I was riveted by the TV screen as I watched the June and July broadcasts of the House of Representatives hearings investigating the January 6 insurrection. I felt compelled to understand not only how a mob of hate groups became mobilized to storm the U.S. Capitol, but also how half of our nation came to believe that the mob’s action was justified and acceptable as some sort of “patriotic act.”

The goal of the House hearings is primarily to determine whether former President Donald Trump is to be held accountable for inciting sedition and thereby breaking his sworn oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. The operative word is “incitement”. It means the act of provoking unlawful behavior or urging someone to behave unlawfully.

The third broadcast of the January 6 committee revealed that President Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to commit an unconstitutional act: altering or negating the vote count of the Electoral College in Congress. When Mike Pence chose not to comply with the President’s demand, Trump vented his anger and said: “Mike Pence deserves to be hanged.”

As the hearings continue to amass evidence of Trump’s conspiracy to terminate America’s democracy, I can’t help but recall the consequences of events in Europe that overshadowed my childhood and led to the eventual tragedy of World War II.

First, Communism evolved after the Russian revolution, and culminated with Stalin’s oppression. The second major event, was the rise of Nazi power, and the establishment of Germany’s Third Reich with Adolf Hitler as Germany’s leader.

Both Russia and Germany are my native Lithuania’s neighbors. Both nations felt it necessary to alter the forms of their governments. But in their quest, both nations were seduced by flawed ideologies. Russians sought socioeconomic equality through Communism, a perverted version of Marxist socialism. Germans aggrandized themselves as a superior race. Both Russia and Germany discarded constitution-based democratic governments, and became oppressive dictatorships.

Today, America stands divided politically, morally, and ideologically. Nearly half of its citizens were seduced and captivated by the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. They question the validity of Joe Biden’s presidency. Seduction best describes America’s captivated status. Seduction means the persuasion to disobedience or disloyalty. What other word can better or more precisely describe the motivation to commit sedition?

The proof of Trump’s criminality or his complicity in instigating the January 6 insurrection is of paramount significance. The evidence revealed by the January 6 commission must lead to a Grand Jury indictment. A trial and conviction by the U.S. Justice Department must ensue.

In the third Senate hearing of the January 6 committee, Honorable Judge J. Michael Luttig testified that Donald Trump is an imminent threat to America’s democracy.

A criminal conviction would prevent Trump from seeking re-election and serve as a safeguard to America’s democracy.

Fred Natkevi is a longtime Oak Park resident who grew up in Eastern Europe during World War II.

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