On CNN Thursday, fact-checker John Avlon tore into the right-wing paramilitary groups involved in the Capitol invasion, slamming their "false sense of patriotism."
"This is a clear and present danger rooted in right-wing disinformation and nationalist conspiracy theories," said Avlon. "As more indictments are issued, we're getting a clear look at what we're confronting. For example, nearly 1-in-5 of the rioters charged have military backgrounds, according to analysis last week by NPR. Including a reservist with a secret-level security clearance who is an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer, according to court documents. We've also seen members of law enforcement arrested, including cops from Virginia and Houston."
"Those entering the military take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," said Avlon. "What's really twisted is that some of those charged apparently believed they were upholding that oath by attacking our Capitol and trying to stop the constitutional transfer of power. They were incited not just by President Donald Trump, but by an extremist subculture that plays to the paranoid style of American politics and encourages an armed version of aggressive defensiveness. Many call themselves patriots, but they should be known as hatriots. There was a paramilitary organization focused on recruitment of current and former military law enforcement and first responder personnel. Donovan Ray Crowl, Jessica Marie Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell were military veterans drawn in by the anti-government, pro-Trump, self-styled militia group."
"Related are the Three Percenters," said Avlon. "A Texas man allegedly threatened to shoot his children for treason if they talked to the cops. These groups have been growing for decades. The founder of the Three Percenters had a quote at the top of his blog, 'all politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war.' Back in 2010, these groups were rising in reaction to the election of Barack Obama. But with Donald Trump, they suddenly saw an avatar in the Oval Office. They switched from warning about presidential tyranny under Obama to supporting a would-be tyrant under Trump, by trying to help him overturn an election based on a lie. The hatred virus has mutated many times in our history. Over the past four years we've seen it surface in Charlottesville, El Paso, and now in the U.S. Capitol where one rioter summed it up by beating a police officer with an American flag."
"For a crowd that claims to love America, they sure seem to hate many of their fellow Americans," concluded Avlon. "And for a crowd that claims to defend the Constitution, many of them had no problem assaulting it. And that's why we can't turn away. Why we need to confront this crazed strain of hate before it's too late."