Republicans, Led By Trump, Playing With Deadly Fire
It’s a fair bet that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., didn’t know Christopher Stanton Georgia who came from Greene’s hometown of Alpharetta, Ga.
And what was Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., thinking about when he was seen running in a panic through the Capitol hallway, trying to get away from protesters hot on his heels, who earlier he had given the fist of support? Probably, Hawley wasn’t thinking about Kevin Greeson.
And when Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., compared the FBI agents who raided Mar-a-Lago to East German Stasi officers, Benjamin Philips was the furthest thing from the mind of the congressman who is under federal investigation for sex trafficking.
Defunding and “destroying” the FBI were foremost on the minds of Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. and his colleague, gun-toting Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., whose husband, Jayson, pleaded guilty in 2004 to exposing himself to two minors in a bowling alley. Roseanne Boyland was not on the minds (if any can be located) of Gosar or Boebert.
Steven Crowder, a conservative commentator with nearly two million Twitter followers, wrote on the site within hours of the F.B.I.’s search, “Tomorrow is war. Sleep well.” He made no mention of Ashli Babbit or Ricky Schiffer, for that matter.
And nobody seemed to remember or care about Bussa Krishna.
For people like Greene, Hawley, Gaetz, Boebert, Crowder and the rest, names like Kevin Greeson, Benjamin Philips, Rosanne Boyland, Chrristopher Stanton Georgia, Ashli Babbit, Ricky Schiffer and Bussa Krishna are just pawns in the Republicans’ deadly political games to smash the Democrats. For their families, Greeson, Philips, Boyland, Georgia, Babbit, Schiffer and Krishna are loving family members who died in relation to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection by trump supporters.
Words are powerful, so powerful that the right words can entice otherwise, reasonable people to take actions that might cost their lives. Trump and the rest know this but they choose to ignore the deadly effects of their calls to arms to take down the government and the reality of the bodies that lie in the wake of their fake arguments about some rigged presidential election.
As an example of the power wielded by these politicians, let’s start with a story about an Indian farmer and his worship of trump. The farmer, Bussa Krishna, who called trump his god, stopped eating after Trump became infected with the coronavirus in October 2020. Krishna died of cardiac arrest in February 2021 outside the shrine he erected to trump.
When Trump announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, it devastated Krishna, who posted on Facebook, “I feel very sad that my god, Trump, has contracted the coronavirus. I ask everyone to pray for his speedy recovery.”
Krishna, a widowed farmer in his 30s who lived in the village of Konne in the southern state of Telangana, had been a trump devotee for about four years. He became a fan when he said the president appeared to him in a dream and predicted that India’s national cricket squad would beat its arch-rival, Pakistan, in a match the next day. India won and Krishna started his worship of trump.
Christopher Stanton Georgia, who was arrested for participating in the insurrection at the Capitol, died three days later from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Georgia had been charged with “entering certain property, that is, the United States Capitol Grounds, against the will of the United States Capitol Police” past the 6 p.m. curfew.
Georgia was from Alpharetta, a city located 26 miles north of Atlanta, in northern Fulton County. As of 2020, the population was 65,818. It is the hometown of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far right Republican and proponent of trump’s debunked claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential race, a claim that led to the rebellion, primed by trump.
According to his LinkedIn page, Georgia worked for more than three years as a “Regional Portfolio Manager” for BB&T in Atlanta. He worked with trust officers, credit and insurance specialists, and personal/business planning strategists “to position a diverse suite of financial solutions to client family needs.”
Previously, Georgia was an investment banker for two years for Carter, Terry and Co. in Atlanta and other financial services companies. He had a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgia State University, with Cum Laude honors, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Georgia will never again enjoy the Alpharetta Family Skate Center (aka The Cooler), home to the Atlanta Sparks special needs hockey team. He will no longer attend the Alpharetta Brew Moon Fest, held the first Saturday in October in downtown Alpharetta. And he will not relax at the annual Scarecrow Harvest held the first Saturday in October in downtown Alpharetta when the streets are lined with 100 scarecrows to celebrate its fall spirit.
Benjamin Philips, 50, of Bloomsburg, Pa., had formed a pro-trump, social network, Trumparoo, named after a stuffed kangaroo meant to resemble the ex-president. Philips took his van filled with trump memorabilia and coordinated transportation for several dozen people from Pennsylvania to Washington but died of stroke during the storming of the Capitol.
“Trumparoo.com gives users a new perspective on Trump-related action figures by allowing users to register their ‘Trumparoos’ and create profiles for them on their social network at Trumparoo.com, then interact with other ‘Trumparoo’ owners in real-time,” said the trumparoo website. Philips had planned other Trumparoo sites, including Trumpoween.com, for Halloween related trump-like products, PunkThugs.com to provide villainous opponents for Trumparoo to fight, and Trumpanana.com where trump-like banana-heads rule.
Kevin Greeson, 55, of Decatur, Ala., died of a heart attack while demonstrating in support of trump during the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol. A former Democrat turned staunch trump supporter, Greeson wrote a series of posts on the right wing social media site Parler advocating political violence in response to what he saw as Democrats’ efforts to “steal” the 2020 election from the president.
Greeson worked for 21 years at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company plant in Decatur where his father worked before him. He started out on the factory floor and eventually took on a leadership role with Local 88T of the United Food & Commercial Workers union. He stopped working at the plant in 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile, the same year a South Korean firm, Hyosung Corp., purchased the complex.
After Trump lost his reelection bid in November, Greeson posted on Parler that he no longer trusted Fox News and that he would only follow the pro-trump, far-right outlet Newsmax, and that he would use Parler instead of Facebook.
