As Saint Patrick’s Day approaches, I realize that for the past few weeks or months I’ve been trying to suppress a very uncomfortable question. For some of us, 2003 was not that long ago. It was May of 2003 when the U.S. Department of State designated the “Real Irish Republican Army” as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization”. This was a controversial and polarizing move among my Irish-American friends and colleagues.
Here’s my uncomfortable question: What happens when the evidence shows that today’s GOP is similarly a terrorist organization?
I’m not just being hyperbolic here, I’m dead serious. It seems to me that we are facing a very real constitutional crisis.
The cited 2003 declaration of the RIRA meant that, among other things, it was illegal to give financial contributions to the RIRA. Is it even possible to similarly make contributions the GOP illegal?
I think there’s at least a fifty percent likelihood that our intelligence community — NSA, CIA, FBI, etc — has known for some time that are deep and disturbing connections between money from Russian organized crime and a multitude of GOP officials and organizations. During the first impeachment investigation, Adam Schiff revealed information about previously undisclosed conversations between Mr. Nunes and various figures involved in the Ukraine coverup. For the two years prior to the first impeachment (until Mr. Barr squashed essentially ALL legitimate DoJ investigations), there were several ongoing investigations tying Dmitri Firtash, Igor Fruman, Lev Parnas, and Rudy Giuliani to various GOP persons and organizations. There were similar things playing out during the investigation and prosecution of Maria Butina, a Russian operative who had penetrated the NRA. That investigation strongly suggested a growing network of ties between Russian interests and GOP campaign operations — there are strong indications that the NRA was essentially a money-laundering operation that allowed Russian money to be funneled to GOP candidates and campaigns. What did the Russians expect (or demand) in exchange for those contributions?
Something is very very wrong about the picture of today’s GOP that we see unfolding. There are too many aspects of its behavior that just don’t add up.
If our intelligence community had evidence that the GOP itself has become a (domestic) terrorist organization, would that evidence be brought forward? If so, how? In what venue? Surely anything like this would end up before the Supreme Court.
Three sitting justices of the Supreme Court were put on the bench by this GOP. There is a very strong likelihood that the Attorney General bringing these actions will be none other than Merrick Garland — blocked from the bench by the same GOP. Would these three recuse themselves? Would Mr. Garland recuse himself?
As evidence connecting GOP persons and organizations to ongoing violent insurrection continues to emerge, it is becoming increasingly clear that the GOP is a domestic terrorist organization.
In 2003, the “Real Irish Republican Army” was designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the State Department. If the evidence supports it, is it even possible to designate today’s GOP as a “Domestic Terrorist Organization”? What agency would make and announce such a designation? What would the consequences be?
Steve Consilvio says
I think treason is now pretty common in America, but the traitors don’t see it that way. The fears that motivate them are complex, not simple, even if their expression is pretty simple.
The problem with attaching terrorism to the GOP is that the GOP existed prior to this aberration, whereas most terrorist organizations are overtly terrorist from their outset. The Catholic Church had corrupt incompetent and criminal leadership and priests, but that doesn’t make every catholic a corrupt pedophile.
The challenge is that everyone seeks and accepts a definition of virtue based on association, which itself is ill-advised. All stereotypes, pro or con, are false, and what germinates terrorism, racism, etc., is the dominance of stereotypes. It is this type of stereotype that prevents cops from being held accountable for murder, priests of sexual abuse, celebrities of sexual assault, etc. They all steal the glow of the group and use it as a shield of virtue to mask their crimes.
OJ was a celebrity and a talented football player, how could he have committed murder? “I was best friend, and he never committed murder when I was with him.” Or this funny line from a defendant after a judge says that there were witnesses to his theft: “your honor, I can produce a hundred witnesses that did not see me rob the bank.”
People are unwilling and unable to accept evidence that does not fit their narrative of the world around them. Stereotypes die very slowly, especially is one thinks themselves associated with it. That is why people want to believe that antifa attacked the Capitol, not Trump supporters like themselves.
Unfortunately, politics creates more and more stereotypes, and everyone is all too quick to see them themselves a victim rather than the crime. Every stereotype is associated with some point of excessive pride (ie lifting yourself up by putting others down), and the thing that people fear most is changing their opinion of the man in the mirror.
