One of the more remarkable changes that has slowly crept up on Americans in the age of Trump is the way the identification of a wide bandwidth of far-right extremists—white nationalists, neo-Nazis, unhinged QAnon and “Boogaloo” conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and raving violent nativists—has become, in the eyes of the media and its conventional wisdom, utterly unremarkable.
This week, the Arizona Mirror published results of their examination of leaked chats from neo-Nazi extremists seeking to weasel their influence into the 2018 election—primarily by becoming avidly active in local Republican politics.
The chats—some 10 million messages on over 100 servers on the Discord app featuring neo-Nazi and QAnon content—were made available to the Mirror through the leak organization Distributed Denial of Secrets. One server, named “Red Storm,” in particular targeted participation in the 2018 election.
Notably, its activists weren’t only interested in infiltrating the Republican Party and moving up in its structure as they promoted right-wing politicians. Several also discussed running sabotage operations by posing as Democrats and infiltrating their local political operations as well.
“Maybe be double agents for the Dems here?” one user asked. The group also advised participants which ballot initiatives to vote for.
The GOP initially showed signs of resisting the incoming tide of white nationalists and other extremists infiltrating their ranks of supporters. When onetime College Republican leader James Allsup—who while attending Washington State University and afterwards became an unrepentant white nationalist—attempted to become a local GOP precinct officer, he was summarily tossed out of the party and stripped of his position. (This didn’t slow Allsup from mounting a high-profile career as a white nationalist provocateur recruiting heavily on college campuses.)
However, extremists nonetheless have increasingly been welcomed into the Republican fold. The Oath Keepers, a “Patriot”/militia group, have periodically played semi-official security roles for Trump events on repeated occasions. “Three Percenter” militiamen have been linking arms with New York state Republican operatives on Facebook. Even when the welcome mat has not been extended, there has been strategic infiltration of the party from white-nationalist groups like Identity Evropa.
The presence of extremists like Rep. Matt Shea of Washington state is not particularly new for the party, and even when their antics reach a critical point—as Shea’s did recently, when an independent investigation found he had engaged in “domestic terrorism”—they manage to hang on to their power. Shea remains in his seat in the Washington House.
The QAnon movement—which often overlaps with the “Patriot” and white-nationalist movements in membership—is also insinuating itself within the Republican Party. Media Matters, which has been keeping a running count of how many Republican candidates around the country have explicitly embraced QAnon conspiracies, reports in its most recent update (via Alex Kaplan) that at least four QAnon-supporting congressional candidates will be on the ballot this coming November. Three of those will be in California, and one in Ohio. Another—candidate Samuel Williams in Texas’s 16th District—faces a primary runoff this summer.
In the meantime, right-wing extremists have been quietly gearing up to attack Democratic events, including the unfurling of a Nazi banner at a Bernie Sanders rally. More recently, a QAnon fanatic from Illinois livestreamed her drive from her home to New York City with a car full of knives as she ranted about her plan to “take out Joe Biden” when she arrived there.
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.