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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: white nationalist terrorism

White Nationalists Arrested In Riot Plot Near Idaho Pride Event

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) - Police in northwest Idaho arrested more than two dozen members of a white nationalist group on Saturday and charged them with planning to stage a riot near a LGBTQ pride event, authorities said.

Lee White, police chief in the city of Coeur D'Alene, told reporters 31 members of Patriot Front face misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot and additional charges could come later.

A local resident spotted the men, wearing white masks and carrying shields, getting into a U-Haul truck and called police, telling the emergency dispatcher it "looked like a little army," according to White. Police pulled the truck over about 10 minutes after the call.

Video taken at the scene of the arrest and posted online showed about 20 men kneeling next to the truck with their hands bound, wearing similar khaki pants, blue shirts, white masks and baseball caps.

Police recovered at least one smoke grenade and documents that included an "operations plan" from the truck, as well as shields and shin guards, all of which made their intentions clear, White said.

"They came to riot downtown," he said.

The men come from at least 11 states, White said, including Texas, Colorado and Virginia.

Patriot Front formed in the aftermath of the 2017 white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when it broke off from another extremist organization, Vanguard America, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

As America Mourns Gun Victims, Republicans Block Domestic T​​error Bill

Washington (AFP) - Republicans in the US Senate prevented action Thursday on a bill to address domestic terrorism in the wake of a racist massacre at a grocery store in upstate New York.

Democrats had been expecting defeat but were seeking to use the procedural vote to highlight Republican opposition to tougher gun control measures following a second massacre at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.

There was no suggestion of any racial motive on the part of the gunman who shot dead 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

But the shock of the bloodshed, less than two weeks after the May 14 murders in Buffalo, New York, has catapulted America's gun violence crisis back to the top of the agenda in Washington.

"The bill is so important, because the mass shooting in Buffalo was an act of domestic terrorism. We need to call it what it is: domestic terrorism," Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said ahead of the vote.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act would have created units inside the FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to combat domestic terror threats, with a focus on white supremacy.

A task force that includes Pentagon officials would also have been launched "to combat white supremacist infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement."

Schumer had urged Republicans Wednesday to allow the chamber to start debate on the bill, offering to accommodate Republican provisions to "harden" schools in the wake of the Texas murders.

Just ahead of the vote, Schumer said he had wept while studying pictures of the young victims, calling the state's pro-gun governor, Greg Abbott, "an absolute fraud."

Abbott has made efforts to loosen gun restrictions in Texas, including signing into law a measure last year authorizing residents to carry handguns without licenses or training.

The domestic terrorism bill's 207 co-sponsors included three moderate Republicans in the House.

But there was not enough support in the evenly split 100-member Senate to overcome the Republican filibuster -- the 60-vote threshold required to allow debate to go forward.

Republicans say there are already laws on the books targeting white supremacists and other domestic terrorists, and have accused Democrats of politicizing the Buffalo massacre, in which 10 Black people died.

They have also argued that the legislation could be abused to go after political opponents of the party in power.

Democrats are looking for Republicans to support a separate gun control bill, and said Wednesday they would work over the coming days to see if they could find common ground with enough opposition senators to circumvent a filibuster.

"Make no mistake about it, if these negotiations do not bear fruit in a short period of time, the Senate will vote on gun safety legislation," Schumer said

Neo-Nazi Fuentes: Americans Want A President Who’ll ’Say The N-Word’

White nationalist provocateur Nick Fuentes said on his podcast this week that was posted to former President Donald Trump's "Truth Social" propaganda platform that Trump is the right-wing’s “hero” because of his racist comments and flagrant xenophobia.

Fuentes represents the extreme fringe – albeit a loud and well-monied one – of the American conservative movement. His ilk is responsible for harmful legislation like Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill as well as efforts to outlaw abortion. And while his branded message is indeed dangerous and exceptionally toxic, it would be unwise to pretend that he and his followers do not exist. That he was approved to post content to Trump's app is even more disturbing.

Fuentes has also been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol because he has called for the assassination of lawmakers.

The Holocaust-denying 23-year-old Fuentes – whom the Department of Justice has labeled a "white supremacist" – was incensed about non-white individuals coming into the United States for a better life, which Trump infamously railed against during his campaign kickoff in 2015, the presidential race, his single term in office, and his post-presidency purgatory.

“They’re trying to cram this bullshit down our throat; these people who are not like us. You know what Americans want? It’s pretty clear when they elected Trump,” said Fuentes. “Trump got up there and he didn’t say, ‘hi, we’re gonna bring the – workers of the world, unite – you know, Black, Hispanic, and White workers for populism, let’s unionize DoorDash.’”

Recall that Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 to then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by nearly three million and by more than seven million in 2020 to President Joe Biden. His 2016 victory was solely a result of the Electoral College, not a plurality of the American electorate.

Nevertheless, for Fuentes, the intolerance that Trump promulgated while descending the elevator in Trump Tower is precisely what the American people crave. Further, Fuentes said, the country seeks a president who is willing to say the N-word.

“Trump went up there and said, ‘they’re bringing drugs, crime, they’re rapists,’ ya know, he said, ‘we’re gonna – I’m calling for a shutdown of Muslims coming into America,’ ya know? We’re gonna sing here at Christmas," Fuentes said.

‘’He was like this close to saying the N-word. That's what Americans want,” Fuentes added. “This guy talks like us. This guy’s our hero. He said, ‘I’m your voice.’”