The final episode of Seinfeld had them all on trial for witnessing a crime and doing nothing to intervene or help the victim. If the baseline of society is that we must be our brother’s keeper, then any act of indifference is terrorism.
The institutional Catholic church is a good example.
I suggest that “Operation Rescue” should have been declared a terrorist organization from its inception. It was, after all, explicitly organized in order to physically interfere with abortion providers.
The institutional Catholic church never, to my knowledge, disavowed Operation Rescue or its members. The US government similarly refused to designate Operation Rescue as a terrorist organization even after they were shown to have committed several murders of abortion providers (not to mention countless fire-bombings and other acts of vandalism against clinics).
There is zero evidence that “Antifa” even exists, while it is clear that large and growing number of organizations like “Proud Boys” exist and have ties to high-ranking GOP officials.
It seems evident that Trumpists have taken over the organization that used to be the GOP. There is increasing evidence that we are watching the unfolding of a years-long and apparently successful takeover strategy by Vladimir Putin.
Is such a strategy against the law? In what venue do the resulting prosecutions occur?
Steve Consilvio says
Antifa exists, and they are as paranoid and self righteous as the rest of them. They were screening an interesting movie once. You had to sign up online, everything was anonymous except the time and location. Then they cancelled it at the last minute. I’ve run into members at different events who certainly seem to be members based on dress and handouts. Of course being a member of an anarchist organization is an oxymoron, but no different than Trumpist evangelicals invading the Capitol.
Interesting thoughts on Operation Rescue.
A fascist can be left or right wing, the defining characteristic is a piece of paper in one hand and a gun in the other.
Trickle up says
Steve Consilvio says
I think fascism has a thousand variations, but, of course, definitions are very important to agree on, too, when discussing things. What would you call bolsheviks or stalinists or those who worship Kim in North Korea? Pol Pot, Gadaffi or al-Assad in Syria? And, Trump, of course? Aren’t they just different variations of megalomania dressed up with sad politics of cause and effect and the ends justify the means? Everyone has a belief of what is a better order, and who is to blame for the lack of a better order. They never hold themselves to the same standard of others. Technically, if they believe their own BS, they are not criminals. They are motivated by their political beliefs, and even volunteer and sacrifice for the ’cause.’
I think fascism should mean how they think and behave, and not by the target of a particular hatred. Modifiers can handle that: leftwing fascism, rightwing fascism, islamic fascism etc. Libertarians and anarchists both hate the state, their politics can be different nevertheless, and they can both be fascists. One reading Marx and the other reading Bastiat. The paper in one hand, the weapon in the other.
Let’s not forget that the liberator revolutionary out of power also becomes the despotic tyrant once in power. Did they move from left to right, or were they always just a fascist?
Since dozens of PhD theses have been written offering a variety of definitions of “Fascism” over the past few decades, it doesn’t seem constructive to spend too much time on it here.
The threat of today’s GOP is the same, whatever name we apply to it. It is also unique to today’s GOP, in the sense that I know of no left-wing or anarchist organizations who have, for example spent the past six months and hundreds of millions of dollars trying to overturn the presidential election results of 2020.
Similarly, I know of no left-wing or anarchist organization that is doubling down on a decade-long nationwide campaign to disenfranchise minority voters.
The definition of “fascism” that I use is something along the lines of an ideology that eliminates the distinctions between government, corporate, and private interests. I understand that there are others — that’s not the point of this discussion.
Steve Consilvio says
I take a longer view of things. Yes, antifa is probably not a big threat today, but in other times they were. All any movement takes is one charismatic leader.
I don’t disagree that the GOP is a threat today because of the doublethink, groupthink and excellent communication skills at spreading the big lies.
I should add, fascists are always looking for fascists to battle with, to prove their projections are true.
I’ve been a “leftist”, “radical”, “revolutionary”, “atheist”, “anti-American” whatever for something on the order of fifty years. I don’t know if that counts as “longer view” — I’ve seen many charismatic leaders come and go, and I’ve been a participant in a large number of protests, demonstrations, and similar events.
I’ve certainly been called a “radical left-wing outside agitator” by Spiro Agnew and beaten by police for it.
In all those fifty years, I’ve never seen anything remotely comparable to the methodical, organized, and unimaginably cynical behavior and utterances I see of today’s GOP.
In my view, it is neither comforting nor accurate to assert that “antifa” or any similar movement is comparable.
