New polling finds that nearly half of Americans think the U.S. should be a Christian nation — and that, among those who believe as such, over half think that the word of the Bible should take precedence over the will of the public when it comes to writing laws.
The research, by Pew Research Center, finds that 45 percent of adults surveyed say that the U.S. should be a Christian nation, while 51 percent disagree. While two-thirds of Americans say that churches and other houses of worship should stay out of government affairs, there is still a sizable — and perhaps alarming — amount of Americans who believe that Christianity should guide U.S. law, the polling found.
Among those who said that the U.S. should be a Christian nation, a majority (52 percent) said that the federal government should never declare an official religion. But still, among that group, a larger share (54 percent) said that the Bible should have more influence on U.S. laws than the will of the public, while 22 percent said that the Bible should have an impact but not overrule the will of the people. This means that about 27 percent and 19 percent of the poll’s respondents agree with these statements, respectively.
Additionally, about a third of the group that believes that the U.S. should be a Christian nation said that religious diversity “weakens American society,” or about 19 percent overall.
Pew notes that some seemingly conflicting views shown in the poll may be explained by the fact that respondents may not fully agree on what it means for the U.S. to be a “Christian nation,” or that respondents don’t fully understand the implications of such a declaration. For instance, 60 percent of respondents said that the U.S.’s founders originally intended for the U.S. to be a Christian nation, even though it is explicitly written in the First Amendment that U.S. lawmakers should never establish a national religion through law.
Some respondents may think that Americans should act under a unified set of morals, not that it should be written into the law, Pew said. Or, they may simply think that a majority of the population is already Christian — as exemplified by the fact that 33 percent of Americans evidently think that the U.S. is already a Christian nation, the poll found.
However, the fact that there is a rather large portion of respondents who seem to be hostile to religions other than Christianity and that they believe the Bible should essentially be translated as rule of law is concerning, especially in a time when Republicans are increasingly embracing Christian nationalism.
Christian nationalism is a dangerous ideology closely associated with white supremacy and fascism; moves like the Supreme Court’s Christian, far right judges ruling to overturn federal abortion rights earlier this year are an example of the spread of Christofascism on the right and inside the corridors of power.
The ideology is still unpopular, the survey found. Five percent of respondents said that they have a favorable opinion of Christian nationalism — a large number for such a fringe and malignant view, but still a small proportion overall. About a quarter of respondents said they have an unfavorable view of Christian nationalism, while 54 percent said they have never heard of the ideology.
Before rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, the consensus was that Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election amounted to a “clown coup”: fumbling, incompetent, and ultimately futile. This characterization made a certain sense at the time. Most of the lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies were a ridiculous mix of shoddy constitutional law and conspiracy theories, and they were laughed out of courtrooms around the country (of the 62 lawsuits they filed before January 6, 61 failed). None of the several states whose results Trump challenged—notably Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona—changed their votes. He also tried to pressure elected officials in some states to alter the results, but they rebuffed him. Joe Biden was sworn in as president on schedule. The system worked—more or less.
Subsequent revelations, particularly in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, have suggested that Trump came much closer to overturning the 2020 election than previously thought. Rioters nearly intercepted lawmakers in the building and could have easily prompted a constitutional crisis had they successfully delayed the certification of electoral votes. The January 6 committee has shown that Trump’s efforts to subvert the election were more involved than previously thought: Despite being told over and over again by allies and government officials that the election was legitimate, he nevertheless proceeded to try to undo the result, welcomed armed supporters into the rally that he held before the assault on the Capitol, and told allies that Vice President Mike Pence “deserved” to be hanged. It was a clown coup, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have succeeded.
Nor does it mean he won’t try it again—perhaps with a more catastrophic outcome. Though he is still deeply incompetent, Trump has learned where the levers of power are, both in government and the legal system. And he has turned the Republican Party into an army of election deniers, some of whom are running for the very offices that oversee elections. It is nearly certain that, should he win the Republican nomination in 2024 and lose the general election, he will attempt once again to overturn the results.
The latest evidence comes from Rolling Stone, which reported on Sunday that Trump plans on using Pennsylvania’s upcoming Senate election between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz. “In recent months, Trump has convened a series of in-person meetings and conference calls to discuss laying the groundwork to challenge the 2022 midterm election results,” wrote Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, later adding, “If the Republican does not win by a wide enough margin to trigger a speedy concession from Fetterman—or if the vote tally is close on or after Election Night in November—Trump and other Republicans are already preparing to wage a legal and activist crusade against the ‘election integrity’ of Democratic strongholds such as the Philly area.”
Trump is using Pennsylvania’s election as a kind of test case for 2024, to see whether he and his allies can successfully challenge a legitimate result. Fetterman has consistently polled ahead of Oz since the general election campaign, but the election is expected to be close: Republicans have regained momentum in recent weeks, and many suspect that the polls are once again overstating a Democratic advantage. If Fetterman wins outright or the election is close enough to prompt a recount, Trump will swoop in and declare it illegitimate, claiming widespread corruption in Philadelphia involving voting machines and mail-in ballots.
Trump only cares about how these midterm elections reflect on him. That’s why it’s likely he’ll challenge the legitimacy of any results that damage his status as the GOP’s preeminent kingmaker, which recently has been in doubt. Oz, whose nomination Trump helped secure earlier this year, has struggled throughout the campaign, as have several of Trump’s other hand-picked nominees, like Georgia’s Herschel Walker and Ohio’s J.D. Vance. (Walker is trailing and Vance is leading, per FiveThirtyEight’s polling aggregate, but both are underperforming.) Challenging elections in which his candidates lose, on the grounds that the Democrat won thanks to voter fraud, allows him to pretend he still has the magic touch ahead of his own campaign for president next summer.
But it is, above all else, a way for Trump to lay the groundwork for challenging his own potential loss in 2024—and doing so in a way that learns the lessons of past mistakes. It is similar, in many ways, to his reported plans for a second presidential term, in which hundreds of long-standing government employees (or members of the “deep state”) in places like the Department of Justice, the State Department, and the Internal Revenue Service would be purged and replaced by loyalists. Trump’s last coup almost worked—and it was inept at almost every level. Many of the same vulnerabilities remain, and Trump is gearing up to exploit them.
Former President Donald Trump is already laying the groundwork to challenge the results of the Pennsylvania Senate race, viewing the election as a “dress rehearsal for Trump 2024,” according to Rolling Stone.
Trump last month met with Republican allies at Trump Tower to demand they “do something” about the Senate race between Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican challenger Mehmet Oz, claiming that there was a “scam” happening in Philadelphia and elsewhere around the state.
“During our briefing, he was concerned that 2020 is going to happen again in 2022,” Michael Caputo, a former Trump administration official who attended the meeting along with Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko and retired CIA officer Sam Faddis, told Rolling Stone. “Our team encouraged him to be concerned … [Furthermore], I’m advising Republicans to recruit and train election observers and a team of attorneys to oversee historically problematic precincts,” Caputo said.
The meeting was one of several in which Trump has discussed plans to challenge the 2022 midterm results, and not just in Pennsylvania, four sources told the outlet, discussing “scorched-earth legal tactics they could deploy.”
TrumpWorld is planning “aggressive court campaigns” if there is any hint of doubt about the results, according to the report. Trump himself has been briefed on plans in multiple states, including in Georgia, but he has been particularly fixated on the Pennsylvania race. If Oz does not win or the results are close, sources told Rolling Stone, Trump and other Republicans are already planning to “wage a legal and activist crusade against the ‘election integrity’ of Democratic strongholds such as Philly,” according to the report.
One source told the outlet that Trump is particularly focused on Pennsylvania because he sees the Senate race as a “dress rehearsal for Trump 2024.”
Trump during the September meeting urged GOP allies to work to limit mail-in voting in the state, pushing debunked claims that the 2020 election was stolen in Philadelphia and demanding officials focus on the heavily Democratic and diverse area, according to the report. Trump has asked several advisers what Republicans are doing to prevent Democrats from “steal[ing] it in Philadelphia [like] they did last time,” sources told the outlet.
Numerous Trump allies are ready to help wage another campaign to stoke doubt in election results before any votes are even cast.
“It’s important to prepare for legal fights that will inevitably arise,” Hogan Gidley, a former Trump White House spokesman who now works at the America First Policy Institute, told Rolling Stone. “The effort that the Center for Election Integrity is focused on started at the beginning of this year…We’ve been seeding efforts across the country in important states…[because] having people on the ground locally is key to these efforts — because if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, who has spent millions pushing lies that voting machines flipped votes from Trump to President Joe Biden, also vowed to fight over the 2022 results.
“No matter what happens, I’m not giving up on getting rid of those voting machines … I will not stop until the machines are gone,” Lindell, who is facing a $1 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, told Rolling Stone.
Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock CEO who has likewise poured his own money into the “Big Lie” crusade, has teamed with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn to form the so-called America Project.
“We have made proper preparations for post-election challenges if necessary, but our overwhelming focus is on having a clean, transparent election, which obviates the need for post-election legal scuffles,” Byrne told the outlet.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year ruled that tossing such ballots would result in “disenfranchising otherwise qualified voters” over a “meaningless requirement” that does not affect the voters’ eligibility. The Supreme Court last week tossed the court’s decision but did not rule on whether the ballots are required to be counted. A state court previously ruled that undated ballots can be counted and the state’s Supreme Court in 2020 ruled that such ballots should be counted that year but not in future elections.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman issued guidance urging counties to count the undated ballots but the RNC and a group of Pennsylvania Republicans sued last week, asking the state Supreme Court to rule that the undated ballots should not be counted. The lawsuit is led by attorneys Kathleen Gallagher and john Gore, who previously represented Pennsylvania Republicans in their attempt to overturn the 2020 results over late-arriving mail-in ballots.
It’s a trend that could play out across the country as numerous election deniers seek midterm wins, including Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and New Hampshire Senate candidate Don Bolduc. And pro-Trump media has boosted the message.
“If it is fair, Kari Lake’s going to win,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said recently.
Pro-Trump radio host Mark Levin accused Democrats of “trying to steal the election for Fetterman,” citing the dispute over the undated ballots.
The Rolling Stone report noted that Trump’s obsession with bolstering the Republican legal infrastructure to challenge the election stands in stark contrast with the “relatively small sums” he has poured into the campaign to boost Oz’s chances. His super PAC has spent just $770,000 on TV ads for Trump, compared to $34 million from the Senate Leadership Fund, which is allied with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Some Republicans have taken notice.
“There’s a lot of people that were Trump supporters, who backed him through thick and thin,” a Pennsylvania Republican attorney told Rolling Stone. “That’s not lost on them.”
In the final weeks before the 2022 midterms, faced with multiple government investigations, Donald Trump has tripled down on a disturbing pattern of incitement. He continues to stoke grievance and fear and use inflammatory rhetoric that is likely to instigate random followers to violence, a technique experts call stochastic terrorism. In recent speeches, Trump has denounced “vicious” political adversaries as “thugs,” “zealots,” and “tyrants” and has warned supporters of a domestic menace: “Despite great outside dangers from other countries, our biggest threat remains the sick, sinister and evil people from within our own country.”
The ex-president has long used demonizing language to put targets on institutions and individuals, from the Justice Department and FBI to the New York attorney general and the GOP Senate minority leader; recently Trump declared that Mitch McConnell’s supposed defiance of him amounted to a “DEATH WISH.” The subsequent backtracking by a Trump spokesman, who implied Trump merely meant a “political death wish,” is part of the incitement technique—an effort to establish deniability, as I’ve detailed in aseriesofarticles since 2020 on Trump’s use of such rhetoric. An especially troubling component is Trump’s dehumanization of his purported enemies, a tactic that researchers have found escalates the risk for political violence.
Trump knows he is not stoking this peril in a vacuum. Violent threats have soared around racial, gender, and various other political issues, and national media often highlight acute partisan polarization and debate about prospects for a coming “civil war.” Now, a new study published by the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California-Davis reveals a growing acceptance in the United States of political violence, particularly among Americans who identify as partisan Republicans. The UC-Davis team conducted the most detailed study to date on the phenomenon. What their broad national survey reveals is troubling to say the least.
Approximately one-third of 8,620 respondents surveyed in early summer said that they considered violence to be “usually or always justified” to advance at least one among a list of 17 specific political objectives. This justification of violence was significantly more common among people who self-identified as “strong” Republicans than among those who identified as “strong” Democrats. Half of those strong Republicans endorsed such violence, compared with roughly a quarter of like Democrats. (The “strong” label denotes the far ends of the partisan spectrum in the survey.)
Partisan Republicans were also more likely to agree that “armed citizens should patrol polling places at election time.”
The survey specifics reveal the ex-president’s influence: 12 percent of strong Republicans indicated support for violence as a means to “return Donald Trump to the presidency this year,” and 17 percent indicated the same to “stop an election from being stolen.” Strong Republicans were also more likely than strong Democrats to agree that “armed citizens should patrol polling places at election time” (14 percent versus 4 percent) and that violence may well be needed to “stop voter fraud” (17 percent versus 7 percent). Significant voter fraud is extremely rare in US elections and was in no way a factor in the 2020 presidential election.
The researchers also asked about the future role of firearms “in a situation where you think force or violence is justified to advance an important political objective.” Nearly 15 percent of strong Republicans said it was “very or extremely likely” that they will be armed with a gun in such a situation, while only 5 percent of strong Democrats said the same. Personal willingness to threaten or shoot someone with a gun was uncommon, the survey found, with no statistically significant variation by party affiliation. However, the small percentages of people who indicated they would personally engage in such violence represent—in absolute terms—disturbingly large numbers of American adults, the researchers observed.
Several veteran threat assessment experts I spoke with this month told me that they continue to see alarming levels of political extremism in threat cases, foremost driven by Trump’s rhetoric and the so-called ultra MAGA movement. “What we’re seeing is very concerning,” said a source who is also knowledgeable about ongoing Justice Department investigations of the January 6 insurrection. “The QAnon [conspiracy theory] garbage is all over the place, lots of talk about Trump taking back power, the need to fight the enemy and save the country—all that stuff.”
The experts noted that the violent threats on their radar, while heavily skewed to the far right, have become more broad-based. (The new research also reflects that spread.)
“I don’t get into the politics because that’s not my job,” one federal law enforcement agent told me, “but I remember a time when most members of Congress would never go after each other in such nasty or personal ways. They would reject that and say it’s wrong. I think the effect of that going away has been serious.”
Since the January 6 insurrection, multiple GOP leaders have adopted Trump’s style of potentially dangerous rhetoric.
The prospects for escalating violence are not difficult to imagine. Shortly after Trump and his allies went ballistic over the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago in August, a pro-Trump extremist in Ohio set out to attack an FBI field office and died in a shootout with police. Violent threats against members of Congress have risen to harrowing levels, particularly against women and lawmakers of color. The country saw the danger on a mass scale with the assault on Congress, which federal prosecutions later showed to be driven in large part by Trump’s incessantly rendered lie that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. In the nearly two years since the insurrection, multiple GOP leaders have adopted Trump’s style of potentially dangerous rhetoric, as I documented recently.
With midterm voting imminent, Trump keeps hammering away. This week, he shared a meme with his millions of followers on his Truth Social platform that depicted the Democratic Party as disgusting, evil, and degenerate. He included a thinly veiled call to arms: “It was during the Trump Administration that the ‘Deep State’ corruption, and pure hatred of our Country, was fully EXPOSED,” he wrote, adding, “something must now be done to rid us of this Cancer that is purposely destroying our Nation. There is far more danger from within than anything coming from the outside.”
Participants at the No Hate No Fear solidarity march against the rise of anti-semitism in New York City on January 5, 2020,
Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images
Republican leaders have seemingly adopted a wait-and-see approach to antisemitism.
Frustrated supporters say the party should automatically condemn “any divisive and hateful commentary.”
“A lot of these people vote,” Donald Trump once said when advised to keep bigots at bay.
Insider contacted more than three dozen Republicans, both in and out of Congress, to find out what’s kept them from denouncing recent antisemitic outbursts by the party’s current idols.
Almost everyone ignored the multiple emails, calls, and text messages asking whatever happened to the cookie-cutter “there’s-no-place-for-INSERT DESPICABLE THING-in-the-Republican-party” statements politicians typically fired off as soon as someone baselessly attacked anyone’s race, religion or ethnicity.
Insider reached out to House Republican leaders, GOP senators auditioning for the 2024 presidential race, the Republican National Committee, retired GOP lawmakers, seasoned Republican strategists and former Donald Trump administration officials about this disturbing phenomenon.
The non-respondents included RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, former Vice President Mike Pence, National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Rick Scott, House Republican Conference chair Elise Stefanik, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, among others. The brush-offs ranged from total radio silence to promises to circle back “if we’re able to provide comment by your deadline” to immediate hang-ups and finger-pointing at Democrats.
The sheepishness that prominent and high-ranking party members have displayed by disregarding or openly celebrating entertainer Ye (Kanye West) threatening Jews on social media, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s repeated anti-semitic diatribes, and Trump ordering Jews that don’t support him to “get their act together” underscores how terrified they all are of alienating the most extreme conservatives ahead of the midterms.
The unwillingness to flatly reject antisemitism today appears to be the mainstreaming of the political calculus Trump made in 2016 when former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie urged the first-time candidate to steer clear of white supremacists.
Staff for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the only elected lawmaker willing to engage on this sensitive subject, did not provide new comment but rather redirected Insider to a quote the Kentucky Republican gave Politico after MAGA darling Greene spoke at an event organized by alleged white supremacist Nick Fuentes.
Minimal outcry within the GOP
White supremacist Nick Fuentes speaks as America First protesters gather in front of the Gracie Mansion to protest vaccination mandates in New York City on November 13, 2021.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
“There’s no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or anti-Semitism,” McConnell said in February, joining House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and lobbying outfit the Republican Jewish Coalition in scolding the Georgia Republican for consorting with hate groups.
“It is appalling and outrageous that a Member of Congress would share a platform with an individual who has actively spread antisemitic bile, mocked the Holocaust, and promoted dangerous anti-Israel conspiracy theories,” the Trump-aligned political organization said in a statement, punctuating it with the compulsory “this has absolutely no place in the Republican Party.”
But there’s been minimal outcry within the GOP this time around.
That others are now trying to mimic the both sides-ing, whataboutism, and demagoguing Trump has used to duck responsibility for his polarizing actions is driving some long-standing Republicans crazy.
“My party shouldn’t have any problem calling out wrongs when they’re clearly wrong,” Jeff Grappone, a Republican strategist at political consulting firm Rokk Solutions, told Insider. He added that Republicans need to appeal to a wider audience if they want to win future elections.
“And central to that effort needs to be unambiguous condemnation of any divisive and hateful commentary,” Grappone said.
Meghan McCain, the daughter of late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, lashed out at West, Trump and House Republican “idiots” cheering on their reprehensible behavior.
“Why is everyone saying such insane things about Jewish people this week? Are we all officially in hell?,” she fumed online about Trump’s misguided demand for fealty.
McCain also chastised the conservative TV hosts, podcasters, and journalists exploiting West’s “blatant and egregious antisemitism” purely to score political points.
“This is bigoted hate speech. It’s dangerous. It’s evil,” McCain wrote online. “But keep inviting him to your events guys…”
McCain did not respond to Insider’s request for comment about Republicans’ embrace of people openly touting antisemitic sentiments.
‘He knows what he’s doing’
Christine Rosen, a senior fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and regular contributor to the American Jewish Committee’s monthly magazine Commentary, explained what she finds most dangerous about writing off Trump’s casual antisemitism as old news.
“You can say that his particular words in this particular case are not antisemitic,” Rosen said Tuesday during Commentary’s daily podcast. “The problem is that Trump knows who his supporters are. And among his supporters are some of the nastiest anti-semites out there.”
Rosen added that Trump typically blows off accusations about being antisemitic by mentioning that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, are Jewish. But he has notably not trumpeted those connections while courting the support of fellow 2020 election deniers and alleged January 6 insurrectionists involved with the violent Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.
“Every time he says something — anything — about the Jewish people, he knows that he is speaking to a group that has a deep-seated hatred,” Rosen said of Trump’s affinity for the far-right.
Then-President Donald Trump takes the stage at the “Stop The Steal” Rally on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
What’s even scarier, Rosen said, is that Trump is well aware of his sway over angry white men, and he stirs them up for his own benefit anyway.
“Rising antisemitism in this country makes every word he said or posts on Truth Social irresponsible,” Rosen said. “He knows what he’s doing when he says these things.”
The GOP’s mounting comfort level with antisemitism bothers some in the party. But they appear to be in the minority of those willing to speak up these days.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, thumped Trump for the latest attempt at “Jewsplaining.”
“We don’t need the former president, who curries favor with extremists and antisemites, to lecture us about the US-Israel relationship,” Greenblatt wrote online. His organization also lit into West, calling the polarizing celebrity’s antics “deeply troubling, dangerous, and antisemitic, period” and debunking West’s attempted disinformation.
Staff at right-leaning news outlet The Bulwark ridiculed conservatives pretending that West’s bid to buy right-leaning social media hub Parler is anything other than a play to keep sharing wildly inappropriate content with like-minded individuals by highlighting the “racist, anti-Semitic freakshows” that dominate that site’s current user base.
Meanwhile, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse student Megan Pauley recently took the heat for fellow classmates currently in West’s thrall, reportedly resigning as head of the school’s chapter of the College Republicans after group members wrote “Kanye is right” and scribbled other culture war taunts (anti-vaccine, gun control, and transgender rights) in chalk around campus.
“Antisemitism and hate speech have no place in the College Republicans,” Pauley wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
Risk vs. reward
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel campaigns for Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker during a campaign stop on October 20, 2022 in Macon, Georgia.
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
The RNC’s McDaniel talked about cracking down on extremist supporters shortly after the violent January 6, 2021 siege at the US Capitol.
“I will denounce extreme elements that pretend to be Republican and say we do not want you in our party,” McDaniel said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” in February 2021. But she quickly couched that pledge by demanding that Democrats “do the same with antifa and groups that are anti-Semitic that masquerade as Democrats,” referring to loosely organized, self-described anti-fascists.
The only antisemitism the RNC has weighed in on since then is the November 2021 report it published alleging that Democrats are the ones condoning hate.
The partisan document is mostly filled with complaints about alleged statements and activities by President Joe Biden and progressive “Squad” members Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Cori Bush of Missouri.
The difference is that Democratic leaders took Omar to task about an anti-semitic tweet in 2019. And the chastened lawmaker apologized for her statement.
“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement at the time with her Democratic leadership team.
“The entire Congress must be fully engaged in denouncing and rejecting all forms of hatred, racism, prejudice and discrimination wherever they are encountered,” the Democratic leaders wrote.
Have likely 2024 GOP presidential candidates like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rick Scott of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Josh Hawley of Missouri, or Tom Cotton of Arizona rushed to snatch that mantle from House Democrats in the interim?
They’ve had plenty of opportunities in just the past few weeks. They’ve not implored Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano to rise above calling Democratic challenger Josh Shapiro elitist for attending a Jewish day school.
Instead, the closest the anticipated presidential contenders have come to addressing modern antisemitism is trolling Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York online after she denounced West’s “harmful” and “dangerous” comments.
It’s been a long time since this column has come out, but that’s not because of a lack of activity. In recent months, a new wave of antifascist action and community self-defense has kicked off, largely in the face of attacks by the GOP, Proud Boys, and white nationalists against the LGBTQ+ community during Pride. As the midterm elections draw near, the GOP continues to lurch to the far-Right, pushing baseless conspiracy theories in an effort to feed their base a never ending stream of outrage, fear, and click-bait.
We have put together a list of best practices for exposing fascists based on dozens of conversations with anti-fascists & crews across the country.
Slinking out of their holes and following the Proud Boys lead, white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are increasing their level of activity, both in the form of supporting MAGA and Proud Boy led rallies against Pride and LGBTQ+ events, and also by carrying out unannounced flash protests, banner drops, and sticker campaigns.
Cities coordinated banner drops + outreach against far-Right activity. “As forces of reaction grow + liberals place hope in the voting booth, now’s the time to increase visibility of community self-defense, mutual aid + solidarity against white supremacy.” https://t.co/EmQKBWF2wy
As the GOP continues to push for draconian laws against LGBTQ+ people and attack reproductive freedom, we should be working to not only oppose the far-Right on the streets, but also stand in solidarity with students organizing walkouts and protests, and communities coming together to protect themselves from ongoing attacks on all sides. There is much work to be done.
Passed to us from multiple sources: Patriot Front stenciled their logo in the Krog Street tunnel, but local antifascists almost immediately covered it with a “FUCK NAZIS” message. Thanks for helping keep Nazi trash out of our city! pic.twitter.com/v2BVhafRuk
There’s also a lot to cover, lots of upcoming actions (see a roundup at the end of this column), so let’s dive right in!
Republicans, Proud Boys, and White Nationalists Continue Attacks on LGBTQ+ Communities
Thanks to the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club and anti-fascists for defending Drag Brunch in Roanoke Texas from armed fascists who have NO RIGHT to intimidate these entertainers and got a little of their own in return. No tolerance. pic.twitter.com/nWE1lVP4kV
Republican candidates across the US are engaging in a legislative and messaging barrage against transgender people that they hope will win over voters in November’s midterm elections.
The strategy comes as the GOP finds itself on unfavorable political ground when it comes to certain social issues. On abortion rights, which have emerged as a top voter concern since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a majority of US adults align more closely with Democrats.
Meanwhile, same-sex marriage can no longer can be counted on to energize the GOP base as it has gained widespread acceptance among voters, even Republicans. A bill protecting these marriages passed in the House earlier this year with the support of 47 Republicans, and will likely get a vote in the Senate after the elections.
“You can be a Republican who supports marriage equality and equality issues, but not buy into the radical gender theory debates that are going on right now,” said Charles Moran, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, the country’s largest group of LGBT conservatives. The organization has supported bills targeting trans athletes.
A bill backed by more than 30 House Republicans could be used to strip federal funds from public schools, libraries or hospitals that recognize Pride month, host popular drag queen story hours or make any mention of LGBT+ people.
Hundreds mobilized outside of #BostonChildrensHospital to shout down less 10 anti-LGBTQ bigots led by Canadian Chris “Billboard” Elston, on a “tour of stochastic terror,” attacking gender-affirming care. Rally comes after bomb + terror threats targeted same facility. Thread. pic.twitter.com/HaJ4ReQN9W
The good news is that resistance to this manufactured “trans-panic” has set the stage for a new round of antifascist activity. Successful mobilizations in Roanoke, Texas, Boston, Massachusetts, Boise, Idaho, and Modesto, California, helped develop positive relationships with antifascist groups and broader communities while also highlighting the need for community self-defense. With increased awareness of the threat posed by the far-Right, antifascists should continue to make connections and build relationships, promoting education and fostering networks which can respond to far-Right activity and threats.
Over 250 people shut down the white nationalist “Straight Pride” rally today in #Modesto in front of Planned Parenthood. Police attacked the crowd with projectile weapons, injuring several, after it successfully repelled an attack by a small group of Proud Boys. pic.twitter.com/1snmjIcq5i
In a recent interview with It’s Going Down, Shane Burley stated, “Communities need to think about what it actually takes to protect queer communities and large Pride events,” as “safety depends on mass participation.” Burley went on to argue that such organizing “is going to require a lot of people,” and antifascists must work to reach outside of established political scenes, building broad networks and coalitions with those that want to defend their communities and spaces.
Gender Fascist Matt Walsh Faces Protests as Far-Right Attacks Gender Affirming Health Care; Threatens Hospitals
In recent months however, Walsh has been pushed into the spotlight at Fox News, as the culture war around LGBTQ+ people and in particular transgender youth has hit a fever pitch. In recent months, Walsh has been at the center of a far-Right campaign against gender-affirming health-care; working to amplify conspiracy theories about the treatment of trans people at various hospitals, which has led to a wave of death and bombing threats. According to Media Matters:
Walsh, and others targeted Boston Children’s Hospital in August, wielding misinformation about gender-affirming care to falsely claim the hospital was “mutilating children,” the facility was inundated with phone calls harassing clinicians and staff, including threats of violence. Users on far-right online forums threatened to “start executing these ‘doctors.’” Twitter users replying to [LibsofTikTok]’s own posts called for people to “take justice into your own hands.” The threats culminated in a bomb threat against the hospital on August 30.
Some of those responsible for driving harassment against Boston Children’s Hospital promptly attempted to discredit the threat and claim it was a hoax. The morning after the threat was first reported, and then deemed a false alarm, Walsh claimed that there was “plenty of reason to wonder whether false alarm really means a leftist hoax” and that “there was never any threat.”
After another caller targeted Boston Children’s Hospital with a second bomb threat on September 9, Raichik, Walsh, Dillon, and Posobiec were all silent about the threat on Twitter.
Conservative podcaster Matt Walsh went after Vanderbilt University Medical Center last month, claiming doctors “mutilate,” “castrate” and “butcher” children. The next day, Walsh appeared as a guest on Tucker Carlson’s show as Carlson projected photos of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s board of directors, along with their names. The chyrons for Carlson’s segment read, “Vanderbilt ghouls castrate kids for big profit” and “We will show you who is responsible for this.”
Tennessee’s House majority leader, William Lamberth, tweeted in support of Walsh’s report, decrying “child mutilation,” and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee called for an investigation into Vanderbilt’s pediatric transgender health clinic. Vanderbilt Medical Center responded with a statement saying that Walsh’s claims “misrepresent facts” and that the clinic requires parental consent to treat patients.
While some conservative politicians have echoed Carlson, others have more explicitly nodded toward calls for real-world violence. A day after Carlson’s show, Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain tweeted, “Prison is too nice of a punishment for those who perform gender surgeries on children.”
Posts from large online accounts and right-wing media coverage often precede threats of violence downstream. Groups and individuals — online and off — have bombarded hospitals and providers with harassment and threats in recent months.
Protest Against Gavin McInnes Planned at Penn State on Monday, October 24th
Millionaire gang leader Gavin McInnes crying about students protesting his talk at #PennState on Oct 24. Students angry they’re forced to foot bill for washed up Alt-Right troll whose career amounts to interviewing + posing with neo-Nazis + then pretending he doesn’t know them. https://t.co/3Kgyoki2Xcpic.twitter.com/eIJ83eDqul
British-Canadian millionaire and washed-up racist streamer Gavin McInness is planning to speak at Penn State under the banner, “Stand Back and Stand By,” a reference to Trump’s comments about the Proud Boys. Ironically, after McInnes helped found the gang, in 2018 he later abandoned his followers, after members of the group were sentenced to prison time for violent beatings in New York. In recent years, McInnes has again taken on a more public leadership role within the group.
McInnes is scheduled to speak at Penn State’s Thomas Building on Oct. 24 at 8 p.m., along with far-right social media performer and provocateur Alex Stein. Stein, who is little-known outside the far-right’s online subculture, achieved fleeting moments of broader prominence through trollish publicity stunts, such as an incident where he filmed himself hurling racist and sexist abuse at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The October speaking event is hosted by UA’s Penn State branch, one of three listed on the organization’s website along with branches at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At UT, meanwhile, the group is advertising an event scheduled for Nov. 14 at the university’s Strong Hall in which “John Doyle will be debating Hunter Avallone on Gender Roles and gender politics.”
John Doyle is a far-right social media personality associated with white nationalist streamer Nick Fuentes and the so-called “Groyper” movement he leads.
According to Uncensored America’s website, Sean John Semanko founded the group in 2020. Semanko reportedly served in 2018 and 2019 as the secretary for Penn State’s Bull Moose Party, which members described as an “alt-right club.” Also in 2019, Semanko was reportedly president of Penn State’s branch of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA (TPUSA).
🤯 CANCELED: The Vixen in McHenry has issued a statement regarding the Gavin McInnes event:
“The ownership, through valiant efforts of the community, has become aware of the deplorable views of the “artists” scheduled to perform this evening and chose to cancel the event.” pic.twitter.com/B3f24G7Ktf
Evidence Shows that the Security State Ignored far-Right Threat in Lead up to January 6th; Far-Right Political Culture at FBI Exposed
More evidence is shining a light onto the degree in which the security state was aware of the threat of violence from the far-Right, in the lead up to the attempted coup on January 6th. Moreover, newly released emails show that the vast majority of FBI agents were by and large sympathetic to the MAGA rioters.
FBI internal records: -“sizeable percentage” of bureau employees were “sympathetic” to J6 rioters -Agents & analysts equated J6 to 2020 BLM protests -Black agents wouldn’t volunteer for SWAT for fear of other agents not backing them in lethal situations https://t.co/4j3Dr3609epic.twitter.com/gbbZ72HbKu
In the message, the sender referred to an unnamed retired senior FBI analyst who had packed his Facebook page with “Stop the Steal” propaganda, referring to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election he lost was rigged.
The email noted that several agents insisted the violence at the Capitol was little different than Black Lives Matter protests. Still, Capitol rioters were being singled out because of “political correctness.”
The divide on law and order enforcement — often impacted by racism — is so pronounced in the bureau that the email author claimed Black agents were afraid to join SWAT teams for fear their co-workers would not protect them.
Despite Trump’s ongoing attacks on the FBI, the emails paint a picture of a very conservative, far-Right culture at the agency, with many agents holding far-Right views sympathetic to the J6 rioters and consuming far-Right media
Upcoming Antifascist Actions and Community Mobilizations
Friday, October 21st: Nashville, TN. War Memorial Plaza at Tennessee State Capitol, 2pm. Counter-protest against gender fascist Matt Walsh, who is leading a protest against gender-affirming healthcare. More info here.
Sunday, October 23rd: Eugene, OR. Old Nick’s Pub, 211 Washington AVE, 10 AM. “Fascist bullies will attempt to intimidate Drag Queen Story Hour. We will remind them Eugene is no place for them.” More info here.
Monday, October 24th: Penn State, Thomas Building, 6pm. Protest against fascist, millionaire founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes.
Tuesday, October 25th: Davis, CA. UC Davis, Vanderhoef Quad, 6pm. “Turning Point USA is bringing Stephen Davis (aka “Maga Hulk”) to UCD on Oct. 25th for an event denying systemic racism. Show up and make it clear that these fascists aren’t welcome on our campus.” More info here.
Thursday, October 27th: South Bend, Indiana. Rally begins @ Morris Performing Arts Center, 5pm. “Join local community groups protesting anti-abortion extremist group Right To Life Michiana’s yearly fundraiser where they are paying Ben Shapiro to speak.” More info here.