The other day, several Republicans in Congress came to the defense of the fellow representative Elise Stefanik (R-New York) after criticisms of her for pushing white supremacist “replacement theory” that’s helped spur violence and leading to the massacre in Buffalo. They insisted how unfairly was being treated and that it was ludicrous to even think she was racist.
Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Alabama) said, “Nobody in their right mind believes Elise Stefanik is a racist. That’s insulting to everybody’s intelligence,” ignoring the Alabama standard of racism and electing football coach Tommy Tuberville to the U.S. Senate.
“Elise has an extensive record,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida). “When things like that are said about Elise, it just falls flat on its face. It really does.” Except it really doesn’t, since having her extensive record is the problem – something one would hope even a Republican official from Florida would be able to grasp.
And there were more Republicans standing up for one of their party leaders.
But then, given that this “defense” came officials of a party that has been actively trying to keep black people from voting and has been silent when “replacement theory” has been pushed by Republicans and that Stefanik’s own statements have enabled this and that their own party’s leader said there were “many fine people” among neo-Nazis in Charlottesville where white supremacists were marching that “Jews will not replace us” and that Stefanik is the Republican Party’s third top leader in the House – I would suggest that this “defense” by elected Republican officials against criticisms of racism against Stefanik (or pretty much anyone) are as empty as a vacuum and as weak as offering someone a glass of water and calling it beer.
In fact, I was planning to write a piece about how the only thing wrong about charges of Elise Stefanik being racist in her promoting “replacement theory” is that it limits the focus far too much. At issue isn’t whether Elise Stefanik is racist (or emboldening racists) by her pushing “replacement theory” which has caused mass deaths, but that today’s Republican Party has become racist at its foundation. But even further, I’m at the point of suggesting that more than merely racist – and merely fascist, by every book definition – today’s Republican Party is near becoming a terrorist organization.
To be clear, I don’t think the GOP is there yet, but the party is getting close enough that you don’t need a telescope to see it moving closer.
A terrorist organization is one that, as its reason for being, works regularly to instill great fear in the public, undermine the fabric of public confidence and safety, and put others at great physical risk, especially the risk of death. And I think that is coming perilously close to what the Republican Party is today. From the anxiety created by its ongoing Big Lie that Democrats stole Trump’s election, to stoking that hysteria to promote the insurrection effort for overthrowing democracy where seven people were killed, to stoking fear by enabling “replacement theory” that has gotten people killed in masses, to frightening the public about “critical race theory” being taught in grade schools (when, in fact, there is no curriculum or text books for it to be taught in public schools anywhere), to raising fears about books in school libraries that might possibly offend children, to creating hysteria at the idea of immigrant caravans pouring in over the border that’s gotten children taken from their parents and put in cages, to stirring hatred of Asians for supposedly causing the pandemic that’s lead to beatings across the country, to trying to scare people that the Democratic Party is a foundation of pedophilia (which has lead to gun attacks), to terrifying the public into thinking it needs guns and assault weapons to defend itself against minorities and all manner of crime, while fighting off any effort to create gun control safety laws as the United States averages 1-1/2 mass shootings (of four or more people) every single day – from all that and more and even more, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Republican Party today, as an ongoing effort, is trying to instill great fear in others and put people at physical risk, including the risk of death.
This does not make the Republican Party a terrorist organization. But they’re on the Watch List.
And no, every Republican is not a terrorist or even on the edge of being one. Many Republicans, I’m sure, are outraged by aspects of their own party. But the GOP as an organization overall is getting there. And individuals in the party who stay silent about it help enable the actions.
I was wary about writing such a pointed, visceral article about this, but then I saw an editorial in the Las Vegas Sun from this past Sunday, May 15 which made me see I’m not alone – or all that off-base. To be clear, they don’t use the “terrorist” word. But they do use a great many descriptions about the literal danger the Republican Party presents to the country – political dangers and physical – that come as close as you can to making the point without crossing the line of politeness.