This is an organization that is absolutely serious about imposing white supremacy on American government, using whatever means and however much violence it takes.
It will not be stopped by pretending that protests — even violent protests — against police brutality are in any way comparable.
Steve Consilvio says
um, i never said antifa were an equivalent or even a threat.
What I said was stereotypes battling stereotypes is the issue. When you were called XYZ you were fighting ABC. You were as much of a true believer in your opposition to them as they were to you, acting as if no commonground could exist. Yet, Ho Chi Min waited tables in Boston and was a fan of George Washington. Where and how did things become so far apart?
When I opposed the Vietnam War it had nothing to do with the merits of Marxism. I simply opposed the war as I understood it. I saw a simple people living in grass huts at the mercy of madmen flying into a village and destroying things. Obviously others were focused on the reign of Hitler and Stalin and how cruel dictators can become motivated by an idealistic society. Were they wrong to fear that echo of the past in Vietnam?
I agree what is going on with Trumperism is at an entirely new level of crazy for America, but it is not unfamiliar. It is exactly what happened in Germany, Russia and China. A society divided and confused, wracked by stupidity, fear and economic turmoil. We have reaped what we have sown.
Trickle up says
When you say anything is fascism, you are ultimately saying there is no such thing as fascism.
Ideologies have structures that are not trivial.
I think you should cool it with the buzzwords and labels if you are just going to use them indiscriminately to triangulate everybody you do not like.
Antifa is NOT an individual organization. This has been widely documented and reported (cf. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-antifa/2020/09/11/527071ac-f37b-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html).
Nonsense. Every American has a constitutional right to peaceably assemble, including anarchists, racists, and white supremacists.
No such group has ever invaded and ransacked the Capitol. There is a large and growing body of evidence that the invasion of the Capitol was carefully planned, coordinated, and executed. There is a clear appearance, currently been investigated, of at least connection (appointments, telephone communications, email and text exchanges) between insurrectionist invaders and both elected GOP officials and also members of the Trump administration.
There is no “other side” to the insurrectionist invasion of the Capitol. There is no comparison between street demonstrations against police brutality — even if violent — and fascism.
Fascism means something. Donald Trump and CPAC attendees have spent the last six months in a continuing fascist attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election.
The question remains whether and how the GOP can be designated as a “Domestic Terrorist Organization”.
Has Operation Rescue ever actually planned violence against women or providers? A quick check I did not only fails to turn up evidence, but does mention that it has denounced such actions. They are not now, nor have ever been, an arm of the Catholic Church. Is the Catholic Church more responsible for their actions than Protestant Fundamentalists, who spend a lot more bandwidth denouncing abortion? Seems your anti-Romanism is rearing its ugly head again!
I don’t want this exchange to be sidetracked into the never-ending abortion debate. Let’s keep that elsewhere, please.
You brought it up.
I brought it up only as an example.
Oh, and for the record — my opposition to the institutional Catholic church is an example of my natural antipathy towards any organization based on superstition, misogyny, and patriarchy. That certainly includes every Protestant Fundamentalist faith tradition that I’m aware of, so it is by no means limited to the Roman Catholic Church.
The Church condemned the Brookline shooting and has nothing to do with Operation Rescue. It’s founder converted to the church, but started the group as a charismatic Protestant. Pope Francis has been quoted saying that Catholic extremists obsessed with abortion are not true followers of the faith. He remains opposed to choice, but he at least recognizes abortion is a downstream side effect of gross income inequality and the market eroding family life. I don’t see any contradiction between my support for abortion rights and my faith.
I’ll add that I’m personally quite sorry you underwent that trauma in your community and I support laws to prevent violence against abortion providers, but I’d be leery on first amendment grounds of designating pro-life groups as domestic terrorists. I think it’s a slippery slope to hand such power over to government, surely the abuses of the last 20 years have taught us this.
I suggest that “sedition” is a more appropriate term than “treason” here. The latter is well-understood to mean “providing aid and comfort to an enemy”. This, in turn, requires that an enemy exist.
The crime being committed by today’s GOP is sedition — inciting revolt or violence against a lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing it (https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-charges/sedition.html).
I don’t care about stereotypes, that’s a different discussion. I’m talking about an organization that has become a criminal enterprise (in the context of RICO prosecutions).
Prior existence is irrelevant — prior existence has never, to my knowledge, interfered with federal prosecution under the RICO laws.
