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Doug Mastriano

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In one of his regular Facebook livestreams, Doug Mastriano in 2020 approached armed men next to a Confederate flag and thanked them for “being vigilant” in supposedly protecting Robert E. Lee’s statue at Gettysburg. He also praised someone for wearing a half-American, half-Confederate flag, saying he “can't think of a better cape.”

The Gettysburg incident is another example of how Mastriano, who is a right-wing commentator and Republican gubernatorial nominee, has been connected to social media-fueled extremism. He has promoted QAnon; he has a “special relationship” with an online “prophet” who pushes violence-filled conspiracy theories; he has shared anti-Muslim content; he has posted an image claiming Roe v. Wade is “so much” worse than the Holocaust; and he has paid social media platform Gab $5,000 for “consulting” work. He also participated in the January 6 insurrection, which was fueled by social media and right-wing media falsehoods.

Mastriano’s view of the Confederacy has been in focus in recent days after Reuters reported that in 2014, “Mastriano posed in Confederate uniform for a faculty photo at the Army War College. … Mastriano is the only one wearing a Confederate uniform.”

Following that report, Media Matters found 2020 video showing that the Pennsylvania Republican, who serves in the state Senate, has an apparent fondness for people who associate with the Confederacy.

During another portion of the video, Mastriano talked with someone wearing a half-confederate, half-U.S. flag and told him: “You’re looking good there, man. I can't think of a better cape.”

Mastriano’s self-filmed interactions with the pro-Confederates don’t appear to have been previously reported. A picture of that interaction has appeared online. And The New Yorker’s Eliza Griswold referenced Mastriano’s appearance and a portion of the video in a May 9, 2021, article, writing:

On nightly Facebook fireside chats, he suggested that his viewers find new congregations if their pastors weren’t leading in-person worship services. He gained increasingly extreme followers; last June, at a gun-rights protest on the steps of the state capitol, he posed for pictures with white men in fatigues carrying AR-15s and several others in Hawaiian shirts, a hallmark of the Boogaloo Bois, a white-nationalist militia. In July, Mastriano attended a rally on the Gettysburg battlefield, where militia members gathered in response to a hoax circulated on social media that Antifa was going to topple Confederate statues. “A lot of people here just keeping an eye on stuff,” he said. “Americans doing American things. Isn’t that beautiful?”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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