Watch below via Right Wing Watch:

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Arizona Republican Official Urges Holocaust Denier To ‘Run For Office’

Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who spoke at last week’s white nationalist America First Political Action Conference, called on white nationalist and Holocaust denier Vincent James Foxx to “run for office.” Rogers also recently forwarded a piece from VDare, a white nationalist website that is dedicated to warning readers about the supposed dangers of nonwhites.

Foxx is a white nationalist streamer and writer. He is also a Holocaust denier who has said that “the Holocaust is weaponized” against white people; attacked Jewish people because they supposedly “not only control Hollywood, congress, and the media, but they control social media as well”; and claimed that the impeachment of former President Donald Trump was “The Jew Coup.”

He recently spoke at AFPAC, where he pushed the white nationalist “great replacement” theory and said that “Western white culture is the majority culture, to which even non-whites assimilate into today in many western countries, and they’re better off for it.” The Twitter account AZ Right Wing Watch noted Rogers' exhortation, which was made on Telegram.

Foxx is based in Idaho and said that he has “deep connections” to the Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R), who spoke at AFPAC. McGeachin is now a candidate for governor.

Rogers has become a major Republican validator for the white nationalist movement, promoting its efforts while receiving rhetorical and financial support from top Republicans including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Trump himself. (Rogers has been incessantly lying that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.)

On February 2, Rogers used her Telegram account to forward a post from VDare.com, which claimed that President Joe Biden’s administration has been “shipping the illegals in (illegally and impeachably).” VDare also embedded a video from openly bigoted commentator Laura Loomer supposedly showing how “illegal immigrants invade Central Florida.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled VDare a white nationalist hate group and wrote that it “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race 'scientists,' and anti-Semites.”

VDare features posts with such headlines as: “One Problem With These Hispanic Immigrants Is Their Disgusting Behavior”; “Come Back, Stonewall Jackson! Hispanic Gangs Invade Shenandoah Valley”; “Indians Aren't That Intelligent (On Average)”; “America Does Not Need ANY Immigrants From Africa”; “Roll Over, JIHAD -- There’s Also HIJRA, Muslim Conquest By Immigration”; “National Data: Haitian Immigrants Pretty Useless -- But Haiti Still Needs Them More Than We Do”; and “OK, Let’s Give Them Reparations—If They Go Back To Africa.”

Rogers' promotions of VDare and Foxx are further examples of her love of the white nationalist movement. Last weekend, she spoke remotely at the America First Political Action Conference, a white nationalist gathering that was organized by Holocaust denier and white nationalist Nick Fuentes. During her speech, Rogers said: “I truly respect Nick because he’s the most persecuted man in America.” Rogers has frequently praised Fuentes and said that she loves him.

Rogers has repeatedly praised Fuentes’ racist followers, known as “groypers,” including saying that “I love the Groypers because the Right Wing Watch hates them” and asking the “Groyper army” to help her. The Arizona Mirror’s Jerod MacDonald-Evoy recently explained: “The self-styled online ‘army’ that Rogers was imploring to rally to her aid is a collection of white nationalists who often use online trolling tactics against people they don’t like. Their goals broadly include normalizing their extreme and racist views by aligning them with Christianity and so-called ‘traditional’ values.”

She also has repeatedly appeared on TruNews, an anti-Semitic outlet that warns viewers of “seditious Jews.” Additionally, Rogers has expressed support for the violence-linked QAnon conspiracy theory and is a proud member of the Oath Keepers, a militia group with a history of violence.

The Arizona Republican has pushed toxic rhetoric, including calling for “more gallows”; praising the Confederacy; and claiming that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “is a globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

How Spying On Muslims While Ignoring White Nationalists Led To January 6

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson excused one of the leaders of the extremist Oath Keepers organization implicated in the January 6th insurrection by describing him as “a devout Christian.” It’s safe to surmise that he wouldn’t have offered a similar defense for a Muslim American. Since September 11, 2001 and even before that ominous date, they have suffered bitterly from discrimination and hate crimes in this country, while their religion has been demonized. During the first year of the Trump administration, about half of Muslim Americans polled said that they had personally experienced some type of discrimination.

No matter that this group resides comfortably in the American mainstream, it remains under intensive, often unconstitutional, surveillance. In contrast, during the past two decades, the Department of Justice for the most part gave a pass to violent white supremacists. No matter that they generated more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil than any other group. The benign insouciance of the white American elite toward such dangerous fanatics also allowed them to organize freely for the January 6 assault on the Capitol and the potential violent overthrow of the government.

Donell Harvin was the chief of homeland security and intelligence for the government of the District of Columbia in the period leading up to January 6. He assured NBC News’s Ken Dilanian that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security seemed completely oblivious about the plans of white supremacist hate groups to violently halt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory, despite plentiful evidence on social media that they were preparing to bring weaponry to the Capitol.

Consider now the treatment that the very same agencies offered distinctly inoffensive Muslim Americans. Rutgers law professor Sahar Aziz has argued that many white Americans see Muslims not merely as a religious group but as a racial one and have placed them on the nethermost rung of this country’s ethnic hierarchy. Muslim Americans are regularly, for instance, profiled at airports and subjected to long interrogations. Over many years, the New York City Police Department gathered intelligence on more than 250 mosques and student groups. The FBI even put field officers in mosques not only to spy on, but also to entrap worshipers who, alarmed by their wild talk, sometimes reported them to… the FBI.

Aziz notes that Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 to register all Muslim Americans in a database, institute widespread surveillance of mosques, and possibly exclude Muslims from the country. Even non-governmental far-right groups like discredited ex-journalist Steve Emerson’s “Investigative Project on Terrorism” have spied on Muslim Americans. As with everything else in the contemporary U.S., a partisan divide has emerged regarding them, with 72 percent of Republicans holding the self-evidently false belief that Muslims are more likely to commit violence than adherents of other faiths, while only 32 percent of Democrats say this.

