Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Nobody Likes Him) held a hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee the other day to get to the bottom of the most pressing problem America faces today. Not the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism in law enforcement and other institutions, or even his own party’s dithering over the now-expired emergency unemployment benefits. Naw, Ted wanted to get to the bottom of how the antifascism movement, or antifa — which is more of an ideology than an organization — is a “terrorist” group that literally plans to destroy America, in league with Black Lives Matter, which he’s also none too fond of. Cruz appears to have stopped short of dragging George Soros and the Trilateral Commission into his rants, although we’ll confess we only read about the hearing. We have far better things to do than watch the whole three-and-a-half-hour mess. You”re welcome to give it a try, you masochists.
You can get a pretty good sense of the tone of the thing just from its pompous title: “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence,” which we feel could have used a little “We The People” and “Shall Not Be Infringed” in it, too. You see, Ted Cruz loves the First Amendment and Free Speech and stuff, but anarchists want to destroy America and they break windows sometimes, and mob violence is not free speech, now is it? Ergo, antifa must be crushed so free speech can quietly take place, but not too loudly.
Ranking member Mazie Hirono, Crom bless her, said a better name for the hearing might be “‘The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble Without Being Beaten Up by Unidentifiable Federal Agents.’ That would address an actual problem.”
For the strong of stomach, here’s Cruz’s opening statement, in which he rails against those damn anarchists and their constant murderous violence, although it’s worth noting no one associated with the anti-fascist movement has actually killed anyone, murder being more of a fascist predilection.
Ted Cruz rails against Antifa, riots in Senate hearing
Cruz solemnly quoted the graffito pictured up top, since he figured it was antifa’s mission statement: “Until the Police and ICE are abolished, we will burn this city down piece by piece.”
Said Cruz, who may have thought the graffito had been signed by everyone there, “They’re telling us what their demands are: to shut down and abolish the police.” The fact that Portland hasn’t actually been burned to the ground seems not to have made much of an impression on the prize-winning master debater. Perhaps he believes the good guys build it back every day, and then antifa burns it down each night, like that bridge in Apocalypse Now.
Someone could have explained to Cruz, who has a staff and everything, what the police defunding movement is really about, but that would hardly make for theater like taking the slogan literally. As anyone knows, graffiti mean exactly what they say, which is why so many people have been taken to emergency rooms for heart failure when they tried to shit but only farted.
Cruz twice castigated Democrats for saying nice things about Black Lives Matter while refusing to condemn the infinite crimes of antifa, or even speak up against the “terrorists” who murdered federal security officer Dave Patrick Underwood and Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller during protests in Oakland back in May. Mind you, those two killings weren’t perpetrated by “the Left,” but by a far-Right “boogaloo” enthusiast, US Air Force Sgt. Steve Carillo, who had hoped to start a second civil war and blame it on antifa. Carillo didn’t get his civil war, but he sure was successful getting folks on the Right to blame his crimes on antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters.
Cruz persisted in his wrongness, even after Dick Durbin, (D-Illinois) corrected him and pointed out that the killer was affiliated with far-right, anti-government views. Ranking Member Hirono (D-Hawaii) also tried to get Cruz to acknowledge that violence on the far Right has been identified as one of the most serious threats to the USA, but it was Cruz’s show, and he wasn’t going to hear that stuff.
The witness list, the Intercept points out, was at least in part a cavalcade of Deplorables. Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli showed up, and after saying his title in full, even did what he could to play up the antifa threat. He said that in Portland, protesters had pelted anonymous federal agents with frozen water bottles and other small projectiles, like “the oldest weapon in history” — that would be “rocks.”
Rightwing whatever-he-does guy Andy Ngo, who makes a living scaring people about the antifa threat, was invited by Cruz to testify about his extensive knowledge of the history of antifa actions in Portland, although he didn’t quite mention the rightwing violence, frequently tolerated or even assisted by police, that spurred all those crazy anti-fascists to show up in the first place.
The witnesses even included Kyle Shideler, from the “Center for Security Policy,” the rabidly Islamophobic outfit founded by rightwing nutter Frank Gaffney. It’s notorious for seeing the “Muslim Brotherhood” everywhere trying to get Sharia Law creeping into America’s pants. As Hirono pointed out, it’s been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Shideler offered supposedly expert testimony on how antifa is an international terrorist organization that’s very similar to al Qaeda, which apparently nobody giggled at.
The Intercept noted that one witness, former FBI agent and domestic terrorism expert Michael German, who’s now with the Brennan Center for Justice, actually made some sense. We’ll assume he was invited by Dems. German
noted the “sensationalized” focus on the far left has “distracted from focus on the deadly threats” posed by the far right. “As a matter of policy, far-right violence is deprioritized,” German said.
Eventually, Hirono had had it with Cruz’s insistence that violent “leftists,” egged on by every Democrat alive, were murdering people, and said she was finished with the farce:
TENSE MOMENT: Sen. Mazie Hirono rips Sen. Ted Cruz before leaving hearing: “You aren’t listening. So I hope this is… https://t.co/78sZ75FQAA
— The Hill (@The Hill)1596578815.0
There are all these attacks on Black Lives Matter, and what they’re saying. I mean, how many of us even think that defunding police departments should be taken literally? I mean, I certainly don’t. So, you know, we have this pesky thing called freedom of speech, and I’d say that the people who support Black Lives Matter […] that’s called freedom of speech.
Hirono said, sure, we can all agree violence is bad, on all sides, but “to constantly accuse Democrats of not caring about that, is really …” She trailed off as she noticed Cruz was actually talking with an aide. “You aren’t listening,” she said, and Cruz finally looked up. “So I hope this is the end of this hearing, Mr. Chairman, and that we don’t have to listen to any more of your rhetorical speeches. Thank you very much. I’m leaving.”
Cruz went into Indignant Snotty Mode, sarcastically saying,
Well, I appreciate as always the kind and uplifting words of Sen. Hirono. And I would also note that throughout her remarks she still did not say a negative word about antifa, nor has any Democrat here.
As Hirono picked up her papers, Cruz really got her with a zinger: “You’re welcome to say something negative about antifa right now.” You have to turn the volume way up to hear her reply, almost out of mic range: “I think that I’ve covered the subject quite well, and you are not listening.”
Cruz declared victory: “OK, she declined to speak, so that is the position of the Democratic Party.”
It should also be noted that none of the Dems apologized for beating their spouses, either.
Cruz’s little game went over really well with rightwing media, like this headline and sub-hed from Glenn Beck’s Internet Palace Of Grievance:
And that’s how the great ship of American Democracy sails, kids.
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