January 03, 2021

Until you stand against extremism, don’t lecture me on patriotism or national security

If one protester’s burning of a flag so angered the Republican Party that they wanted to preach about patriotism, surely the Capitol riot and the movements that caused it must anger them too

In 2019, Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, personally questioned my patriotism.

Some people protesting President Trump had burned an American flag. McDaniel and her crack team at the RNC thought it would be clever to send a group of Democrats American flags and the US flag code to remind them what it means to be American. The stunt was ill-conceived, not because I am a Marine veteran who, having served four tours of duty in Iraq, knows a lot more about fighting for our flag than McDaniel does, but because in the rush to make her hackish partisan statement about respecting the flag, McDaniel and her team forgot to properly fold it.I’ve been thinking about that lately as I read through the indictments of the extremists who desecrated the US Capitol last month, an attack that left five people dead. Many of the rioters, including a troubling number of veterans, carried the American flag. Many others carried white supremacist symbols, and one carried the Confederate flag. They called themselves “patriots,” as if their storming of the symbol of self-rule was a brave stand in support of our country.If one protester’s burning of a flag so angered McDaniel and the coleaders of the Republican Party that they wanted to preach about patriotism, surely the Capitol riot and the movements that caused it must anger them too.McDaniel recently condemned QAnon, calling them “beyond fringe.” Yet when asked this week if she would take action against Majorie Taylor Greene and congressional Republicans who have embraced QAnon, McDaniel said: “If you have a family dispute, don’t go on ‘Jerry Springer.’ Do it behind closed doors. It’s my role to call them and explain that if we don’t keep our party united and focused on 2022, we will lose. If we are attacking fellow Republicans and cancel culture within our own party, it is not helpful to winning majorities.”It’s not cancel culture to call out extremists. It’s brave and patriotic. I wouldn’t embrace domestic extremists as family. I certainly don’t embrace them as part of a “unity” message. Terrorism is, by definition, political. Nobody, and especially not McDaniel, should embrace a movement that produced the terrorism of Jan. 6 simply because the perpetrators claim to be Republicans.Some true patriots have bravely stepped up for the country. For example, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and Republican Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois have been clear about where they stand on extremism and the outcome of the election since the start. But they are the exception.

McDaniel is not alone for her failure to act in the face of the threat that QAnon and Trump’s insurrection pose to our national security.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy of California had the chance to show moral courage when he visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago after the riot. Did he tell the former president to disavow extremism, to acknowledge he lost the election, and to stop inciting riots? McCarthy didn’t say so publicly, but we know from a readout of the meeting that the conversation was “good and cordial.” Following that meeting, McCarthy tweeted out a statement along with a photo of himself standing beside Trump, “United and ready to win in ‘22.” And we know McCarthy failed to vote for Trump’s impeachment, which would end the dangerous prospect of future Trump campaign rallies.McCarthy had another chance to summon some moral courage this week when he spoke with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Much has been made of Greene’s on-the-record denial of 9/11 and her support for calls to assassinate Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former president Barack Obama, and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, all of which is detestable. But the true threat to our national security from Greene and others in Congress who incited the riot and support extremism is this: When a member of Congress endorses QAnon, which is aimed at building a following within government and the country to overthrow Democrats by force, she helps the movement grow. But McCarthy issued a statement Tuesday saying that Greene shouldn’t be removed from her committee assignments. And Greene is not alone in her support of QAnon. Republican Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who live-tweeted Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s physical location during the Capitol attack, has also expressed support for QAnon conspiracy theories.

When a member of Congress embraces, as Greene did, members of the Three Percenters, an antigovernment militia who believe that just 3 percent of Americans, with the right arms and training, can overthrow the government, she legitimizes and emboldens a fringe movement. Members of both groups have plotted and committed violence against fellow Americans in the recent past.

If you’re a Republican voter, demand your leaders get tough on national security. If you’re a Republican political donor, with McCarthy and McDaniel at the helm, know that nobody can guarantee right now that the money you donate to the RNC or RNCC will not be used to fund candidates like Greene who proudly support domestic extremism and the people who are currently running for or holding public office who give credence to extremist views. If you’re a Republican lawmaker, disassociate yourself from the extremists in your party. Vote for Greene to lose her committee assignments, and demand her resignation.When he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama faced tough questions from voters within his own party. People noticed on the campaign trail that the senator from Illinois was not wearing a flag pin. At the time, seven years after 9/11, the pins showed you were patriotic and implied you were tough on national security.

At a debate, a voter asked him why he wasn’t wearing a pin. Obama said that he had worn one after 9/11, but saw “people wearing a lapel pin but not acting very patriotic.”

“I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest,” he said. “Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe . . . and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.”

McCarthy and McDaniel must similarly demonstrate their patriotism. Until then, don’t lecture Democrats on patriotism or national security.

By:  By Rep. Moulton
Source: The Boston Globe