Democratic lawmakers and mainstream media outlets have attempted to define the narrative surrounding last year’s riot on Capitol Hill by describing it as an attempted insurrection.
A recent Harvard University study, however, has poked some serious holes in that assertion. Researchers reviewed about half of the more than 800 court cases against those being prosecuted for their involvement in the Jan. 6 protest and determined that most of the rioters were simply acting out of loyalty to then-President Donald Trump.
The study’s results were published in the Harvard Crimson but has not yet been peer reviewed.
Once again: anyone who claims Jan 6 was an actual “insurrection” is a liar or an idiot
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) July 27, 2022
Although news coverage of the incident focused on a supposed conspiracy to overthrow the federal government, the authors of the study found little evidence to support such an allegation.
“The folks with QAnon T-shirts and signs and flags were so prominently displayed in much of the visual imagery that came out of the Capitol attack, so we expected to see more QAnon-related concepts come through in the documents,” explained researcher Kaylee Fagan.
As for the self-professed motivations of the protesters, about 4 in 10 said they were acting either out of support for Trump or in response to his allegations about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Only about 8% of the defendants in the case expressed any desire to inspire a violent insurrection.
Fagan acknowledged that she didn’t anticipate that the results of the study would “be this stark.”
Authors of the study concluded that “an unquantifiable number of Americans” were convinced of an “existential danger” regarding the nation’s system of government.
“This belief translated into a widespread fear of democratic and societal breakdown, which, in turn, motivated hundreds of Americans to travel to D.C. from far corners of the country in what they were convinced was the nation’s most desperate hour,” the report found.
The House Jan. 6 committee has attempted to connect various right-wing groups to a supposed insurrection attempt, citing Twitter as a method by which Trump and his allies sought to radicalize supporters.
A Twitter spokesperson dismissed any culpability last month in a statement asserting that the company is “clear-eyed” about its role in the protest, adding: “While we continue to examine how we can improve moving forward, the fact remains that we took unprecedented steps and invested significant resources to prepare for and respond to the threats that emerged during the 2020 US election.”