Apparently, though, our concern over the potential commission of violence in this country should actually focus on Republicans. A recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that 34 percent of Americans now believe that violence against the government is sometimes justified, a statistic that rises to an alarming 40 percent among Republicans. In other words, this country’s worries about violence should be focused most on the right-wing extremist fringe, exemplified by groups like the Oath Keepers, 11 of whose leaders were arrested by the FBI in mid-January for “seditious conspiracy” in their paramilitary invasion of the Capitol in 2021. More people have perished in political killings in the past 20 years here at the hands of far-right radicals than those of any other group, including extremists of Muslim heritage. Still, this country’s security agencies continue their laser focus on monitoring Muslim Americans, even as they grossly underestimate the threat from white supremacists.

Collectively Punishing Muslim Americans

What most characterizes the American Muslim community, which at nearly four million strong makes up more than one percent of the population, is diversity. It includes white and Hispanic converts, African Americans, Arab Americans, and South-Asian Americans whose families hailed from the Indian subcontinent. Three American Muslims are serving in Congress and even President Trump appointed a Moroccan-born American immunologist, Moncef Slaoui, to head Operation Warp Speed that produced the Moderna vaccine for Covid-19. Last summer saw the confirmation of the first Muslim-American federal judge and President Biden has just nominated the first Muslim-American woman to the federal bench. There are also striking numbers of Muslim-American peace activists, either with their own organizations or involved at interfaith centers, as well as many environmentalists and community organizers, but the media and academics seldom focus on this dimension of the religion.

In my new book, Peace Movements in Islam, my colleagues and I did something remarkably rare in these years: we explored this peaceful dimension of the faith of a fifth of humankind. We focused, for instance, on the Muslims active alongside Mahatma Gandhi in nonviolent noncooperation to end British colonial domination of India. Closer to home, contributor Grace Yukich explores the Muslim-American reaction to the rise of the virulently Islamophobic Trump administration and finds that many responded by promoting the progressive dimensions of their faith, while working against racism and for the rights of immigrants and the poor.

Polling supports her findings, with 69 percent of Muslim-American respondents saying that working for justice forms an essential part of their identity, nearly the same as the 72 percent who say that loving the Prophet Muhammad is essential to being a Muslim. In addition, 62 percent see protecting the natural environment as a key to Muslim identity. The majority of them, in other words, are religiously open-minded. Some 56 percent of Muslim Americans, for instance, believe that other religions can be a path to salvation. In contrast, only a third of evangelical Christians take a similar position when it comes to religions outside the Judeo-Christian tradition.

And here’s a seldom-recognized reality in this country: Muslims form a longstanding and important thread in the American tapestry, having been in North America for centuries. Rabbinical Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all arose on the fringes of the Roman Empire between the first and seventh centuries of the common era. All believe in the one God of Abraham, as well as in the biblical patriarchs and prophets. All forbid murder, robbery, and other violent crimes. There are no objective grounds for a United States that recognizes the first two to deny legitimacy to the third.

Muslim-American numbers have increased dramatically since, in 1965, Congress changed formerly racist immigration laws to abolish country quotas that favored northern Europeans. Some 75 percent of the Muslim Americans here are now citizens. The 9/11 attacks, however, turbocharged hatred of this group, unfairly associating them in the minds of many Americans with violence and terrorism, even though all the hijackers were foreigners and differed starkly in their political and ethnic backgrounds from those of most Muslim Americans. Unlike whites, who suffer no reputational damage from being of the same race as violent white supremacists, Muslim Americans have been collectively punished for bad behavior by any of them or even by foreign coreligionists. While a small number of Muslim Americans have succumbed to the blandishments of radical Muslim ideologies, it has been vigorously rejected by all but a few.

The same cannot be said of white nationalists for whom radicalism stands at the core of their identity, while a disturbing strain of poisonous racism runs through their activities. The 11 leaders of the Oath Keepers arrested in mid-January for seditious conspiracy had stockpiled heavy weapons and coordinated with rapid-response teams pre-positioned outside Washington, D.C., whom they hoped to call on, apparently after they invaded the halls of Congress. According to the indictment, the leader of that 5,000-strong organization, Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes, wrote on its website on December 23, 2020, “Tens of thousands of patriot Americans, both veterans and non-veterans, will already be in Washington, D.C., and many of us will have our mission-critical gear stowed nearby, just outside D.C.”

Rhodes, who spent thousands of dollars on weaponry in December and January, said in an open letter that he and others may have to “take to arms in defense of our God given liberty.” Oath Keeper chapters around the country conducted military training exercises with rifles. Indicted Alabaman Oath Keeper Joshua James, 33, texted on the Signal messaging app, “We have a shitload of QRF [Quick Reaction Forces] on standby with an arsenal.” They were concerned, though, that during the planned civil disturbance, authorities could close the bridges from Virginia (where they had holed up in motels with their assault rifles) into D.C. A QRF team leader from North Carolina wrote, “My sources DC working on procuring Boat transportation as we speak.” Kelly Meggs of Florida, another Oath Keeper leader, sent messages worrying about running out of ammunition: “Ammo situation. I am checking on as far as what they will have for us if SHTF [the shit hits the fan]. I’m gonna have a few thousand just in case. If you’ve got it doesn’t hurt to have it. No one ever said shit I brought too much.”

