Elizabeth Nolan Brown, February 16, 2021
In the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot, many Democratic politicians and left-of-center pundits have been calling for the expanded use of “domestic terror” laws against people whose social media rhetoric seems too radical. Those who warned that this would backfire—being used not just against those who have committed crimes but anyone whose political views or online comments are deemed risky—were accused of things like excusing terrorism or aligning with white supremacists. Yet it hasn’t taken long for these warnings to come to fruition.
Look at the case of Daniel Baker, a military veteran and self-professed “hardcore leftist” whose home was recently raided by the FBI after he posted a flyer online calling for folks to fight back if “armed racist mobs” tried to take the Florida statehouse in Tallahassee. “This is an armed COUP and can only be stopped by an armed community,” Baker wrote.
In this example, The Washington Post sees evidence that right-wing extremists are “fueling potentially legitimate threats of violence from the opposite fringe of the political spectrum.” But “potentially” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.