violent rhetoric

Matt Bevin's Bogus 'Bloodshed' Defense

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin started taking some heat after Right Wing Watch called attention to his Values Voter Summit speech, in which he suggested that the election of Hillary Clinton might require conservatives to shed some blood in order to preserve American freedom, referencing the well-known Thomas Jefferson statement, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Bevin responded to the criticism by suggesting that his remarks were being misrepresented: “Any intelligent person can understand the message I delivered,” he said in a statement. Bevin told a reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader that his comments were about "military sacrifice" and the need for Americans to back the “thousands of men and women in uniform fighting for us overseas.” But, as journalist Matthew Yglesias wrote, Bevin’s actual speech “is completely at odds” with that claim, which The Atlantic’s David Graham called “pure spin.” Bevin, noted Yglesias, was “clearly talking about patriots winning back liberty from the tyranny of Democratic Party governance.”

Bevin has urged his Twitter followers to listen to his entire 15-minute speech. Fair enough. We took another listen, and it doesn’t support Bevin’s after-the-fact explanation. Bevin’s focus was on pushing on culture wars in the U.S., about which he promoted the Religious Right’s narrative that liberals are enemies of freedom who are out to silence Christians:

You wonder, how does this happen? You look at the opportunities for us to be silent. You look at the degradation of things that are happening in our society. You look at the atrocity of abortion. So many have remained silent. It’s a slippery slope. First we’re killing children, then it’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Now it’s this gender-bending kind of don’t ask, don’t be a, don’t be a, you know, a bigot, don’t be unreasonable, don’t be unenlightened, heaven forbid. Just keep your mouth shut. I encourage you young people, step up and be bold, don’t keep your mouth shut.

Bevin emphasized the urgent need for social conservatives to be passionate and active in this year’s election:

I asked you at the beginning, why are you here? I’m guessing in some measure because you’re worried. You are concerned for the direction of this nation. Perhaps you want a better America, I’m guessing you do. How badly do you want it? Do you want it as badly as the people who came over here on rickety boats, risking their lives for the very freedoms we so apathetically disregard and take for granted? Do you want it that badly? Do you want it as badly as the men who, if they were lucky enough in the winter of 1776 to even own shoes, ate their shoes to keep from starving to death? Do you want it that badly? Do you want it as badly as… young men who stepped off transport carriers on Omaha Beach, knowing that they wouldn’t be likely to get more than ten yards up that beach, seeing their buddies…Do we want it that badly? I tell you if we don’t want it that badly, we don’t deserve it.

Who are we to think that somehow our generation is going to be the first generation to benefit from all the sacrifices that others have made without giving some modern-day equivalent of our own lives, fortunes and sacred honor? Step up! Be bold. This is not a time to have a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of what? Discipline. Discipline requires an intentional amount of proactivity on our part, to take in but to give back, to make calls like you’ve never made calls, to knock doors like you’ve never knocked doors, to alert people, to sound the alarm, to be the watchmen on the wall because it doesn’t do us any good if we see and we do, because we sit on the wall, what is happening in America and we keep our mouths shut. Sound the alarm! Sound the trumpet! Wake up! Wake others up!

Now, there’s no problem with Bevin exhorting people to take an active role in the political process. The problem, as we reported previously, is that Bevin said that if conservatives aren’t successful fighting for America ideologically, and Hillary Clinton gets elected, conservative activists and their children and grandchildren might have to make it a physical fight:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ.

But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.

Bevin made comments similar to those in his Values Voter speech in an interview with LifeZette this week in which he warned Never Trump conservatives, “Falling on one’s sword in principle and dying in a remote corner of the battlefield as the war rages on serves no purpose whatsoever.” In the interview it is also clear that Bevin is talking about the potential for violence if conservative culture warriors aren’t successful politically:

"We’re at a crossroads in America, is what we hear, Bevin said. "But I truly believe that it’s a fork in the road, that it’s not really a crossroad — we don’t have multiple choices — we’re going to go one way or we’re going to go the other way," he said.

 "The values, the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was built upon which Kentucky itself and its constitution was founded are under assault intentionally and unintentionally," he continued.