On the morning of January 6, one of the organization’s leaders, 63-year-old Edward Vallejo of Phoenix, Arizona, discussed the possibility of “armed conflict” and “guerrilla war” on a podcast. On the day itself, members of the Oath Keepers formed paramilitary “stacks” in front of the Capitol to invade it in formation. They were, however, foiled when some Capitol police delayed them by holding the line against thousands of angry, determined fanatics, while others whisked most members of Congress away to secure locations inaccessible to the mob. Before they were rescued, some representatives lay on the floor, weeping or praying. In other words, the American far right came much closer to overthrowing the U.S. government than al-Qaeda ever did and, at the same time, resembles al-Qaeda far more than Republican lawmakers are ever likely to admit.

Ignoring White Nationalists

The Oath Keepers, like the Boogaloo Bois and other far-right groups central to the insurrection, do not so much have an ideology as a mental cesspool of conspiracy theories and imaginary grievances. Typically, in December 2018, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes spoke of asylum-seekers at the border with Mexico as a “military invasion” by “cartels” and part of a “political coup” by the domestic Marxist left. He also managed to blame Muslims and the late Senator John McCain for provoking crises that would leave this country’s borders “undefended.”

Extremists on the white nationalist right have been a known quantity to American law enforcement for decades and have committed horrific acts of violence like Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 truck-bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and wounded more than 800. Unlike Muslim Americans, however, they have been cut remarkable slack.

The Republican Party has had a longstanding and chillingly effective policy of downplaying the dangers of extremist white nationalists. No surprise there, since the GOP depends on the far-right vote in elections and on financial contributions from well-off white supremacists who hate the multiracial Democrats. In 2009, analyst Daryl Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security in the newly installed Obama administration produced a confidential report for law enforcement suggesting that right-wing extremism posed the biggest domestic threat of terrorism to this country. Republicans in Congress leaked it and then, along with right-wing media like Fox News, went ballistic.

House minority leader John Boehner (R-OH) said at the time:

“[T]he Secretary of Homeland Security owes the American people an explanation for why she has abandoned using the term ‘terrorist’ to describe those, such as al-Qaeda, who are plotting overseas to kill innocent Americans, while her own Department is using the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.”

According to Johnson, the Obama administration caved to this campaign:

“Work related to violent right-wing extremism was halted. Law enforcement training also stopped. My unit was disbanded. And, one-by-one, my team of analysts left for other employment. By 2010, there were no intelligence analysts at DHS working domestic terrorism threats.”

One can imagine that under Trump such groups received even less government scrutiny, since one of their fellow travelers had ascended to the White House.

The refusal of the Washington establishment to take the menace of far-right white nationalist movements seriously has been among the biggest security failures in this country’s history. The collusion of mainstream Republicans who have, in essence, run interference for such dangerous, well-armed conspiracy theorists has stained the party of Lincoln indelibly, while the participation of active-duty military and police personnel in these groups poses a dire threat to the Republic.

At the same time, this country’s security agencies failed epically in their treatment of Muslim Americans after the 9/11 attacks by infringing on their civil liberties, while abridging or disregarding constitutional protections for millions of innocent people. Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, points to congressional reports that question the value of all this monitoring of an American minority, not to speak of the absurdities it has entailed. As she put it, “Often, the reports singled out Muslims engaged in normal activities for suspicion: a [Department of Homeland Security] officer flagged as suspicious a seminar on marriage held at a mosque, while a north Texas fusion center advised keeping an eye out for Muslim civil liberties groups and sympathetic individuals and organizations.” In such a world, even Muslim Americans active in peace centers become inherently suspicious, but heavily armed white nationalists in motels just outside Washington aren’t.

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

Copyright 2022 Juan Cole

Juan Cole, a TomDispatch regular, is the Richard P. Mitchell collegiate professor of history at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: A New Translation From the Persian and Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires. His latest book is Peace Movements in Islam. His award-winning blog is Informed Comment.

As Trump Rioters Embrace Christian Nationalism, Even Darker Forces Revive

Most of the far-right extremist movements that arose online and then in real life over the past decade—the alt-right, white nationalists, and other authoritarian proto-fascists—have been generally ecumenical and areligious in their rhetorical appeals and organizing, other than their frequent expressions of antisemitism. But that’s beginning to change, as Jack Jenkins explored this week at The Washington Post.

With “Groyper” leader Nick Fuentes leading the way, it’s becoming much more common to hear them embracing Christian nationalism—an ideology long embraced by the larger radical right, particularly the so-called “Patriot” movement. Moreover, a number of these white nationalists appear to be pushing even farther into a particularly ugly—and previously stagnant—brand of religious nationalism: Christian Identity, the bigoted theological movement claiming that white people are the true “Children of Israel,” that Jews are the literal descendants of Satan, and that all nonwhite people are soulless “mud people.”

As Jenkins reports, since the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, Fuentes’ white nationalist “America First” organization has increasingly employed Christian nationalist rhetoric: chanting “Christ is King” at the antiabortion “March for Life” last week and at anti-vaccine protests, using crucifixes as protest symbols, and similar rhetorical appeals. In a speech at the America First conference in Orlando in March at which he declared America “a Christian nation,” Fuentes warned his audience that America will cease to be America “if it loses its White demographic core and if it loses its faith in Jesus Christ.”

“Christian nationalism—and even the idea of separatism, with a subtext of White, Christian and conservative-leaning [influences]—took a more dominant role in the way that extremist groups talk to each other and try to propagandize in public,” Jared Holt of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab told Jenkins.

