MAGA Republicans have 'gone soft' on 'white nationalist terrorism': conservative

MAGA Republicans have 'gone soft' on 'white nationalist terrorism': conservative

When Fox News and other right-wing media outlets cover acts of terrorism committed by jihadist extremists like al-Qaeda, ISIS (Islamic State, Iraq and Syria) and Boko Haram, their message is: Be afraid, be very afraid. But Fox News’ overall tone is much more matter-of-fact and nowhere near as alarmist when it comes to covering acts of terrorism committed by far-right white supremacists and white nationalists.

In defense of that double standard, MAGA Republicans will point out that the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history was committed by al-Qaeda members on September 11, 2001. But countless acts of domestic terrorism have been committed by white power extremists, from the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh in 2018 to the El Paso terrorist attack of August 3, 2019 to the murder of nine Black churchgoers at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

White nationalists and neo-Nazis were among the far-right extremists who attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. And according to law enforcement, white power ideology was the motivation behind the May 14 mass shooting at a supermarket in a heavily African-American area of Buffalo, New York — an attack that left ten people dead.

The U.S. clearly has a persistent problem with white supremacist and white nationalist terrorism. Yet countless Republicans and MAGA media figures either downplay the problem’s severity or pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

One person on the right who isn’t ignoring this crisis is Never Trump conservative Charlie Sykes, who calls out Republican hypocrisy in two pieces: a column published by the conservative website The Bulwark on May 24, and an op-ed published by MSNBC on May 21.

In the Bulwark column, Sykes puts this “national disgrace in context” by noting how much Black voters and white Republican voters differ in their responses to white power terrorist attacks. A Washington Post/Ipsos poll conducted after the Buffalo attack, Sykes observes, found that only 8% of Blacks were “surprised” that it occurred, and 53% thought that the problem of racism would become even worse in their lifetimes.

In contrast, a CBS/YouGov poll conducted May 18-20 found that 48% of Republican voters believe it is “not very/not at all important” for politicians to condemn white supremacist and white nationalism. Those GOP voters weren’t necessarily white; a minority of GOP voters are Black. But whites are much more likely than Blacks to be registered Republicans.

“Meanwhile, in the wake of the Buffalo massacre by a white nationalist terrorist,” Sykes notes in his column, “the Senate GOP is vowing to kill a modest domestic anti-terrorism bill.”

In a scathing MSBNC op-ed, Sykes argues that many Republicans are failing to recognize the severity of the terrorist threat that white supremacists and white nationalists pose in the U.S.

“After years of insisting that (President Barack) Obama and Democrats had to use the term ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ few, if any, GOP leaders now even acknowledge the problem of ‘white supremacist terrorism' or ‘anti-Semitic extremism,’” Sykes laments. “The party of law and order has gone noticeably soft on terrorism — or at least this kind of terrorism.’”

Sykes notes that anti-terrorist bills addressing white power violence are receiving very little Republican support in Congress.

“Last week, despite the growing evidence of white supremacist violence, all but one House Republican — Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, of course — voted against a bill aimed at addressing domestic terrorism,” Sykes observes. “The bill still passed.”

Sykes continues, “It’s not an especially robust piece of legislation. If passed by the Senate, it wouldn’t create any new criminal offenses or abridge any civil liberties…. In the Senate, Republicans are pledging to kill even the modest anti-terror measure. The party that once lined up behind a targeted ban on millions now takes umbrage at the notion of even monitoring the activities of American extremists and writing reports about them.”

Sykes wraps up his MSNBC op-ed by saying that Republicans deserve to pay a price politically for being “soft” on “white nationalist violence.”

“This flip-flop should have political consequences,” Sykes writes. “The Trumpified GOP may brush off allegations of racism, but its new squishiness on terrorism undermines a key pillar of its electoral strength, and — unless the Democrats are idiots — its about-face should be a potent wedge issue this year.”

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