While the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was shocking, it was not surprising to Right Wing Watch or other extremism researchers and watchdogs, who repeatedly sounded the alarm about calls from far-right figures for violence and revolution both before and after the 2020 presidential election.
Two weeks before Election Day, Right Wing Watch’s Kristen Doerer, reporting on the disrupted plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, noted:
Right Wing Watch has seen an increase of violent rhetoric across different right-wing subgroups—from conspiracy theorists and religious-right activists to white nationalists and anti-government groups. In some instances, extremists call for civil war, the use of force against Black Lives Matter protesters, and for government leaders to be tried for treason and executed.
For example, televangelist Jim Baker warned in August 2020 that if Trump were not reelected, “we’re gonna have a revolution.” In September, Rick Joyner repeated his warnings that the U.S. is headed for civil war, adding that God has “seeded” the country with Christian veterans who “know how to fight in urban warfare” and would help lead “good militias.”
It was into that volatile situation that former President Donald Trump dropped the Big Lie that he won the election only to have it stolen from him and his supporters. The Big Lie—and the implication that President Joe Biden is illegitimate and his supporters are traitors to the Constitution—was repeated relentlessly by Trump, his legal team, Republican allies, right-wing media and movement leaders, and Christian nationalist religious figures.
Some calls to overturn the results of the election, and some threats of violence to keep Trump in power, circulated in far-right corners of social media, while others were made in the full light of day from rally stages just blocks from the White House.
At a rally on the National Mall on Dec. 12, 2020, a wide array of right-wing Christian activists was joined by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and extremist Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who demanded that Trump invoke emergency powers and martial law to stay in office and warned that if Trump did not, he would be leaving it to militias to fight a “much more bloody war.” Another rally speaker, right-wing Orthodox Christian blogger George Michalopulos, declared, “I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” A week earlier, Michalopulos had admiringly reposted on his blog an online call for Trump to “crush” his enemies and “use his authority under the Insurrection Act to arrest and/or kill everyone who participated” in the “plot” to steal the election.
Around the same time, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trumpist attorney Lin Wood called on Trump to declare martial law rather than concede to Biden. Wood declared on Dec. 1, 2020 that “Our country is headed to civil war.” That same day, an Ohio group with Tea Party roots had taken a full-page ad in the Washington Times that declared, “Without a fair vote, we fear, with good reason, the threat of a shooting civil war is imminent.” The ad urged Trump to declare martial law and have the military oversee a new election “before there is no peaceful way left to preserve our Union.”
Shortly before the first attacks on the Capitol, Right Wing Watch published a report on the rally held by Trump supporters the previous afternoon and evening, noting that Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander led chants of “Victory or death!” and declared, “1776 is always an option.” Alexander’s friend and Stop the Steal colleague Alex Bruesewitz, a political consultant, declared, “What’s going to start a civil war is if we legitimize a rigged and stolen election.” At the same rally, InfoWars host Owen Shroyer rejoiced that members of Congress were said to be “in fear right now” and “scurrying around in secret tunnels” like “the little rats that they are” to try to avoid the Stop the Steal activists.
That afternoon, Right Wing Watch noted that the attack was preceded “by widespread calls for violence on pro-Trump social media,” which included a post calling for Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Chief Justice John Roberts to be “dispatched.” In the days before the insurrection, attorney Lin Wood had also called for Pence and others to be executed.
There is no doubt that the anger generated by Trump’s Big Lie fueled the violence on Jan. 6, 2020. But it didn’t stop there.
On the morning after the insurrection interrupted but failed to stop certification of Biden’s victory, hard-right activist John Guandolo appeared on a Christian television network and told viewers that the insurrectionists showed “restraint” by not executing “traitors” in Congress. “I don’t see any other way out than a real armed counterrevolution to this hostile revolution that’s taking place, primarily driven by the communists,” Guandolo said.
Since then, Trump supporters’ continued resentment about what many of them believe was an illegitimate election outcome has been harnessed by Republican elected officials to justify new voter suppression laws and the creation of provisions making it easier for state-level politicians to overrule election officials and the will of the voters. It is also being manipulated by Trumpists like Cleta Mitchell and Steve Bannon to encourage “America First” activists to take power over election machinery by running for office at local and state levels.
Mitchell, a right-wing attorney who participated in the notorious phone call on which Trump badgered Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to swing the election to Trump, now heads a massive right-wing political project to gain control over the counting of votes. Last year, she charged that Democrats “cheated in the presidential election of 2020 and got away with it.” Remarkably, thanks to the political machinations of another supporter of more restrictive voting laws, she simultaneously serves on the advisory board of a federal government commission to advise state election officials on voting guidelines and procedures.
“The risk of a coup in the next U.S. election is greater now than it ever was under Trump,” prominent law professor Laurence Tribe wrote in The Guardian this week. Tribe noted that shortly after the insurrection, “Republicans abandoned their increasingly half-hearted search for accountability, and the leaders of their party began planning their next bite at the poisoned apple of power, an apple they told themselves had been stolen from them despite all evidence to the contrary.”
Indeed, most Republican leaders are aggressively trying to prevent accountability for Trump and others whose rhetoric—at least—inspired the insurrectionists. Right-wing leaders openly disparage the work of the House committee investigating Jan. 6, and some former Trump aides are brazenly subverting the investigation and the rule of law by refusing to respond to congressional subpoenas for their testimony.
A new Atlantic Council report by resident fellow Jared Holt, formerly a Right Wing Watch investigative reporter, documents that domestic extremist movements have responded to post-insurrection crackdowns by becoming more active in mainstream conservative politics; decentralizing their operations and encouraging more local activism; taking advantage of efforts by right-wing entrepreneurs to create alternative digital platforms; and actively engaging in emotionally charged issues like vaccine and mask resistance and opposition to teaching about racism in U.S. history and institutions.
NBC journalists Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny profiled this week a right-wing activist who exemplifies this shift to local organizing. Denise Aguilar was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, celebrating that “patriots broke open the doors” and calling the day a “revolution.” Now she and fellow activists have focused on mobilizing local opposition to vaccine and mask requirements in schools, seemingly heeding Bannon’s call to his right-wing listeners to “take this back village by village.” As Right Wing Watch has reported, a wide array of right-wing political groups has embraced campaigns to generate hostility toward local school boards as a way to mobilize voter turnout to take over school boards and build momentum for broader electoral wins in 2022.
The Atlantic Council and Right Wing Watch’s Kyle Mantyla also have reported that right-wing politicians and influencers have engaged in “historical revisionism” about the insurrection, playing down the violence of the insurrection or baselessly blaming left-wing agitators.
Just as the threat that violence would be used to try to block the peaceful transfer of power and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election was clear, the continuing threats to our democracy are ever more apparent—and call for continued vigilance and resistance. Those threats come from continued right-wing promotion of Trump’s Big Lie and its wide acceptance among conservatives, threats and harassment directed at election officials, Republican opposition to truth-telling and accountability about the insurrection, and voter suppression laws and other schemes by GOP state legislators and activists to put control of election machinery in the hands of Trump loyalists.
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports
In the wake of the Colorado Springs hate crime mass shooting last month at an gay nightclub’s drag show event that left five people dead, the anti-LGBTQ slur “groomer” and other anti-LGBTQ hate speech posts on Twitter skyrocketed, “peaking at 885% over their highest level before the shooting,” NBC News reports.
“Barely 24 hours after the Colorado Springs hate crime attack,” Salon reported last week, “Elon Musk’s new Twitter responded to the massacre by reinstating the account of James Lindsay, the right-wing activist responsible for popularizing the anti-LGBTQ slur ‘OK groomer,’ which over the last 10 months has been used to imply that demands for LGBTQ rights or representation are tantamount to child molestation. In August, Lindsay was banned from Twitter for using a variation on the term, which under Twitter’s old regime was prohibited as a form of hateful conduct. But by Monday night, not only was Lindsay back, but ‘OK groomer’ was trending on the platform under its new ownership.”
Slurs against gay men on Twitter have increased by a daily average of 58% in the weeks following Elon Musk taking the critically influential social media platform private, firing its board, and welcoming back thousands of previously-banned accounts, according to information from NBC News and The New York Times.
“Travis Brown, an independent software developer in Berlin who tracks Twitter suspensions and screen name changes as part of a project studying extremism,” NBC News reports, shared data “that showed a wide variety of far-right accounts had been reinstated since Musk’s announcement” of a so-called “general amnesty.”
“In that time, Brown has logged an estimated 12,000 reversals of past bans, in a set that, while not a definitive list of reversals, provides a window into the types of users being welcomed back to the platform and leaving experts alarmed.”
