You'd think "don't insinuate your political rival should be hanged by the neck until dead" isn't a lesson we still had to learn in this, the year 2019.
Republicans are apparently going to have to learn it twice.
Last week, Minnesota's Danielle Stella was banned from Twitter for spreading a rumor that DFL U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar had given “sensitive” information to the Iranian government, and saying that if it were true, Omar “should be tried for #treason and hanged.” Stella posted a crudely drawn stick figure hanging from the gallows to punctuate her point.
No big deal, right? Stella's a fringe candidate with no chance and a shoplifting record.
But the thirst for violence is spreading. St. Petersburg Republican George Buck, a self-declared "pro-Trump conservative warrior" who’s gunning for a Florida congressional seat, sent a fundraising letter suggesting Omar and other Democrats should be executed.
The Tampa Bay Times describes a “lengthy” email purporting the same unsubstantiated rumor: that Omar secretly works for Qatar and Iran and that “we should hang these traitors where they stand.”
“It is unclear who the other ‘traitors’ are, but the email spotlights the man Buck is challenging, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and freshmen U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib,” the Times reports.
Buck wasn’t immediately available for an interview, but the Times reached him on Tuesday. At first, the retired firefighter and "proud father of two" vehemently denied the email was even his, and said he’d “never talk like that.”
Later that same day, Buck sent the Times another “lengthy” missive that seemed to back up the original email, including the constitutional definition of treason and its federal punishment: death, in some cases.
“Anyone who commits treason against the United States should be tried to the full extent of the law,” Buck wrote.
The Times also noted that Buck's actually the second Tampa Bay Republican to suggest President Donald Trump’s political opponents should be hanged. The first was Hillsborough County Republican Party chair Jim Waurishuk, who shared a Facebook post that read, “Need some hangins [sic]” and a meme that read, “Noose flash: Treason still punishable by death.” Waurishuk told the Times it was a joke.
Omar has faced more than her fair share of legitimate death threats over the course of her tenure, almost all stemming from far-flung rumors spread online and singling out her identity as a Muslim woman and Somali refugee. Omar hasn't responded directly to this controversy individually, but did retweet Tlaib's assertion that "white supremacy has spread" within the current crop of Republican congressional candidates.
The fact that those who make these violent threats very publicly without hesitation reaffirms just how much white supremacy has spread within the @NRCC. They are raising money on a call to hang a Black Muslim member of Congress and too many are silent. @IlhanMN https://t.co/VR92QvWh2z— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) December 4, 2019