Don’t assume the events from the MAGA insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week led Republicans around the country to tone down their political rhetoric.
Just visit the homepage for the St. Croix Republican Party.
Scrawled across the top of the page is the Latin phrase “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” which is followed by its translation:
“If you want peace, prepare for war.”
Political patriots are then encouraged to join the “digital battlefield.”
“It’s time to stand and be counted as a conservative warrior in the on-going fight to preserve our Constitutional Republic,” the homepage says. “We need to start local by removing leftist tyrants from all local and County positions in the future April elections.”
The website had called for “eliminating” local tyrants as of late last week, according to online archives.
After accusing the “Marxist left” and the “complicit media” of trying to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election, the St. Croix Republican Party says Democrats were busy “sewing” (sic) chaos and using “every dirty trick imaginable” to win in 2020.
“President Trump radically changed the Republican Party in 2016,” the page says. “Now it’s up to us to follow that lead. Patriots need to continue the fight to make sure that we put America and its citizens first, and hold all of our elected representatives accountable to their oaths to uphold the Constitution.”
Fighting words. Lots of them.
“It’s a bridge too far,” said St. Croix County Supervisor Catherine Leaf, a frequent target of local conservatives. “These are philosophical and political differences. This is not war, and to invoke those words is wrong.”
But John Kraft, chairman of the St. Croix County Republican Party, isn’t backing down — or taking down the post, despite a request from the state GOP to do so. The western Wisconsin county is part of a growing community between Eau Claire and Minneapolis.
Kraft, an IT professional, said the message was up before last Wednesday’s violent, Trump-inspired revolt at the Capitol, and he “can’t help what twisted inferences local Democrats choose to attribute to it.”
He didn’t respond when asked if he thought about taking down the message after last week’s events. Kraft was one of three litigants in the lawsuit to block Gov. Tony Evers‘ statewide emergency order requiring people to wear masks in public places
“If you think there’s a story there, great,” Kraft said via Facebook Messenger. “No press is bad press as far as I’m concerned.”
It turns out the state Republican Party has even encouraged Kraft and his county party to take down the inflammatory post — without success.
State GOP Chairman Andrew Hitt said in a statement that violence for political purposes is always unacceptable, no matter where it occurs. Hitt then chided the St. Croix Republican Party for telling its members to “prepare for war.”
“Especially in light of recent events, it’s an ill-chosen phrase to express their sentiments,” Hitt said, adding that the state party doesn’t control the local parties. “We suggested at an earlier date they remove this, but they declined to take our advice.”
And that was before last week’s riot, which left five people dead.
By Saturday, prosecutors had filed 17 cases in federal district court and 40 others in the District of Columbia court for offenses ranging from assaulting police officers to stealing federal property and threatening lawmakers.
ABC News reported on Monday that the FBI had received information that armed protests are planned at all 50 state capitols from Jan. 16 to Jan. 20.
‘Dangerous and irresponsible’
Courtney Beyer, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party, said the language on the St. Croix County GOP’s homepage was “dangerous and irresponsible” on its face. But she said the remarks on the homepage are “downright shocking” in the wake of what happened last week at the nation’s Capitol.
“Every Trump ally who has spent the last two months indulging his conspiracy theories and attempts to overturn the results of our election bears responsibility for the violence of last week,” Beyer said. “Anyone doubling down right now is completely unhinged.”
This isn’t the first time the St. Croix County Republicans have come under fire for their inflammatory rhetoric.
In September, just days before a listening session about diversity and law enforcement in the Hudson Police Department, a commenter on the county GOP’s Facebook page urged people to “bring your AR-15s and get rid of these communist Punk (expletive).”
Kraft responded online by calling the remark “clickbait,” adding that he believed it “does capture the essence of the effect of this event.”
In a brief phone interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, Kraft denied the comment was a threat.
“Nobody posted an actual threat of violence,” Kraft said.
Just words, apparently. Until they’re not.
Contact Daniel Bice at (414) 313-6684 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielBice or on Facebook at fb.me/daniel.bice.