Those Who Previously Joined Hate Groups Are Embedding in the GOP

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There are fewer hate groups in the United States today.

According to Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), in a report titled “ The Year in Hate and Extremism” for 2021, hate group membership dropped for the third straight year.

But there’s a caveat.

A reason for the decline is because those attracted to extremist beliefs, rhetoric, and organizing typically found in hate groups are finding a home within today’s republican party.

The report warns:

“Rather than demonstrating a decline in the power of the far right, the dropping numbers of organized hate and anti-government groups suggest that the extremist ideas that mobilize them now operate more openly in the political mainstream.”

As David Neiwert asks in a recent piece, “Why join the KKK when you can just join the GOP?”

In January, Neiwert wrote:

“The conspiracist, insurrection-prone ‘Patriots’ who attacked the Capitol and applauded the siege afterward have shifted their organizing away from the national level and are focused now primarily on asserting themselves within local mainstream right-wing Republican politics with the intent of overthrowing liberal democracy from the bottom up. This right-wing insurgency, they all concluded, may have been forced to shift gears after Jan. 6, but thanks to the spread of far-right narratives within right-wing media, it has only intensified its war on democracy since then.”

Former SPLC intelligence director, now with the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, Heidi Beirich, explained the spread of “accelerationist” beliefs as the most troubling aspect.

Beirich notes that while paramilitary groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys had significant roles in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, the “prosecutions of those involved in the insurrection has [sic] failed to shut down these groups, as has the participation of active-duty military and veterans failed to inspire serious measures to weed out extremists and prevent troops from being radicalized.”

Republican officeholders like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green, Paul Gosar, Madison Cawthorn, and Lauren Boebert have stoked this radicalization along with multiple right-wing pundits pushing white nationalist and other far-right conspiracy theories.

Green and Gosar were prominent figures at the recent America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) where attendees cheered Vladimir Putin and extolled Adolf Hitler.

Hosting that event was white nationalist Nick Fuentes, one of the Jan. 6 seditionists, who declared to attendees:

“White people founded this country. This country wouldn’t exist without white people. And white people are done being bullied.”

Another example is the racist so-called “Great Replacement” theory that claims liberals aim to “replace” white people with people of color, something Fox so-called “news” celebrity Tucker Carlson spews on his show almost nightly.

A contradictory claim one hears often on the right now is that “leftists” and “antifa” were the ones responsible for the Jan. 6 attempted coup that yet somehow still involved “patriots” seeking to defend the nation from a communist takeover.

After censuring Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for not going along with that narrative, it changed to insisting the chaos that ensued was “legitimate political discourse.”

Fla. Sen. Rick Scott said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference last month:

“The militant left wing in our country has become enemy within.”

Idaho lieutenant governor Janice McGeachin was there as well, riding the neo-fascist wave in her bid for her state’s governorship.

Amy Herzfeld-Copple, deputy programs director of Western States Strategies, a non-profit organization advocating inclusive democracy through nonpartisan education and advocacy, said:

“From her recent speech at AFPAC, continued embrace of white nationalism and endorsements from prominent anti-Semitic leaders to her longstanding ties with paramilitaries, it couldn’t be clearer that McGeachin is a danger to the rule of law, Idaho communities and democratic institutions.”

She added:

“McGeachin is a troubling anti-democracy figure in our region seeking to build a national profile with violent and bigoted social movements that increasingly see her as their access to power. But we know these extremists are a minority and Idahoans have routinely rejected those who court white nationalists.”

Seth Masket, writing for FiveThirtyEight, argued:

“We’re seeing county party leaders trying to more emphatically assert which faction of the party is in charge, and…that could dramatically reshape the GOP at its most fundamental levels of government.”

This is not our grandfathers’ republican party.

It is being filled with Donald Trump wannabes whose positions differ little from those of autocrats the world over.

Even as the republican party morphed decades ago into the party of billionaires, corporate tax cuts, and jingoism, the racism clouding its policies and rhetoric was veiled.

Then 2016 came along and we watched as a Fifth Avenue playboy insisted Barack Obama’s presidency was illegitimate, called Mexicans “rapists” and “drug dealers,” demanded a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, claimed there were “ fine people on both sides” of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. at which civil rights activist Heather Heyer was run over, about whom former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke tweeted “ Thank God for Trump!

The former guy” ripped the dog whistle away from republicans and replaced it with a PA system.

While Donald Trump may be out of the White House, there are those anxious to replace him, and they are infiltrating the republican party at all levels — school boards, secretaries of state, and elected state and federal offices.

While we should take solace in knowing the number of white supremacist hate groups is declining, “the devil,” as the saying goes, “is in the details.”

Originally published at https://theleftplace.substack.com on March 18, 2022.

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