Trumpite terrorists planning attacks all over the country
The U.S. Capitol wasn't the only building targeted by Trump terrorists on Jan. 6, 2021. Here, heavily armed men stand on the steps at the Michigan State Capitol at a rally in support of Trump in Lansing the same day. Following warnings from the FBI that more violence could be coming, statehouses are heightening security in preparation for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. | Paul Sancya / AP

Some 20,000 troops are being deployed to the nation’s capital in the lead-up to Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, as the nation braces for violence planned by right-wing Trump extremists. No one is at ease, however, because the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and the Justice Department upon which the protection effort depends remain at his time under the control of the terrorist-in-chief, Donald Trump.

“If it means inaugurating Biden and Harris in a re-enforced underground bunker, I would be in favor of that,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss said on MSNBC Thursday. “Not even during the Civil War did we feel we needed this kind of mobilization to protect Lincoln during his inauguration or other elected lawmakers,” he added.

And while significant preparations have been put in place around the U.S. Capitol by the agencies still under the ultimate control of Trump, there is growing fear that state capitol buildings around the country will be targeted. The fears are not unfounded, since many of them have already been attacked by armed Trump supporters. Of particular note is the situation in Michigan, where the state capitol was recently breached by Trump supporters brandishing guns at legislators as they were in session.

Advertisements of pro-Trump “rallies” at these locations are already posted and circulating online. One such ad bears the headline “Refuse to be Silenced.”

The FBI has urged police chiefs across the country to be on alert for right-wing terror attacks. Christopher Ray, FBI director, is warning police to be alert to possible attacks on the homes of members of Congress as well.

His alerts to police come a week after FBI warnings about the potential for the attacks on the Capitol in Washington were ignored. The government is well able to secure the Capitol in D.C., but no explanation has been given of why, given FBI advance notice, that was not done last week.

One thing Trump has clearly been successful with is instilling fear in anyone thinking of coming out against him. People with anti-Trump t-shirts and bumper stickers and those with Biden-Harris signs in windows or on cars are removing them, also out of fear for themselves or their property. A young couple with a reputation in the Hyde Park section of Chicago for driving a car with no less than 30 bumper stickers promoting liberal causes said they spent time Thursday soaking and removing them.

The FBI reportedly sent a memo to law enforcement agencies across the country warning of possible armed protests at all 50 state capitols starting next week, citing in part what it says is “chatter” on social media.

Many social media platforms say they are working to prevent use of their platforms to incite right-wing violence. Facebook has been tracking many of the advertisements for the planned Trump terror activity on pages frequented by militia groups and QAnon followers and has been blocking them. Incredibly, the Facebook spokesperson who reported this to NBC asked not to be identified because he feared retaliation and attacks against him personally by right-wingers connected with the pages.

Armed supporters of President Donald Trump attend a ‘ Stop The Steal ‘ rally at the Oregon State Capitol protesting the outcome of the election on Nov. 14, 2020, in Salem, Ore. | Paula Bronstein / AP

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms have suspended all of Donald Trump’s accounts. Those moves, however, have not stopped right-wing extremists from communicating on alternate apps, including Signal and Telegram. Their first-choice alternative, Parler, has been disabled by Amazon Web Services.

The terror in the states

While the moves by social media platforms and the tracking down and arresting of people who participated in the attack on the Capitol may have the effect of mitigating possible attacks in Washington, there are serious concerns that may not dampen the plans to mount attacks in the states.

The District of Columbia already looks like an occupied city, with troops sleeping overnight all over the floors of the Capitol building itself. It is possible that elected reps in Washington will don bulletproof vests during public events surrounding the inauguration, but the prospect of this being necessary for lawmakers all across the country is a horrifying one indeed for any democracy.

Experts on terrorism note that an infrastructure for right-wing terrorists has been in place in the states and localities around the country for much longer than it has in Washington. For years now, the right wing has been openly organizing online to draw support to their groups in the offline world, where they operate cells that regularly meet and make plans.

Proof of this functioning right-wing infrastructure on the local level is the operation they mounted recently to capture and kill the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmore, last year. It was an operation stopped in its late stages by the FBI and local Justice Department teams.

The busting of that operation has not ended the activity of right-wing cells even in Michigan, much less everywhere else across the country.

Even more indicative of the ongoing right-wing threat is that police and National Guard troops have remained posted and recently made arrests at statehouses in Washington and Idaho. Likewise, officials have not boarded up the windows at the state capitol in Wisconsin because they simply felt like doing so. Such action normally follows tangible threats.

Ironically, a few years ago, when the Republican governor of Wisconsin launched his attack on the state’s labor movement, the unions and their allies marched on the state capitol and literally occupied it for weeks.

Police and firemen joined them. No one was killed or injured in one of the largest ever mobilizations of progressive organizations in U.S. history. In contrast, a six-hour occupation of the Capitol in Washington by Trump supporters was organized not for preserving the rights of people but for taking away their right to vote and ended up with massive destruction and five deaths.

Mass demonstrations organized to preserve and extend human rights in America are always a contrast to what the right wing does. Armed Trump supporters, for example, have attacked statehouses from Sacramento, Calif., to Tallahassee, Fla., since the pandemic began. Their purpose was not to protect democratic freedoms but to assert their own selfish “right” to infect and kill others rather than take sensible precautions to protect themselves and others.

In many other actions, Trumpites gathered to intimidate peaceful Black Lives Matter supporters. They have been emboldened as they watch police shoot and even kill peaceful BLM activists, especially when officers work in tandem with the right wingers at their protests, as has been documented.

The groups of Trump terrorists around the country are closely connected to one another, at least ideologically if not organizationally. Widely available for viewing now is video of Trump supporters outside state capitols cheering as they watched videos of the invasion in Washington on Jan. 6.

Fascists plot for the future

The ability of Congress to come back six hours after the beginning of the attack last week and finish the business of certifying Biden’s win was a victory, of course, for democracy. But even so, the fascist mob that attacked the Capitol had its own victory. Their action has served as inspiration to much of the far right.

Before he was arrested by the FBI, the rioter who wore a shirt emblazoned with “Camp Auschwitz” bragged about how in just a few hours the right wing “took over the F—kin’ Capitol”

Reminiscent of how the Nazis in Germany made a young SA man killed in a riot, Horst Wessel, into a martyr, some people posting on QAnon forums are praising the name of Ashli Babbitt, the Air Force veteran and QAnon believer who was fatally shot during the Capitol riot as she tried to enter the Speaker’s Lobby.

And like the Nazis did in their time, U.S. fascists today are putting out ads calling on people to join a “Million Martyr March” on Inauguration Day. They are trying to make Babbitt a hero of their movement.

NBC has reported that its investigations have not yet uncovered who the main organizers are of this planned Jan. 20 protest. Most often the ads are signed by “common folk who are tired of being tread upon.”

Right-wing groups use an incredible variety of tactics to achieve their ends, including posing as left or progressive activists to smear the reputation of those groups and even to mount attacks on police departments that they think are not right-wing enough for them

Terrorism experts have been saying that adherents of the Boogaloo movement, for example, infiltrated Black Lives Matter protests last year, using the crowds as cover to attack police and then blame those attacks on BLM.

“We saw this in the spring, Boogaloo used Black Lives Matter protests as an opportunity to use the crowd as cover to target law enforcement,” said Marc-André Argentino, a researcher who follows extremists online and has tracked their movement from one platform to another.

“Mainstream extremists are angry about what happened on Jan. 6, and they’re preparing to rally and protest again,” Argentino said. “The violent extremists who have been in this space for years are taking this as an opportunity to recruit, bolster their ranks, and prepare for the impact of government overreaction to potentially start actual violent conflict.”

Advertisements for upcoming state events were online months before the Capitol riot. One Inauguration Day event, billed as the Million Militia March, for example, was first promoted in December on Wimkin, a right-wing alternative to Facebook, according to NBC.

An early set of comments on the event planner’s original posts reads: “We cannot wait until the 20th. We have to mobilize into action on the 6th.”

Turning up the fear factor

In this Sunday, June 25, 2017 file photo, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington. Rhodes, an Army veteran who founded the Oath Keepers in 2009 as a reaction to the presidency of Barack Obama, had been saying for weeks before the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot that his group was preparing for a civil war and was ‘armed, prepared to go in if the president calls us up.’ His group is one of many being watched for further violence. | Susan Walsh / AP

The right-wing groups are causing confusion and fear among the public offline, too.

A nurse in Oklahoma told People’s World that at her local diner the talk this week was about how “Biden and the Democrats are planning to cut electricity around the country on Inauguration Day” as part of a plan “to prevent Trump supporters form exercising their right to freedom of expression.” Many in town are planning to withdraw their money from the bank and stock up on food and water before the inauguration. Reflecting on the fear Trump has spread across the country, she is worried about what she should be doing to protect herself and her family from what she believes is the impending chaos Democrats will cause on Jan. 20.

Conspiracy theory websites have been trying to stir up fear of Democrats within the gun-owning community, as well. InfoWars, for example, has been telling people to stay away from demonstrations at state capitols, claiming that they were really setups at which Democrats, communists, and socialists were going to attack them and take away their guns.

Some Trumpites may be getting worried that there will be a backlash against them as Americans become more and more repulsed by right-wing terror.

The Trump-loyalist website TheDonald.win and conservative Trumpite Facebook groups are telling people that armed rallies in any state capital will be “false flags,” really set up by antifa and leftists.

Some commentators and analysts are hoping that some who participated in right-wing terror rallies will begin to drop away, having seen the deadly results of the actions.

But such drop offs, terrorism experts say, do not mean the right-wing movement as a whole is shrinking. A base is there, ready to be stoked by well-financed operatives who have been giving leadership to these movements for years. They have actually been around through almost all of American history and should not be expected to shrivel up and die now.

Unless the mass movements and broad coalitions that ousted Trump and elected Biden remain united and continue their fight for social and economic justice, what happens in this country over the next few years will likely be much worse than what happened in the Capitol last week or what will happen next week in our country.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.


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CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

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