…"We’re at a fork in the road and we going to go towards a more godless, more corrupt bureaucratic, more authoritarian approach or we have the opportunity to do something different," he said.

"Our founding fathers knew and said that the roots of liberty are watered by the blood of tyrants and the blood of patriots," Bevin said. "If we don’t step up when we have a chance to engage ideologically, philosophically, politically — then we will ultimately find ourselves forced to the point that as a people we will be forced to shed the blood of both tyrant and patriots."

"Could we recover, conceivably so, but it will come at a price that none of us would want to bear nor would we want our children or grandchildren to bear that and that is why this election matters so so much," said Bevin.

Bevin’s comments, of course, are not made in a vacuum. They come after years in which Tea Party activists portrayed President Obama as an America-hater who wants to bring down the U.S. And they come in the context of Religious Right leaders arguing that equality for LGBT people is an attack on faith and freedom.

Anti-government activists have used Jefferson’s “tree of liberty” phrase as warning to the federal government on issues ranging from health care reform to gun control to public land use. In fact, Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt with that quote on it when he was arrested 90 minutes after bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman said Bevin’s comments contained “layers of dangerous nonsense.” Wrote Bookman:

In the past few weeks we’ve seen people go all but apoplectic because a black football player simply declined to stand for the national anthem. We’ve seen demands that Colin Kaepernick be fired from his job; Donald Trump even suggested that Kaepernick leave the country.

Yet here we have an elected leader, raised to one of the highest positions of authority in the land, publicly advocating armed insurrection as a valid and even necessary response to political defeat. This isn’t some powerless, frustrated 20-year-old spouting off, this is a 49-year-old governor who has raised his right hand and solemnly sworn to “support the Constitution of the United States” suggesting that violence may be the only recourse of patriots should someone other than his choice be elected president under the terms and processes laid out in that same Constitution…

This is dangerous, volatile and profoundly irresponsible. It is the paranoiac gutter talk of the worst recesses of the Internet given voice by a person in power to an apparently receptive audience in our nation’s capital, and down that path lies disaster.

Two Million Bikers Fall 99.9% Short

The group Two Million Bikers to DC organized its second annual rally on the National Mall yesterday, which, like its predecessor, fell far short of the goal expressed in the group’s name. Organizers said the event was meant to honor people killed in the 9/11 attacks as well as first responders and veterans – presumably that’s how they sold it to corporate sponsor Budweiser – but rally speakers also used the event to rail against President Barack Obama, Congress, and an array of right-wing targets, including gun control, Common Core educational standards, the EPA, regulation of small businesses, the destruction of free enterprise, the Bundy Ranch standoff between the BLM and armed protestors, and Obama’s purportedly fraudulent re-election.

Although organizers got pre-event press promising “thousands” of bikers – not 2 million – descending on the nation’s capital, I didn’t see more than a couple hundred at the event’s peak. Fewer than 50 were left to hear the final speakers. More than one speaker took note of the dispiritingly small crowd.

Those who made it to the Mall did get to hear some personal remembrances of 9-11 from a New York firefighter, a paramedic, and a clergyman who worked at Ground Zero, and a mother whose son joined the military in the wake of 9/11 and was killed overseas.

But uniting them and other speakers was hostility toward the Obama administration and anger at the perception that the president will not clearly identify Islamist extremism as the nation’s enemy. Among the conspiracy theories heard from the podium were the claim from Second Amendment activist and self-described “gun chick” Jan Morgan that the U.N. small arms treaty was about disarming Americans, and the assertion by “Pope” Dan Johnson that “NATO came together in a meeting and this administration signed that NATO pact to tell Christians or to tell any religion what they can and cannot do.” Morgan said she didn’t believe Obama had actually won re-election because she knows about votes counted in Barcelona, Spain, and dead people who voted six times.

Johnson, a Kentucky coordinator for the biker group, contrasted his remarks with Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “I have a nightmare,” he yelled. America, he said, is living a nightmare at Ground Zero and a nightmare in the White House. The mother of a fallen serviceman said of President Obama, “We must get rid of him…we must get him out of our White House before he takes this nation down.”

