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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘People’s Convoy’ Failed to Disrupt DC’s Roads but Very Successful at Meeting With Far-Right MAGA Congress Members

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The convoy of anti-vaccine-mandate, pro-Trump, and QAnon-conspiracy activists was determined to disrupt Washington, D.C., by circling the Beltway, the 64 miles of highway that’s generally a hellscape for commuters. Organizers of the “People’s Convoy” modeled their efforts after the trucker convoy in Canada that took over downtown Ottawa and shut down the bridge connecting Ontario to Michigan, disrupting trade and business in both countries. U.S. organizers demanded an end to vaccine and mask mandates and an end to the national emergency around COVID-19 that was declared under former President Donald Trump and extended under President Joe Biden.

On Monday, the truck convoy entered the Beltway with instructions to take up two lanes of traffic. By 2 p.m., the convoy was “struggling to occupy one lane of traffic let alone two,” The Daily Beast’s Zachary Petrizzo reported. Regular traffic separated convoy vehicles as it had on Sunday. With diesel hitting $4.75 this week, driving their gas-guzzlers slowly around the Beltway seemed like an expensive effort in futility, especially since D.C. had lifted its mask and vaccine mandate and the Biden administration and Congress had lifted their mask mandates.

Despite failing to disrupt Washington’s roads, members of the convoy were rewarded Tuesday with meetings with Republican members of Congress.

People’s Convoy co-organizer Brain Base and a representative from the American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom, which has partnered with the People’s Convoy, met with Sens. Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson. Brase stated the convoy’s demands to “end the state of emergency, end the vaccine mandates” and to hold “our elected and unelected officials accountable for their actions that led to this,” according to Sara Aniano, a researcher of far-right rhetoric who has been following the convoy. The conversation also swung into QAnon rhetoric.

“This really is a spiritual war, and we’ve awakened a lot of people across the country,” the AFCLF representative told Cruz and Johnson. “We have a pendulum that’s swinging from ‘woke’ to ‘the great awakening’.”

Shortly thereafter, a larger group met with Reps. Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Thomas Massie for a “trucker round table” on Capitol Hill. The truckers and adjacent activists complained about rising gas prices, mask and vaccine mandates, critical race theory, and government tyranny, with one trucker calling on the legislators to simply stop funding the government. When one convoy member from Michigan asked how to prevent stolen elections, Gaetz repeated debunked voter fraud claims about the state.

“Michigan, where they waited, the center in Detroit, to see how the rest of the state voted to figure out how many ballots they needed,” Gaetz said. “You want to be very suspicious of federalizing elections. If we federalize elections, then we have the swamp and the Washington, D.C., Beltway telling you how to count votes in Lansing, Michigan.”

Massie decided to focus on mail-in ballots—which Trump baselessly insists was a source of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election—warning that “they may have to find some excuse to go back to mail-in ballots.”

Greene was in agreement. “The last thing you want is the federal government to be involved in your election,” she said.

Gaetz tried to wrap up the questions, joking that if the group stayed over its allotted time in the room he reserved, they would be accused of “an insurrection.”

“We don’t want to be accused of that,” Greene said. “It’s frowned upon here.”

The meeting with far-right members of Congress and the focus on the Big Lie from a convoy demanding an end to COVID-19-related mandates might be surprising to those just tuning in. But the rhetoric exhibited on rally stages and social media throughout the convoy’s two-week trek across the country and the organizations supporting the convoy have always indicated that this was never just about public health mandates.

A new report from the nonprofit research organization Advance Democracy, Inc., details the ties that three organizations supporting the effort have to the so-called Stop the Steal movement, whose massive rallies to overturn the 2020 presidential election attracted many of the same elements featured in the People’s Convoy.

AFCLF, whose representative met with Cruz and Johnson, has faced scrutiny over its connections to dubious efforts to overturn 2020 election results in Michigan. It claims to have raised more than $1.6 million for the convoy as of Monday, but it’s unclear how that money has been used.

The People’s Convoy also partnered with Freedom Fighter Nation on strategic and logistical planning, Brase, the convoy organizer, said on a Feb. 12 livestream.

