Kelly Hawes

There’s a meme floating around on social media concerning last month’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“Democrats say the storming of the Capitol is outrageous, but did you know the Senate was bombed by communists in 1983?” it asks. “A woman involved in the attack was convicted and sentenced to 58 years in prison. She was pardoned by Bill Clinton and now sits on the board of Black Lives Matter Inc.”

The person who shared that meme added a note.

“Inconvenient history,” she said.

Someone else posted a link to an article from History.com recounting a number of attacks on the Capitol.

The first came while the building was still under construction during the War of 1812. A year into the fighting, American troops had set fire to a capital in colonial Canada, and the British retaliated in 1814 by setting fire to some buildings in Washington, D.C., including the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

The building has also been the scene of violence among members of Congress. Among the most famous came in 1856 when pro-slavery Congressman Preston Brooks attacked anti-slavery Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane on the floor of the Senate.

And then there was the fistfight that broke out in the House chambers in 1858. It started when a southerner grabbed a northerner by the throat, and by the time it was over, about 30 congressmen had joined the melee.

In March of 1954, four Puerto Rican Americans opened fire in the House chamber, injuring five congressmen.

And then there were the bombs planted in 1915, 1971 and 1983.

That post about the 1983 bombing is a reference to Susan Rosenberg, a former member of a left-wing terrorist organization who was indeed freed from prison by the former president on his final day in office. She was at one point a suspect in the Capitol bombing, but she was ultimately convicted of having a large cache of weapons and explosives.

While in prison, Rosenberg became a writer and activist, and as recently as last June, she was listed as the vice chair of the board of directors of Thousand Currents, then the fundraising arm of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. That organization no longer lists its board of directors on its website, so it’s hard to say whether Rosenberg still holds that position.

The website does, however, say that Thousand Currents is no longer affiliated with Black Lives Matter. It still supports the cause, it says, but another organization has taken over fundraising.

And the fact is none of it matters. None of it makes what happened on Jan. 6 any less outrageous.

Some folks will try to convince you the violence that day was no big deal. It was a demonstration that went awry, similar to what we witnessed in Seattle and other American cities.

Sure things got out of hand, they’ll say, but this was no different than what happened when businesses went up in flames during those riots last summer.

Democrats are a bunch of hypocrites, they’ll argue. Progressives take to the streets and it’s an exercise of free speech, but conservatives do the same thing and it’s an insurrection.

The woman who shared that Facebook meme said she was just offering perspective, adding some historical context that lots of folks might otherwise miss.

Here’s my perspective: This was the first time in American history a mob of our fellow citizens overran the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the results of a free and fair election. It was also the first time such an assault had been inspired by the sitting president of the United States.

Don’t lose sight of that. This is not normal behavior.

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be reached at kelly.hawes@indianamediagroup.com. Find him on Twitter @Kelly_Hawes.

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