“America First!” Was a Hit; But Who is a Real American to the Firsters?

Unite The Right marchers, University of Virginia at Charlottesville, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 (Photo by Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress)

“You very likely will not be flattened by the news that Economic Insecurity does not hold a prominent place in the data,” wrote Charlie Pierce in Esquire about Robert Pape’s recent University of Chicago study of Capitol rioters arrested during the January 6 insurrection. “Neither will you be stunned by what form of insecurity actually does.”

It is largely about race. But even as all of this plays out against the backdrop of the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd, ongoing violence against Asian Americans and perennial panic over Central American refugees crossing the southern border, huge segments of Americans, from lawmakers to the electorate, will insist on discussing anything but race.

After Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson said that he was never all that concerned as the MAGA horde trashed the Capitol all around him (killing five, including a Capitol Police officer and injuring hundreds more), because they were just real Americans and not Black Lives Matter or Antifa (Anti-Fascist Action), he caught all of the trouble that he said he expected. “And Joe,” Johnson said at the time, “this is going to get me in trouble.” And when it did, he said the remark was “completely innocuous.” Because, of course, he and his death cult are anything but threatened by pro-fascist action and nothing is ever about race.

“I knew those were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson began. And then he dug in, telling syndicated radio show host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, “had the tables been turned, and Joe — this is going to get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa, I might have been a little concerned.” See? Completely innocuous. Why? Because white supremacy is the real America.

This should not be news to any of us, anymore. Not since the cultural rise of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin that began with her choice as running mate for John McCain’s “Country First” presidential campaign against Obama and Biden way back in 2008, alternately bragging and clarifying that “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hardworking, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.” As opposed, of course, to where most Americans actually live. Like, in the large cities and sprawling metropolitan areas.

Meanwhile, Rep. Matt Gaetz, under federal investigation for sex trafficking, is booked as a keynote speaker at Trump’s Doral golf club by Women for America First, a nonprofit organization that organized the January 6 Washington, DC, Ellipse rally that led to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol and also led cross-country bus tours spreading the Big election fraud Lie.

Often enough, the evil stuff that the Qanon cult accuses of Democrats and other liberals ends up being committed by some “real American” conservative.

When Major League Baseball moved its scheduled 2021 All Star Game out of Atlanta, in reaction to Georgia’s election reforms that cancel Democratic voters based on fabricated voter fraud, Governor Brian Kemp attacked the league over “cancel culture” on Twitter.

“Georgians — and all Americans — should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included,” the Governor argued. “If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.”

In response to voting rights advocates’ and Democratic lawmakers’ concerns about the Republican Party’s investment in the Big “Stop the Steal” Lie and the push behind the For the People Act (HR 1) and the John L. Lewis Voting Rights Act to mitigate attacks on voting rights by Republican-dominated state legislatures, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham took to Fox News Sunday, on March 28, to complain, saying that “every time a Republican does anything, we’re a racist. If you’re a white conservative, you’re a racist. If you’re a black Republican, you’re either a prop or Uncle Tom,” Graham said. “They use the racism card to advance a liberalism agenda and we’re tired of it. HR 1 is sick, not what they’re doing in Georgia,” he added.

Robert A. Pape is a political science professor with the University of Chicago, whose Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST) just studied 377 people arrested in connection with the Capitol riot on January 6. “The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a violent mob at the behest of former president Donald Trump was an act of political violence intended to alter the outcome of a legitimate democratic election. That much was always evident,” wrote Pape in the Washington Post.

So, was the Capitol riot really about electoral integrity? CPOST studied the court records, analyzed the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans from 250 counties in 44 states who were arrested or charged in the Capitol attack and “by far the most interesting characteristic common to the insurrectionists’ backgrounds has to do with changes in their local demographics: Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.”

CPOST also conducted independent surveys. “One driver overwhelmingly stood out,” Pape wrote, “fear of the ‘Great Replacement.’ Great Replacement theory has achieved iconic status with white nationalists and holds that minorities are progressively replacing White populations due to mass immigration policies and low birthrates.”

“It is telling that the white-supremacists who rioted in Charlottesville chanted, ‘You will not replace us’ as they marched through the streets,” wrote Charlie Pierce in his Esquire coverage of the CPOST study. “That should have been enough to tell us that the threat to rational self-government in this country is deep and entrenched, and it will not go away when and if the economy turns around. It has nothing to do with money. It has to do with the disappearance of phantom entitlements on which this society depended for too long.”

“We cannot presume it will blow over,” Pape concluded his Washington Post column on his CPOST study. “The ingredients exist for future waves of political violence, from lone-wolf attacks to all-out assaults on democracy, surrounding the 2022 midterm elections.”

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