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It's Been A Big (And Bad) Month For Unsuccessful Neo-Nazi Terrorists
Can we say they've been radicalized when they're getting their views from mainstream Republicans?
The last few days have just been filled with sentencings and indictments for neo-Nazis who plotted terror attacks and then largely failed at executing them.
On Friday of last week, two white supremacists — Christopher Brenner Cook, 21, of Columbus, Ohio, and Jonathan Allen Frost, 25, of Katy, Texas, and West Lafayette, Indiana — were sentenced for their part in a failed plot to take out the US power grid in an attempt to start a race war or otherwise destroy the United States. Cook was sentenced to 92 months in prison, while Frost will serve 60 months. Their co-conspirator Jackson Matthew Sawall has not yet been sentenced.
On Monday, 20-year-old white supremacist Aimenn D. Penny was charged with a violation of the Church Arson Prevention Act for having thrown molotov cocktails at the Community Church of Chesterland in Chesterland, Ohio, in an attempt to burn it down, because the church was hosting a drag show and this upset him. He did not burn the church down and he did not stop the drag show, but he will, if found guilty, likely spend most of the rest of his life in prison. Penny was also charged with "one count of using fire to commit a federal felony, one count of malicious use of explosive materials and one count of possessing a destructive device."
It is, unfortunately, not terribly surprising that all of these 20-something white men are involved in neo-Nazi terror plots, that they are trying to destroy the power grid or firebomb church drag shows. Surely we'd all love to live in a world where that sort of thing is surprising or at least remotely unusual, but we don't.
Still, there's a difference between not being surprised by something and becoming inured. We don't want to get to the point where it feels like white noise.
It truly is frightening how compelling these people, these 20-something white men in particular, must find all of this nonsense, to be willing to kill people, willing to die or to spend the rest of their lives in prison for it.
In another time, these young men might have been influenced by people like Andrew Anglin posting racist and homophobic screeds on the dark web, by extremist forums online, by their local KKK or Aryan Nations leader or someone else mostly lurking in the shadows, on the margins of society. Now, they're getting it from conservative pundits and Republican politicians.
It's entirely mainstream Republicans who are out here saying that drag queens are trying to "groom children" because they want to have sex with them. It's Ron DeSantis, it's Marjorie Taylor Greene, it's practically every single person on Fox News at this point. Republicans across the country are trying to ban drag shows and banning children and teenagers from attending child-friendly drag shows and the subtext here is not at all subtext: It is, very explicitly, "These people are doing this because they want to molest children."
Mainstream Republicans are also out here pushing the Great Replacement narrative. They are regularly telling people, in direct and indirect ways, that non-white people are a threat to them, their lives, and their "way of life." Hell, Bill Maher, on his show this past Friday, was all in a tither about "Black on Black crime," claiming (quite wrongly) that the reason Chicago is so crime-ridden is because Black leaders won't step up and tell young Black men that crime is bad and they shouldn't do it.
(I live in Chicago, by the way, and feel perfectly safe here. Our murder rate actually went down last year and the big "spike in crime" people are on about is largely car theft related and there are 43 damn cities in this country with a higher crime rate than we have, many of which are in red states.)
Maher insisted that violent crime was an issue of “moral values,” shooting down a guest for rightly explaining that we all know that extreme poverty often leads to violent crime, for a variety of reasons. It's pretty clear what he was getting at.
We can't be surprised when young men hear these things and then go to try to go burn down a church because they think children are in danger of being sexually molested by drag queens. We can't be entirely surprised that they decide to go all suicide bomber when they hear that non-white people are a threat to their lives. They are being radicalized, and it's not just by extremists on YouTube or Rumble or 4chan or Telegram, but from what seems to them to be regular people on regular television and elected officials.
It's not entirely clear which conservatives legitimately believe what they are saying and which just think it's good for winning elections and "rallying the base" — and it doesn't really matter. There are consequences either way. People who take what they are saying seriously may very well go out and do things like this, and some of them may be more successful than these dopes.
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