17 Republicans Think It's Totally Fine That Their Colleague Is Getting QAnon Death Threats
The House voted 371-18 today to condemn QAnon, the completely batshit theory that Donald Trump is secretly battling an evil Deep State cabal of baby-eating Satanists. The resolution was a bipartisan effort, co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman of Virginia.
While it doesn't exactly do anything, per se, the resolution affirms that the US House of Representatives:
(1) condemns QAnon and rejects the conspiracy theories it promotes;
(2) condemns all other groups and ideologies, from the far left to the far right, that contribute to the spread of unfounded conspiracy theories and that encourage Americans to destroy public and private property and attack law enforcement officers;
(3) encourages the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as all Federal law enforcement and homeland security agencies, to continue to strengthen their focus on preventing violence, threats, harassment, and other criminal activity by extremists motivated by fringe political conspiracy theories;
(4) encourages the intelligence community to uncover any foreign support, assistance, or online amplification QAnon receives, as well as any QAnon affiliations, coordination, and contacts with foreign extremist organizations or groups espousing violence; and
(5) urges all Americans, regardless of our beliefs or partisan affiliation, to seek information from authoritative sources and to engage in political debate from a common factual foundation.
That's nice. It's a little "both sidesy" for sure, but it's nice.
What is less nice is that 17 Republicans voted against condemning the conspiracy theory and its devoted followers — one of whom, Marjorie Taylor Greene, is likely headed to Congress next year.
It is especially not nice given that one of the resolution's co-sponsors, Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, spent this week being targeted by QAnon supporters sending him death threats ever since his name popped up in a "Q drop." The "drop" referenced a ridiculous accusation made against Malinowski in an ad created by the National Republican Campaign Committee — a false allegation that he "lobbied to protect sexual predators." What they mean by this is that Malinowski was a lobbyist for Human Rights Watch, which is definitely not the same thing as "lobbying to protect sexual predators."
The NRCC's ad and press release against Malinowski are based on an article from the conservative Washington Free Beacon, which draws a line between the New Jersey Democrat's work for Human Rights Watch and that group's opposition to a 2006 crime bill, in part because it expanded the registration requirements for sex offenders, including low-level and misdemeanor offenders "regardless of whether they have lived offense-free for decades."
The group did not oppose the national sex offender registry. Malinowski was registered as a lobbyist for the group at the time, but both he and Human Rights Watch said he did not work on the bill and his job focused instead on foreign affairs. A letter the group wrote to Congress opposing the bill is written by another staff member. (The Washington Post has a great breakdown of the facts.)
The NRCC refused to pull the ad even after Malinowski told NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Emmer that the ad, in addition to being false, was going to make him a target of the QAnon wackos, and that is exactly what happened. Emmer claimed he had no idea what Q was and said that he can't "be responsible for how other people use our stuff." Right. That would fly if the NRCC had not been purposely trying to woo QAnon supporters by accusing every Democrat they can of being a secret pedophile themselves or a defender of child predators.
And yet, Emmers did vote for the resolution condemning this group he'd definitely never heard of before. But here's who did vote against it, in case you wanted to know which members of Congress were most amenable to mass delusions about satanic cabals.
Reps. Jodey Arrington, Michael Burgess, Bill Flores, and Brian Babin of Texas; Rob Bishop of Utah; Mo Brooks of Alabama; Buddy Carter and Drew Ferguson of Georgia; Warren Davidson of Ohio; Jeff Duncan and Ralph Norman of South Carolina; Paul Gosar of Arizona; Mike Kelly and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania; Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin; Daniel Webster of Florida; and Steve King of Iowa.
Shocking, truly, that Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks, and Steve King made it onto this list. Who could have foreseen that?
One member, Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, voted "present," probably because he is some kind of weenie.
Justin Amash, who used to be a Republican but is now a Libertarian, also voted against the bill, claiming it threatened "free speech" and also that it could make things worse by confirming to the QAnon people that the government really is out to get them. That would be lovely and all if they weren't threatening to kill people, which is not actually protected speech. Also not protected speech? Publicly accusing people of being child molesters without any evidence whatsoever! So yeah, Justin Amash is absolutely full of shit, as per usual.
Whether the Republicans in the House who voted against the resolution actually believe in the theory or were just loath to offend its devoted followers is not clear. Could be a mixture of both! But either way, they're playing a dangerous game. The QAnon people have no particular devotion to the Republican Party beyond Donald Trump, meaning that it's not just Democrats who are at risk of being targeted by them. Encouraging these beliefs, whether by voting against a resolution condemning this nonsense or by running ads meant to appeal to this demographic, may not be in their best interest either.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse