What do you do when someone whitewashes the January 6 rally/insurrection with eyewitness accounts? Normally, respectful debate traditions have you listen and objectively evaluate the points.
Fun fact: Attendees to the January 6 Trump rally/insurrection are not credible. It is each attendee’s responsibility to regain their personal credibility. Until that happens, you don’t need to engage in a loathsome, soul-sucking discussion. You can freely dismiss their entire witness accounts and move on.
NOTE: This article is about establishing facts about the rally/insurrection. You generally don’t establish credible facts using the accounts of non-credible witnesses. There are other reasons why you may wish to discuss the rally/insurrection with someone, such as a conversation of understanding. That is a different matter and is touched on when I discuss redemption below.
Isn’t this fallacious? No.
That may sound like attacking the person instead of the argument. Indeed, that is normally a genetic fallacy or an ad hominem fallacy.
However, the credibility of witness accounts hinge on credibility of the observer. Establishing the credibility of the observer is a necessary part of establishing reliability of any witness testimony.
Affirming non-credibility of attendees
Simply attending the Trump rally/insurrection shows astoundingly bad moral and intellectual discernment. Here’s why:
It is evil to attempt to steal a fair election. That point stands on its own.
For months, Trump and his friends justified their evil with the big lie, a Nazi propaganda tactic. They promulgated repeated, colossally false claims.
The January 6 rally/insurrection was to celebrate evil and a big lie. People who attend an event that celebrates evil and a big lie are broadcasting profoundly faulty judgment and moral corruption.
Confirmation bias makes it worse. That happens when people bias their words to reinforce their own choices. For example, product reviews are more favorable when the reviewer purchased the reviewed product. A positive review is likely; otherwise, the reviewer would be repudiating his or her own choice.
Confirmation bias will encourage witnesses to portray their involvement, and the rally/insurrection itself, in the best light. This helps attendees avoid troubling questions about their own moral discernment and intellect. That’s why you see so many false stores of Antifa involvement, blame-shifting to unrelated events or actors, sanitizing of the rally/insurrection’s causes, and more. “I would never choose to attend an evil rally/insurrection. It was those outsiders!”
Attending the rally/insurrection is a large commitment. That amplifies the confirmation bias.
All the above eliminates the credibility of attendees. In addition to showing horrible judgment, they have powerful reasons to lie about the rally/insurrection.
A path to redemption
Why does all this matter? I’ve seen some of these witness accounts, where they whitewash the rally/insurrection. While the verifiable parts of their accounts do not contradict the truthful narrative, these truth-ish parts are enveloped in lies.
Since the rally/insurrection attendee is who starts from the position of lacking credibility, it is that attendee’s responsibility to regain credibility. That may happen by the attendee providing credible verification for every fact, even if plainly obvious. For example, if the attendee says “the sky is blue”, the attendee must also provide credible information to substantiate that.
Nothing the attendee says can escape this verification. Even if, say, the attendee shared three verified facts in a row, that in no way prejudges the next fact. Every fact the attendee alleges may be dismissed out of hand until corroborated with reliable information.
Providing verification of individual facts will get tedious for the attendee. I get it. But it is necessary given the attendee’s non-credibility. If the attendee wishes to regain credibility as a person, step one is to cleanly and irrevocably repudiate the big lie. This is a starting point–just a starting point–for the attendee’s redemption. If this repudiation is genuine, the attendee will unhesitantly share deeply negative sentiment on Trump’s election-steal agenda.
Here’s the funny thing about the above redemption paths: neither of them makes the attendee’s account worth anything! If facts are verified, then they are simply matching voluminous, reliable information. In other words, they are simply affirming what conscientious people already know! These facts did not meaningfully expand the body of knowledge. (I acknowledge a chance of me being wrong, but the record of the Trump apparatus suggests that chance is vanishingly small.)
An important exception: None of this applies to those who attended for sound reasons, such as journalists, the opposition, and more. While verification of their words remains important, they do not start from a position of immense non-credibility.
To summarize, the witness accounts of those attending the January 6 Trump rally/insurrection are not credible. Simply by showing up, attendees demonstrated severe personal flaws, destroying their credibility. Also, attendees have powerful incentives to lie. It is up to the attendees to establish credibility of their words. Until then, rally/insurrection witness accounts are trash and can be summarily disregarded.