The Trace reports: Energized by Donald Trump’s coarsely confrontational nationalism, the armed right-wing fringe is doing more than stepping out of the shadows in 2017. Detachments of armed men in fatigues have become fixtures at liberal protests, forming the vanguard of what’s become known in some quarters as the “counter-resistance.”
Now, in a smattering of states with histories of right-wing extremism, chapters of groups like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters may be emerging as even more direct political players, providing security for local pro-Trump politicians and Republican organizations. In one case, a Three Percenter was found to be employed on a state lawmaker’s staff.
When self-designated patriot groups first emerged during the early ‘90s, they identified as enemies of the “New World Order” heralded by George H.W. Bush, and tended to oppose the government, regardless of which party was in power. But experts say that the recent activity of some militia members could be evidence of a greater shift in political allegiances.
“You can’t be anti-government if your guy has the top job,” said Mark Pitcavage, who researches far-right extremism for the Anti-Defamation League.
With right-wing extremists who venerate the president looking for new enemies, some state and local politicians who are remaking partisanship in Trump’s image may see militias as a way to tighten their grip on power. The brash political style and “America First” agenda ushered into the Republican Party by Trump appeals to people in the militia movement, drawing them toward the political mainstream, said Amy Cooter, a sociologist at Vanderbilt University. Just as important, Cooter said, groups like the Three Percenters are eager for confrontation with anti-Trump liberals, who are themselves taking to the streets. “On the local level, some Republicans appear to be tapping into that agenda.” [Continue reading…]