What MAGA calls 'patriotism' is 'political violence' and thuggery: Former Reagan White House official

What MAGA calls 'patriotism' is 'political violence' and thuggery: Former Reagan White House official

Over the years, veteran conservative columnist/author Mona Charen hasn’t been shy about lambasting liberals and progressives. But the former Reagan White House official, now 64, has been a scathing critic of former President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement, endorsing now-President Joe Biden during the 2020 election. And this week in her column for the conservative website The Bulwark, Charen warns that the MAGA movement is becoming increasingly violent.

“Stories of threats and violence aimed at ordinary Americans who are simply serving on school boards, supervising elections, holding public office, opening a mobile vaccine clinic, or having the effrontery to be elected as secretary of state are not new,” Charen explains. “It’s a mashup of pandemic-induced mania, social media misinformation, Trump-incited disinhibition, and something in the water.”

The “invocation of the citizen’s arrest,” Charen observes, is being used as “an excuse for political violence.”

“The citizen’s arrest has become a theme running through some of the most sinister of the recent plots,” Charen notes. “It has a long pedigree, originating in English common law. In the U.S., it has been codified in a number of ways by states…. But the invocation of the citizen’s arrest as an excuse for political violence is new…. Back in 2020, when a gang of 14 right-wing nuts, drunk on Trump incitement, plotted to kidnap and possibly murder Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, they claimed that they were actually effecting a ‘citizen’s arrest.’”

Charen continues, “In a normal world, such a claim would be instantly dismissed as risible. But we’re not in that world. We’re in the world where the sheriff of Barry County, Dar Leaf, who had appeared at the ‘Michigan Patriot Rally’ with at least one of the suspects, seemed to think it had merit.”

Some politicians, Charen laments, literally fear for their safety if they say anything that is critical of Trump.

“The threats are proliferating,” Charen writes. “The Washington Post reported that lawmakers were subjected to 3900 threats in 2017. By 2020, that had more than doubled to 8600 — and in 2021, the rate rose even faster. As Tim Alberta noted in his Atlantic profile of Rep. Peter Meijer, the fear factor in Republican politics has dramatically changed. Without doubt, Republicans displayed a total lack of political courage in dealing with Trump from 2015 to the present. But because they didn’t stand up to him when the consequences would have been merely political, they/we now face a very different climate. Now, they must fear for their safety and for that of their families.”

The January 6 rioters, according to Charen, exemplify the “perverted patriotism” that often motivates Trumpistas.

“The frequent invocation of the citizens’ arrest signifies a wish for legitimacy,” Charen writes. “They yearn to be responsible citizens, upholding the law and the Constitution and the duties of the individual. They have been corrupted, but that’s all the more reason for the rest of the American people to assert their uncorrupted patriotism more boldly. They must get active and defend the election workers, health care workers, school board members, journalists, politicians, secretaries of state, and anyone else who is being intimidated, hounded, or abused by the mob. If patriotism animates only the worst among us, we are lost.”

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