In the weeks after the election, Greeson posted a series of violent messages on Parler, calling for people to take up arms against a corrupt political system. He shared support for the white supremacist Proud Boys movement, called for former President Obama to “be put to death” and expressed his apparent hope that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would die of COVID-19.
Roseanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Ga., a QAnon believer,was trampled to death in the crowd during the Jan. 6 rebellion. Located in Cobb County, Kennesaw has a population of 34,077. During the Civil War, Kennesaw was the staging ground for the Great Locomotive Chase on April 12, 1862 but the city is best known for its mandatory gun-possession ordinance requiring all households in Kennesaw to have a gun, with certain exceptions.
Boyland battled with opiates and heroin addiction, had worked occasional odd jobs over the years but for the most part, she was unemployed and living with her parents.
Shortly after Boyland’s name was made public, her brother-in-law Justin, who had some past experience in TV, prepared a statement on behalf of the family that he read to the journalists on his in-laws’ front lawn.
“It’s my own personal belief that the president’s words incited a riot that killed four of his biggest fans last night and I believe that we should invoke the 25th Amendment at this time,” Justin said in contemporaneous remarks.
According to published reports, Boyland quickly transformed from apolitical to a manic trump supporter and believer in QAnon, a movement that claims a secret cabal of top Democratic politicians and Hollywood elite are part of a child-trafficking ring of Satan-worshipping pedophiles and that trump was somehow fighting to defeat the ring.
Ricky Schiffer, 42, who posted regularly on trump’s Truth Social social media platform, was armed with an AR-15 style rifle and nail gun when he attempted to enter the FBI Cincinnati Field Office before he fled and was pursued and was shot and killed on Thursday after engaging in a six hours-long standoff in a rural field in Wilmington, Ohio.
Schiffer spent five years in the Navy between June 1998 and June 2003, mostly aboard the USS Columbia, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine. He also was in the Florida Army National Guard for three years as an infantryman between May 2008 and May 2011, including a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was honorably discharged in May 2011, according to his service record from the Department of Defense.
Shiffer is suspected of posting extremist views on several social media platforms in which he encouraged his followers to “kill the F.B.I. on sight.” In a post 39 minutes into the standoff, Shiffer allegedly posted on his Truth Social account, “Well I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t. If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while.” In one post last year, he called trump his “hero.”
Ashli Babbit, 35, an Air Force veteran from Southern California who once supported Barack Obama, was shot and killed by police during the rebellion at the capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Babbit was shot as she attempted to leap through a broken window of a door inside the Capitol. Babbit was a convert to the QAnon conspiracy theory and believed that trump would destroy a cabal of child abusers and Satan-worshiping Democrats. She believed Wednesday would be “the storm,” when QAnon mythology holds that Trump would capture and execute his opponents.
Babbitt shared more than 8,600 tweets, describing her descent into conspiracy theories and delusion. Her first message was addressed to trump.
“#love,” she wrote Oct. 31, 2016, beside his name and above a photo of three signs nailed to a tree: “Make America Great Again,” “H FOR PRISON” and “CHRISTIAN DEPLORABLES LIVE HERE.” A week later, on Election Day, she wrote to Trump again: “today we save America from the tyranny, collusion and corruption.”
The Dangerous Speech Project is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that formed in 2010 to study speech that inspires violence between groups of people and to find ways to mitigate the effects while protecting freedom of expression.
“People don’t commit violence against other groups — or even condone it — spontaneously,” the organization wrote. “First they must be taught to see other people as pests, vermin, aliens, or threats. Malicious leaders often use the same types of rhetoric to do this, in myriad cultures, languages, countries, and historical periods. We call this Dangerous Speech.”
In a June 8 blog, Cathey Buerger wrote about the effects of dangerous speech on children for the Dangerous Speech project. She wrote the most pervasive and powerful dangerous speech is telling people that someone is threatening their children.
Buerger referred to a bill signed in March by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis outlawing any discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade classrooms, “ostensibly because such discussion would hurt children by making them susceptible to sexual abuse.”
Critics have quickly become targets of conservative rage. DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted that anyone who criticizes the bill “is probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4–8 year old children.”
“When politicians and pundits deride their opponents as ‘groomers’ they are similarly claiming that they’re evil, immoral, and dangerous to all children, and therefore to society,” Buerger wrote. “And this language has already come with calls to violence, like other rumors that someone is harming children, centuries ago.”
She noted conservative podcast host Jack Posobiec who tweeted to his 1.7k followers a picture of a blue T-shirt with the words “boycott groomers. Bring ammo.”
In another blog, titled “Words Matter, but Context Matters More: Dangerous Speech and the Capitol Riots,” Buerger wrote that trump’s lawyers tried to defend him against charges of inciting the Capitol riot by arguing that many Democrats had used the same words as trump.
“But it’s not the same,” Buerger wrote. “When (Sen.) Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said ‘we stand up, and we fight back’ or when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said ‘we’re going to keep fighting,’ they didn’t increase the chances that anyone would storm a building, because the contexts were utterly different from that in which Trump spoke.”
Buerger wrote that many of those who attended trump’s “Save America” rally on Jan. 6 and heard his words “were already primed to understand ‘fight’ to mean that they must defend their country against destruction.”
Trump’s statement on Jan. 6 that, “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” was dangerous, Buerger wrote, because “those who saw January 6th as their ‘1776 moment’ saw it as their responsibility to protect their country.”
“For years, Trump told his supporters that it was their job — as patriots — to defend America from the encroaching threats of immigrants, Muslims, and Democrats. Trump had framed this responsibility with martial language before. In June of 2020, for example, the Trump campaign sent out a fundraising email to supporters, addressing them as people who would “make an excellent addition to the Trump army,” Buerger wrote.