Correction: this piece’s most recent update had a headline quote as ‘white nationalists.’ It was ‘ethnic nationalists.’ We regret the error.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, reacting to the riots that swept the nation after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, continued his commentary on the protests and reaction to the event.
Saturday afternoon saw arguably his most pointed statement, a warning that extremists from both sides of the spectrum and even other countries could coopt the message.
“WE KNOW we have nations who actively exacerbate preexisting divisions in America. WE KNOW we have far-left groups who support violent protest. WE KNOW we have ethnic nationalists who promote race based conflict. And no reason to believe any of them are taking the weekend off,” Rubio warned.
Late Saturday morning, the Senator fretted that Antifa was coopting the protests.
“Growing signs that far-left militant Antifa groups are taking advantage of the rightful outrage over Mr. Floyd’s murder to incite violence at protests. We must not allow these violent radicals to distract from or harm the effort to address the real & legitimate issues of race,” Rubio tweeted.
Rubio’s comments come as leaders from around the country note that many of the most violent and destructive protest actions are from people from out of town.
Rubio hadn’t mentioned Antifa infiltration in previous tweets, which essentially said people need to consider issues of race more seriously.
“Too many are still ignoring, dismissing or are oblivious to the fact that a substantial percentage of Americans feel they are treated as if their lives have less value because of the color of their skin,” Rubio asserted Saturday on Twitter.
“We can’t begin to address this until we first accept & acknowledge this,” the second-term Republican added.
His comments followed Friday tweet covering similar ground, to a point, juxtaposing traditional Republican law and order motifs with a recognition of centuries of “unaddressed injustice.”
“Three things are true,” Rubio asserted.
“Everyone should be outraged by Mr. Floyd’s death. It merits a thorough investigation & appropriate accountability. The anger isn’t just about Mr. Floyd. It’s also about years of unaddressed injustice. Riots & looting are self-defeating & never justified,” Rubio said.
Earlier in the week, the Senator promoted an essay that addressed concerns about economic problems for minorities heightened by the coronavirus economic crisis.
“Great progress has been made on matters of race in America,” Rubio said. “But it’s dishonest to pretend it’s no longer a factor.”
“It may manifest itself differently than it once did, but it’s still present. And not just in our hearts, but in our actions,” Rubio added.
The essay is of the Rubio think piece genre, addressing “deindustrialization” and racial discrimination.
“Any effort to address economic empowerment that ignores the role race plays as an obstacle to prosperity is doomed to fail,” the Senator wrote, adding that “it is in our national interest to take a sledgehammer to that stumbling block.”
Rubio, who hails from Miami, where a police chief half a century ago coined the newly-infamous “When the looting stops, the shooting stops” phrase that the President revived earlier in the week, has yet to address the President’s bumbling response to the violence in dozens of American cities more directly.
But his focus on race is markedly different than his Florida Republican colleague in the Senate.
Sen. Rick Scott, who addressed Floyd’s killing and the aftermath Friday on the Hugh Hewitt show, was more animated by far about the President being “censored” by Twitter for late-night tweets.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” the President tweeted.
“Why do they think it’s OK to censor the President but nobody else?”
“They’re deciding that the President, because they disagree with him, because they’ve become some left wing group that they can censor what he’s doing but no one else,” Scott said.