Republican politicians embrace another killer
It's time for the news media to start accurately portraying the GOP as objectively pro-crime
In 2020, Army sergeant Daniel Perry wrote a series of text messages and social media posts suggesting he might kill protesters and get away with it by claiming self defense. Not long after sending those messages, Perry drove his car into a crowd protesting police violence and shot Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster four times, killing him. He then told police he was acting in self defense. On Friday, a Texas jury convicted Perry of murder. By Saturday afternoon, Texas’s Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, was vowing to pardon Perry as soon as possible, at the urging of conservatives like Tucker Carlson.
Perry is just the latest in a line of right-wing killers celebrated by the Republican Party at the highest levels. Most famously, Kyle Rittenhouse parlayed his killing of two people into a meeting with Donald Trump at Trump’s Florida crime lair Mar-a-Lago, fawning coverage on FOX News, job offers from Republican members of Congress, and appearances at conferences held by the likes of Turning Point USA. (Rittenhouse was among the prominent conservatives defending Perry and urging his pardon. It would be a heartwarming example of paying it forward, if it wasn’t one killer trying to help another enjoy similar impunity.)
Nobody should be surprised by Republican politicians embracing these killers. After all, their killing is inspired by Republican politicians.
In 2020, the Texas Tribune reported:
In June, when President Donald Trump tweeted that “protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes” protesting in Oklahoma would face “a much different scene” than protesters in New York or Minneapolis, Perry responded from a now-deleted account with the username “@knivesfromtrigu.” The tweet read, “Send them to Texas we will show them why we say don’t mess with Texas.” That account was identified as being connected to Perry by Tribune of the People, which bills itself as a “revolutionary news service.”
Just one month after that Twitter exchange between Trump and Perry, Perry shot and killed Foster.
None of this is an accident, and none of it should be surprising. Long before the deadly insurrection on January 6, 2021, it was clear that Trump and other Republicans were intentionally inciting violence in an effort to seize and hold through the use of force power that they cannot win electorally. At least as far back as 2017, I was warning that upon Trump losing re-election in 2020, his supporters would become violent. This did not take extraordinary prescience; the signs were overt and unmistakable.
And yet, for the most part, America’s leading news companies ignored or downplayed the sitting president of the United States inciting violence against his political adversaries. Sure, individual comments were covered — though often much less prominently than they should have been, and they were met with far too little disapproval:1
Trump’s comments were typically treated in isolation rather than part of an ongoing campaign, and obvious connections were ignored. When Trump hinted in 2019 he would pardon members of the military convicted of war crimes, virtually nobody drew the connection to his previous suggestion that his supporters in the military turn violent on his behalf. It wasn’t hard to read between the lines: Trump was signaling his supporters that if they committed violence in aid of his political goals, he might pardon them. But few were willing to see the obvious. And now Trump’s fellow Republican Greg Abbott is on the verge of pardoning an Army sergeant who murdered a BLM protester after interacting with a Trump tweet encouraging violence.
The simple truth too many still don’t want to admit is that the only thing unique about Trump among prominent Republicans is his vulgarity. His hostility to democracy is right at home in a political party that has worked tirelessly for decades to stop Black people from voting, and that engineered the destruction of the Voting Rights Act. Even his embrace of violence has rapidly become the norm, not the exception, among prominent Republicans. After a few months of some showy concern, the GOP has essentially embraced the violence of January 6 as legitimate and proper.
The embrace of violence as a tool to seize and hold power by the right wing and Republican Party should be a dominant topic of news coverage, every single day. And it is the kind of core truth that should color coverage of the GOP across the board. It’s not something that should be compartmentalized away; it’s relevant to everything Republicans do. To take the most obvious example: Even as it has increasingly embraced the use of violence for political ends, the Republican Party has spent the last few years yelling loudly (and often dishonestly) about crime. And the news media has obediently echoed the Republican Party’s attacks on supposedly criminal-coddling progressives and its alarmism about crime. It boggles the mind that any journalist could possibly cover these attacks without noting the GOP’s defense of Trump’s serial law-breaking and embrace of political violence, and yet such compartmentalized coverage has long been the norm.
Throughout 2020, as Trump was flagrantly breaking the law and explicitly encouraging his supporters to become violent on his behalf, he was also talking about crime, as Republican politicians tend to do. And the news media obligingly portrayed Trump as a “law and order” politician — even as he was breaking the law on a daily basis and intentionally inciting political violence:
Donald Trump, Greg Abbott, and countless other prominent Republicans have embraced and incited political violence. And they celebrate and defend a man who was convicted of murder for shooting a protester four times after declaring his intention to kill protesters. It is simply obscene to help them portray themselves as “tough on crime” and portray progressives as weak on public safety — and it is not journalism.
In his latest attempt to destroy the $10 billion company for which he paid $44 billion, pathetic man-baby Elon Musk has suddenly blocked users from embedding tweets in newsletters such as this one, and from tweeting about or interacting with tweets about newsletters such as this one. This seems like a good time to mention that you can find me on Mastodon.