Ron DeSantis Knows An Insurrection When He Sees People First Amendmenting While Liberal
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was on "Fox & Friends” Monday, hawking his Top Gun campaign merchandise, because no one quite takes your breath away like Ron DeSantis. He took a break from his shameless shilling to protest the abortion rights activists who’d gathered near the Supreme Court. That, he declared, was the real insurrection.
\u201cIn NY today, Ron Desantis says protesters in front of the Supreme Court building this morning are engaging in an insurrection, and \u201cthey seem to be able to get away with a lot more than if the shoe were on the other foot.\u201d\u201d— Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1655124378
They’re trying to change the outcome of decisions that they are concerned that they don’t like and that is totally antithetical to the rule of law.
That would be considered an insurrection: to stop a court from functioning, and yet they seem to be able to get away with a lot more than if the shoe were on the other foot.
Americans have a First Amendment right to petition their government for redress of grievances. What’s antithetical to democracy is the notion that the Supreme Court should never feel public pressure over their potential decisions, and that Americans should just accept what their robed masters tell them.
DeSantis is promoting a key narrative in the conservative persecution complex: Liberals and minorities get away with everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s demonstrably untrue, so long as they keep refilling the drinks at their pity party.
Republicans have insisted for more than a year than most of the Big Lie believers on January 6 were peaceful protesters whom Democrats had unfairly maligned by lumping them in with the Antifa members in MAGA drag who attacked the Capitol. The most benign reading of the Stop the Steal rally is that Donald Trump supporters were exercising their First Amendment right to demand a specific action from Congress. Of course, the First Amendment — speech, assembly, what have you — most certainly does not include "attacking police officers" and "trying to hang the vice president."
The self-proclaimed “People’s Convoy” clogged the Washington DC Beltway in protest of COVID-19 restrictions, which by that point didn’t actually exist. They were greeted as liberators by Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson. Barely a month into the pandemic, Michigan conservative groups organized “Operation Gridlock,” where hundreds of people descended on the state capitol in Lansing in violation of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order. The protests backed up traffic, even blocking entire streets. (Armed gunmen would later storm the state house, demanding to see Whitmer.) They also protested in front of her house.
Fox News covered all this like it was the Boston Tea Party.
We noted at the time that the Right’s reaction was quite different from how they’d responded to past protests.
But it’s pointless to accuse conservatives of hypocrisy. They are actually quite consistent. Their governing philosophy is: “We can tell you what to do. You can’t tell us what to do.”
Republicans seem especially enraged that people might protest outside a Supreme Court justice's home, and the distinguished media mostly agree. DeSantis told his "Fox & Friends" yesterday:
I think that we have a rule of law in this country and you don’t just get to have a mob descend on a Supreme Court justice’s house or try to impede the operations of government because there may be a decision you don’t like.
There’s a rule of law governing elections, as well, and that didn’t keep MAGA mobs from threatening election officials. Caravans of Trump supporters honked their horns outside Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s house. Groups chanted, “We are watching you” outside Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’s home. Armed protesters descended on Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s residence during the Christmas season. They lined up along the edge of her yard, shouting obscenities and ranting about a “stolen elections” through bullhorns.
Hobbs still receives death threats, by the way. This is a reported issue for Democratic election officials in several states Trump claimed were “stolen” from him.
"I am a hunter -- and I think you should be hunted," a woman can be heard saying in a voicemail left for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in September. "You will never be safe in Arizona again."
Or there's the man who spit, "Die you bitch, die! Die you bitch, die!" repeatedly into the phone, in another of several dozen threatening and angry voicemails directed at the Democratic secretary of state and shared exclusively with CNN by her office.
We don’t believe this sort of vicious intimidation is legitimate free expression. However, despite what Republicans will have you believe, conservative Supreme Court justices aren’t uniquely targeted. Democrats will say that we can perhaps all do better: There’s a difference between peaceful protest and deliberately making people fear for their lives. Stochastic terrorism doesn’t foster a free society. However, Republicans will just further enable their own violent extremists, perhaps elect a few to Congress. They’ll keep playing the victim while playing us for fools.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."