DC Federal District Court Judge Royce C. Lambert served the nation on Wednesday. He sentenced the insurgent Kevin Fairlamb to three and a half years in prison. Fairlamb was videotaped assaulting a Capitol police officer on January 6. It was the longest sentence yet imposed on a mob rioter.
But it may not be long enough to send the message that the use of violence as a political tool will not be tolerated in the United States. For partisans animated When believing in the justice of your cause or in your devotion to a single leader, that message must be loud, clear, and repeated frequently.
The need for severe punishment for violent extremists is more important than ever because, on the very day of Fairlamb’s sentencing, the Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism warning about domestic terrorists. They warned that “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” and anti-government extremists “continue to pose a significant threat to our homeland.”
Such threats are now so prevalent that we run the risk of normalizing them and, in doing so, fundamentally altering the landscape of democratic politics. American people they used to be proud about the fact that in this country political conflicts were, with rare exceptions, resolved without resorting to violence or threats of violence.
Today, thanks to former president trumpHis acolytes in Congress and his most fanatical supporters, threats of violence have entered the everyday world of our politics. In fact, 4 out of 10 Republicans tell that political violence may be necessary to “protect America” and preserve its way of life.
Now school board members who insist schools are safe from COVID are bombarded with ominous warnings that they or their relatives will be killed. We hear almost daily reports from local election officials and their families in the reception End of crude, printable messages that promise physical retaliation against them.
On Tuesday, a member of Congress joined this parade of shame. Paul gosarPaul Anthony GosarCheney, Kinzinger point out that they would support the censorship of Gosar Nicolle Wallace criticizes ‘toxic stew of grievances’ pushed in conservative media The GOP’s moral postmodernism MORE (R-Ariz.) aware an animated video of himself killing his colleague from House, Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez Cheney and Kinzinger Say They Would Back Censorship of Gosar Nicolle Wallace Criticizes ‘Toxic Stew of Grievances’ Boosted in Conservative Media ‘Woke Up’ Discussion Simmer for Democrats MORE (DN.Y.), later defended it as “symbolic” of his battle against pro-immigration forces. Of course, he quickly erased it, reflecting a barely active consciousness of guilt or fear of being sanctioned.
The problem is that practically an entire party is missing in action in resisting the nation’s descent into violence.
Despite its convenient and racially coded invocation of law and order rhetoric, Republican party leaders too often turn a blind eye to the dark clouds of violent discourtesy that surround them. They rarely say or do anything to condemn those who threaten to use force to resolve political disputes or who incite others to do so.
Minority leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthy Cheney, Kinzinger point out that they would support the censorship of Gosar Nicolle Wallace criticizes the ‘toxic stew of grievances’ promoted in the conservative media The moral postmodernism of the Republican Party MORE (R-Calif.) And other Republican leaders have another goal that reveals their own priority of achieving party power, even if it means sacrificing national security: They have moved to punish the 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure plan. bipartisan by undressing them of your committee assignments. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Biden Appoints Obama Official as FDA Chief Just Before Deadline The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Appellate court delays ruling on the Trump; Biden to meet with Xi Murkowski announces reelection offer, preparing battle with Trump MORE (R-Ky.), Who voted for the bill along with 18 other Republican colleagues, called it a “godsend to Kentucky.”
McCarthy’s movement against the 13 was not only intended to deter similar votes in the future, but also to silence their voices.
And many in that group of 13 have United the growing number of public officials who live under threat of violence every day.
Here’s the point: the red lights of looming violence are flashing, but there are no sirens screaming from the Republican side. Without them, we’ll soon be looking back at the Department of Homeland Security newsletter and wondering why Republicans-elect weren’t paying attention.
Silence in the face of violence only encourages her. No one is safe in the crossfire. The latest terrorist threats are addressed to Congress.
It is time for Republican leaders to show that their office is no more important than their Americanism. And, if January 6 didn’t wake up your conscience, it’s hard to see what will.
Sociologist DaShanne Stakoes was right when he recently tweeted“Violence is not a Democratic or Republican problem. It is an American problem that requires an American solution. ”
But until Republicans join the search for a solution, it is more important than ever that the Justice Department unleash its full force to investigate, prosecute and secure severe punishment for those who make threats of violence and intimidation a tactic. to win office, arguments. and policy disputes.
Austin Sarat is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College. He is the author of numerous books on the death penalty in the United States, including “Gruesome shows: failed executions and death penalty in America. ” Follow him on Twitter @ljstprof.
Dennis Aftergut is a former federal prosecutor.