A Dangerous New Escalation By Republicans Is Being Ignored
It started with Newt Gingrich, and ends with Marjorie Taylor Greene
by Justin Rosario
One of the most dangerous weapons the right wields is both the most obvious and least noticed: Language. Language has immense power and we are very bad at recognizing when that power is being weaponized against us.
The past few weeks have seen a new escalation of dangerous rhetoric from the right and it has, yet again, barely made a ripple. This is classic “frog in a pot of water” stuff and we had best start paying attention before their words become deadly actions.
From Gingrich to baby killers to pedophiles
Overt racism and misogyny was extremely common on the right until American society changed quite dramatically during the Civil Rights era. Then came the dog whistles and coded insults — like calling an opponent “soft on crime.”
Then came Newt Gingrich in the 80s and 90s.
Gingrich trained Republicans to call Democrats monsters, traitors and ‘un-American’. It was ugly and crude but it elicited little response from the press — the same press that now howls in protest whenever a Democrat says something disparaging about a Republican. That same press was also curiously indifferent as Republicans whipped their base into a murderous frenzy over abortion. “Baby-killer” was so ubiquitous that multiple terrorist attacks have been carried out against abortion clinics and providers over the years, including the assassination of Dr. George Tiller while he was in church. None of the Republicans responsible for that, like Bill O’Reilly, paid a price for their stochastic terrorism.
The Tea Party movement that emerged in 2009 in response to Barack Obama’s Presidency progressed to “Second Amendment remedies.” Trump then gave us the Big Lie. QAnon’s contribution was the new Blood Libel.
It is incredibly important you understand what the point of QAnon, and by extension, the Big Lie is.
Starting with Gingrich, each step has conditioned the right to view the left as a threat. Not threatening, as in “they’ll win elections if I don't show up to vote!”, but an actual, physical threat: Liberals are going to take your guns. Liberals are going to take your land. Liberals are going to take your money.
When those threats lost their punch, Republicans started to tell their base of easily manipulated rage junkies that liberals would put them in concentration camps. Liberals would make them gay. Liberals would take away their religion. But the threat always has to escalate so QAnon sold the story that a global cabal (read as: Jews) of cannibal pedophiles was draining “adrenochrome” (read as: blood) from children so they could live forever and wipe out the white race. The Big Lie has now merged with this into a giant conspiracy in which the global cabal also stole the 2020 election and are now preparing to enslave and exterminate real Americans (read as: white men).
Once you believe this, absolutely anything can be justified. Political violence. Assassinations. Election tampering. Insurrection. Civil war. You can murder 10,000 liberals because you, the Holy Crusader for Trump and God, are the hero of the story. Not only will you be rewarded in heaven, but the newly restored President Trump will also grant you a pardon. Why wouldn’t you take up arms against a tyrannical government in this scenario?
Republicans are agitating for a violent regime change. Recent emphasis on the word “regime.”
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The “regime” scheme
I don’t think I’ve ever referred to Trump’s occupancy of the White House as an “administration” on purpose. I’ve always called it a “regime” and for good reason: Trump’s time in office was a completely lawless assault on the country with the goal of replacing democracy with white nationalist fascism. It wasn’t subtle.
The difference between me using the word “regime” and, say, Majorie Taylor Greene and the Republican Party are using it is, likewise, not subtle. When I use it, it is to call attention to the fact that Trump as president was a 4-year-long criminal act and we should never normalize nor forget it. When Taylor Greene and her fellows Republicans use it, they are making an almost explicit call to violence. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post is one of the only people I have seen actually taking notice of this:
The term “regime” is a mainstay of Greene’s political vocabulary, and right-wing authoritarian nationalists in Congress and the media are using it more and more prominently. Understanding the term is essential to grasping what’s happening with today’s MAGA-fied right and why some experts fear we may be hurtling toward rising political violence and instability.
Greene is on the leading edge of this trend. After the Mar-a-Lago search, she suggested that only “countries during civil war” typically see such “rogue” behavior by the state. Soon after, the term “regime” quickly became central to the right’s Mar-a-Lago narrative as a way to express that thought.
Sargent explains that the right really leaned into the “regime” talk after Mar-a-Lago and have also started applying it regularly to the poor, oppressed “political prisoners” of 1/6.
In the bizarro world of MAGA, holding Republican criminals and terrorists accountable is, in fact, criminal. The rule of law itself is illegitimate if Republicans and their violent footsoldiers are the targets. So where does this lead? Nowhere good:
Conservatism scholar Joshua Tait explains how this works in his etymology of the “regime” term for the Bulwark. The word, Tait notes, is meant to invoke a sense that a range of U.S. institutions — the administrative state, the media, universities, etc. — have been irredeemably captured by the left, creating a “regime” that in some vague sense exercises hidden but tyrannical control.
“What do people ultimately do to regimes?” Tait asks rhetorically. “They topple them.” To call the legitimately elected Biden administration “the regime,” Tait argues, “is an implicit call to overthrow it.”
That, of course, is the entire point. Marjorie Taylor Greene is not trying to excite the base to turn out votes. She is trying to whip the mob into a bloodthirsty rage so they will either take up arms against the government or accept the overthrow of said government.
If you are unclear about what Republicans are trying to accomplish here, Taylor Greene really dispels any lingering doubts:
Yes, you heard that correctly, Taylor Greene is now saying at rallies and in interviews that Democrats are killing Republicans. We discussed this on last week’s podcast. None of it is true. Both stories Greene is using to spin her paranoid fantasy are nonsense but that doesn’t matter. She’s repeating it over and over again, and the GOP base will accept it as the gospel truth. And now that Democrats are murdering Republicans, well, they willl have to respond in kind.
Here’s a little flavoring to make sure we know exactly what kind of people Greene is appealing to:
If you had hopes that Greene was going to remain a bit player in Republican politics, a carnival barker making noise on Twitter, I have exceptionally bad news for you from the Associated Press:
Once shunned as a political pariah for her extremist rhetoric, the Georgia congresswoman who spent her first term in the House stripped of institutional power by Democrats is being celebrated by Republicans and welcomed into the GOP fold. If Republicans win the House majority in the November election, Greene is poised to become an influential player shaping the GOP agenda, an agitator with clout.
Greene is not a sideshow. She’s going to be the main attraction. She is the future of the Republican Party, setting the violent agenda for the base.
A deliberate path to bloodshed
You don’t get here without paving the ground for decades. This is how hate speech works. Each escalation inures the listener to the next outrage. It prepares them to accept the next sick accusation. It’s possible, even probable, that back in the 80s and 90s, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans he had taught to demonize the left were not planning to push America toward domestic terrorism and fascism. But after the Oklahoma City bombing, they knew full well what their rhetoric was doing to the country and they didn’t care. Hate was fueling their party and they simply took advantage of it.
Now, Republicans are deliberately steering their base of mindless rage addicts toward violence. They have taught millions of Republicans that the left is the pinnacle of evil; baby killers, pedophiles, cannibals and monsters who have seized control of America. Liberals have a nefarious plan to murder all white Christian heterosexual conservatives. The only way to save America is to rise up and kill the bad people first. You are the hero. God is on your side. History will exonerate you.
This is happening right now and they are doing it in the open. But the left too has been conditioned. They have been taught to accept every terrible thing the right says and does as “normal” no matter how insane or vile. Republicans literally conspired to overthrow the government of the United States through violence and we are poised to give those same Republicans control of the House and possibly the Senate. And we are doing so knowing, for a fact, that they are planning on trying to overthrow the government again in 2024. We know this because they won't stop telling us about it!
We are the proverbial frog in a pot of water and Majorie Taylor Greene is just the loudest and most obvious of the right-wing monsters pouring gasoline on the fire under us. Listen to what they’re saying and understand why they’re saying it. It is the only way to truly understand the danger they pose to this country and to you.
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Despite right wing media attempts to brainwash the public, Trump was, and is almost certainly a Russian asset.
by Ben Cohen
In an act of supreme self-loathing, I have been watching the Showtime drama ‘The Comey Rule’. The series is about FBI director James Comey and is based on his book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. Starring the inimitable Jeff Daniels, it is an excellent show with top notch acting and a fantastic cast. It does however, force you to relive the early Trump years — an experience I have been trying to recover from since Joe Biden’s election in 2020.
While suffering a little from too clever by half Sorkinite dialogue and an overly effusive portrayal of the FBI, the series does an excellent job depicting the drama around Comey and the Hillary Clinton email saga. The series is sympathetic towards Comey and sheds light on the thinking that went on behind his decision to re-open the investigation 11 days before the election in 2016.
I still think the decision was a bad one, but the series supports Comey’s deeply held belief that he was acting out of the long term interests of the FBI. The agency, according to Comey, had to act on new intel on the Clinton email saga and was obliged to inform the public about it regardless of the timing. Comey understood it could throw the election to Trump, but took the long term view that the agency’s independence was more important than a single election.
This, in my view, was a deeply flawed perspective given Comey and the agency knew what a Trump presidency would entail.
The emergence of Donald Trump in the final two episodes of the series is what drives home this point. Played by the fantastic Brendan Gleeson, the series pivots from the Clinton drama to Trump’s first term in office — and boy is it scary….
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