Wednesday: Putting the events of Jan. 6 in historical context with Lawrence Rosenthal, who has studied the right wing.
- Jan. 13, 2021, 8:41 a.m. ET
Flags fly at half-staff in remembrance of a Capitol Police officer who died during a riot by a pro-Trump mob that broke into the Capitol last week.Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The images of a pro-Trump mob overwhelming the Capitol on Jan. 6 have been seared into our minds over the past week.
Now, as the country — along with officials in state capitals — braces for the possibility of more violence ahead of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration, we’re left struggling with painful questions about what’s ahead for our democracy and, in particular, for our democracy in California.
[See a visual investigation into how a presidential rally turned into a Capitol rampage.]
On Tuesday, I talked with Lawrence Rosenthal, chair of the Center for Right-Wing Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied U.S. militia movements.
Here’s our conversation, lightly edited and condensed:
What was going through your mind on Jan. 6? And emotionally, how did you feel?
It was very powerful for me. My book is about populism’s embrace of toxic nationalism. So most of that book and most of my work is devoted to trying to make sense of how to deal with the extreme right.
In the last chapter, I talk about the response of blue America to the Trump election and this sense of malaise that arose — it was hard to put your finger on, but it was about taking for granted the existence of liberal democracy.