Christian nationalism has long been a feature of the nation’s extremist right, dating back to the original Ku Klux Klan of the 1860s and its later version in the 1920s. Fuentes’ rhetoric “could have come word-for-word from a Klan speech in 1922,” historian Kelly J. Baker told Jenkins. “The Klan’s goal here was patriotism and nationalism, but it was combined with their focus on White Christianity.”

This worldview was a powerful animating force at the Jan. 6 insurrection, embodied by the moment when the self-described “Patriots” entered the vacated Senate chambers, took over the dais, and proceeded to share a prayer led by Jacob “QAnon Shaman” Chansley.

A video captured by The New Yorker shows the moment: One insurrectionist shouts, “Jesus Christ, we invoke your name!” The men bellow “Amen!” Then Chansley begins to lead them in prayer, saying: “Thank you heavenly father for gracing us with this opportunity to stand up for our God-given inalienable rights.” He also thanks God for allowing them to “exercise our rights, to allow us to send a message to all the tyrants, the communists and the globalists that this is our nation, not theirs.”

He concluded: “Thank you for allowing the United States of America to be reborn. Thank you for allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists, and the traitors within our government.”

As historian Katherine Stewart explained in The New York Times:

A final precondition for the coup attempt was the belief, among the target population, that the legitimacy of the United States government derives from its commitment to a particular religious and cultural heritage, and not from its democratic form. It is astonishing to many that the leaders of the Jan. 6 attack on the constitutional electoral process styled themselves as “patriots.” But it makes a glimmer of sense once you understand that their allegiance is to a belief in blood, earth and religion, rather than to the mere idea of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

A number of the groups, notably the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, who led the insurrection similarly voiced their affinity for Christian nationalism. The morning of Jan. 6, as Jenkins reports, a group of Proud Boys led by Ethan Nordean—the primary leader of the men who later spearheaded the siege of the Capitol—were seen praying together.

At a gathering of Proud Boys near the Washington Monument on Dec. 11 captured on video by independent journalist Dakota Santiago for Religion News Service, Nordean had spoken about “sacrificing ourselves for our country” while speaking at an impromptu Proud Boys rally near the Washington Monument, according to footage provided to Religion News Service (RNS) by independent journalist Dakota Santiago.

Nordean—a notorious street brawler nicknamed “Rufio Panman”—described an epiphany he had during a protest about Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross:

I had a moment of realization where I was like, “You know what, I’m going to be diehard about everything in my life. I’m gonna be real.” Because everything that we have sacrificed—because you know how hard it is in this environment that we live in—it is time that you rise to the occasion. Be real.
Now you may not believe in that, but it’s important in the very least for my case for me, because this man did this thing. Just as we sacrifice ourselves for our country. A man provides and protects even when he’s not loved. That is what we do. We are hated but we do it in anyway, we keep showing up every day and we protect these people from these tyrannical dictators.

The same religious fervor has intensified in the aftermath of the insurrection, particularly as Patriot movement believers and their mainstream Republican enablers have doubled down with a gaslighting narrative insisting that what happened Jan. 6 wasn’t an insurrection, it was a righteous protest by Real Americans.

That narrative has been ardently adopted by Christian nationalists like the Trump supporters interviewed earlier this month by NPR:

Outside on the walkway, Murray Clemetson stands with an armful of hand-made signs he brought to church, such as, "Set the DC Patriots Free" and "We Are Americans, Not Terrorists." The law-school student and father of three —all home-schooled— was at the "Stop The Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., last year.
"The only insurrection that happened on Jan. 6 was by the agent provocateurs, paid actors, and corrupt police and FBI," he says, disputing all the evidence made public in the more than 700 criminal cases that the rioters were Trump fanatics.

The church the interviewers reported from is Ken Peters’ Patriot Church in Tennessee, one of the nation’s most prominent Christian nationalist congregations. Peters is a rabidly pro-Trump pastor who has appeared onstage in recent months with Mike Lindell, the “My Pillow” conspiracy theorist who claims Donald Trump was the victim of election fraud. Peters also spoke to the crowd gathered in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 at a pre-rally for the next day’s “Stop the Steal” protest that devolved into the Capitol insurrection.

Peters’ predilection for linking arms with violent white nationalist thugs like the Proud Boys manifested itself in summer 2021 in Salem, Oregon, outside a Planned Parenthood clinic targeted by Peters’ “Church at Planned Parenthood” campaign. A phalanx of Proud Boys provided “security” for the event, including notorious brawler Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, who is currently in jail awaiting trial on assault charges.

The sermon Peters delivered during NPR’s visit to his church turned a similarly convenient blind eye to Donald Trump’s manifest flaws as a Christian hero. "We consider the left in our nation today to be a giant bully,” Peters said. “And when there is a bully on the schoolyard and somebody rises up and punches back, 'Hallelujah!' So we are thankful for Trump."

Then he added: "But you know what? If Trump passes away tomorrow, God forbid, does that stop us? Does that slow us down? Not one bit. We'll be looking for the next guy to lead the way."

Indeed, the long-term determination of Christian nationalists to impose a narrow sectarian view on American government and society are reflected in its legislative assault on state laws, an attempt to reshape U.S. laws from the ground up as well as the top down. Their program “Project Blitz,” revealed by journalist Frederick Clarkson in 2018—a detailed and complex system of proposed legislation with which Christian nationalist beliefs are gradually embedded within state laws—is only one example of the breadth and depth of their assault on liberal democracy.

"The use of Christian symbols, iconography, Scripture in efforts to dominate and exclude are as old the republic itself," Rev. Fred Davie, executive vice president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, told Trevor Hughes of USA Today. "It's deeply baked into our nation. It's deep, but it's also been proven time and time again to be wrong."

