Now is the time for us to brand the Republican Party as a domestic terrorist group. You know we need to do this, for the good of the country and for our future.
These days in the GOP, it is becoming harder to tell the difference between the politicians, the criminals and violent extremists. Take for example the tragic and senseless white supremacist attack in Portland. After Jeremy Joseph Christian fatally stabbed two people in the neck on a train following his tirade against two Black teenagers, one who was wearing a hijab, a top Oregon GOP official had to weigh in and say something extra.
When other people expressed condolences and decried the rise of hate and violence, Multnomah County GOP Chair James Buchal suggested that in response to street protests, GOP politicians might consider using extremist antigovernment militia groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters for security. “I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,” Buchal told The Guardian. “And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too.”
This comes as Mississippi state Rep. Karl Oliver apologized after calling for the lynching of lawmakers who support the removal of Confederate monuments. Newly elected Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte, who has ties to accused white supremacists, beat up a Guardian reporter, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made a joke about shooting reporters. And because there is no shortage of the crazy in the Lone Star State–known for its good barbecue but equally for its history of lynchings and racial violence–a Republican lawmaker threatened to shoot a Democratic colleague. After state Rep. Matt Rinaldi told a group of Latino lawmakers he called ICE on protesters, he took to Facebook and claimed he had been assaulted by Rep. Ramon Romero and threatened by Rep. Poncho Nevarez for calling ICE, and told Nevarez he would shoot the lawmaker in self-defense.
Then, of course, there is the commander-in-chief, President Donald “covfefe” Trump himself, who as a candidate said “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Trump, who fomented white supremacist violence against protesters at his campaign rallies, is helping to set the tone for the rest of the characters in his party, with actual Nazis working out of the West Wing and promulgating punitive policies against Latinos, Muslims, Blacks, the poor and others that are acts of violence unto themselves.
Accusing a major political party of terrorism requires a working definition of terrorism. According to the FBI website, terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Domestic terrorism is “the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
You be the judge.
It all makes you wonder how we got to this point, and how the former party of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass became the political arm of domestic white terrorism. Granted, it was a long time coming. From the days of Barry Goldwater and Nixon, the GOP used racial hatred and resentment over civil rights as a marketing ploy. The race card politics of the Republican Southern Strategy lured the Southern segregationists from the old Democratic Party.
All the while, the party kept lurching to the right and failed to regulate its unhinged, unstable element. Rather, the Republicans, like their base of uneducated white voters, became addicted to the opioid of racism, and with it, enabled white male anger in all its toxicity. They embraced the Tea Party and Birtherism, and found common cause with the gun nuts, the militias and the hate groups the Southern Poverty Law Center monitors so well.
After years of making Barack Obama the Black president their sworn enemy, the GOP made 2016 a turning point with the full embrace of white nationalism. The extremist rightwing fringe became the mainstream. While the Jim Crow politicians went hand in hand with the Ku Klux Klan back in the day, years later the parties might have changed, but the game remains the same.
And with elected officials acting like madmen, calling for violence, even threatening acts of terror themselves, this is a sign of a party that is off the rails and out of control. This isn’t funny, and at this rate somebody is going to get hurt.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove.