Georgia’s 14th Congressional District is one of the most competitive races in the Peach State.
It’s a safe Republican seat, mind you — the 2017 Cook Partisan Voter Index listed it as an R+27 district — but there’s a crowded field to represent the GOP side in the race to replace retiring Rep. Tom Graves in the extreme northwest corner of the state, according to The Associated Press.
The lead fundraiser among the candidates as of mid-April, according to Georgia’s Capitol Beat News Service, was businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’d raised $1.1 million, although $700,000 of that had come from a loan she’d floated to herself.
Those unfamiliar with Greene might think that means she’s a safe, boring Republican, the kind who would attend at least three power breakfasts at K Street lobbying firms before 10 a.m. and makes vague noises about tax cuts and health care reform without actually doing anything about them.
Instead, they’ll find she’s the kind of candidate whose campaign homepage boasts a slew of endorsements from well-known conservative individuals and groups, including the National Rifle Association.
They’ll also find she’s the kind of candidate who tweets a campaign clip where she girds herself with an AR-15 and tells antifa to “Stay the HELL out of NW Georgia.”
Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt to the voters of the 14th Congressional District that they’re not getting the sequel to Kelly Loeffler if they nominate Greene in the June 9 primary, the candidate tweeted a clip of herself on Tuesday reminding the friendly folks in America’s multitude of the so-called “anti-fascist” antifa groups that if they decide to spread out to rural Georgia, rural Georgians are armed and tend to know how to use those arms.
“President Trump declared antifa a domestic terrorist organization,” Greene said at the beginning of the ad.
“I have a message for antifa terrorists: Stay the hell out of Northwest Georgia.
“You won’t burn our churches, loot our businesses or destroy our homes.”
ANTIFA has declared war on our country.@realDonaldTrump responded by declaring them a domestic terrorist organization.
Here’s my message to ANTIFA terrorists:
Stay the HELL out of NW Georgia.
You won’t burn our churches, loot our businesses, or destroy our homes. pic.twitter.com/kBMh87G1ap
— Marjorie Taylor Greene For Congress🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) June 2, 2020
Marjorie Taylor Greene certainly approves that message, as do I.
Now, it’s worth noting both the president’s declaration and Green’s are mostly symbolic.
First, antifa has mainly concentrated its activities in urban areas with large, liberal populations. That’s not northwest Georgia.
Second, there’s a significant difficulty in declaring antifa a terrorist organization on a number of levels, starting with the fact that the law enabling such designations is specifically targeted to foreign entities, according to Factcheck.org.
Treating antifa as a criminal organization while calling it a domestic terrorist group is another thing entirely, but the problem is that antifa is designed to be resistant to this. Its cells are small and independent of one another, meaning there’s no centralized “antifa” leadership that can be extirpated or scattered to the wind like, say, the Weather Underground in the 1960s and 1970s.
However, I’d argue both Trump’s declaration and Greene’s ad are helpful in this respect: Whatever wave antifa may have been riding crested and crashed this past week.
It’s wholly unclear what role, if any, the diffuse network of groups had in the violence that we saw playing out across the country. Certainly, there was more than one liberal politician willing to intimate, vaguely, that antifa had something to do with it.
Whether or not this was true or whether antifa provided a more convenient scapegoat than these politicians’ own constituents, the point was clear that inasmuch as antifa activists were involved, they weren’t there to a) peacefully protest or b) fight fascists.
For taking the focus off of George Floyd — a man whose death in police hands was met with universal outrage — and for helping plunge an already drained, enervated country deeper into chaos, even the left is going to admit of antifa’s toxicity.
And, if antifa groups were found to have played a significant part in the property damage we saw, the domestic terrorism label isn’t a necessity for some not-insignificant punishment to be meted out.
The effort to find the antifa hoodlums responsible for riot damage is going to be a little less desultory than when the police tried to, hypothetically, track down some antifa yob who smacked a Proud Boy in the face with a bicycle chain at some random clash in Portland, Oregon. This is serious stuff, and serious jail time beckons.
Finally, as Greene’s ad points out, antifa’s act doesn’t export well. In the chaos of a protest, perhaps its thugs can get away with spreading into more rural America without putting themselves in danger. (Then again, maybe not — given what we’ve seen over the last week and change, I’d imagine there are more than a few people willing to avail themselves of their Second Amendment rights these days.)
In northwest Georgia, however, I’d imagine that wouldn’t fly quite so easily — even if the area might not be their first target.
Whatever the case, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the June 9 primary. I’m not in Georgia’s 14th District, so I’m not necessarily the best judge. However, I can’t possibly think of any ad that’s going to make more of an impression than this one.
If Greene wins, my guess is she can expect a White House invitation at some point in the near future.
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