It's Okay If You're A White Guy With A Gun
Credit: Rob Kerr/Getty Images
June 26, 2019

Eric Boehlert writes about Republican members of the Oregon senate, who fled the state last week to prevent majority Democrats from having the quorum they need to pass a cap-and-trade bill. The Republicans' departure has been accompanied by threats of violence:

The story took a dangerous and ominous turn when far-right militia groups let it be known that they would be protecting the Republican lawmakers. "We have vowed to provide security, transportation and refuge for those Senators in need,” the Oregon Three Percenters wrote in a Facebook post. “We will stand together with unwavering resolve, doing whatever it takes to keep these Senators safe." One Oregon militia source told The Daily Beast that their members were “willing to put their own lives in front of these senators’ lives.” The source noted that the militias would defend the Republicans “at any cost.”

... The open militia threats in Oregon came as one Republican state senator, Brian Boquist, made an explicit promise of violence if Republicans were forced by law enforcement to return and vote. "This is what I told the superintendent,” Boquist said, referring to Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton. “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple."

And yet this isn't national news.

The New York Times ran an article on June 20 about the "tumult" surrounding Oregon Republicans who fled to Idaho, but only posted a one-paragraph update to the piece when fringe militia groups, according to the Oregon State Police and its superintendent, threatened “the safety of legislators, staff and citizen visitors" to the statehouse....

In an online CNN report, the fact that militia threats against Democrats closed down the statehouse wasn't mentioned until the ninth paragraph....

Between June 17 and June 24, there were fewer than 60 mentions of the story on cable news, according to the monitoring site As for Oregon stories that included a mention of "militia," there were fewer than 10 cable news reports.

Boehlert is right about this:

To flip the script, if Black Lives Matter activists of color had forced a state capitol to shut down because of reported threats of violence against Republican legislators, do you think that would be covered as Very Big News for days on end, with virtually every elected Democrat being forced to answer for the activists' radical behavior? The answer, of course, is yes.

Unsurprisingly, he believes there's a double standard because the media persists in the belief that Republicans are basically fine people:

The press clings to its preferred narrative about how the GOP is filled with honest brokers who are waiting to work in good faith with Democrats.

But I think it's also because the mainstream media believes heartland white men are genuine and elemental and are the real Americans, in contrast to the racially diverse and in many cases culturally sophisticated urbanites and suburbanites associated with the Democratic Party. The election of Donald Trump persuaded the press that burly men in rural diners are the font of all American wisdom, but it's an idea that's been reflected in mainstream media coverage of our political and culture wars ever since Republicans began "working the refs" by accusing the media of liberal bias. The press has believed for years that it neglects the people who used to be called NASCAR voters, so it has overcompensated by romanticizing those voters, though never more so than in the period since November 2016.

Threats of violence from non-whites are regarded as scary and menacing by the media, liberal or non-liberal. But rural whites are seen as Real Men and Real Americans; when they threaten violence, they're just getting back to their frontier roots. So of course these Oregon right-wingers are getting away with it.

Published with permission of No More Mr. Nice Blog

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