The new violent right

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Earlier this week, a political ad from disgraced former Missouri governor and current Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens was pulled from several social media sites for its alarmingly violent message.

The despicable ad depicts individuals in full military regalia employing a battering ram and hurling grenades into a barren residence. Holding a shotgun and grinning from ear to ear, Greitens says, “Today, we’re going RINO hunting.” He further encourages viewers to “Join the MAGA crew, get a RINO hunting license.”

RINO stands for “Republicans in Name Only,” a term initially ascribed to Republicans who don’t always adhere to the party line. However, these days any GOP politician who refuses to embrace theories of blatantly false propaganda or deviate (no matter how benignly) from the rabid bubble of right-wing delusion are confronted with derision and become frequent targets of violence from die hard hard-core Trumpists.

Greitens’s vile ad dropped days after Texas Republican convention delegates turned on two of its own conservative stalwarts. Senator John Cornyn was loudly booed because he’s was among 10 Republicans that negotiated with Democrats on a very modest gun reform bill after massacres last month at a Buffalo supermarket and a Uvalde, Texas elementary school.

Speaking of Texas, Republicans there adopted an aggressively far-right party platform that rejects “the certified results of the 2020 presidential election,” denounces “homosexuality and LGBTQ people” as an “abnormal,” pushes for schoolchildren to “learn about the humanity of the pre-born child,” and wants the 1965 Voting Rights Act to be “repealed” and “not reauthorized.” Talk about a dystopian agenda.

Instead of rejecting candidate Trump and his odious message of racism, sexism and xenophobia back in 2015, many right-wing Republicans saw an opportunity to regain executive power by coddling white supremacy and tapping into the regressive psyche of the nation’s most banal impulses. Several years later, we are still enduring the results of such retrograde maladies.

In recent years, right-wing violence has been more commonplace and culminated in deadly results, be it the murder of physicians and staff members at abortion clinics, to Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina and Jewish synagogue attendees in Pittsburgh, to the very recent Buffalo supermarket massacre last month.

Recently, we have witnessed a dramatic and ominous increase in colossal acts of violence and intimidation directed at those who are seen as foes of the political, social and cultural right. That includes liberal and progressive politicians, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, public health officials, election administrators, and just about anyone who do not support the far right MAGA agenda. Even more distressing, such troubling trends show no signs of abating.

This is not to say that some supposed “RINOS” are indeed, their own worst enemy. In an effort to save face, these are the Republicans who engage in perverse doublespeak. They sporadically espouse pro-Trump rhetoric while trying to hide behind what minimal cloak of respectability they have remaining. Trying to have their political cake and eat it, too. Holding their soiled cards close to their badly stained vests, so to speak. In some ways, they are worse than the committed Trump supporters.

Make no mistake, Trump’s diehard base longs for the day when America returns to the nation it unmistakably resembled in the mid-19th century. The Jim Crow era of the mid-20th century was too benign for them. Their message is clear: either you are with them, or you are against them.

If you are a member of the latter category, they intend to deal with you by any violent means necessary. They have to be combated at all costs.

Copyright 2022 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate

Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.