The incident brought statements of concern from a majority of Democrats and Republicans, with many citing the episode as evidence that security in the wake of January 6 Capitol riot needs to remain a priority.
Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, however, had a different take.
“Sadly, violence and threats of violence targeting America’s political institutions are far too common,” Brooks said in a statement released on Twitter as the incident was being resolved. “Although this terrorist’s motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of society. The way to stop Socialism’s march is for patriotic Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 elections.” (The man — Floyd Ray Roseberry — was arrested.)
Let’s be clear here: A man drove to the foot of the Library of Congress — and very close to the Supreme Court and the US Capitol — and said that he had a bomb.
For a sitting member of Congress to offer some level of sympathy for a person who would do this functions — whether Brooks meant this or not — as a open invitation for copycats. If a member of Congress says that he totally gets why someone would commit an act like this, how can we reasonably expect others who have been similarly radicalized to see what happened as a negative?
What Brooks is condoning here is taking matters into one’s own hands. Angry at the government? Think the election was stolen? Believe Socialism is on the march? Well, Mo Brooks thinks what happened on Thursday is a reasonable response to those feelings.
This would be dangerous in a vacuum. It is extremely perilous given that we are just 6 months removed from an armed insurrection of the US Capitol that left more than 100 police officers injured and 5 dead.
Brooks, of course, was also mixed up in that episode too.
“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking a**!,” he told the crowd gathered for a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC. “Now, our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives, to give us, their descendants, an America that is the greatest nation in world history. So I have a question for you: Are you willing to do the same?”
(Worth noting: In both instances, Brooks insisted he was talking about fighting at the ballot box. It’s not at all clear whether those who heard his comments interpreted them in that way, however.)
Here’s what’s really scary: Brooks could well be a US Senator in less than 2 years time. His outspoken support for former President Donald Trump — and the Big Lie — has made him a high-profile champion of the far-right Republican base. That may be enough to win Brooks the Republican nomination in the race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R). And if he is the Republican nominee in a general election in Alabama then Brooks has a VERY good chance of joining the Senate come 2023.
That Brooks’ incendiary rhetoric is not only not grounds for condemnation but is, in fact, rewarded in some Republican circles speaks to how far off track the GOP is these days.
A sitting member of Congress is apparently sympathizing with a man allegedly threatening the US Capitol with explosives. Rather than disqualify him for not only his office but the higher office he is seeking, it’s likely to bolster his candidacy. Talk about a screwed-up system.