Fueling culture wars is nothing new to CPAC. But with dark, hard-line rhetoric — and real demonization of MAGA political opponents — the conservative convention in Dallas this week threatened America with what appeared to be disguised calls for violence, all while seeking to whitewash political chaos on January 6, portraying the rioters on Capitol Hill as victims of the “party Democratic Action.
From Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orbán to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to right-wing extremist Jacques Posubek, speakers at the Conservative Political Action Committee urged a confrontation between us and them, apparently unrelated to the constraints of electoral politics.
Bannon, who now hosts the “War Room” podcast, brought his belligerent message to the CPAC, appearing as a keynote speaker at a Friday night party at the conference. “We are at war,” Bannon told MAGA followers. “We are in a political and ideological war.” In repeating the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, Bannon insisted that Joe Biden was an “illegal fraud.” He called on Republicans to send “shock troops” to Washington, and Bannon promised the masses that they had a chance to “smash the Democratic Party as a national political institution.” He claimed that the party had been overtaken by “radical cultural Marxists” and “educators” who “want to destroy the Republic”. Bannon insisted that the GOP should strive for absolute victory over “power-obsessed and illegal” Democrats, emphasizing: “There can be no half-measures anymore.”
Orbán – Hungarian strongman fond of Nazi-style rhetoric Anti-ethnic mixing – received warm applause for his stark address to MAGA believers on Thursday. Orban described the European Parliament and the federal government in Washington as “the two fronts in the battle being fought for Western civilization,” warning, “Today, we hold neither, yet we need both.” Orbán called on CPAC attendees and the far right in Europe to form a global movement. “We must unite our forces” in order to “take back” Washington and Brussels, Orban said.
On Friday, Senator Ted Cruz, who has set the thick Texas tone for the US rally, launched criticism against what he called the “hungry and abusive authoritarian undertones” of the Biden administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress. Cruz likened his service in the Senate to that of a gladiator: “It’s like the ancient Roman Colosseum where you hit a pectoral, grab a battle axe, and go fight barbarians,” he said of his fellow Democrats. “As they say in the military world, it’s a target-rich environment,” Cruz continued.
Cruz then suggested that more than one election of governors might be needed to win back Washington from those he called “the cheese-eating capitulation monkeys.” Cruz told the audience, “We are on the cusp of something extraordinary in this country…and each of you is the vanguard. You are the dangerous extremists. Like the men who signed the Declaration of Independence…like those who died at the Alamo, you are the brave heroes, he insisted, “You are fighting for freedom in our country.”
While the CPAC has banned a few outspoken white nationalists from its ranks (including harmful live viewer Nick Fuentes) it has welcomed on its stage Jack Bosobek, the Pizzagate conspiracy theorist who recently denounced him as a I hate extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its associations with “white nationalists, anti-government extremists, members of the “Proud Boys” and neo-Nazis.” Posubek has taken his turn in the spotlight promoting the New Right (the most recent rebranding of the hateful “alt-right”). He also charts the coming conflicts of the culture war in military terms: “Are you ready for new ideas to really take the fight to the front lines,” he asked, “because that’s where we live and we don’t stop.”
It might be tempting to dismiss such an outburst of Cruz and Posubek as empty rhetoric. But Carrie Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, has directly threatened to confront the federal government over immigration on the southern border if she wins the job in November.
“We have an invasion on the border,” Lake insisted, referring to illegal immigrants and refugees. Next, Lake vowed that, after being sworn in, she would make a military response, even if she didn’t get approval from the Biden administration: “As soon as my hands are out of the Bible, we’ll send Arizona National Guard troops to the border,” Lake said. Sovereignty” states, she insisted: “We will take the fight to the federal government. We will not be victims of what they do to us.”
The rhetoric of revolution and front-line confrontation has gone hand in hand with other speakers and broadcasters who have portrayed the American left as diabolical, evil, and destructive—in other words, the kind of enemies that deserve to be dealt with harshly.
Between words, CPAC promoted a documentary, called for by President Matt Schlapp culture killersWhich is waging against the “great desecration” perpetrated by the left. “Anything good, anything sacred, anything honest is under attack,” Schlapp insisted in a video. The documentary describes America as “trapped from within an enemy,” with one voice insisting on images of burning cars, “No end. These people will never stop, until you stop them.”
Even ostensibly more moderate politicians, such as Florida Senator Rick Scott, chair of the Republican Senate National Committee, picked up on these themes. Scott denounced the Democrats as literally “evil” for pursuing an agenda he described as socialist.
This is pre-genocide material pic.twitter.com/CKhGbmspaz
– Aaron Robar (@atrupar) August 5, 2022
While CPAC spokespeople have been denouncing Democrats in terms that appear to encourage political violence, CPAC spokespeople have consistently downplayed actual political violence perpetrated by MAGA on January 6. , criticized Liz Cheney — chair of the Capitol Rebellion investigation committee — for pushing a “lie about January 6” (Green wasn’t specific about the lie in question, but he has long played down the day’s violence).
The CPAC then convened a panel entitled “You’re Next: The Rise of the Democratic Gulag,” which presented the January 6 defendants not as alleged perpetrators of riots and rebellion, but as victims of a fraudulent judicial system.
Representative Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) was the spokesperson for this kind of idiocy. He claimed that the January 6 defendants received “Soviet-style justice” – claiming without evidence that state prosecutors, defense attorneys and federal judges were “colluding” to secure predetermined convictions. The congressman insisted that “all institutions in the United States were armed, no different from the former Soviet Union” to create an “American gulag.”
Driving Home This worldview of justice—insisting that participants in a coup attempt led by former President Trump are being mistreated by the justice system trying to hold them accountable—the CPAC conference room also presented a new performance art show. .
The photo showed a caged man in an orange jumpsuit – supposed to symbolize the January 6 defendants – crying over the injustice of his imprisonment while wearing a MAGA hat. Conference attendees can wear headphones to hear the testimonies of alleged actual rioters. This surreal scene actually turned around 11 in the late afternoon, when Green discovered the installation and entered a prison cell to rest and pray with the actor portraying the weeping man.
Some of the weirdest political theater I’ve ever seen pic.twitter.com/pC5CghJmUU
– Tess Owen (@misstessowen) August 5, 2022
CPAC has always been a political circus, a relatively harmless sideshow. But her latest incarnation has become clearly dangerous – more fascist than farce. It considers the alleged perpetrators of political violence as martyrs. It demonizes its domestic political opponents as “satanic enemies within”. It gives MAGA supporters a military framework to direct them to the “front lines” of the American culture wars.
In short, she is playing with fire. But the rest of us might get burned.
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