How close? The title of the editorial is “In search of Republican candidates willing to stand up for democracy”
That’s how close. Saying that they are having a difficult time finding Republicans who merely and simply just support democracy. The editorial is blunt and detailed --
“No one knows better than Nevadans when it’s time to put our cards on the table,” the editorial begins. “The editorial board, and Nevadans as a whole, are facing an agonizing problem. We have endorsed Republicans in the past and might do so again in the future. Yet as we survey the field of Republican candidates across the state, we are struggling to identify those who are not an active threat to American democracy or the institutions of government that have sustained our republic for 250 years. Those are the stakes here for the GOP. For Nevada. For our voters.”
“An active threat to American democracy.” That’s the newspaper’s words, not mine. And without going as far as calling Republicans a terrorist organization, the words “An active threat to American democracy” is a pretty terrifying description of any American political party. Most especially for the Republican Party. Yet it’s accurate.
The Sun’s editorial refers to the January 6 insurrection as “one of the darkest days in U.S. history,” noting that seven people died, included three policemen. And it continues, saying that despite “countless investigations and audits, no significant fraud or electoral irregularities were ever discovered” – while making clear that the Republican Big Lie has continued for over a year across the entire country, working “to disenfranchise voters, allow themselves to defy the will of voters outright and to allow partisan interference in the vote count.” They address that one of Nevada’s gubernatorial candidates was “actually at the Capitol that day, spinning unfounded conspiracy theories” and point to other Nevada officials who have “disgraced” themselves in not protecting the public. And then, the editorial gets even more blistering in its conclusion –
“Of the five leading Republican candidates for the governorship of Nevada, every one of them has gone on record as both supporting and contributing to the Big Lie. In doing so, they have all made a choice to subvert our democracy, undermine the integrity of our elections, and ignore the Constitution of the United States. Will GOP leaders stand up for the rule of law and free and fair elections by rejecting autocracy and lies? Or will they continue to debase themselves and their formerly great party by kneeling to their unhinged demigod, Donald Trump, and his dreams of authoritarianism?”
You can read the full editorial here.
So, no, the Republican Party today is not yet a terrorist organization. But that is damning with faint praise. It has far too many credentials of one, and may only be a matter of time as the GOP rolls downhill, building up steam and spinning out of its own control before the party does finally morph into where it’s headed.
And "a matter of time" is not as distant as one would wish. After writing this article yesterday afternoon, I later read that the House had just voted 222-203 in favor of passing the Domestic Terrorism Prevention bill -- a law whose intent, as CNN reported, is "aimed at preventing domestic terrorism and combating the threat of violent extremism by White supremacists." Every Republican voted against this, except one, Adam Kinzinger. He, of course, is retiring at the end of the year.
Yes, every single Republican in the House but one voted against creating an office in the Department of Homeland Security to protect against domestic terrorism. And to become statute it now has to pass the Senate -- by getting at least 10 Republican votes. As the expression goes, don't hold your breath.
Sadly, the GOP's timing of this couldn't have been more impactful for the point here.
And it’s no good for Republicans to try to deflect reality by throwing out one of their trademarked, “Well, what abouts…??!” Because until the GOP can answer all their racist, white supremacist, fascist, near-terrorist efforts noted above and more, and put a stop to being an “active threat to democracy,” only then can they even start to bring up any woefully lesser issues which anyone else may possibly have done that bother the far right. (In fairness, that's a category that includes much of ordinary life, since we've gotten the the point where today's Republican Party now tends to be bothered by most things to the left of far-right, even other Republicans who aren't far-right Republicany enough and therefore get tarred dismissively as RINOs, Republicans in Name Only.)
This is not about Trump. He just opened the door to let in who so many Republicans have been for so long and kept buried. This is about today’s Republican Party and who they are.
Oh, right, sorry, I forgot that this all began about GOP leadership member Elise Stefanik and her promoting the white supremacist “replacement theory” that has brought about mass killings, and the defense of her by other Republicans. And I haven’t brought her up since then. So, I’ve been remiss and should probably mention her again.
Okay. And to be fair, I’ll even acknowledge that that blunt description is my own. Republicans, after all, have a contrary view and staunchly defend, Elise Stefanik, one of their House leaders, insisting with great fervor that her pushing the hate-filled, crackpot, white supremacist “replacement theory” is just fine.
And I would imagine, too, that when there is another mass shooting as a result of it – and I think it’s a safe bet that at the very least there will be one over the next six months -- sending “Thoughts and Prayers” (tm) will suffice.
Which it will to today’s Republican Party.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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