In addition to “spammers, copyright rule-breakers, adult-content creators and high-profile accounts, Twitter has reopened the door to a growing and emboldened community of trolls, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists and extreme right-wing activists,” NBC adds.
Musk’s general amnesty “has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules.”
The New York Times adds, “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.”
“Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day,” The Times reports. “And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.”
“I see good things about Hitler,” West told Jones. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”
Musk apparently personally had West’s Twitter account suspended when the artist who goes by “Ye” posted an image of a Jewish six-pointed star embedded with a Nazi swastika. The account, at least for now, remains suspended.
The Times reporting, which includes information from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, calls the increase in hate speech on Musk’s Twitter “unprecedented.”
“Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy,” The Times reveals.
Musk himself set the stage. At the end of October he retweeted a false, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, who had recently been bludgeoned in a “near death” attack in their San Francisco home, allegedly by a man who has promoted far right extremism. He later removed that retweet.
Just last week Bloomberg News reported Musk was “restoring a string of accounts previously suspended for harassing transgender people, rolling back protections for the LGBTQ community as the country confronts the aftermath” of the Colorado Springs mass shooting. “Advocates say the shooting… highlights the potential real-world violence that can stem from rhetoric against the trans community. They noted that anti-trans abuse has been mounting on the platform since the shooting.”
As Musk welcomes back thousands who were banned for various reasons, from hate speech to disinformation to spamming to attacks on minorities and more, NBC’s reporting makes clear that left wing activists are finding their accounts suspended for apparently no legitimate reason.
“Chad Loder is an independent journalist in Los Angeles with more than 137,000 followers whose reporting on the Jan. 6 riot has been cited in Justice Department charging documents. Loder, who uses they/them pronouns, recently had their account suspended, briefly reinstated and then suspended again without a clear reason.”
For his part, Musk took to Twitter to refute reports hate speech has increased dramatically.
Image: Elon Musk by Duncan.Hull via Wikipedia
‘This Is Nazism’: Americans Outraged After Kanye West Praises Hitler – ‘This Is Not a Clown Show. It’s Dangerous’
“I see good things about Hitler,” West told Jones, as Consequence reports. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”
In between those two remarks West launched into a plethora of lies about all the good things Hitler has done, including inventing the microphone (false) and highways (also false.)
West doubled down, exclaiming, “I like Hitler,” and said, “the Jewish media has made us feel like Nazis and Hitler have never offered us anything of value to the world.”
West, who brought a white supremacist with him to dine with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago last week, today also claimed he loves everyone but injected antisemitic tropes about contracts and pornography.
“I think most Jews are great people,” West said, while claiming, “I agree there’s a Jewish mafia.”
West, who goes by “Ye,” astonishingly “took credit for popularizing antisemitism,” Consequence reports, “saying, ‘No one in high school knew what antisemitic meant until Ye made it popular.'”
That, too, is a lie.
The outrage online is palpable.
U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) tweeted, “JUST NOW: ‘I see good things about Hitler, also. The Jews… Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.’
— Kanye West on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars show.”
“This is Nazism,” he added. “When are we going to say ENOUGH?”
Many pointed to a wildly offensive tweet posted by GOP Congressman Jim Jordan, who heads the House Judiciary Republicans. After nearly two months it was removed within minutes of West praising Hitler.
U.S. Rep. Eric Falwell (D-CA) blasted Jordan, saying: “for 2 months you were cool with Jew-bashing.”
For 2 months Jim Jordan refused to delete this tweet. Even after Kanye declared war on Jews. As he usually does, Jim looked the other way. Only after Kanye praised Hitler today did Jim delete the tweet. We have the receipts, Jim. And for 2 months you were cool with Jew-bashing. pic.twitter.com/kqzwkNW2pq
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) December 1, 2022
Funny to learn exactly where the line is for the Republican party.
It’s not explicit but vaguely deniable antisemitism. No, it apparently only kicks in at openly praising Hitler. https://t.co/vMdJmG4Qci
— Dylan Reeve (@DylanReeve) December 1, 2022
Kanye had to literally praise Hitler and the Nazis before Jim Jordan’s House Judiciary Republicans deleted their pro-Kanye tweet. If you want to understand just how extreme the modern GOP is. https://t.co/il7QAg2EiO
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) December 1, 2022
Sam Stern of Politico and MSNBC took a wider view.
