self defense

Mo Brooks Is Definitely Not a Criminal, So Stop Asking

The congressman as he was attacking Republican colleagues who did not support overturning the 2020 election before a crowd of Trump supporters who later laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Screencap/CSPAN

Congressman Mo Brooks isn’t having a very good week. The Alabama Republican is rediscovering a biblical concept many of us learn as children: When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. A Trump loyalist, Brooks spent the last two and a half months pretending that Democrats stole the election from Donald Trump and helped lead the GOP effort to reject Joe Biden’s victory in Congress. So committed was he to this conviction that he tried to inspire a crowd of MAGA diehards to start “kicking ass” at the rally last Wednesday that led to the sacking of the U.S. Capitol and several deaths. In such circumstances, a reasonable person might engage in some introspection. Get right with the Lord, as we say in the South. But not Brooks. Now the subject of a formal censure resolution filed by two House Democrats, Brooks is readying his defense.

His reputation, he writes in a rambling new statement, has been threatened by “scurrilous, George Orwellian, 1984, Socialist Democrats Politics of Personal Destruction, the same attack strategy used in 2012 against then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and nonstop against President Trump with false Russian Collusion charges and the 2019 sham impeachment effort.”

Things could only possibly get worse from here, and indeed, Brooks does not disappoint. He undertakes an exhaustive defense of his personal character. “My longtime acquaintances and family would describe me as a straight arrow or a ‘square,’” he added, unnecessarily. My man does not smoke! He does not drink! “I have never been accused or convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors,” he continued, but “did once misjudge a traffic light and deservedly got a ticket, but that is it.”

Otherwise, he is a good boy from a good family. He explains: “On my mother’s side, we have a North Carolina ancestral history that includes a county sheriff, a state legislator, a board of education member, a road commissioner, and the like.” In case this did not sufficiently awe his would-be persecutors, he mentions a crowning glory: “In fact, the first rest stop you come to on I-40 when you enter North Carolina from Tennessee is named after my grandfather, D. Reeves Noland.”

From these lofty heights, Brooks condescends to the common man. He cannot be guilty of sedition because, you see, he spoke “very early” at the rally, hours before someone killed a cop with a fire extinguisher. He was inside the chamber when the Trump loyalists he rallied tried to break in; how could anyone believe he wanted to incite violence “on myself, my friends, and my colleagues,” he wonders. “I exhorted the Trump rally attendees to bring words, NOT VIOLENCE, to the U.S. Capitol,” the congressman, who had asked rallygoers if they were willing to sacrifice their blood and their lives for their country, insisted.

Though he is a summa cum laude graduate of Duke University who used the euphemism “derriere” in his statement on Tuesday, Brooks has not presented a persuasive argument. He didn’t arm Trump supporters, didn’t put the pipe bombs or Molotov cocktails in their trucks. Neither did Trump himself. But they’re both complicit. You can’t lie to people for months and pretend they won’t react. He affirmed their greatest fears, told them their rights were at stake — and there’s no way in hell a Republican congressman from Alabama could have believed he was speaking to a crowd of unarmed conservative activists.

Now that consequences may be at hand, Brooks wants to call down the ancestors in his defense. It isn’t going to work, and the historical parallels are, at minimum, uncomfortable. “Rest assured; I will never apologize for fighting to win our causes at the ballot box. That is the American way!” he wrote. He should consider an apology, at least for moral reasons, but it might not do him much good. Five people are dead, and Trump supporters have pledged more demonstrations to come. His efforts at self-sanitation will be as successful as the Confederacy.

Mo Brooks Is Definitely Not a Criminal, So Stop Asking