Cable news hosts have to give around-the-clock attention to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, but most Americans prefer the abridged version.
So, as a public service to those with actual lives to live and families to feed, here goes: Florida is turning into a cauldron of crazy.
You may believe that’s not news, but as the Palm Beach Post and Sarasota Herald-Tribune combined to report, right-wing Florida groups have raised the stakes.
They said Florida leaders of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys strategized together before the Capitol attack. They kept in touch with Florida men Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, who are close buddies of disgraced former President what’s-his-name from Mar-a-Lago.
Flynn and former Overstock President and CEO Patrick Byrne of Sarasota County attended a Dec. 18 meeting at the White House. Byrne reportedly advocated having the National Guard seize voting machines.
The news outlets based this story on the evidence presented to the Jan. 6 committee.
Facts can be such inconvenient things to conspiracy theorists, which may explain another statistic.
Florida leads the nation with 94 individuals facing insurrection-related charges. The state is home to 43% of the Oath Keepers and 34% of the Proud Boys arrested in connection with the attack.
I used to believe the people in these groups were yahoos who loved playing weekend soldier games and drew straws to see which one got to be Clint Eastwood. If nothing else, the Committee hearings show what’s really afoot.
Maybe this was just the next logical progression.
Florida, after all, is no stranger to extremism. The Ku Klux Klan, for instance, had a strong presence in Florida during the early and mid-1900s. Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa were hotbeds of Klan activity.
This is different, though.
As terrifying as the Klan was, it couldn’t match what we see today. Its members didn’t own high-powered weapons and a sense of mission. Today’s groups are highly motivated individuals with a warped sense of patriotism. While some rioters may have gotten caught up in something they didn’t anticipate, the leaders of the coup attempt believed they could keep the Mar-a-Lago menace in power.
They bought the lie of a stolen election, a myth that wingnuts continue to insist is true.
They believe they’re saving the “real” America from all those other faux Americans who don’t think like them.
That includes gays, immigrants, progressives, feminists and Jews — and that’s probably the shortlist.
When the useful idiot we know as the former President took office, it was Christmas morning for these people. That gave them validation to press the attack.
The Oath Keepers believe the federal government is part of a vast conspiracy to rob “real Americans” of their rights. During the 2016 presidential campaign, an article on their website stated that if Hillary Clinton won the election, it likely would trigger an all-out civil war.
And they are in our backyard.
Conservative media basically has ignored the House Select Committee findings, probably because it rips the scab off their narrative. This stuff is real, though, and it’s naïve to believe a damning report and a few arrests will shut it down.
That should scare everyone.