While many Christian nationalists are grounded in more traditional evangelical views, there is also a component who are cynically embracing religious fervor as a way of broadening their community of white supremacists and expanding their recruitment base.

"For them, it's just shorthand for identity," Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Hughes. "There absolutely is a connection between far-right political extremism and far-right religious extremism, but I doubt these people are showing up at church every Sunday and reading their Bibles."

Research sociologist Matthew DeMichele told Hughes that many of today's religious displays are an "intense redeployment of old tactics."

"People don't want to say that this is a country founded on white supremacy. But we know that to be true," DeMichele said. "It's very important to understand that it's not new for white supremacists to have a Christian identity. But it is intriguing there has been the strengthening overlap of the white nationalists and those of Christian Identity."

The striking aspect of the surge of Christian nationalism has been its ability to unify sectors of the radical right, from militia-oriented Patriots to bigoted white nationalists to conspiracists like the authoritarian QAnon cult. Alex Newhouse, deputy director of the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies Besides faith, told Jenkins that social media had been a powerful vector for this confluence.

“This unification is pretty unprecedented,” Newhouse said. “The infusion of Christian nationalism throughout that unification process has been particularly interesting and, in my opinion, is going to end up being pretty dangerous.”

Newhouse particularly has noticed a sudden uptick, since 2019, of interest in Christian Identity, the infamous religious movement long associated with neo-Nazis, particularly the Aryan Nations operation in the northern Idaho Panhandle between 1978 and 2000, which was an Identity church. Newhouse noted that Christian nationalist appeals may “disguise a much more dangerous uptick in adoption of Christian Identity.”

One of the leading voices in this resurgence of Identity beliefs, Newhouse says, is Kyle Chapman, the cofounder of the Proud Boys-affiliated Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights who later attempted to create an explicitly racist and antisemitic offshoot called “Proud Goys.” (Chapman is currently awaiting trial in Idaho on charges of assaulting a health care worker when he was hospitalized last November.)

Newhouse said Chapman has been interacting with Christian Identity influencers on the encrypted chat platform Telegram, while “blasting out Christian Identity propaganda.” Another key Trumpist figure—QAnon influencer GhostEzra, who has 300,000 followers on Telegram—posted explicit Identity messages. Identity theology—including references to the “two seedline theory,” which claims that Eve also mated with Satan in the Garden of Eden and thus gave birth to Jews—has been popping up with regularity on QAnon and Proud Boys channels on Telegram, Newhouse reported.

“There’s this gradual move toward a more revolutionary, burn-it-all-down posture, and I think Christian Identity for a lot of these people has become a way for them to organize their thoughts,” he said.

As Stewart explained in The NYT, Christian nationalist beliefs are not merely spreading among far-right extremists. Perhaps even more pernicious is their spread among mainstream conservatives in the media and especially within the Republican Party:

National organizations like the Faith & Freedom Coalition and the Ziklag Group, which bring together prominent Republican leaders with donors and religious right activists, feature “Seven Mountains” workshops and panels at their gatherings. Nationalist leaders and their political dependents in the Republican Party now state quite openly what before they whispered to one another over their prayer breakfasts. Whether the public will take notice remains to be seen.

As I’ve observed previously (while reviewing Stewart’s excellent review of Christian nationalism, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism): When viewed through the lens of its real-world outcomes, fundamentalist Christianity is less a coherent theology than it is a form of spiritual or religious totalitarianism, one that requires abject submission to what is actually a very perverse and narrow interpretation of the meaning of scripture.

This approach translated naturally into political authoritarianism—the kind that Donald Trump practices. And Trump in turn has proven very adept at feeding the psychological needs of the kinds of personalities that adhere to such movements.

Many leaders of the Christian right like to dress up in red, white, and blue and announce themselves as true patriots. But they are the same people who seek to pervert our institutions, betray our international alliances, treat the Constitution as a subcategory of their holy texts, demean whole segments of the population, foist their authoritarian creed upon other people’s children, and celebrate the elevation of a “king” to the presidency who made a sport out of violating democratic laws and norms.

We can only be grateful that he is out of power now. And it will be incumbent on everyone who treasures their democratic institutions to do everything in their power to defend them against this lethal tide of extremism now.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Feds Charge Texas Man Who Threatened Georgia Election Officials

By Linda So and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department on Friday announced it has charged a Texas man with making violent threats against Georgia election and government officials. The indictment marked the first case brought by a federal task force formed in response to a wave of intimidation that has engulfed election administrators since the 2020 presidential vote.

The matter is one of “dozens” of such cases under federal investigation, said Kenneth A. Polite Jr., the assistant attorney general for the department’s criminal division.

The election threats task force was announced last June, shortly after Reuters published the first in a series of investigative reports that have documented more than 850 threats and menacing messages to U.S. election workers. This campaign of fear has been carried out by supporters of former President Donald Trump who embrace his false claims that he lost the election because of widespread voter fraud.

Polite said the Justice Department had also analyzed more than 850 reports of threats to local election officials.

The indictment alleges that Chad Christopher Stark of Leander, Texas, posted a Craigslist message on January 5, 2021 entitled, “Georgia Patriots it’s time to kill.”

"It's time for us to take back our state from these Lawless treasonous traitors," he wrote, calling one of the Georgia officials a “Chinese agent.” "It's time to invoke our Second Amendment right” and “put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese” official.

Stark could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday. He was scheduled to make his initial appearance at the federal courthouse in Austin, Texas, at 1:30 p.m. CST in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Hightower.

