Cameron Joseph and the VICE News team have a story this week documenting the many times U.S. Senate candidate from Arizona, Blake Masters, has argued for the need to install ideologically friendly generals at the top of the U.S. military. VICE report follows Joe Biden’s condemnation of the most extremist elements of the Republican Party described as “semi-fascist”, a label that some have already observed is well suited to such a highly politicized view of the Army.
Masters has attempted something of a pivot since winning the nomination, including cutting out his most outrageous language on both Abortion and the 2020 election from the campaign website. But the VICE report is damning, noting that “The masters called for the mass dismissal of generals at least seven times between August 2021 and March 2022…” These cases included tweets, campaign videos and comments made in public forums like Twitter Spaces.
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In New Hampshire, Republican voters have just named the kind of master generals who seem to have their Senate nominee in mind. Don Bolduc endorsed a series of conspiracies of the big lie supposedly presence of microchips in covid mRNA vaccines.
It should be noted that Bolduc celebrated his appointment holding a spartan shield, decorated with arrows planted in it. Spartan imagery – particularly that associated with the mythologized images made famous by the film “300” – has become a feature of the broader fetishization of militarism by the American far right. Early in her time in Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene wore an embroidered “Molon Labe” face mask, ancient greek phrase attributed to the Spartan king Leonidas which means “come and take them”.
“Come and take it” has been a hallmark of Second Amendment activism for some time – in Texas the reference is more often made, not to Leonidas, but to the 1835 Battle of Gonzales and the now ubiquitous flag which bears the slogan. More recently, the Greek expression for sentiment has been popularized among QAnon adherents as one of many symbols of their fight against a supposedly threatening state.
Sam Adler-Bell has done an excellent job of highlighting the threat of violence running through Blake Masters’ campaign. Adler-Bell notes that Masters said people should consider using “all political power” available to them in their fight against their political adversaries. If it is doubtful that “all power” includes that of political violencethe Masters had this to say about non-violence: “You can recite an eloquent poem about pacifism just before they line you up against the wall and shoot you.” It’s language that engages everyone, down to the most ordinary right-wing voter, in a fight. It’s not just that Blake Masters and others like him view the military as something that should rightly be under the control of them and their ideological allies. It’s that all politics is militarized.
It is important to emphasize that this fusion of politics and militarism goes both ways. The Masters’ comments show how many on the far right see the military as something that must be subject to their political worldview. We can remember trump frequent references at “my generals.” But Bolduc, Greene and others also show how the far right sees itself as engaged in something like war, and how far-right actors see themselves as warriors in a less and less figurative sense. January 6, 2021 offers such an example of where this reflection can lead. As the title of Sophie Gilbert’s review of The Atlantic from HBO’s “Four Hours on Capitol Hill”” said, “January 6 was not a riot. It was war. »
In his victory speech, proclaims Bolduc, “we took their arrows!” He gestured towards the rounded shield, his Spartan lambda displayed upside down, continuing to say “we will now rally around the circle: unity, freedom, freedom.” The implications here are deeply disturbing. These are hardly implications.
Part of what has been clarified in the wake of Trump’s attempt to subvert democracy and the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol is that many simply believe those efforts were thwarted by the presence of too few MAGA. loyalists in key positions. The masters’ calls for “purges” and the recklessly confrontational rhetoric of other extremists like Bolduc and Greene suggest that, for them, the key to to succeed the next time is to ensure that these positions, county-level election officials to military brass, are filled with their kind of people — or, as Trump would say, “my generals.”