On Tuesday, Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe exposed Bernie Sanders campaign staffer Kyle Jurek, who called for the shooting execution of people who don’t support the self-avowed socialist’s “revolution.” Jurek also defended the Soviet gulag and warned that if Bernie Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination, Milwaukee will be set ablaze and police will get “f**king beaten.”
If Sanders addresses this at all, he is sure to condemn these threats. However, Jurek’s threats echo the violent antifa movement. Indeed, this Sanders staffer justified violence against people he characterized as “fascists” saying, “The only thing that fascists understand is violence.” He argued that Sanders’ platform involves “free education for everybody because we’re going to have to teach you not to be a f**king Nazi.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what, in Cuba, what did they do to reactionaries?” Jurek asked. The undercover journalist replied, “They shot them on the beach.”
“Do you want to fight against the revolution? You’re gonna die for it, motherf**ker!” the Sanders staffer said, bobbing his head to the music.
These nonchalant threats of political violence are chilling. Indeed, that is arguably the intended effect of groups like antifa. Threats of force can terrify the opposition into silence. Branding political enemies as “fascists” or “Nazis” can be a powerful tactic to exclude their ideas at the outset, as can accusations of “hate.”
“We’re not against free speech, we’re against f**king hate speech,” Jurek claims in the video. “And if your free speech is something that ‘these people shouldn’t exist,’ … if your speech is calling for the elimination of people based on race or gender or religious, like for whatever reason, things that people can’t change, then you should expect a f**king violent reaction.”
To be clear, Jurek is correct that calls for the elimination of people, inciting violence against people, do not fall into the category of free speech. However, the people antifa routinely demonize as “fascists” or “Nazis” are nothing of the sort, and do not target people groups for elimination.
Indeed, these tactics echo the notorious Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which routinely demonizes conservative and Christian organizations by branding them “hate groups” and listing them along with the Ku Klux Klan. Former employees have spoken out about seeing themselves as “part of the con,” exaggerating hate by padding the “hate group” list and “bilking northern liberals” to cut big checks.
To justify this exaggeration and weaponization, the SPLC uses a particularly flexible definition of a “hate group”: “an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
One deranged man targeted a Christian nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., aiming to kill everyone in the building, due to the SPLC “hate group” accusation. James Hodgkinson, the Bernie Sanders supporter who opened fire on Republican congressmen at a congressional baseball game practice, also “liked” the SPLC on Facebook.
Naturally, Bernie Sanders condemned Hodgkinson, and the SPLC condemned the D.C. shooter. Neither encourages violence against their political opponents.
Yet there is a terrifying connection between the SPLC, antifa, and Bernie Sanders. The SPLC’s demonization tactics trace back to the McCarthyism of the Red Scare, and McCarthyism mimicked the Soviet Union’s internal secret police. Sanders honeymooned in the Soviet Union, identifies as a socialist, and wants big government solutions for everything. He would replace the free workings of the economy with brute government force.
Sanders has also shown utter disdain for a Christian Trump nominee, Russell Vought, because Vought wrote an article saying Muslims are not saved.
“I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about,” Sanders said in 2017. The Vermont senator insisted that Vought’s religious beliefs made him ineligible to serve in public office. When called on his unconstitutional religious test, Sanders doubled down, claiming that Christians have religious freedom to believe what they want but they should not be able to serve in government if they say Muslims do not go to heaven.
Bernie Sanders wants the government involved in almost every facet of daily life — by making things like health care and education “free” — but he would also exclude Christians (and all religious believers who believe members of other faiths are not saved) from that government.
Sanders insists that his form of socialism is nothing like the brutal repression of the USSR, and he may indeed have the best of intentions. Similarly, antifa thugs claim good intentions — their threats of violence are only meant to silence the brutal repression of those they conveniently brand Nazis.
Sanders is not going around “punching Nazis,” of course. But heaven help the billionaires if Bernie takes office and realizes that bankrupting the rich won’t come close to covering his socialist dreams.
It seems natural antifa thugs like Kyle Jurek would flock to his socialist banner.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.