The indictment said Stark threatened at least three Georgia officials but did not identify them. A source familiar with the investigation into Stark told Reuters that two of the officials were Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp.

Both Raffensperger and Kemp are Republicans who defended the integrity of the Georgia election despite intense pressure from Trump, who in January 2021 called Raffensperger and told him to “find” enough votes to overturn his loss.

“I strongly condemn threats against election workers and those who volunteer in elections,” Raffensperger said in a statement to Reuters on Friday. “We need to support and protect our local election officials and volunteers now more than ever.”

Raffensperger’s wife Tricia also received a wave of death threats that Reuters documented in its June report. Election workers in Georgia faced an onslaught of menacing messages following the 2020 vote as Trump and his allies sought to overturn election results in the state.

Reuters also spotlighted threats of lynching and racist taunts against Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss. Both received a deluge of hate after they were falsely accused of fraud by Trump himself. A senior member of the Trump campaign confirmed to Reuters that he participated in a bizarre attempt to pressure Freeman to falsely admit voting fraud, Reuters reported.

Trump is facing a criminal investigation by the district attorney in Fulton County, which includes part of Atlanta, into alleged election interference in Georgia.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday emphasized the importance of protecting election officials from threats during a speech before the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

"An important part of keeping the American people safe is protecting those who serve the public from violence and unlawful threats of violence," he said. "There is no First Amendment right to unlawfully threaten to harm or kill someone.”

Polite, the assistant attorney general, called the officials being threatened “the backbone of our electoral system,” made up of “ordinary people from across the political spectrum.”

Federal officials declined to elaborate on Polite’s statement about “dozens” of open investigations into election threats. Sources familiar with two such investigations have told Reuters that the FBI is probing the cases in response to the news organization’s reports about them. One involves Gjurgi Juncaj, who threatened a Nevada election official whose ordeal was highlighted in a Reuters report in September. Another targets an anonymous man who threatened Vermont officials and was featured in a November Reuters investigation.

In a previous interview with Reuters, Juncaj said he had done nothing wrong and “didn’t threaten anybody.” He could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

The indictment by the task force is only the second known federal charge for threatening election workers since the 2020 vote. In December 2020, federal prosecutors charged a New Hampshire woman with threatening a Michigan official.

The task force’s indictment of Stark “sends a critical message that threatening an election official or worker will be treated as a threat to our democracy,” said Matt Masterson, a Republican who ran election security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security between 2018 to 2020.

Luis Quesada, an assistant director with the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said “the right to vote is a cornerstone of American democracy.”

“Threats targeting the officials and frontline workers who do the critical work of administering free and fair elections in the United States undermines this vital right," he said.

(Reporting by Linda So and Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Andy Sullivan and Brian Thevenot)

House Panel Issues Subpoena To Neo-Nazi ‘Groyper’ Nick Fuentes

It is unquestionably satisfying to see the January 6 House select committee issue subpoenas to some of the notorious extremists who led the mob to invade the U.S. Capitol a year ago but who have not yet been called to account, mainly because they did not go inside the building—people like Alex Jones, Roger Stone, and Ali Alexander. Last Wednesday’s subpoena of notorious white nationalists Nicholas Fuentes and Patrick Casey—leaders of the so-called “Groyper army” under the banner of Fuentes’ America First operation—was particularly so.

However, whatever accountability may arise from the subpoena also carries a hidden danger—namely, that Fuentes and his “Groypers” will exploit any appearance before the committee for publicity and increased fame, while turning any hearing in which he participates into a mockery, and taint the committee itself by extension. It’s the kind of thing at which they excel.

The committee has numerous solid reasons to seek testimony from Fuentes and Casey. Their white nationalist organization, America First, mobilized to support the “Stop the Steal” campaign that organized around Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that he had won the 2020 election. Fuentes and his “Groypers”—an ad-hoc “army” of anti-Semitic white nationalists whose symbol is an alt-right-style cartoon frog—turned out for pro-Trump rallies in Washington on November 14 and December 12, 2020, at which Fuentes spoke.

The letter sent by the committee to Fuentes also spells out a potentially important financial question: “Less than a month before the Capitol attack, you reportedly received a large donation of Bitcoin, worth more than $250,000, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly is scrutinizing to assess whether the money was linked to the Capitol attack or otherwise used to fund illegal acts,” it said.

Fuentes spoke to the crowd on the Capitol steps during the January 6 insurrection, urging the mob to keep the building occupied:

We have just got word that they have stopped the vote of the Electoral College in Congress! I say that we should not leave this Capitol until Donald Trump is inaugurated president! We the American people will not let this fraudulent election go forward one more step! Because the truth is that Donald Trump won the election on November 3 by a landslide! And we will accept nothing less than four more years of Donald Trump!

A number of America First members were among the people who did invade the Capitol and now face charges because of it. One of them is Riley Williams, the 22-year-old woman from Pennsylvania believed to be the person who emerged from the Capitol siege with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop in her possession.

A Bellingcat report made clear Williams was not just a Trump fan who got “carried away,” as her mother tried to tell an interviewer. In the process of identifying her as the woman with her face concealed in a TikTok video featuring a masked woman giving a Nazi salute, it followed a long trail of evidence of her avid participation in far-right “accelerationist” online spaces, including on Parler and Telegram.

Williams also was a fan of Fuentes. When Fuentes helped lead the “Stop the Steal” protest in Washington, D.C., on December 12, Williams took a fan shot with him that day, posting it on Twitter: “Thank you Nick!!” she wrote, adding a laughing emoji. “King of America!”