Right-wing pundit Wayne Dupree railed against the media, which he said has given Obama a pass for six years. He complained that conservative activists have been demonized as racists. “This administration is racist,” he said. “Everybody in there is racist.”

“Entertainment” was provided by Madison Rising, a metal band that played songs they describe as patriotic. One in their first set contained the chorus, “We don't want to have to bring out guns but we're ready if it goes there.” That sort of rhetoric mirrors the theme of Larry Klayman’s failed revolutionary rally in D.C. last year, at which Two Million Bikers organizer Belinda Bee spoke. Manny Vega, a Marine vet and self-described “Three Percenter” also spoke at both rallies.

Vega, who as one of the final speakers faced a very sparse crowd, seemed bummed out by the small turnout. “There should be millions of people,” he said, recalling photos of Vietnam War protests filling the entire mall. “What are we doing? A couple patriots out here.” Vega said more truck drivers, waitresses, bikers, and mechanics need to get involved and get elected.

“I’ll be damned if I am 30 years old and I’m cursing the politicians in that Capitol Hill. My son’s going to be 30 years old gearing up, buying weapons, buying their armored vests. Who’d have thought that we’d live in a country where the American citizens are arming up to fight a tyrannical government, ‘cuz that is what it is. Who’d have thought? How many people here have aligned themselves with militias or are already prepping to go to war with the federal government? [Someone shouted ‘don’t raise your hands,’ but some folks did] To go to war? Who should go to war?  No American citizen should go to war. I’ll tell you something, it’s changed. The relationship between the people and those bastards over there that are supposedly supposed to represent us. And they are not doing it.”

The event was also sponsored by Dinesh D’Souza’s “America: Imagine the World Without Her.” The day before the rally, D’Souza tweeted, “On 9/11 anniversary tomorrow I am speaking at huge biker rally on the national mall in Washington DC.” He sold some books -- nothing close to the huge number that his optimistic publisher had brought– and took pictures with fans. Unfortunately, I missed D’Souza’s comments when I took a break, but based on the speaker who followed him, part of D’Souza’s speech was spent slamming President Obama’s recent remarks about ISIS/ISIL.

GOP Candidate Michael Peroutka Fails To Shake Extremist Label With ‘Not a Racist’ Press Conference

For Republicans who would like to “rebrand” the party to reach more voters, Michael Peroutka is a nightmare.  Peroutka won the Republican primary for a county council seat in Anne Arundel County, which includes Maryland’s state capital. As we have been reporting, Peroutka is a Christian Reconstructionist who believes “It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY!” He is an ardent supporter of the white nationalist League of the South, which promotes the secession of southern states, and whose leader recently wrote about “Fourth Generation Warfare” in which citizen hit squads would target “political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don't run."

Last week, Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee for governor, disavowed Peroutka over his extremist positions. Yesterday, Peroutka held a press conference in which he repeatedly claimed he is not a racist, vowed that he would not play the “race card game,” and produced two African American Republicans, Eric Knowles and Robert Broadus, to vouch for his not-racism.

But if the press conference was meant to dispel the notion that Peroutka is an extremist, it failed miserably. Peroutka repeatedly refused to disavow the League of the South, on whose board he has sat. He would not say it was a mistake to have called Dixie the national anthem at a League of the South convention. And he refused, in spite of repeated questions, to disavow the idea that the southern states should secede. In response to the suggestion that the Civil War settled the question of secession, he said “No moral issue is really ever settled by the point of a sword.” He repeatedly stated that secession is “a historical fact” and “a political reality.” The American Revolution was an act of secession, he said.  And it is a kind of secession when people move out of Maryland to escape its high taxes.

Huffington Post blogger Jonathan Hutson has video of the entire press conference. Unfortunately, nobody asked Peroutka about his belief that Maryland’s General Assembly is “no longer a valid legislative body” because it has passed laws he thinks are in violation of God’s law. Or about his participation in Larry Klayman’s “revolutionary” rally last year, whose goal was to force President Obama out of office. Or why state Republicans should support Peroutka, a former Constitution Party presidential candidate, given that it was less than a year ago that he wrote this:

“Anyone, including those who identify with the ‘Tea Party’, who loves America and desires real reform, would do well to disengage themselves from the Republican Party and their brand of worthless, Godless, unprincipled conservatism.”

