‘America First’ Comes To GOP Wrapped In The Flag, Carrying A Burning Cross
House Republicans without an "inside racist voice" created a fuss this weekend when they banded together to form an openly white supremacist caucus within a GOP that's already pretty racist. Shocking absolutely no one, the founding members were Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Matt Gaetz of Florida and potentially your finer federal prisons.
Republican leadership and rank-and-file members alike decried the AFC's "nativist" sentiments. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who enables the useless idiots in his caucus, invoked Abraham Lincoln, who radically advanced civil rights while incurring the (fatal) wrath of Southern racists. Modern Republicans have demonstrated zero interest in doing either. They won't even support legislation defending minority voting rights, but hey, they'll keep calling themselves the "Party of Lincoln" because it's not like he's alive to sue for defamation.
The so-called “America First Caucus" claimed it would follow in the one-term loser's footsteps, which we hope means not winning re-election. The AFC released a statement declaring its willingness to "step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation" — unless, of course, those toes belong to that mooing fool from Mar-a-Lago.
Greene quickly backed away from her self-ignited dumpster fire Saturday.
Nick Dyer, Greene's spokesperson, told CNN in an email on Saturday afternoon the Georgia Republican is not "launching anything." "The Congresswoman wants to make clear that she is not launching anything. This was an early planning proposal and nothing was agreed to or approved," he said in an email to CNN, referring to a flier promoting the caucus, obtained by Punchbowl News, that used inflammatory rhetoric.
He added that "she didn't approve that language and has no plans to launch anything."
Here's a sample of that controversial language Greene claims she didn't approve, even though it's consistent with every gross word she's said since entering public life:
America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon traditions. History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.
It's true that United States history is drenched in blood, but the very descendants of the "foreign citizens" who swept into the "New World" en masse have no moral standing to lecture anyone about "societal trust and political unity." European invaders never hesitated to violate trust and reject unity while advancing their imperialist goals.
Greene backtracked further and tweeted:
I believe in America First with all my heart and that means every American, of every race, creed, and color.
I will never back down and I will never stop fighting for America First.
There are tens of millions of Americans who agree.
Republicans who pose as respectable, such as Rep. Nancy Mace from South Carolina, tried to whitewash the "America First" rhetoric. She tweeted: "America First should mean ALL Americans. Wherever you are from, whatever you believe, as long as you want to be here and be free." It's delightful to see Republicans scrambling to salvage a politically damaging slogan, especially after so many exploited “defund the police" for electoral success. No actual elected Democrat supported defunding the police, whereas “America First" was the former White House squatter's mantra, which he primarily defines as putting himself first. Mace, like every Republican, will eventually have to pledge her allegiance to the one-term loser. It's not a question of if but when and whether she'll look as pathetic as Nikki Haley.
The initial “America First" flier repeated President Lost Cause's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. The AFC caucus would "work towards an end to mail-in voting, implementation of national voter ID and substantive investigations into mass voter fraud perpetrated during the 2020 election." These kooks are full-on Jim Crow.
Historian Kevin Kruse noted that the AFC's racist assertions about the nation's "uniquely Anglo-Saxon traditions" and the threat from "foreign" elements were common a century ago, when the US contended with a "deadly pandemic, economic turmoil, race riots and a surge in immigration all at once."
Madison Grant's 1916 "The Passing of the Great Race" complained about unwanted demographic changes in terms familiar to us today. White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, he warned, were not reproducing children fast enough to keep pace with "the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian, and the Jew." Established "old stock" Americans, he grumbled, were "being literally driven off the streets of New York City by the swarms of Polish Jews."
In the 1920 publication "The Rising Tide of Color: The Threat Against White World Supremacy," Lothrop Stoddard made the same claims, warning that white Americans were being engulfed by the more "fertile" nonwhite races. Americans of "Anglo-Saxon origin," he insisted, had to restrict immigration to preserve their country for "future generations who have a right to demand of us that they shall be born white in a white man's land."
Racist dullard Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby was a big fan of "The Rise of the Colored Empires by this man Goddard." That was F. Scott Fitzgerald's not-so-subtle reference to Lothrop Stoddard's The Rising Tide Of Color: The Threat Against White World Supremacy. Buchanan and Tucker Carlson share similar concerns.
The baseless accusation of mass voter fraud is only the second biggest Big Lie that the AFC promotes. The true Big Lie is that Americans of European descent were native to this land and have always been its caretakers. The truth is that Europeans invaded America, rained genocide on its actual inhabitants, and now want to lock the door behind them.
Texas, which Louie Gohmert represents poorly, was once Mexican territory before American settlers decided they'd prefer the land for themselves and led a revolt in 1836. Not surprisingly, white Americans in Texas were peeved that Mexico had abolished slavery. Less than two centuries later, Republicans visit Texas border towns with decidedly non-Anglo-Saxon names and cry about “invasion."
Florida was under Spanish rule for almost 40 years after the US declared its independence. People of English and Scots-Irish descent fled the backwoods of Georgia and South Carolina and moved into northern Florida. Spanish authorities weren't thrilled, but they weren't able to effectively police the border crossings. These pioneer settlers became known as the Florida crackers (no, really). "Settlers" and “pioneers" are key words in white supremacist folklore. The terminology is denied to anyone who crosses the US border today. Those would-be settlers aren't bold pioneers risking everything for a better life. They are simply "illegals."
Arizona is also a spoil of war with Mexico. Paul Gosar probably thinks the US won the state on a quiz show.
Nativist is too flattering a description for the "America First" crowd, as it invokes a finder's keepers philosophy that doesn't apply to the United States' imperialist history. Too many proud "Anglo-Saxons" act as if they found a wallet stuffed with cash and are bravely defending their prize from the undeserving. But what they truly fear are the original owners reclaiming what belongs to them. "America First" is a call for justice denied.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."