The longer that Donald Trump refuses to concede the presidential election to Joe Biden—and the more he and his minions promote conspiracy theories to claim that Biden won fraudulently—the more the unhinged behavior of their perfervid True Believers, threatening mass violence and more, begins to pile up.
Primed by an outburst from leading far-right extremists such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys advocating that liberal media and political figures be targeted for violence, a deluge of similarly violent and threatening rhetoric has washed across the political landscape, both on social media and in real life, from other far-right figures and, to an even greater degree, their armies of followers. Their targets—primarily political figures involved in the election count, including Georgia’s Republican secretary of state—have reported being swamped with death threats and other kinds of hateful rhetoric.
Already, a notorious member of the Proud Boys—following last Saturday’s “Million MAGA March,” in which thousands of extremists ginned up on conspiracy theories and eliminationist rhetoric descended on Washington, D.C., ending in a flood of street violence and hate-filled rhetoric—had threatened an armed response to any Biden inauguration, and warned Oregon state officials that they were “not untouchable.” On Wednesday, the Proud Boys’ official channel on Telegram followed suit, with a post claiming that, as true representatives of national values, they were prepared to kill “antifa, BLM, and the whole of the American left.
The message read:
We ARE American values. We stand for ALL that is loved by every American. We work hard every day to better ourselves, our families and our communities. We don’t burn and we don’t loot.
antifa, blm and the whole of the left are all about destruction. They are the antithesis of everything America is, what it stands for and what her values are. They HATE our country and I say OUR country because it’s not theirs anymore.
They have committed treason against America and for that they have become the enemy. The punishment for treason? Death. …
We know our enemy as we know ourselves. Because of this we will win. Now is the time to do something. Stand on your feet for something … Die on your knees for nothing.
Meanwhile, over at the conspiracy mill Infowars, host Owen Shroyer opined that if Democrats “stole” the election, they would “deserve” the mass violence he believes is sure to follow:
And so you just point the finger and you say, “You’ve done this. You’ve committed these crimes. You’ve committed these atrocities. You’re trying to make us a slave. You’re lying to us. You’re dividing us. You’re gaslighting us. You’re instigating us. You’re doing it.” And they say, “Don’t say that. That could lead to violence against us.” Well, you know what? Maybe you deserve what’s coming. You ever thought about that? Oh, wait, they have, that’s why they’re so scared. Did you really think we would just take this on our backs?
… Yeah, it’s a million marchers in D.C. peacefully now. Yeah, it’s going to be thousands of people peacefully in Atlanta this weekend. But let me tell you: If you steal this election from us and you put in a U.N. communist corrupt criminal Joe Biden in the White House, it’s not going to be a million peaceful marchers in D.C. No, no, no. No, it’s not. No, it’s not. And you know, quite frankly, that’s not a threat because I’m to the point where—I mean, we can lead marches all day long, but I know I won’t have to be the one to get my hands dirty. I can sit right here in studio and just broadcast the whole thing. It’s going to be 3 million veterans, it’s going to be 3 million fathers that have been fed up and at the end of their rope for a long, long time, who have been screwed over by this system and are done.
A defeated Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate—Lauren Witzke of Delaware, a QAnon fanatic who also has deep ties to white nationalists—indulged in similar eliminationist rhetoric, the kind that creates permission for mass violence in the minds of their followers. On Thursday, Witzke tweeted:
The Democratic Party is a crime syndicate and must be eradicated from America entirely.
Predictably, there was a flood of even more explicitly bloodthirsty rhetoric directed at “the left”—with antifascists, Marxists, socialists, and anarchists blurred and bundled together with liberal Democrats and Biden—on social media, including Facebook, which despite having supposedly cracked down on the conspiracist “Stop the Steal” pages that flourished there after the election, remains home to hundreds of such pages.
The rhetoric became even more hysterical and violent at Parler, the social-media platform that caters to the far right. Journalist Nicholas Lee collected a number of examples of violent posts there, including such comments as:
“We need a civil war to cleanse these vipers out of America.”
"The tree of liberty needs to be refreshed at this point."
"It's time to go to all state capitals and DC and start building gallows. Public trials with public juries. No wait time if found guilty of treason."
“Someone needs to post up near [a Michigan vote-certification official’s] house to make sure he has a nife accident. Soon American Patriots like myself are gonna start poppin these fools. I give credit to Americans in the 50s and 60s. They had the balls to shoot politicians in public. Its time we start using Pablo Escobar tactics."
Predictably, various elections officials around the country who have been caught in the crossfire of Trump’s conspiracist claims about vote-counting have reported being inundated with hateful messages and death threats. Among these has been Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who resisted what he describes as pressure from prominent Trump allies to discard legitimate ballots in ways that could allow Trump to carry the state, and who ultimately confirmed and certified Biden’s victory in the state’s ballot count.
Raffensperger has insisted that his state’s vote was not tainted by fraud, and said his refusal to pretend otherwise led to a deluge of death threats, including some directed to his wife’s private cellphone. He shared a few of the messages with the Atlanta Fox affiliate:
“You better not botch this recount. Your life depends on it.”
“Your husband deserves to face a firing squad.”
“The Raffenspergers should be put on trial for treason and face execution.”
Similarly, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat whose state was involved in some of the early far-right protests involving ballot counting, reported being awash in a flood of hate messages:
The truth is, I was prepared for these threats of violence and vitriol I have been a social worker for many years and can anticipate this reaction when certain people feel powerless and angry. These actions are utterly abhorrent, especially when directed at my family and my staff. They are a symptom of a deeper problem in our state and country—the consistent and systematic undermining of trust in each other and our democratic process Arizonans deserve to know that elections are safe and secure.
This does not excuse the perpetrators. Their continued intimidation tactics will not prevent me from performing the duties I swore an oath to do. Our democracy is tested constantly, it continues to prevail, and it will not falter under my watch.
But there are those, including the president, members of Congress and other elected officials, who are perpetuating misinformation and are encouraging others to distrust the election results in a manner that violates the oath of office they took. It is well past time that they stop. Their words and actions have consequences.
Public officials are not the only ones receiving threats. In the Portland, Oregon, area, activists have been receiving handwritten death threats declaring “total war” against Blacks, antifascists, and liberals. The two letters publicized so far both appear to have been written by the same person, unmistakably a rancid white supremacist.
The first, sent to a Black Lives Matter activist of color and onetime Portland City Council candidate at her home, is a raw racist rant that reads:
Who’s lives don’t matter N----rs lives don’t matter I love it when the cops kill god damn n----rs Say his name!!! Dead n----r! Say her name! Dead n----r! N----rs lives don’t matter!!!
It came wrapped in a sheet of paper on which was scrawled: “NLDM [a neo-Nazi acronym for ‘N-----r Lives Don’t Matter] Death to N----rs Total War.”
A second letter, similarly titled “Total war!,” was sent to
If AOC can make a “list” here is my updated kill list:
[Names 20 journalists and activists from Portland area]
If you try any more “direct action” in Vancouver you El Sickos will pay!! I’m still waiting for that n----r [name redacted] to quote “Fuck me up” Let that him know I have hollow points for his n----r ass! We don’t want “healing” we don’t want “unity” we want TOTAL WAR!!! NLDM!!!
So far, the spate of violent rhetoric from the radical right over Joe Biden’s election has only spawned more and more hate talk and relatively little action in the real world. But it never stays that way for very long.