Hillsdale College Tells Millions of Conservatives: Jan. 6 Insurrection Was a ‘Hoax’

Author and publisher Roger Kimball (Publicity photo from announcement of 2019 Bradley Prize)

The most recent edition of the Hillsdale College publication Imprimis is devoted to “The January 6 Insurrection Hoax,” an article adapted from a speech delivered by right-wing columnist and publisher Roger Kimball at the conservative college in September. According to Hillsdale President Larry Arnn, Imprimis reaches over 6 million households and businesses.

Kimball agrees with Tucker Carlson’s description of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as a political protest that “got out of hand.” In Imprimis, Kimball portrayed the anger on display that day as Trump supporters’ righteous response to the investigation of potential Russian influence o\in the 2016 Trump campaign. “Everyone involved knew all along it was garbage,” Kimball claimed of the so-called “Steele dossier,” adding that “it was nonetheless used to deploy, illegally, the awesome coercive power of the state against a presidential candidate of whom the ruling bureaucracy and its favored candidate disapproved.”

He claimed that “every honest person knows that the 2020 election was tainted” and that historians may eventually consider the 2016 election as “the last fair and open democratic election in U.S. history.”

Millions of Trump voters, Kimball said, “are profoundly disillusioned and increasingly angry about this entire story—the years-long Robert Mueller ‘investigation,’ the two impeachments of President Trump, the cloud of unknowing that surrounds the 2020 election, and the many questions that have emerged not only from the January 6 protest at the Capitol, but even more from the government’s response to that protest.”

“In truth, there is little threat of domestic terror in this country,” he claimed. “But there is plenty of domestic conservatism. And that conservatism is the real focus of the establishment’s ire.”

Kimball expressed particular concern for Joseph Hackett, one of the members of the far right anti-government Oath Keepers who was arrested for taking part in the breach of the Capitol, suggesting federal officials wanted him “neutralized” because of his support of Trump and his membership in the self-proclaimed militia. Kimball went on to describe the Oath Keepers as “a group whose members have pledged to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic” and one which the FBI “does not like.”

Kimball referred to Hackett and others arrested after Jan. 6 as “political prisoners.” He did not mention that, as reported by the Washington Post, “In preparation for Jan. 6, prosecutors say, Hackett coordinated with founder Stewart Rhodes and took part in firearms training. The day before the riot, the government alleges, he brought guns to a hotel in Virginia for a ‘Quick Reaction Force.’” Hackett was actually released from prison to home detention in August.

Also not included in Kimball’s article was any acknowledgment of the fact Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader, made an explicit public threat to wage bloody civil war if Trump did not remain in power. Nor did the Imprimis article touch on evidence presented by prosecutors in multiple indictments of Oath Keepers that members of the group conspired to commit violence that day.

Kimball concluded that “one melancholy lesson of the January 6 insurrection hoax” is that “America is fast mutating from a republic, in which individual liberty is paramount, into an oligarchy, in which conformity is increasingly demanded and enforced.”

Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian college that distinguishes itself by disavowing any government money, including student financial aid grants or loans, has ambitions and a reach that extend beyond its student body. In a recent email, Arnn promoted its efforts to expand the school’s teaching of its interpretation of the U.S. Constitution to “millions of Americans in all 50 states.” He explained:

These efforts, which aim to counter the Left’s domination over most of our schools, include:

  • Teaching millions of citizens nationwide through free online courses, such as “Constitution 101” and “The Great American Story: A Land of Hope;”
  • Reaching over six million households and businesses nationwide with Imprimis, Hillsdale’s free digest of liberty;
  • Promoting constitutional education through social media outlets popular with young people;
  • Sending millions of pocket-size copies of America’s founding documents to citizens and K-12 schools across America, as well as to members of our armed forces; and
  • Restoring excellence to K-12 education through Hillsdale’s Barney Charter School Initiative, which launches and provides guidance to classical K-12 charter schools nationwide.

Another recent issue of Imprimis featured “Gender Ideology Run Amok,” by Abigail Shrier, who charged, “Just as the destructive objective of critical race theory is to divide Americans racially, that of gender ideology is to disrupt the formation of stable families, the building blocks of American life.”

Earlier this year, Imprimis ran with “Critical Race Theory: What It is and How to Fight It,” from Christopher Rufo, the right-wing think tank activist who hyped the supposed threat of critical race theory.