[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]
It’s like Red Dawn all over again, but this time without the Russians. Or at least their troops.
The apocalyptic fear of a Communist takeover of the federal government is one of the longtime, original staples of the conspiracy-fueled American antigovernment movement. And with Donald Trump, the apparent antithesis of those fears (despite his own many connections to Russia), soon to assume the presidency, they’re giving that paranoia one last big hurrah.
The website of the antigovernment group the Oath Keepers, as well as its Facebook page, have been shouting out warnings all this week: “Communists Intend to Overthrow the United States Before Inauguration Day,” “10,000 Men With Guns To Prevent Coup on Inauguration Day,” “In Just 10 Days, the Radical Left Will Attempt to Overthrow the U.S. Government.”
At the Infowars conspiracy mill run by Alex Jones, the theories have been multifarious as well as frantic: “Anarchists Are Hoping To Turn Donald Trump’s Inauguration On January 20th Into One Of The Biggest Riots In U.S. History,” “Will The CIA Assassinate Trump?”, “Alex Jones' Emergency Message To President Donald Trump To Deter Martial Law.”
Other right-wing conspiracists and Trump supporters are getting into the act. The far-right “Bikers For Trump” organization, which has a permit to protest at the inauguration, says it plans to protect Trump supporters and attendees at the events from protesters.
Chris Cox, the founder of the pro-Trump group, told Fox News: “In the event we are needed, we certainly will form a wall of meat.”
The fears that radical leftists might prevent Trump’s ascension to the presidency are rampant among antigovernment extremists. Ironically, many of the same militiamen vowing to come to Trump’s defense were vowing before the election to undertake armed rebellion against the government in the event of an “illegal” Hillary Clinton victory.
Now the focus of their concern – and the source of their claims of a vast Communist conspiracy to prevent Trump from becoming president – is a series of anti-Trump protests organized by a group far-left activists calling themselves Refuse Fascism. As the Oath Keepers website explained, these activists are planning a series of continuing protests against Trump’s election with the express purpose of preventing him from taking office.
Indeed, Refuse Fascism’s website is fairly explicit that this is its hope: “Nothing less than to create such a profound political crisis before the intended inauguration (January 20, 2017) that the fascist regime is actually not able to take the reins of government.
“Imagine if people, in the tens of millions, filled the streets, powerfully declaring that this regime is illegitimate and demanding that it not be allowed to rule! The whole political landscape would be dramatically transformed, every faction within the established power structure would be forced to respond—and all this could well lead to a situation in which this fascist regime is actually prevented from ruling,” reads its mission statement.
The RefuseFascism protests began this weekend, and videos from those marches revealed that it is a small organization that managed to attract only a couple dozen protesters to march Saturday, Sunday and Monday in Washington.
Reality notwithstanding, the rhetoric used by Refuse Fascism apparently revived old far-right John Birch Society-style paranoia among antigovernment militiamen and conspiracy theorists, with visions of Red Dawn-style military takeovers of government institutions dancing in their heads. (The original 1984 action film depicting a Russian military takeover of the U.S. was inspired by Birch-style theories.) The warnings issued from the Oath Keepers and Alex Jones reflected the longtime “New World Order” takeover paranoia.
Jones began theorizing even before the election that the CIA or some other “globalist” entity wanted to assassinate Trump, and after the election he began pumping these theories with even greater frequency and deeper embellishment: “Will Globalists Attempt Trump Inauguration Assassination?” read a typical headline. “Dems Plot to Stop Inauguration,” was the title of another segment.
As the days have neared, Jones himself has picked up the pitch of this rhetoric, warning that the “globalists” are “still in executive control, and might try some kind of martial law scenario.” He pleaded with Trump to expose their nefarious scheme by citing his own conspiracy theories involving a supposed hack by Chinese agents.
One of the Oath Keepers’ primary sources for their information about the planned disruptions of the inauguration came from “Health Ranger” Mike Adams, a longtime conspiracy theorist and onetime associated of Jones’ Infowars. (In 2013, just before the second inauguration of Barack Obama, Adams warned antigovernment “Patriots” that the president would soon be issuing a “mass of kill orders” for them.)
“What I am hearing is that there is an actual planned coup attempt,” Jones told his audience in a video that was promoted by the Oath Keepers. He then conflated the Refuse Fascism protests with the long-announced “Women’s March on Washington,” scheduled the day after the inauguration and expected to attract 200,000, saying that the “cover story” for the coup would be “the women’s march, the labor union march, whatever it is.
”“What’s really happening is that they are hoping to foment enough anger and amass enough people on that day that it flips over into a popular uprising and they literally flood into the capitol buildings – not just the Capitol building itself, but they try to take over, perhaps, the White House,” he said.
In addition to the heavy promotion of Adams’ conspiracism at their website, the Oath Keepers’ Facebook page editors chimed in, chastising some skeptics: “Some of those commenting apparently do not realize how serious this is,” referring them to the would-be disruptors’ websites, adding: “These and other communist and anarchist groups are serious about disrupting the inauguration and the new administration.”
In their comments, a number of self-described Oath Keepers voiced their skepticism and concern. However, the majority of respondents were credulous.
“The meetings, planning, and recruiting for these groups are happening,” wrote one. “You seem to be denying the disruptions described on the groups' own websites. Are you waiting to hear about it on the mainstream media? IMHO [in my humble opinion], they are lying by omission and deliberately not reporting what doesn't fit their own agenda.”
Others actually were hoping for such an attempt: “It would be a slaughter. The people on the right have been preparing for this for generations. It would mean the literal extinction of liberals. If they are ever stupid enough to cause this they will be wiped out,” wrote another supporter.
“Wow! It looks like they're serious! It's a good thing Obama got all of those FEMA camps back up & in running order, we're going to need somewhere to put these crazy people once they're arrested,” wrote one.
Indeed, the possibility of incarcerating the protesters was foremost on Mike Adams’ mind in his video rant. He referenced the FEMA concentration camps – one of the hoariest of the militia movement’s conspiracy theories, positing that so-called New World Order globalists planned to begin rounding up conservatives, gun owners, and anyone who resisted their regime into camps operated under the rubric of the federal emergency-management agency -- as the object of leftists’ evil desires.And then he advocated precisely the same fate for this week’s protesters, while vowing to protect the newly elected President Trump:
It is time to reassert the freedoms and the rights of the American people as described in the Constitution. It is time to take back America from the cultural subversion of the radical left, of the Communist influence, you know, Marxist influence, radical left-wing terrorists and murderers who killed cops and so on. It’s time to shut that whole sector of society down. It is time to shut that down.
And if it takes Trump issuing arrest warrants and it takes putting police out there onto the streets for a little while, to get that done and find the treasonous subversives who need to be arrested and prosecuted, then Trump is going to have our full support in getting that done. We can no longer tolerate losing our country.
We are gonna protect America … we are gonna protect our Constitution, we are gonna protect our rights, and protect our president. End of story. Anybody has a problem with that, good luck.