“We’re all gawking at Kanye saying he sees ‘good things about Hitler’ but i can’t escape the absolute dread that people who know no better and look up to this man and stumble upon this interview will be moved, even on the margins, by him,” he tweeted. “This is not a clown show. It’s dangerous.”
As did actor Josh Gad:
“It’s not what Kanye West says that scares me. It’s that he has 30 million followers who listen to his insanity on top of a cheerleader in the form of the current owner of this platform. No one who says “I love Hitler” should be allowed any oxygen on any social platform (period).”
There is video online of Kanye West’s vile remarks. NCRM will not post or link to it.
Image via Shutterstock
Chasten Buttigieg Stunned as Nicolle Wallace Reports New DHS Warning Lists LGBTQ People as ‘Targets of Potential Violence’
At 2:00 PM ET on Wednesday the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security published its latest terrorism threat report, and for the first time LGBTQI+ people were listed as “targets of potential violence,” which DHS warned could be “lethal.” Barely hours later, MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace shared the news with Chasten Buttigieg, who was so stunned for several seconds he was speechless.
“I don’t know, I didn’t see that, and that – that hurts to that hurts to hear,” replied Buttigieg, who is married to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Chasten Buttigieg had been invited to discuss his moving Medium essay, which he explained he wrote in response to Republican Senators on Capitol Hill debating his marriage, and the marriages of hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples, on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday ahead of their vote on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages.
“My marriage has filled this house with so much love it makes me want to be a better husband, father, and citizen every day,” Buttigieg wrote. “It’s called me to something bigger than myself while recognizing that my kids are now the most important thing in life, and I’d do anything to protect them. Our family and our union push me to make sure we leave our kids a country and a world they can thrive in so that they, too, can enjoy all of the love and light and happiness that Pete and I have known simply by falling in love with one another.”
Wallace, during their interview, sprung the news on Buttigieg that LGBTQIA+ people are now potential targets of domestic terrorism.
“Chasten, the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning about threats to the LGBTQ community specifically, and obviously there is – in addition to rhetoric and hate speech, much of it showcased on conservative media outlets – you’ve also got the Senate Republican Leader who didn’t vote for this bill,” she noted, referring to the Respect for Marriage Act that passed the Senate in a 61-36 vote on Tuesday.
“I mean, what is what makes that threat so pervasive,” Wallace asked, “that DHS had to issue a warning to local law enforcement yesterday in your view?” (The warning was issued Wednesday, not Tuesday.)
“I don’t know, I didn’t see that, and that – that hurts to that hurts to hear,” he replied seconds later.
“Again, this is already a vulnerable community. Focusing and targeting on an already vulnerable community that – by the way, just wants to live,” Buttigieg explained. “They just want to survive and exist in a country that sees them for who they are and go about their lives just the way everybody else is, especially trans Americans.”
“Honing in on an already vulnerable community and picking on them and attacking them, many people who just want to go about their lives and exist freely and openly and safely just like every other American.”
The Dept. of Homeland Security on Wednesday published the new “Summary of Terrorism Threat to the United States,” which states: “Targets of potential violence include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.”
As Buttigieg’s response shows, learning you are now considered a “target of potential violence” can be stunning.
The Terrorism Threat Summary warns the United States “remains in a heightened threat environment.”
“Lone offenders and small groups,” DHS adds, “motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances continue to pose a persistent and lethal threat to the Homeland.”
The tone of the law enforcement language is chilling.
“Domestic actors and foreign terrorist organizations continue to maintain a visible presence online in attempts to motivate supporters to conduct attacks in the Homeland. Threat actors have recently mobilized to violence, citing factors such as reactions to current events and adherence to violent extremist ideologies.”
DHS warns that “threat actors could exploit several upcoming events to justify or commit acts of violence, including certifications related to the midterm elections, the holiday season and associated large gatherings, the marking of two years since the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and potential sociopolitical developments connected to ideological beliefs or personal hostility.”
“Targets of potential violence include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.”
“Some domestic violent extremists who have conducted attacks have cited previous attacks and attackers as inspiration,” the bulletin goes on to warn. “Following the late November shooting at an LGBTQI+ bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado—which remains under investigation—we have observed actors on forums known to post racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist content praising the alleged attacker.”
Watch Chasten Buttigieg’s interview with Nicolle Wallace below or at this link.
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