Ashli: The Untold Story of the Women of January 6: An Infuriating but Important Book

By Timothy Furnish Published on June 8, 2024

January 6, 2021, is the day that continues to live in infamy. For progressive Democrats, it’s now “Insurrection Day.” Maybe not a million times worse than Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq together, but still on par with Pearl Harbor and 9/11. For conservatives, especially many Donald Trump supporters, January 6 represents, rather, the attempt to stop the certification of the fraudulent 2020 presidential election.

The preponderance of books written on this topic, so far, have been by Leftists decrying the “abortive revolution” of that day. Epitomized, of course, by The January 6th Report put out by the House Select Committee of the 117th Congress. (No, I haven’t read it, but I watched some of the show trial hearings. And considering that the foreword is by congenital Russia collusion liar Adam Schiff, there’s really no need to.) Some conservatives have fought back in print, however — notably Julie Kelly in January 6: How Democrats Used the Capitol Protests to Launch a War on Terror against the Political Right. And now, Jack Cashill, with Ashli: The Untold Story of the Women of January 6.

The Author’s Credentials and Approach

Cashill has a doctorate in American Studies (Purdue, 1982) and has written 15 books. He could be deemed one of the leaders of the right-wing samizdat, the same term used in the old USSR for “self-publishing” underground writers. Cashill’s works on Obama and the TWA 800 crash have earned him the label of “conspiracy theorist.” Ashli will no doubt solidify his solid reputation on the Right, as well as his sordid one on the Left.

Cashill bucks the conventional wisdom (anecdotally, if not empirically) that Trump’s main support in 2020 came from men to approach this new book by telling the stories of 10 women involved in the January 6 protest: Roseanne Boyland, a 30-something from Georgia who fought addiction. Rebecca Lavrenz, a nurse and great-grandmother from Colorado. Yvonne St. Cyr, an Idahoan from a broken home who spent time in the Marines. Rachel Powell, a single mother of eight from Pennsylvania. Lisa Eisenhart, also from a broken home, who became a nurse in Georgia. Victoria White, raised by her sister and later stuck in an abusive relationship. Christine Priola, who had a rocky upbringing and marriage before she turned to Catholicism. Sara Carpenter, a former NYPD cop who got pregnant out of wedlock. Dr. Simone Gold, a divorced doctor and lawyer who had run afoul of the medical and political establishment for disputing the regnant COVID narrative in 2020.

And Ashli Babbitt.

Babbitt grew up in southern California and joined the Air National Guard at 18. According to Cashill, she — like all these other women — became increasingly disenchanted with the direction in which the media and Deep State were taking this country. All of them went to the Capitol in January 2020 to protest against, and attempt to rectify, this problem in general and the stolen election in particular.

The way Cashill tells this story, however, is exasperating, and his approach is sometimes slipshod. For example, much of the book is not about Babbitt at all. He discusses her in the first few chapters, then very little again until chapter 22. (The book has 24 chapters.) In those final sections we finally get the story of how Babbitt was killed.

Cashill, of course, disputes the media and House Committee narrative that she was attempting to gain entrance to the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives when Lt. Michael Byrd of the U.S. Capitol Police shot her, considering he “violated just about every USCP directive on the use of deadly force.”

What’s Infuriating

Another of these women also died that day: Roseanne Boyland. The official account is that she died of “acute amphetamine intoxication,” but Cashill points out that she had been taking Adderall — which contains amphetamine — for her ADHD, and that an independent medical expert who reviewed relevant video and the toxicology report concluded that hers “probably was not a drug overdose death. She’s being essentially trampled by several other people.”

Cashill also explains what happened to the other eight women, but by farming out information about them throughout the book. Perhaps he thought this approach would ramp up the drama, but it also makes the book quite difficult to read in any coherent fashion.

Most of the women have been sentenced to prison for varying terms by the notoriously vindictive January 6 court. (Which has been somewhat rebuked by an appeals court.) Yes, conservatives were enraged and some even “radicalized” by how the media and Democrats dishonestly reported on and dealt with COVID, mail-in ballots, QAnon, George Floyd/riots, Russia “collusion,” and virtually every political topic since Trump declared his presidential candidacy in 2015. But breaking off the story of the female subjects of this book and regularly digressing into those other ones just destroys the narrative.

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Another problem is that Cashill’s sourcing is inconsistent. While he states, “I used endnotes on … external material but not for the information derived from my direct communication with the women,” that raises a question in the reader’s mind about just how reliable certain statements are. Thus when he avers that “Ashli Babbitt and other J6ers were paying attention, not just to reports of fraud by postal workers but to a thousand other accounts of irregularities” or that “activists like Ashli hungrily consumed this news,” I though of Gandalf asking Saruman, “You know this — how?”

Still, for all its shortcomings, Ashli: the Untold Story of the Women of January 6 does tell the story — albeit circuitously — of how a handful of well-meaning, if eccentric, women were treated horribly by their own “Jacobin elites” (a great turn of phrase by Cashill) — two of them to the point of death. While the book’s format may be annoying, the stories of these 10 women will infuriate you. As well they should.

 

 

Timothy Furnish holds a doctoral degree in Islamic, world and African history from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in theology from Concordia Seminary. He is a former U.S. Army Arabic linguist and civilian consultant to U.S. Special Operations Command. He’s the author of books on the Middle East and Middle-earth, a history professor, and occasional media opiner (as, for example, on Fox News Channel’s War Stories: Fighting ISIS).

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