On Monday night, New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke on a live video on her Instagram page about her fears during the January 6 riot in Congress. In gripping detail, Ocasio-Cortez described how she hid in the bathroom as she heard banging on the door to her office. “I start to hear these yells of ‘Where is she, where is she?’ and I just thought to myself, they got inside,” Ocasio-Cortez recalled. “This was the moment where I thought everything was over.” She remembers thinking she was “going to die.”
During the talk, Ocasio-Cortez compared the trauma of the day with her earlier experience of sexual assault, which she has alluded to before but never in so much detail. “I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I haven’t told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.”
Ocasio-Cortez spoke in such personal terms in order to reject calls to move on from the events of January 6. “We cannot move on without accountability,” she insisted. “We cannot heal without accountability.”
The January 6 riot was so shocking that one would think there should be no need to insist on its importance. But the very fact that the failed insurrection revealed the explosive violence of Trumpist Republicans makes political interests vested in bipartisan cooperation all the more eager to whitewash the events.
This tendency is true not just of Republicans but also the media—and even some factions on the left. The late novelist Gore Vidal liked to quip that America should be called the United States of Amnesia. This national preference for willful forgetfulness is already evident in varied attempts to push the January 6 violence down the memory hole.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is among the most vocal advocates for a quick turn of the page. Appearing on Fox News on Monday, Graham warned that calling witnesses for the impeachment trial of Donald Trump would “open up Pandora’s box.” Graham added, “I hope we don’t call any and we vote and get this trial over next week when it starts.”
Republicans like Graham have obvious reasons to want the public to forget about January 6 as soon as possible. But the same tendency can be seen in media reporting on Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, which zeroed in on her revelations a