W

e’re all trying to sort out the Jan. 6 riot that saw the halls of American democracy vandalized.

It was shocking. It hurts, in the way watching a loved one being assaulted might hurt.

There are calls for unity in the wake of the attack. We do believe Americans should come together.

But there’s business to attend to first: Accountability for those who enabled this attack, whipped up people to the point they carried it out, and of course accountability for the rioters.

Unity is not possible when you’re dealing with those who don’t want it.

The reaction to the ransacking of the U.S. Capitol was instructive. The vast majority of Americans were shocked and disgusted.

Others were ready to go back and do it again. Indeed, some of the rioters seemed to treat the event as no more than attending an RV convention – go look around, go home, no consequences. What’s a little insurrection among friends?

The scenes from Jan. 6 continue to unfold, and what looked horrible at first sight now looks only worse. And while five people died, it could have been much worse. A gallows was erected on the grounds. There were chants about hanging Vice-President Mike Pence, and groups of mobsters were apparently searching for Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders.

Why would anyone in their right mind contemplate and carry out such actions?

Well, they weren’t in their right minds. Bear with us briefly while we discuss “The Big Lie.’’ The Big Lie has been used by various rogues at various points in history, but it essentially means a leader telling a whopper so big that it must be true, because surely no one would warp the truth to that degree.

The Big Lie at the heart of this is the “stolen’’ election. Donald Trump has said for months that the only way he could lose was because of cheating, and that the only election result he would accept was the one where he was victorious.

He lost. It’s been investigated, litigated, adjudicated to the point of exhaustion. As of last week the Trump legal team was 1-61 in court. But Trump continued to say he won, and has tried everything in his power, up to stiff-arming every elected official he could find in Georgia, to overturn the result. He was even calling members of Congress while the Jan. 6 mayhem unfolded.

The Big Lie was believed by ardent supporters, even though the Lie requires that reporters, researchers, judges, poll workers and election officials (including many honorable Republicans) were all in on it.

Some of Trump’s lies are pointless, like he was named Michigan Man of the Year. Some are just weird, like forest fires can be prevented by raking forest floors.

And some get people killed, like United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. That others weren’t killed on the spot is a small miracle. And spare us the hogwash about most of those in attendance being peaceful good Joes. We keep waiting to see footage of a rioter intervening while an officer was being assaulted.

We’re still waiting.

Massive investigations need to be conducted as to why the Capitol was so unprepared for a possibility that had been on the radar for weeks, a Capitol where the entire government – this was a joint session of Congress, with both the House and Senate gathered – was laid open to peril.

There are plotters, planners and enablers who must be brought to account.

Our own Congressman, Republican 11th District Rep. Madison Cawthorn, was on the pre-game stage whipping up the crowd. He now faces a chorus of calls to resign.

Also to be held to account are other politicians and an array of media figures who promoted The Big Lie.

In the meantime, we are still in dark days. This week the FBI was receiving reports about possible incidents at state capitols and about “an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, D.C. on 16 January. They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur.”

The vandals are still loose. We sincerely hope for unity in our fractured nation as it deals with unrest, a pandemic and a wobbly economy.

But first, we need answers.

And a reckoning.