy democracy?

The facts about what happened on January 6th are clear. There is no argument on what happened.