“We don’t want to end up on the news for weird money stuff, we’re making sure that accountants and attorneys are handling it personally through freedomfighternation.org. They have helped set up a lot of this infrastructure. They are working with us one on one to help guide us,” Brase said.

Freedom Fighter Nation is led by Leigh Dundas, a COVID-19 and election conspiracy theorist who was seen near the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection. The day before the attack, she told Trump supporters at a D.C. rally that they would be “well within our rights to take any alleged American who acted in a turncoat fashion and sold us out and committed treason, we would be well within our rights to take ’em out back and shoot ’em or hang ’em, because that is what we did when they tried to overthrow our government by way of assassinating Abe Lincoln, and it is not too good of an end for the guys who sold out our government on our own soil.” Dundas and Chris Marston of AFCLF say they are working together on the People’s Convoy.

Before the convoy left from California to make its way across the country, it was also supported by The America Project, an organization founded by election conspiracy theorists Mike Flynn and Patrick Byrne. The organization frequently promotes election fraud claims and contributed $3.2 million to fund the 2020 election audit in Maricopa, Arizona. The group was listed as a supporter of the convoy in a Feb. 20 press release, but by Feb. 23—when the convoy began its trip and stated it would not go into D.C. proper to disrupt traffic for fear of a “false flag” operation—Byrne announced The America Project was “stepping away” from the convoy, alleging that it had been “penetrated by the left.”

The convoy—which an estimated 1,000 people committed time and money to join—doesn’t appear to be penetrated by the left in the least bit. At a Sunday night convoy rally in Hagerstown, Maryland, speakers railed against tyranny, stolen elections, and the mainstream media. QAnon conspiracy theorists like Ann Vandersteel, Christian nationalists, members of the Proud Boys hate group, and Trump loyalists who were at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, were all in attendance. Terry Bouton, a historian at University of Maryland Baltimore County who attended the convoy’s Sunday night, likened the rally to a “county fair,” with music, food, and speeches building community and connections among factions of the fringe right-wing.

The convoy continues its Beltway circling this week. It has yet to be as successful as its Canadian counterpart in bringing gridlock to the nation’s capital, but it has served a purpose for far-right organizers, attracting Republican star power and bringing activists from different factions of the movement together under the banner of “freedom.”

 

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Fox News Host Claims ‘Whites Are a Minority in California’ So Dems Want ‘On-Ramp’ for Undocumented Immigrants to Vote

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Fox News personality Jesse Watters is making undocumented claims about undocumented immigrants and voting in California, the nation’s most-populous state, along with false claims about voter ID and precisely which race is the majority in the Golden State.

“Didn’t Democrats say that Blacks were incapable of handling an ID to vote?” Media Matters reports Watters, who has been criticized numerous times for racism. said Monday on Fox News’ “The Five.”

That’s false.

READ MORE: Fox News Promotes Provocateur Who Called for ‘Kill Shot’ Against Dr. Anthony Fauci

“Many Americans do not have one of the forms of identification states acceptable for voting,” the ACLU says. “These voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities.  Such voters more frequently have difficulty obtaining ID, because they cannot afford or cannot obtain the underlying documents that are a prerequisite to obtaining government-issued photo ID card.”

That’s very different from falsely claiming Black Americans are “incapable of handling an ID.”

Watters went on to say, “But, I guess illegal aliens are perfectly capable of having a state-issued ID to use it for welfare.”

That too is false.

Undocumented immigrants are almost exclusively ineligible for federal government welfare programs.

READ MORE: Critics Blast Top US Conservative Think Tank President for Applauding Italy’s Election of ‘Neo-Fascist’ Prime Minister

“What I think is going on here is, right now, whites are a minority in California. Hispanics are the majority race in that state,” Watters claims.

Depending on your definition, that’s false, according to the U.S. Government.

Those who reported being “white alone or in combination” with another race is listed as 54.6% for California for the actual 2020 Census. “White alone” is listed as 41.2%.

“Hispanic or Latino” is listed as 39.4% of the population in California. “Not Hispanic or Latino” is listed at 60.6%.

