On Friday, the left-wing political action committee Meidas Touch released a video condemning the modern Republican Party as traitors, insurrectionists, and terrorists “no different” from the Islamic State (ISIS). This video comes as some Democrats support a new domestic “War on Terror” that seems to target conservatives.
In the Meidas Touch video, the PAC’s co-founder Ben Meiselas objects to an Axios headline: “Conservative group puts $700k behind Hawley.” Meiselas says he can’t fathom why anyone would invest money in helping Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), but his real objection involves the framing of “conservative.”
“What really bothered me was the framing of ‘conservative.’ The framing of ‘Right versus Left,'” Meiselas said. “Because this group, this group of Republicans, there is nothing conservative about them whatsoever. There’s nothing right about them whatsoever.”
As the PAC founder speaks, the video shows pictures of Republicans like Hawley, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) with the word “TRAITOR” superimposed on their heads.
“It is not a conservative decision to support QAnon, which this Republican Party does but its members are basically drawn from QAnon. It is not conservative to support insurrection and terrorist attacks against the United States of America,” Meiselas continues. “It is not a conservative decision when you claim to support life but allow more than 400,000 Americans to needlessly die from COVID-19.”
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The PAC founder mocks conservative objections to mask mandates, saying that “‘conservative’ should mean you wear a mask, you’re careful.”
“No, the Democrat Party is the party of people who are careful, considerate, who love this country and who are truly patriotic,” Meiselas declares. Then he brands the Republican Party as a group of terrorists.
“I don’t want to call this current GOP conservative anymore. They’re no different, in my mind, than ISIS, and we call ISIS Islamic terrorists. As Joe Scarborough said, we either call them the Trump Terrorists, the GOP Terrorists, the GOP Insurrectionists, but they don’t earn the title conservative anymore.”
On today’s MeidasTouch Podcast I sound off on people calling the GOP terrorist party “Conservatives.” NEVER AGAIN call these terrorists Conservatives.pic.twitter.com/TbtXKQ9eek
— Ben Meiselas (@meiselasb) January 30, 2021
The Meidas Touch video has racked up more than 251,000 views on Twitter alone and another 4,000 on YouTube. The hashtag “#GOPDomesticTerrorists” trended on Twitter Saturday morning as various left-wing figures shared the video.
Meiselas’ accusations are beyond the pale. While Cruz, Hawley, and others supported efforts to hold up the certification of Electoral College votes for Joe Biden, they never called for nor supported a mob breaching the U.S. Capitol in a violent attempt to stop the certification. In fact, they vocally condemned the Capitol while the riot took place.
Some of Meiselas’ criticisms apply to one member of the House, namely Greene, who supported QAnon and suggested she would like to see Democratic leaders in the House killed. Greene also called the blocking of Electoral College votes a “1776 moment” in the lead-up to the riot. These heinous views are far outside the mainstream of the Republican Party, however.
As for the Axios story that set off Meiselas’ tirade, it focuses on the Senate Conservatives Fund, a PAC dedicated to supporting conservative Senate candidates. Mary Vought, the group’s executive director, praised Hawley’s decision to object to the election results, saying it “showed tremendous courage.”
Vought is no stranger to political demonization. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) demonized her husband, Russell Vought, when President Donald Trump nominated him to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Sanders said that Vought is “not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about” because Vought — an evangelical Christian — once wrote in an article that Muslims have rejected Jesus and therefore do not go to Heaven. Sanders effectively applied an unconstitutional religious test to Trump’s OMB nominee.
I do not think Hawley should have still held up the certification of Electoral College votes after the Capitol riot, but Vought is correct that his move took tremendous courage. Questions still remain about the irregularities in the 2020 election and Americans deserve answers, but it is unlikely that those irregularities fully accounted for Biden’s victory.
Even so, it is a far cry from “insurrection” and terrorism to support an investigation into election irregularities. Neither Hawley nor Cruz supported the Capitol riot and both have called for rioters to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
This Meidas Touch video is dangerous because it will inflame calls for a domestic “War on Terror” aimed at quashing dissent from the Left’s orthodoxy.
After the Capitol riot, Democrats have drafted legislation to combat domestic terrorism and some of them have not been subtle about the targets of budding new government surveillance.
Former CIA Director John Brennan warned against an “unholy alliance” including “religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, and even libertarians” that “looks very similar to insurgency movements that we’ve seen overseas.” These remarks came amid leftist calls for “deprogramming,” “de-Baathification,” “re-educating,” and “reprogramming” the 75 million people who voted for Trump.
Even Democrat former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has vocally warned against leftists “who are trying to undermine our constitutionally-protected rights and turn our country into a police state with KGB-style surveillance.”
It seems Democrats are following the lead of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which demonizes mainstream conservative and Christian groups as “hate groups,” putting them on a map with the Ku Klux Klan. At least eight Democratic senators, including now-Vice President Kamala Harris, cited the SPLC to condemn Trump’s nominees.
Biden himself has arguably demonized conservative Christians who oppose LGBT activism. In 2018 at an LGBT activist group, he attacked people who have “tried to define family” in the U.S. as “the dregs of society.” At the CNN LGBT town hall in October 2019, Biden called for a kind of terror watchlist to monitor organizations that oppose same-sex marriage and transgender identity. Biden firmly supports the Equality Act, which would outlaw discrimination against LGBT people. While Americans do not support discrimination, laws like this have been weaponized to punish Christians for refusing to celebrate same-sex weddings.
On the campaign trail, Biden said he plans to prioritize passing a law against domestic terrorism. His blatant double standard in vocally condemning the Capitol riots while coddling the antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters who burned cities this past summer does not bode well for a balanced implementation of any terrorism law.
The Meidas Touch video will encourage the erosion of Americans’ civil liberties in the name of fighting domestic terrorism.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.