A truth commission doomed to fail

Andrew Reiter says that for truth commissions to succeed, certain conditions must be met.

By Christian Feuerstein

On February 15, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi called for a commission to probe the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Andrew G. Reiter, associate professor of politics and international relations at Mount Holyoke College, calls the plan “bound to fail.”

“The United States has none of the conditions necessary for a successful truth commission,” Reiter said in an editorial published in The Boston Globe. 

One condition would be for the commission to be viewed as nonpartisan. “To achieve that goal, most governments have turned to prominent human rights activists, prestigious judges, former presidents who hold national respect, or religious leaders to chair their truth commissions. Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously led the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission following the end of apartheid,” Reiter wrote. 

“There does need to be a truth commission in the United States, but not about the events of one day,” Reiter argued. “The country requires a greater understanding of the conditions of immigrants detained at the border, the use of unidentified federal agents to break up protests in Portland, the role of social media and technology companies in fomenting extremist groups and the many other disturbing developments in the past few years.”

Read the editorial


Related News

Voting Day with stickers

Student-led effort boosts campus voting

MHCVotes! played a key role in increasing both student voter registration and voting last November to well above the national average for college students.

This is a close-up headshot of Kijua Sanders-McMurtry smiling.

Sanders-McMurtry on Lowery Institute board

Kijua Sanders-McMurtry, vice president for equity and inclusion at Mount Holyoke, is now on the Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute board of trustees. 

This is a photograph of Mahua Moitra speaking impassionedly before Parliament.

Turning back the tide

Mount Holyoke College alum Mahua Moitra ’98 offers advice on defeating the regressive Bharatiya Janata Party and its ruler, Narendra Modi.

Dolores Huerta and Carmen Yulín Cruz smiling into the camera

Dolores Huerta to speak at Mount Holyoke

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, will be in conversation with Carmen Yulín Cruz at Mount Holyoke College. 

Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart to speak

Mount Holyoke’s Kijua Sanders-McMurtry will be joining child-safety activist Elizabeth Smart in a special dialogue for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Find more stories >