UNITED STATES: Belligerent and conspiracy-laden remarks from prominent Republican supporters of Donald Trump have raised concerns that the former US president’s campaign against his legal problems could spark political bloodshed.
Less than 24 hours after Trump was charged, Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs used aggressive language to demand retaliation on Twitter. “We have now reached a war phase. An eye for an eye,” he said.
Another Republican congressman from Louisiana, Clay Higgins, offered his supporters militaristic orders. “The oppressors are using this as a perimeter probe. Hold. rPOTUS has this,” he said, designating Trump as the legitimate president.
“Buckle up,” Higgins continued. “1/50K, know your bridges. Rock steady calm. That is all,” he added, making an apparent allusion to military-scale maps. Higgins tweeted two days later, “Let Trump handle Trump; he’s got this. We use the Constitution as our only weapon. Peace. Hold.”
The remarks made by the two extreme-right congressmen, who both voted to annul the results of the 2020 election, highlight the disturbing degree to which violent rhetoric has crept into the Republican Party’s official platform, particularly in the wake of Trump’s indictment.
According to a recent survey by the University of Chicago’s Project on Security & Threats (CPOST), an estimated 12 million adults, or 4.4% of the US population, feel using violence is justified to put Trump back in power.
Jeffrey Sharlet, a professor at Dartmouth College and the author of the book The Undertow, which examines the far right, claimed to have been covering right-wing activities for 20 years. He went on to say that the heat is hotter and the explosion is stronger. He went on to say that the source is more pungent.
“The ‘rhetoric’ is specific: while Twitter giggled at what it took to be the ‘word salad’ of Higgins’ statement, those who study militias read it as the call to arms, it is,” Sharlet added.
In 2016, when Trump was running for office, he promised to pay the legal costs of any fans who physically attacked demonstrators at his rallies. He remarked about a protester at a 2016 event, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
On January 6, 2021, Trump urged his supporters to converge on the US Capitol to prevent the certification of the electoral college vote by using violent words. “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he declared. Five people died as a result of what happened, making it the deadliest attack on the US Capitol in US history.
As per reports, there was proof that Trump’s fans drew strength from his harsh language. Users of The Donald, a pro-Trump forum, reportedly advocated for violence to be used to reinstall Trump as president. According to the publication, one user wrote: “The only way this country ever becomes anything like the Constitution says this country should be if thousands of traitorous rats are publicly executed.”
In at least 54 criminal cases involving violent acts or threats of violence, Trump was mentioned, according to a US-based news channel’s 2020 survey.
Robert Pape, the director of CPOST and a professor at the University of Chicago, told the media earlier this month that in the United States, political violence is spreading from the margins to the mainstream.
Since Trump’s most recent indictment for his handling of secret papers, after he left the White House, his supporters outside of Washington have also turned to abusive rhetoric to defend the former president.
As per media reports, a host of a far-right talk show, Pete Santilli, called for the military to use zip ties to detain Joe Biden, place him in the back of a pickup truck, and remove him from the White House.
A different speaker at the event reportedly said that he would “probably shoot” Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, if it were legal, according to reports. Santilli has also previously called for the execution of former President Barack Obama and other leaders in the case in which Trump is accused.