As America braces itself for reality TV star Donald J. Trump to become the worst president in history this Friday, his fans on the fringe are playing up the remote prospect of a communist coup to justify their hatred of the opposition.
David Neiwert, one of the nation’s best journalists of right-wing extremism, has written a piece for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” blog explaining that the right’s bizarre fascination with conspiracy theories about a violent left-wing takeover of the United States has returned in force.
In many cases, they are the same people who threatened open rebellion if Trump was defeated:
The website of the antigovernment group the Oath Keepers, as well as its Facebook page, have been shouting out warnings all this week: “Communists Intend to Overthrow the United States Before Inauguration Day,” “10,000 Men With Guns To Prevent Coup on Inauguration Day,” “In Just 10 Days, the Radical Left Will Attempt to Overthrow the U.S. Government.”
At the Infowars conspiracy mill run by Alex Jones, the theories have been multifarious as well as frantic: “Anarchists Are Hoping To Turn Donald Trump’s Inauguration On January 20th Into One Of The Biggest Riots In U.S. History,” “Will The CIA Assassinate Trump?”, “Alex Jones’ Emergency Message To President Donald Trump To Deter Martial Law.
As Neiwert explains, this strain of fake news circulating in right wing social media explains why a group like Bikers For Trump would declare their intentions to “form a wall of meat” to protect the president-elect from an imaginary army of liberal stormtroopers. They are responding to a conspiracy theory that has become very popular in their world.
That Trump actually reinforces this behavior is a worrisome sign the demagogue could one day end up directing fascist mob violence, not just angry chants. In that case, armed “constitutional” militias like the Oath Keepers would transform into the American Freikorps — paramilitary forces used to suppress dissent.
Neiwert reports that the Oath Keepers have convinced themselves a small group of leftist activists called Refuse Fascism somehow represents a mass movement. Key figures promoting this conspiracy theory have deliberately conflated that group with the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday.
“What’s really happening is that they are hoping to foment enough anger and amass enough people on that day that it flips over into a popular uprising and they literally flood into the capitol buildings,” says former Infowars contributor Mike Adams. According to his imaginary research, communists aim to take over “not just the Capitol building itself, but they try to take over, perhaps, the White House.”
Adams would have Trump do whatever it takes to forestall such an event. Apparently unaware that such powers do not exist under the U.S. Constitution, he wants the new president to issue arrest warrants and have police “find the treasonous subversives who need to be arrested and prosecuted.”
Get that? If you oppose Donald Trump in the streets, you become a “treasonous subversive” in the eyes of armed, paranoid lunatics who adore him. It’s going to be a long four years.
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