Michael Peroutka Supporter Discusses Guerilla War Against Political, Cultural Elites

We’ve been covering the candidacy of Michael Peroutka, the southern secessionist and Christian Reconstructionist who won a primary to become the Republican nominee for a county council seat in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

This morning the Republican nominee for governor Larry Hogan renounced Peroutka, while Joe Cluster, executive director of the state Republican Party, is scheduled to meet with him today. African American leaders in the state have called on the GOP to disavow Peroutka. 

Meanwhile, Huffington Post blogger Jonathan Hutson reports more information on Michael Hill, who heads the white nationalist League of the South, on whose board Peroutka once sat and whose support Peroutka has sought for his candidacy.

Hutson reports on an essay published by Hill on the League of the South’s website on July 15 called “A Bazooka in Every Pot,” in which Hill argues that the Second Amendment allows private citizens to own any weapon system the government has, including bazookas, rocket launchers, tanks, and, if they could afford it, warships — a position that happens to be shared by GOP congressional nominee Jody Hice and right-wing Republican activist David Barton.

Hill went even further in his July 15 post, however, describing a scenario in which armed citizens wage “Fourth Generation Warfare” – guerilla warfare – against political and cultural elites who support “tyranny.” Hutson summarizes Hill this way:

…on July 15, Hill wrote an essay for the League's website titled "A Bazooka in Every Pot," in which he outlines a program of "guerrilla war," marked by "three-­to-­five-­man" death squads which would target government leaders, journalists, and other public figures for assassination, in order to advance the League's goals.

"To oversimplify," writes Hill, "the primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don't run."

Talk on the far right about a possible armed revolution against the U.S. government is increasingly common. As Miranda reported this morning, Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt has reasserted his belief that members of Congress should live “in constant trepidation” that they could be shot by “sovereign” citizens if they “attempt to disarm Americans the way the British crown tried 240 years ago.”

Klayman's 'Peaceful' Revolution Comes With Hints Of Violence

At last week’s Reclaim America Now rally, a placard next to the speaker’s podium featured a Thomas Jefferson quote that many speakers cited: "When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." But there is apparently no evidence that Jefferson ever said this: the website of Monticello, Jefferson’s home, lists it among “spurious” quotations attributed to him.

Larry Klayman repeatedly described the Second American Revolution he is launching in nonviolent terms. He says massive peaceful civil disobedience will lead to the downfall of the current government and patriots from across the country will convene in Philadelphia to convene a new one. In recent weeks, though, Klayman has repeatedly warned that if the nonviolent approach doesn’t work, the people and the military will rise up and resort to “another recourse.” He has said that “violent revolution…looms on the horizon, if we cannot find a way to peacefully settle the score with the political establishment…”

A similar theme was heard at last week’s rally from speaker Manny Vega, who was identified as a retired marine and a Three Percenter. Three Percenters take their name from their belief that during the American Revolution only three percent of colonists took up arms against the British. The Anti-Defamation League reported a few years ago that Three Percenters, like the Oath Keepers, “promote the idea that the federal government is plotting to take away the rights of American citizens and must be resisted. The two groups are apparently trying to make inroads in the U.S. military.”

Vega, who said he served multiple tours in Iraq, said he thinks war is “abhorrent” and he wants peace to prevail. But he also said the Virginia Three Percenters are “planning and getting ready to mobilize if anything comes down.”

“But I’ll tell you what. There are a lot of men and women across this country who are willing to give it all, ok? Our forefathers, they fought for less. I am willing to fight today, ok? And, God, we don’t want violence, but if it should ever come to that, I can tell you what. I was willing to give my life in Iraq, over there, today I am more than willing to give my life over here, and I hope the president of the United States understands that. There are many more men and women like myself who are more than willing to give their lives here at home. Spread the word.”

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