Wednesday, July 06, 2022

It’s morally repugnant to compare the January 6 hearings to show trials.

by Jonah Goldberg, Jun 24, The Dispatch- ... What is a show trial? The Britannica dictionary has a pretty standard definition: “A trial in a court of law in which the verdict has been decided in advance.” This is a fairly clinical definition. It leaves out the moral horror of how show trials actually work.

... the term became commonplace thanks to the Bolsheviks and the practice was perfected under Stalin. ...  it was Stalin who used them for industrial slaughter during the Great Purge, as part of his effort to consolidate his rule by terror. “Death solves all problems,” Stalin liked to say. “No man, no problem.” His henchman, Lavrenty Beria, once declared, “Show me the man and I'll find you the crime.”

Given the sheer magnitude of Stalin’s terror, it’s almost a moral crime to try to summarize the horror of Stalin’s show trials. Evidence was invented. Confessions were extracted by torture and threats against family members. Stalin signed a decree holding that the family members of the accused—including children as young as 12—shared the predetermined guilt of husbands and fathers. The point of the decree was to make it easier to coerce false confessions. 

The victims weren’t just potential political rivals of Stalin’s—though they were the first to go—but whole classes of people. ... Anything that suggested independent thought or “bourgeois” tendencies—including stamp collecting—could mark you for prosecution. And since guilt was a foregone conclusion, to be charged was tantamount to being found guilty.

Until recently, this was the kind of stuff people—particularly conservatives—raised on the righteous cause of anti-communism, referred to when they talked about “show trials.”

Now the term “show trial” apparently means something different. ... A show trial in which you are not found guilty is not a show trial. ... Now we’re told that the January 6 hearings are nothing less than a “show trial.” Rep. Scott Perry calls them “Soviet Style Show Trials.” Tucker Carlson strikes a courageous pose refusing to go along with the show trials. And Michael Goodwin thinks the lack of pro-Trump Republican apologists on the committee is proof of a “show trial.”

Now, obviously I agree that show trials are disgusting and “deeply unAmerican” [sic]. But here’s the thing, the January 6 committee isn’t even a trial. It has zero power to punish Donald Trump or even charge him with a crime, never mind execute him. Countless witnesses have refused to cooperate with the hearings, either by invoking the Fifth Amendment or defying subpoenas. 

... And at the end of this supposedly heinous show trial, when the committee reaches its (admittedly foregone) conclusion, you know what it will do? Gird your loins, people: It will … release a report. The horror!

If you think “going full Stalin” amounts to releasing a politically inconvenient report, then you either don’t know anything about history, or you think history is a partisan plaything. And if you think finding the truth of what happened, even imperfectly, is un-American, then I guess I’m un-American in your eyes.

... Trump tried to steal an election and, so far, none of these defenders have mounted a serious defense against the charge. Instead, they carp about the lack of Trump defenders on the committee. As far as it goes, it’s a fair complaint. It just doesn’t go very far. Heck, even Donald Trump blames Kevin McCarthy for it. But there’s nothing stopping the carpers from offering a defense on TV or outside the hearing room.

They don’t because they would rather whine about how everything is so unfair to Donald Trump, who—while far from Stalin—is the only person credibly accused of using lies as a pretext to violate the law and the Constitution. (read it all at this link)

Rod's Comment: Well said. I wish I would have said it. 

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