The growing frequency of political violence raises the specter of a Republican insurgency if former President Trump runs and loses in 2024, warned conservative columnist Max Boot on Tuesday.
He said he feared that an armed faction of Trump fanatics would ‘bear roughly the same symbiotic relationship to the GOP that the IRA had to the Sinn Fein party.’
His Washington Post column will be dismissed as the work of a Never Trump Republican by some but it reflects growing alarm that the U.S. faces rising incidents of political violence after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Last week, Rep. Paul Gosar was censured and stripped of his committee assignments by the House for posting an edited anime video that showed him attacking Democrats – but he escaped the wrath of his own party and only two Republicans supported the motion.
Boot said Republicans had made no attempt to tone down the rhetoric of some members and were ‘hostage to the extremists in their ranks.’
‘We are at the greatest peril since the early 1970s — when the threat emanated from the left — of a violent insurgency in America. Indeed, the scattered terrorist attacks we have seen in recent years might be the early stages of such an uprising,’ wrote Boot, who has been a leading critic of Trump on the right.
Columnist Max Boot warned that growing violent rhetoric among Republicans and the ‘fetish of gun ownership’ risked an insurgency – particularly if former President Trump lost in 2024
Conservative columnist Max Boot (r) condemned violent rhetoric used by Republicans, saying: ‘Trump made the relationship explicit when he told the Proud Boys, an armed group that later took part in the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, to “stand back and stand by.”‘
‘If we see a full-blown insurgency — something that becomes more likely if Trump runs and loses again in 2024 — it would bear roughly the same symbiotic relationship to the GOP that the IRA had to the Sinn Fein party: It would be the armed wing of a larger right-wing movement.
‘Trump made the relationship explicit when he told the Proud Boys, an armed group that later took part in the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, to “stand back and stand by.”‘
The former president used the language of violence during his successful 2016 campaign.
In 2016 at a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump told the crowd he had been warned there may be someone throwing tomatoes.
‘If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously,’ he said to cheers.
‘Just knock the hell out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.’
One of his most controversial moments in office came when he appeared reluctant to condemn white nationalists who clashed with protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, that left one woman dead.
‘You had some very bad people in that group,’ Trump said. ‘But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.’
And he faced condemnation during the 2020 campaign when he said the far-right Proud Boys should ‘stand down’ but refused to explicitly condemn such groups, saying that someone had to act against left-wing agitators.
In a recent interview he also defended protesters on Jan. 6
Meanwhile in Congress, threats against lawmakers are projected to double this year.
Boot picked out other examples of how Republicans routinely depict Democrats as enemies of America.
He quoted Sen. Ted Cruz saying: ‘The left hates America,’ while Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said: ‘Their grand ambition is to deconstruct the United States of America.’
‘At the same time, Republicans make a fetish of gun ownership and use; weapons of war are the hottest fashion accessory in GOP campaign ads,’ he writes.
‘The message many Republicans receive is that violence is justified to save the United States from a leftist takeover. An audience member at a pro-Trump event spoke for many when he asked: “When do we get to use the guns?”’