Critical. Subversive. Irrepressible.

AWOL

Critical. Subversive. Irrepressible.

AWOL

Critical. Subversive. Irrepressible.

AWOL

AU president search had limited student, late faculty input
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Rep. Jamie Raskin discusses polarization and Trump impeachment

Local DC station to stream SOC and KPU event video
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Editor’s Note: This story includes mentions of suicide that may be triggering to readers. Resources are included at the bottom of this article.

 

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a three-term congressman, appeared as this semester’s first American Forum speaker and discussed his thoughts on American democracy. 

During the second impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Raskin served as the lead impeachment manager. He also serves as the ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. 

During the forum, Raskin discussed the Republican impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and humanity in politics.

“The constitutional standard for impeachment is treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors,” Raskin said. “After seven months of investigation in the Oversight Committee, they don’t have a shred of evidence linking President Biden to any criminal wrongdoing.” 

American University Associate Professor Jane Hall moderated the event and said his messages and experience teaching at AU for 25 years showed Raskin’s care for working with students. 

The full video of the event will be available on NBC4 Washington’s streaming channel starting Sept. 27 at 8 p.m., according to a joint Instagram post from the School of Communication and Kennedy Political Union.

Hall said she questioned Raskin on topics regarding the media’s role in promoting divisiveness in America. Raskin then said the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol showed how people can promote an agenda instead of the truth.  

“We live in a time where the idea of facts and the concept of truth are under attack and the internet makes it very easy for people to promote propaganda,” Raskin said. “I mean, to walk the plank with somebody like Donald Trump, that’s a scary thing.” 

Raskin said he featured the author of “The Cult of Trump”, Steven Hassan, at his Democracy Summer Program. According to a post on X from Hassan, he was formerly a part of the Unification Church, a religious cult formed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Hassan now specializes in cult deprogramming, Raskin said. 

“He was in the Moonies,” Raskin said. “He got out and he warns young people about cults.” 

Raskin said he had his own warning about cults for AU students.

“I don’t know if there’s any cults roaming around AU these days,” Raskin said. “You want to watch out for that. The idea that you’re going to allow one person to dictate to you what the truth is, and what the facts are, and to damn all other news information, that’s a really dangerous thing.”

While Raskin said a cult-like mindset could be dangerous, he also discussed the importance of friendship. During the event, he mentioned crossing political boundaries, like in his relationship with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).

“We can disagree with each other, but I tried to be friends with everybody,” Raskin said. “I mean, that’s just in my nature. I mean, Lauren Boebert is kind of my friend.”  

Raskin said that he and his wife, Sarah Bloom Raskin, bought Boebert’s grandson a shirt that said, “I may take a lot of naps, but I’m still woke.”

Raskin said Boebert later congratulated him after he finished chemotherapy for lymphoma.

People attacked both him and Boebert for their compassion, Raskin said. 

“A lot of people were attacking me. Like, ‘Why would you give a high five to this right-wing extremist?’” Raskin said. “I’m perfectly willing to call her out when she’s a right-wing extremist, but if she’s going to give me a high five because I survived cancer and chemo, I’m going to accept it. I mean, I’m not going to leave her hanging like that.” 

Senior Tamara Quinlan asked Raskin about humanizing politics today and said she didn’t see a lot of love and compassion in politics. She asked Raskin about restoring humanity and empathy to the political system. 

After receiving Quinlan’s question, Hall asked Raskin about the impact that the loss of his son, Tommy, had on him during the second impeachment trial of Trump. 

“A lot of young people who were already struggling with depression or anxiety… I think it was very depressing for young people to see the division in the country, the polarization,” Raskin said. “I think it was just a very dark period and Tommy was a beautiful young man.” 

Raskin has spoken about his son’s suicide before. On Jan. 4, 2021, a statement on Raskin’s son’s death was posted on the representative’s Medium website.

Hall said that asking about Tommy wasn’t easy.

“I wasn’t sure I had told him that I was going to ask him about that. That’s how we know each other,” Hall said. “As a mom and having known his kids, I kind of hated to ask him. But I thought it was important because to me, that’s part of what one of my students was raising that great question about love.”

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack and the loss of Tommy, Raskin said he didn’t remember choosing to be an impeachment manager until asked by former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

“When Speaker Pelosi asked me to lead the impeachment drive, I just felt it was something just necessary to do,” Raskin said. “I wasn’t sure if I would ever really be able to do anything else again, in my life, but she threw me a lifeline.” 

Quinlan said Raskin’s perseverance and courage to carry on in the memory of his son moved her, as he recounted the bipartisan courage that took place after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

“His point that courage is always something that is not really a Republican/Democrat issue,” Quinlan said. “Courage is something that needs to be had amongst all parties.”

 

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a trained listener, call or text 988 or chat at 988Lifeline.org.

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