“And white Democrat politicians like Gavin Newsom see the writing on the wall and they’ll do anything they can to cling to the political machine,” Watters claimed. “Now, this looks like an on-ramp to voting, if I was just being suspicious. But, being suspicious has made me very, very successful.”

The segment began with “Judge’ Jeanine Pirro saying “Liberal states and cities from coast to coast putting illegal immigrants over their own residents.” Pirro was lamenting a bill Newsom signed into law she says that will allow “illegal immigrants to acquire a government-issued state ID.”

Just before the 2016 election Watters did a man-on-the-street segment in New York City’s Chinatown and for nearly five minutes engaged in racist, anti-Asian, and downright offensive behavior. Vox’s Libby Nelson put it this way: “Fox News fit an impressive number of offensive Asian stereotypes into 5 minutes.”

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Critics Blast Top US Conservative Think Tank President for Applauding Italy’s Election of ‘Neo-Fascist’ Prime Minister

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The Heritage Foundation is ranked as the third most influential think tank – left or right – in the U.S. A right-wing D.C. organization, it’s where Donald Trump went to deliver a speech in April when he was trying to reposition himself as someone who was getting ready to run for president again, this time with “policies.”

Policies are what once made the Heritage Foundation the jewel of the conservative movement. It provided Ronald Reagan with the backbone of his body of work that transformed the American right into what it was until Trump took it over. It’s now home to at least four former top Trump administration officials, including former Vice President Mike Pence.

Critics on both sides of the aisle overnight were stunned and outraged when the new head of the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Kevin Roberts, applauded Italy’s election this weekend of a fascist, Giorgia Meloni, to be its new prime minister.

READ MORE: How Trump’s Big Lie Is Threatening the Future of Elections

“Italy’s far-right coalition led by Meloni wins election, exit polls say,” is the headline at European news agency France 24, calling her a “neo-fascist.”

Here in the U.S., ABC News’ headline reads: “How a party of neo-fascist roots won big in Italy.”

“A century after Benito Mussolini’s 1922 March on Rome, which brought the fascist dictator to power, Meloni is poised to lead Italy’s first far-right-led government since World War II and Italy’s first woman premier,” the article, from the Associated Press makes clear.

It also makes clear Meloni’s fascist focus: “Yes to the natural family. No to the LGBT lobby. Yes to sexual identity. No to gender ideology,” the AP says she “thundered” at a rally.

The Heritage Foundation has assets of around $400 million. Its latest annual report, 2021, is titled, “Always on Offense.” The cover boasts a flattering quote praising the organization from former Trump Secretary of State and possible 2024 presidential hopeful Mike Pompeo.

Dr. Kevin Roberts leads Heritage. He’s the former CEO of the far-right wing Texas Public Policy Foundation, based in Austin, Texas.

READ MORE: Critics Blast Top US Conservative Think Tank President for Applauding Italy’s Election of a ‘Neo-Fascist’ Prime Minister

TPPF has received funding from Koch Industries, is a big supporter of school vouchers, and an even bigger supporter of climate change denialism.

Its Fueling Freedom Project, it says, is working to “Explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels.”

Back in 2016 Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott proposed nine major changes to the U.S. Constitution. He chose to make his announcement at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Those proposals could have led to the elimination of many federal LGBTQ protections, including same-sex marriage.

Dr. Roberts is a former president of Wyoming Catholic College. In 2015 he decided to opt out of accepting federal financial aid, citing the school’s religious beliefs against LGBTQ people as part of the reason.

“Roberts said that his university loves all people and has charity towards all, but they would have problems with the admissions and employment of transgender individuals or people with a same-sex sexual orientation,” Fox News reported at the time.

So perhaps it’s unsurprising that Roberts celebrated Italy’s election of a fascist leader with a strong anti-LGBTQ agenda Sunday evening – urging conservatives to fuel more elections of people like Meloni.

“If exit polls are right, then conservatives will come to power in Italy, just weeks after conservatives in Sweden won,” he tweeted, glossing over the fascistic aspects of their conservatism.

“This can be a trend,” he urged, “conservatives everywhere need to define the choice as what it is—US vs THEM, everyday people vs globalist elites, who’ve shown they hate us.”

