Yes, Trump is putting a target on the backs of our FBI and law enforcement officers.
Former FBI agent and now Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick told Face The Nation’s Margret Brennan that the rhetoric coming from former president Trump and his supporters is bad for our democracy and he’s concerned about the safety of our law enforcement agents.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick tells @margbrennan that he was notified by the FBI that “my life was in danger recently by some of these same people” who are currently threatening law enforcement in the wake of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. pic.twitter.com/E381Dk3QYy
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 14, 2022
Brennan read some of the histrionic and conspiracy-oriented rhetoric from Trump’s overnight rant and asked if Trump was putting a target on the backs of these FBI agents.
Brennan: His campaign is fund-raising off of this and has referred to an army of agents from the FBI breaking into his home and said that he hopes they’re not planting evidence. Is he putting a target on the back of these FBI agents?
Fitzpatrick: I checked in with several of my colleagues in the past few days, Margaret, to make sure they were okay. Every single elected official, every single leader needs to mind the weight of their words.
Brennan: Including the former president of the United States, who has not called for calm?
Fitzpatrick: Correct. I think everybody needs to be calling for calm. Everybody across the board. Everybody needs to respect our law enforcement, whether it be local, state or federal. I’m very concerned, Margaret, for the safety of our law enforcement officers, especially right now.
I myself have been notified by the bureau that my life was put in danger recently by some of these same people. And it’s — violence is never the answer to anything.
We live in a democracy that’s 246 years old, Margaret. That’s not long, that’s just a few generations, and yet we’re the world’s oldest democracy. The only way that can come unraveled is if we have disrespect for our institutions that lead to Americans turning on Americans and the whole system becomes unraveled.
A lot of that starts with the words we’re using. We’ve seen disrespect across the political spectrum, Margaret, which I mentioned with local law enforcement, with the supreme court and now federal law enforcement. None of it is okay. None of it.
So, first off, yes the Republican is trying to “both sides” the danger and rhetoric issues and he is wrong. The FBI, as he well knows being a former agent, has made it clear our top threats come from domestic violent extremists who are motivated by racial and ethnic beliefs, “who advocate for the superiority of the white race,” and anti-government extremists. “The greatest terrorism threat to our homeland is posed by lone actors or small cells who typically radicalize to violence online and look to attack soft targets with easily accessible weapons.”
Soft targets with easily accessible weapons, advocating for the superiority of the white race — we all know who those people are, and in case anyone is unclear, they need only watch the Fox News’ evening Great Replacement Theory rants for clarification.
Yes, one person flew across the country and was outside Brett Kavanaugh’s home with a knife and called 911 to turn himself in and no, that is not okay.
But that is one event, and it occurred in the face of the Supreme Court’s radical departure from norms and precedents in order to unravel human rights, based on an extremist version of a religion not all Americans even share and are definitely not supposed to be ruled by. Violence is never okay, but radical takeovers do lead to violence. Anyone who pretends this isn’t the case is not being truthful. So if we look at the root of the violence, it is coming predominately from one direction and in order to fix that, we must be honest about it. We must have the courage to say what it is.
For context, Rolling Stone reported Fitzpatrick “called January 6th a ‘coup attempt,’ but that didn’t stop him from attending a fundraiser at the home of a man who helped bus hundreds of people to Washington for a ‘Million MAGA March’.”
So, back to the interview. The key takeaway of interest to me is Fitzpatrick’s mention of how the rhetoric is dividing us, and that will lead to our downfall as a democracy. I had just written a piece about that very issue after a man killed himself after plowing into the barricade at the U.S. Capitol, in which I wrote, “Violent political rhetoric and dehumanization of the “other” is part of the autocratization of a democracy, and it has very real consequences… this atmosphere is toxic for everyone.”
Autocratization requires division of the populace. This rhetoric coming from Trump and his enablers and co-conspirators is meant to divide us, it always has been. That is the purpose of a dictator asserting the right to be the *only* legitimate source of information. There arise from that power grab two camps: Those who drink the Kool-Aid and those who don’t. They fight. The dictator arms his side and weaponizes them with claims of being persecuted. He tells them he and his wife have been violated to stop him from what he claims would be an inevitable win in the next election, even though he lost the last one by a large margin.
Trump’s rhetoric is putting a target on FBI agents’ backs, but it is also harming all of us and ultimately is designed to undermine our democracy. We are all being terrorized by the armed cult Trump has ignited, but regular citizens don’t have the power or voice to have their objections and fears be aired on television and for some reason, the widespread anxiety that has become our daily lives due to this kind of rhetoric and the rage of an armed cult is of little interest in our media.
Fitzpatrick did acknowledge the impact of the former president’s words. The fact that he felt he needed to both-sides that just shows how deep the entire Republican Party is in it. This really is not a matter of “both sides” – President Biden is not calling for violence against anyone. Nor are Democratic leaders. Most of the base has somehow remained peaceful, even as their rights and country are attacked.
Everyone does need to remain calm, but one other thing: Everyone needs to find the courage to speak the truth and the truth is that in this situation, which has been ongoing for seven years, the violence is predominantly coming from one side, provoked and incited by one man and his enablers and co-conspirators.
We need to take the megaphone away from Donald Trump and anyone parroting his inflammatory and dangerous lies. We need to find a way to unite this country so that we can restore rights to those who have lost them and to work on being a better country for those who never had them.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.