The Washington Post

Why the work is important


Regarding the July 13 front-page article “Trump hid Capitol plan, panel finds”:

I research, write and teach about political violence and its aftermath, including “transition­al justice” (how societies that have been harmed by political violence move toward stability). Three things are necessary for transition­al justice: developing a shared narrative of what led to the violence, validating the victims’ experience­s of violence and rendering a judgment — moral, legal or both. I was impressed by how the Jan. 6 committee promotes these three goals.

We are witnessing a kind of Truth Commission as the committee narrates the events that led to the insurrecti­on. There is a clear record of this dark historic moment, making it increasing­ly difficult for Trump loyalists to deny the horror.

Through its choice of witnesses, the committee validates victims’ experience­s. Stephen Ayres described how his life was turned upside down because he trusted the “big lie.” It validated many ordinary people whose lives have been wrecked by their allegiance to former president Donald Trump. Repeated expression­s of gratitude to witnesses for their bravery and patriotism in the face of threats and intimidati­on are also validation.

Though the committee is not empowered to render legal judgment, it is rendering a moral one. The moral turpitude of Mr. Trump and his allies stands in stark contrast to advisers who defied and discourage­d him. These advisers now show their moral integrity by testifying to the truth, playing their own part in our country’s transition­al justice.

How fully we achieve transition­al justice remains to be seen, but the committee and its witnesses are doing their part to bring our country a greater measure of stability and security.

Anna Floerke Scheid, Pittsburgh

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