Steve Consilvio says
My point on prior existence, and the semantics of naming, is that saying ‘the GOP is seditious’ includes a lot of little old ladies who belong to the GOP that are not seditious. The charge will sound strange if not absurd to non-sympathetic ears.
I’m not saying I know what to call this cult; it certainly existed before Trump and is now in a bizarre overdrive.
A little old lady giving money to today’s GOP as just as seditious as the same little old lady giving money to the RIRA in May of 2003. One of the reasons why it is important for government agencies to name these criminal organizations what they are is so that little old ladies do NOT give them money.
This cult certainly is now in overdrive, and they have taken over the GOP. Any little old ladies who are paying attention are as aware of that as you and me.
Steve Consilvio says
I am a white male. How do I stop being a white male when other white males are being so god awfully stupid? Am I guilty by association? Am I to blame because I didn’t do enough to stop them? Should I totally abdicate my membership and let them take over leadership of my clan, my name, my history? Or, do I see it as a minority aberration, a mistake that will pass, and stay the course, and protect the status quo, which has been the mainstay of what the word ‘conservative’ has meant for centuries? Besides, I will never be ‘one of them’ whom I have always opposed. They are getting worse by the day.
Of course, I am well aware of the many republicans who have voted for Biden and said that they didn’t leave the party but that the party left them. They are lost, but not progressives by instant karma. And, they are few. Just like the moderate democrats can’t become progressive no matter how dumb the GOP gets. People live in their own bubble, believing whatever they want to believe, and the vast majority of the 74 million who voted for Trump had nothing to do with the events of Jan 6.
Naming the GOP a criminal organization makes no sense, and will simply play into their victimization paranoia. Nor is that how justice works. Individuals are guilty, not stereotypes.
Sterotypical thinking is the problem we need to eliminate. By all means, these people need to be voted out of office, and their idiocy cruelty and doublethink exposed, and charges brought where possible, but this is a battle for hearts and minds first. The only way to stop criminals is to stop criminal thinking. It’s more akin to cults and gang mentality, and always has been. Political bigotry is just another version of racism.
Being born a white male is fundamentally different from joining a white male club. The latter have been illegal for decades.
The vast majority of the 75 million who voted for Trump did not make contributions to Mr. Trump after he lost the election and began his explicit campaign to overturn the results of the election.
Your formula would suggest that we address organized crime by changing “hearts and minds”. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I strongly suspect that our security agencies already have evidence that shows that the GOP is a criminal enterprise that is operating across state lines with intent to incite revolt or violence against a lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing it.
Really? So you apparently propose to disband our DoJ, every police department, and dismantle our entire criminal justice system. Are you really suggesting that “thought crimes” are the real villain?
Sorry, no sale.
Steve Consilvio says
You are taking me wildly out of context and responding exactly to the opposite of what I said.
Charging the GOP as a criminal conspiracy is a very wide net, and includes everyone who had nothing to do with Jan 6 expect by association.
It’s like a group that opposed the Vietnam War exploded a bomb at the Pentagon. Because you likewise oppose the war, you are guilty of a criminal act, even though you had nothing to do with the crime.
It’s total nonsense, both your line of reasoning and your interpretation of what I said. The irony that you suddenly can get specific as “proof” that I am belong lenient is rich. Why can’t you be specific in how you see the problem and how different elements have combined to create and acerbate underlying issues?
Obviously the point that political bigotry is a form of racism either went completely over your head or struck too close to home.
I do agree that the DOJ will and should bring charges against the people who are guilty, regardless of their station. That isn’t actually the bigger danger. The danger will be in the response and denial which has already taken root because doublethink has been reinforced with steel girders. As we saw from the certification and impeachment votes, no evidence can enlighten a closed mind. If we continue on with the same level of idiocy we will end up in a civil war. That’s what the stakes are.
We can’t make people guilty by association!
Slow down, partner.
I haven’t ever proposed charging anyone and everyone who is registered with or gives to the GOP with anything. To do so would, among other things, violate the constitutional prohibition against any ex post facto laws.
Mr. Trump himself has been making the task easier even as we’ve been having this exchange — he has established his own PAC and some sort of organization, and he has filed legal action to stop the rest of the GOP from using his name or likeness to raise money.
He has thus helped provide precisely the kind of crisp delineation that similarly separated the RIRA from the more general IRA.
