News Update

There's no place in the US for this vile rhetoric

Dean ObeidallahDean Obeidallah
In the past few days, we’ve seen the Michigan GOP state chair invoke the specter of violence against those not loyal to Trump and conservative Trump media allies saying on Newsmax that they wished the military would step in and take over from President Joe Biden. Before the attack on the Capitol this type of language was wrong. Today it feels like a dangerous continuation of the type of incitement that led to the Jan. 6 attack.
Michigan GOP chair Ron Weiser made his comments at a Republican club meeting on Thursday, where he was asked how to remove from office two of the state’s Republican members of Congress, Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer, who were among the 10 Republicans who voted with Democrats in February to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection. Weiser responded, “Other than assassination, I have no other way other than voting out. OK?”
There’s absolutely no place for using the word “assassination” by any American pollical leader as a tactic to remove political figures you disagree with — even if, as Weiser claims, the comments were taken out of context. Weiser’s comment is especially irresponsible given that Meijer publicly shared in January that he’d bought body armor after death threats against Republicans who’d voted to charge Trump.
The fried-egg school of politicsThe fried-egg school of politics
Weiser wasn’t done with being vile. He also referred to the three statewide female Democratic officials, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, as “the three witches” and said his “job now is to soften up those three witches,” so come the 2022 election, “they are ready for the burning at the stake.”
This is not just sexist, but violent imagery that is even more dangerous given that we learned last October Gov. Whitmer had been the target of a plot by right wing militia groups to kidnap and possibly kill her. Fourteen people were charged in the conspiracy, with Whitmer, in response, drawing a straight line to Trump — who had frequently publicly attacked her and called to “liberate” Michigan — for his refusal “to condemn White supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.”
Meanwhile, over on the very pro-Trump network Newsmax, the network’s weekend co-hosts, Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, better known as “Diamond and Silk,” appeared on another show where they made a jaw-dropping call for the US military to remove President Biden from office. After the two shared their view that Biden has “a cognitive problem” because he tripped while climbing the stairs of Air Force One, Hardaway added, “Listen, I wish that the military would step in and take over.” She later demanded that the people currently in charge of our nation need to “go somewhere, sit down, and allow the military to take over from here.”
Trump's big lie could backfire in Georgia Trump's big lie could backfire in Georgia
Yes, on American television, hosts called for a military coup to overturn our democracy, remove the US President and have the military run the nation.
I called and emailed Newsmax to see if, as a network, it supported or denounced their hosts’ call to overthrow our democratically elected government and replace it with military rule. They have not yet responded.
Michigan GOP Chair Weiser, who also serves on the University of Michigan’s board of regents, at first refused to apologize for his words, instead remarking he should have “picked his words more carefully.” Then, in typical Trumpian fashion, he attacked the media and “leftists” for overhyping the issue.
Weiser finally offered what The Detroit Free Press dubbed “an apology of sorts” on Saturday, after mounting pressure from elected officials and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, who slammed Weiser’s comments as being “particularly abhorrent” after the Jan. 6 attack “directed at elected officials, our democratic institutions, and the individuals who guard them.”
“I apologize to those I offended for the flippant analogy about three women who are elected officials and for the off-hand comments about two other leaders,” said Weiser, adding, (to his credit) “in an increasingly vitriolic political environment, we should all do better to treat each other with respect, myself included.”
These are not normal times. We must swiftly and in one voice denounce political leaders or media pundits who suggest violence or call for a military coup. If not, a Jan. 6-style attack could happen again — and next time these un-American, anti-democratic forces may prevail.
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