‘Second Amendment Remedies’ Enter Mainstream Conservative Discourse

Last Wednesday we learned that the FBI had detained a Coast Guard lieutenant named Christopher Hasson, filing a motion stating that he “intended to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”

According to WMAR-TV, federal agents found 15 firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition in Hasson’s apartment. Moreover, investigators found deleted e-mails in which Hasson allegedly mused about a “two-pronged attack” consisting of a bioterror assault followed by a sniper attack, and also ones in which he bragged about being a white nationalist…

And, most ominous of all, according to the documents filed with the court, Hasson apparently was putting together a hit list of prominent political figures and media stars, including apparent references to Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar; Congressman Beto O’Rourke; Senators Richard Blumenthal, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine, Chuck Schumer, and Cory Booker; MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Ari Melber, and Chris Hayes; CNN’s Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, and Van Jones.

The day after that was reported, Joe DiGenova was a guest on Laura Ingraham’s radio show and said this:

We are in a civil war in this country. There’s two standards of justice, one for Democrats one for Republicans. The press is all Democrat, all liberal, all progressive, all left – they hate Republicans, they hate Trump. So the suggestion that there’s ever going to be civil discourse in this country for the foreseeable future in this country is over. It’s not going to be. It’s going to be total war. And as I say to my friends, I do two things – I vote and I buy guns.

What you have is a former U.S. Attorney suggesting that civil discourse is impossible in this country because, as Trump says, “the press are the enemy.” Therefore, if their brand of Republicanism isn’t successful at the ballot box, second amendment remedies are the option.

Following DiGenova’s comments, Sebastian Gorka thought the subject of a civil war in this country was fodder for further discussion.

As David Neiwart documents, talk of a civil war has been circulating among extremist groups for some time now. In the Trump era, it is beginning to emerge in “the mainstream of conservative-movement discourse.”

On many occasions, this president has overtly affirmed the use of violence. But combined with his appeals to a past when white males were dominant, Trump feeds the notion that this country never put our previous civil war to rest. For many of his followers, the Confederate worldview is still very much alive.

The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order, and so all forms of legal and illegal resistance are justified when it tries…

The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.

I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but this is what scares me the most about our current situation. That is why it is imperative that someone like Joe DiGenova gets called out for the kind of inflammatory rhetoric he spouted last week.

The migration of talk about civil war from extremists into mainstream conservative discourse is incredibly dangerous. We’ve been fortunate that individuals like Cesar Sayoc and Christopher Hasson have been caught before they killed anyone. But conservatives are dancing very close to a treacherous cliff.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.