Suppose we stipulate, for the purpose of discussion, that said Donald Trump PAC (“DTPAC”) and campaign committee (let’s call it the “Committee to Reelect Donald Trump” — “CReEDT” are designated as domestic terrorist organizations in the same way that the RIRA was determined to be a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” in 2003.
I’m certainly not proposing to make anybody “guilty by association” — other than those who, example, donate to DTPAC or CReEDT after the designation.
We agree that the DoJ should bring charges against the people who are guilty. Guilty of WHAT? When the evidence shows that the January 6 event was just part of longer-term more expansive plan to subvert the electoral process, what charges are appropriate for that?
We already know that a single attorney in the Trump organization wrote many or most of the “independent” briefs in the dozens of state-level lawsuits brought and then dismissed. We therefore know that the White House was in fact coordinating a nationwide effort to intentionally erode confidence that the 2020 election was legitimate and fair.
It is not a large leap from what we already know took place to an ongoing campaign by DTPAC and CReEDT. It is not “guilt by association” to say that those persons driving these efforts should be charged with sedition. It is not “guilt by association” to say that any person who gives money to DTPAC or CReEDT after the determination is guilty of a crime.
You don’t seem to get it yet. We ALREADY ARE in a civil war. The January 6th insurrection was analogous to the attack on Fort Sumpter of April 12, 1861.
The question on the table now is whether or not this sedition will be stopped and how much blood will spilled in the stopping.
Donald Trump is not going to be stopped by anything you’ve described here. He most certainly can be stopped by a team of federal agents escorting him to a secure prison after he is charged with multiple felonies.
Steve Consilvio says
We have had close elections for eons.
Yes, there are people on both sides that yearn for a hot civil war rather than civil hot discussions. In practice, they go to Washington and never speak to one another. Congress has the emotional maturity of high school.
Trump should have been convicted both times. In this case, cutting off the head won’t change the corrupt body, the body is the thing that is alive; the brains have long been dead and just serve as a placeholder.
I hope Trump gets convicted and sent to jail for his business fraud. That will put his political fraud in a sharper light, but those who think he walks on water will be the last to accept the obvious no matter what.
Justice will do whatever it does. Our job is to promote and forward an alternative world in policy and practice and challenge the lies that have grown deep roots. Dwelling on the past and seeking revenge is not the way forward, but getting the history right is important. It is still the court of public opinion that is the highest court in the land.
I’m pretty sure it is not and never has been illegal to join a white male club and if it were there would be constitutional issues.
Blacks have been an explicitly protected minority in federal anti-discrimination laws for decades. The claimed interference with the constitutional right to associate has been argued repeatedly in various courts.
My understanding is that courts have ruled that the federal prerogative to end discrimination against blacks takes precedence over the competing constitutional objections in this case &8212; it is illegal for private clubs to explicitly block blacks from membership.
The FBI on Thursday arrested Federico Klein, a former State Department aide, on charges related to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, marking the first known instance of an appointee of President Donald Trump facing criminal prosecution in connection with the attempt to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.
“We need fresh people, we need fresh people,” Klein shouted repeatedly, according to the complaint. In much of the video, he is wearing the Trump campaign’s trademark “Make America Great Again” red hat.
Who is the Republican Party? Ronna McDaniel is the chair of the party. I have no doubt that she has plausible deniability with regard to the insurrection on January 6th.
Is the Party a domestic terrorist organization? No. That will not be proven. That does not mean that there is not a large domestic terrorist organization with its leadership in DC.
If there is one thing we learned about Trump, it was his tendency to use projection. His constant reference to a “Deep State” tells me that he and his followers have indeed installed a “Deep State” in our Nation’s Capital and throughout our government.
We can all recall when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged career employees at the Education Department on Tuesday to “be the resistance” when the Biden administration comes into power next month.
The parasite known as MAGA has found a host. While the host is not a domestic terrorist organization, the parasite is.
Perhaps there is some middle ground between resolutely treating each terrorist as an individual acting alone and indicting the entire organization.
Nevertheless, if 95% of the host organization were terrorists then we might agree that the host itself is a terrorist organization. If only 5% were terrorists, then we might agree that the host does not merit that characterization. So there is is a threshold — perhaps a threshold region — somewhere between 5% and 95% where we draw the line.
What is that threshold?