Another of Fuentes’ followers, a California college student named Christian Secor, has been charged with breaking into the Capitol. Secor, who had earlier posted a photo on Twitter of himself with Fuentes before the attack with a caption reading, “Kinda epic doe?”, also entered the Senate floor with an America First flag.

The political agenda that Fuentes promotes is nakedly white nationalist, though he eschews the term because of the “baggage” that accompanies it, insisting that he’s only an “American nationalist”—thereby ignoring his group’s replication of white nationalist ideas (particularly “white genocide”), as well its unrepentant anti-Semitism. As Ben Lorber explained at Political Research Associates, “Fuentes seeks to secure a place for white nationalist concerns within the shifting consensus that defines movement conservatism. His momentum both accelerates and reflects the mainstreaming of white nationalism in U.S. politics, and highlights the challenges posed to existing ‘counter-extremism’ strategies in the face of an increasingly normalized far right.”

Fuentes explained this strategy on one of his podcasts:

My job, and the job of the Groypers and America First, is to keep pushing further. We—because nobody else will—have to push the envelope. And we’re gonna get called names. We’re gonna get called racist, sexist, antisemitic, bigoted, whatever…and when the party is where we are two years later, we’re not gonna get the credit for the ideas that become popular…but that’s ok. That’s our job. We are the right-wing flank of the Republican Party, and if we didn’t exist, the Republican Party would be falling backwards all the time, constantly falling backwards, receding into the Center and the Left. So we have got to be on the Right, dragging these people kicking and stream—kicking and screaming into the future, into the right wing, into a truly reactionary party. And it’s incremental—we’re not gonna drag them all the way over—but if we can drag over the furthest part of the Right further to the Right, and we can drag the Center further to the Right, and we can drag the Left further to the Right, then we’re winning.

Fuentes and the “Groypers” specialize in alt-right-style trolling that promotes white nationalist ideas and memes, such as when they began turning up at events featuring campus conservative Charlie Kirk and his Turning Point USA organization, who they deemed insufficiently “red-pilled.” Groyper audience members—including, at an Ohio State rally, Patrick Casey—would roil these events by asking Kirk and other speakers openly antisemitic, racist, and homophobic questions.

Andrew Anglin, editor/publisher of the explicitly neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, explained to his readers how deniability was built into all these public expressions of support for white nationalist beliefs: “If you say any of the things said in OSU on Tuesday night, you can just say ‘no, of course, I’m not an ALT-RIGHT NEO-NAZI RACIST WHITE SUPREMACIST, I’m just an America First nationalist and MAGA supporter.’”

Since the insurrection, Fuentes has voiced his solidarity with Anglin and compared himself to the unrepentant Nazi. “I’m trying to get out a very important message about white genocide and the destruction of our people,” he explained in a recent livestream responding to the subpoena.

Fuentes has also been spreading his influence. After being banned from Southwest Airlines for refusing to follow their masking protocols—and then fantasizing on his podcast about killing flight attendants in retaliation—he claimed groundlessly that he had been placed on a federal no-fly list. Rising to his defense was Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of the Republicans with his own deep connections to the Jan. 6 insurrection, who demanded that federal authorities explain Fuentes’ supposed ban.

Shortly afterward, Gosar was the keynote speaker at America First’s annual convention in Miami. Fuentes followed Gosar on stage and delivered a speech neck-deep in white nationalist cant, saying that if the U.S. "loses its white demographic core, then this is not America anymore." He warned that “white people are done being bullied” by groups like Black Lives Matter. Such groups, he claimed, want to create “a new racial caste system in this country, with whites at the bottom.”

Moreover, Fuentes has emphatically promoted the idea that the January 6 insurrection and the attempt to keep Trump in office were not just justifiable but events to be positively celebrated. That was the line he adopted the day after the siege on his podcast.

“At every step of the way, the Republican Party could have kept Trump in office,” Fuentes claimed. “Whether it was the party apparatus — the Republican Party itself, the RNC — stopping the voter fraud on Election Day. You could’ve had Republican state legislatures take their own electors and appoint them and send them to D.C. You could’ve had Trump-appointed justices intervene and make this right.”

“And ultimately tomorrow you could’ve had Republican senators and House representatives object to and throw out enough votes that we could’ve forced a contingent election and gotten President Trump inaugurated that way,” he said.

“Frankly, I think it was completely justified,” he added. “And, if I’m being totally honest, I loved what happened yesterday. And we will see what the consequences will be of yesterday, and we will deal with them, and we will adapt to them, and they’re not gonna be good. … But what I saw yesterday was beautiful. It was righteous. It was American. Our ancestors from our founding smiled upon us yesterday. And I have nothing to apologize for.”

On the event’s anniversary earlier this month, he went even further. “I started out the show earlier saying, ‘Happy January 6,’” Fuentes said in a livestream. “This is a holiday. This is a historic moment for us. We should celebrate that it happened, absolutely. And I said this on Telegram late last night, after midnight so it was technically January 6, I don’t regret a thing about my actions on January 6, and I don’t regret … anything that I did leading up to it in the three months prior, since Nov. 3, 2020.”

“We need to celebrate January 6. This is part of our new heritage. This is part of our new history,” he added.

Fuentes almost certainly sees the subpoena as an opportunity to further publicize his group and its agenda, and moreover is unlikely to answer any questions from the committee in good faith, hoping instead to make the proceedings into a mockery. So the committee would be wise to take that into account while hearing whatever testimony Fuentes might have to offer.

And while the committee is considering televising its hearings in prime time, it would be a decidedly bad idea to give Fuentes an opportunity to troll them with the nation watching.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos