In the wake of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and elsewhere, elected Republicans have stood up for white supremacy and mused about shooting anti-racism protesters.
Rhetoric from both elected and soon-to-be elected Republican lawmakers grew increasingly violent this week, as several of them praised a right-wing Trump supporter charged with first degree murder or fantasized about killing others themselves.
Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) wrote in a Facebook post on Sept. 1 that he would not hesitate to shoot any armed protesters who showed up to anti-racism protests in his home state.
"One way ticket fellas," Higgins wrote, along an image of Black militia members who showed up to a July demonstration in Kentucky to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police as she slept in her home. "Have your affairs in order. Me?... I wouldn’t even spill my beer. I'd drop any 10 of you where you stand."
"We don't care what color you are. We don't care if you're left or right. If you show up like this, if We recognize threat ... you won't walk away," Higgins added.
Facebook has since removed the post for violating its "violence and incitement" policies.
Higgins' threat of violence came just days after Kyle Rittenhouse, a Trump supporter who traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to supposedly protect local businesses amid mass protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, was arrested and charged with first degree murder.
Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three protesters, killing two of them.
Republicans — including Trump himself — have defended Rittenhouse, saying he was acting in self defense.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) took things a step further this week, saying Rittenhouse showed "incredible restraint" for only murdering two people and not emptying "a magazine into a crowd.
"If I were on a jury and all I had was the evidence that I have been able to acquire through social media and the videos that are out there, I would not convict him of a single one of these charges," Massie said Thursday on local West Virginia talk radio station WVHU.
At least one Republican candidate also expressed disturbing views about her potential future House colleagues.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the GOP nominee for a Georgia House seat, posted a threatening photo on Thursday to her official Facebook page in which she was pictured holding a gun alongside images of three Democratic congresswomen — Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — known colloquially as "the squad."
All three congresswomen are progressive and have backed the "defund the police" movement, which calls on localities to shift some police funding to community services, and first gained traction following the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis earlier this year.
Greene's photo included the text "squad's worst nightmare."
"Hate America leftists want to take this country down," she wrote. "...Our country is on the line."
Greene, who won her primary in a deep red stronghold by 15 points, is virtually guaranteed a victory in November and a seat in Congress.
Hate America leftists want to take this country down ... Politicians have failed this country. I’m tired of seeing...
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 4, 2020
According to Inside Elections, Facebook later removed the threatening post "for violating company policy." The text of the post, however, was left intact.
Other lawmakers took a different route, not directly endorsing violence but insisting the systemic racism behind many of the recent police killings did not exist.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) made such a claim on Wednesday, saying at a forum in his district that racism had ended with the Civil War.
"We had a war among the United States over that issue to cleanse our country of that issue," Perry said, according to a local news outlet.
Of course, the Civil War did not end the systemic mistreatment of Black people in the United States. Slavery continued for years after the Civil War ended, and segregation lasted for 100 years after that. Today, Black Americans are far more likely to be killed by police and face major hurdles in accessing housing, health care, and a variety of other resources.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.