Roberts was highly criticized, even by fellow conservatives.

Tom Nichols, a staff writer at The Atlantic who is the popular and now retired U.S. Naval War College professor and an expert on Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security, blasted Roberts.

READ MORE: Watch: Torba Warns GOP to Not ‘Disavow or Condemn Us’ Because ‘Christian Nationalists Are the Republican Party’

“The president of a DC think tank explains how he’s just a regular guy helping the little people against the globalists, and not all aligned with a political movement that trades in hateful rhetoric,” tweeted Nichols, a Never Trump conservative.

Former Bloomberg Opinion columnist Noah Smith who writes about economics at Substack mocked Roberts.

“‘Globalist elites’? Man, you have a PhD and you’re the president of a think tank that fights for free trade. Who do you think you’re kidding??” he tweeted.

Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the right wing Manhattan Institute, slammed Roberts’ remarks.

“I’d just like a party that stands for free markets, less government, originalist judges, strong defense, and against woke excess. Count me out with this Pat Buchanan-style tinfoil hat populism,” he tweeted, referring to the far-right anti-immigration former Nixon-Ford-Reagan advisor.

A former editor for the right wing Cato Institute also criticized Roberts.

“When the president of your think tank is cheering on the electoral victories of actual fascism, that’s probably a sign it’s time to resign from the organization if you’re an employee, or pull your dollars if you’re a donor. American conservatism mustn’t continue down this path,” warned Aaron Ross Powell.

“Recovering libertarian” writer and editor Jay Stooksberry also mocked Roberts.

“Careful, Kev. If I saw somebody with the title ‘Ph.D. and CEO of one of the largest, most influential think tanks in D.C.’, I’d assume they were one of the ‘global elite’. Us-versus-them populism is some raunchy, anti-intellectual, and dangerous thinking, my dude.”

Conservatives weren’t the only ones criticizing the Heritage Foundation head, with some seeing his “globalist elites” remarks as antisemitic.

“American fascists, crawling out of their holes,” wrote Jay Bookman, author and award-winning journalist.

“We see you and your cutesy code words. You want to embrace fascism? We will stop you and your ilk. Our democracy will destroy your fascism,” David Sugarman, an Oregon attorney, wrote.

Writer and director David Avallone did not mince words in response to Roberts’ remarks.

“L’Shanah Tovah, you absolute fucking Nazi scumbag,” he tweeted. “Stop being a pants shitting coward. Just say ‘Jews’ when you mean Jews.”

 

 

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Watch: Nazis and Proud Boys Clash With Anti-Fascists Outside Texas Church Hosting Drag Queen Bingo

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Authorities from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Harris County Sheriff’s Department responded to an anti-LGBTQ protest outside a Texas church on Saturday.

“First Christian Church Katy is hosting a drag bingo fundraiser benefiting the ministry’s Transparent Closet, a free boutique aimed at helping young people in the LGBTQ community in the largely conservative west Houston suburb,” Jay R. Jordan reported for Axios on Friday. “Protect Texas Kids, led by North Texas’ self-described “Christian fascist” Kelly Neidert, plans to protest outside the church, according to a Facebook event from the group.”

The report noted anti-fascist activists were planning a counterprotest.

“Neidert’s protests have drawn support from neo-Nazis and other anti-LGBTQ groups,” Axios reported. “Men in Nazi regalia and alleged Proud Boys wearing Buc-ee’s masks joined Neidert’s protest outside a drag brunch at Hamburger Mary’s downtown in July.”

On Saturday, Jordan posted a video clip from the scene.

“Proud Boys and Kelly Neidert’s Protect Texas Kids are in Katy, Texas, protesting a drag bingo fundraiser at First Christian Church. PB and Houston antifascists just clashed. Heavy police presence dividing the two groups now,” he reported.

He noted “Houston’s Nazis” had arrived and police formed a line between the two sides.

“The group of Nazis appear to be leaving the protest, sporting for the first time today a flag with a swastika. Proud Boys and Patriot Front have also left,” he reported.

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Image: Proud Boys in Washington, D.C. (Johnny Silvercloud / Shutterstock.com)

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