Nebraska Democratic Party leaders on Tuesday criticized callous comments by a featured speaker for the Nebraska Freedom Coalition, a group of conservatives that helped a new team take over the state GOP.
Democrats, in a series of social media posts, condemned conservative comedian and conspiracy theorist Alex Stein for a joke set in which he congratulated murdered Minnesotan George Floyd for being “two and a half years sober.”
Seconds later, Stein, who headlined the Freedom Coalition’s Nebraska Freedom Festival on Aug. 27, told the crowd it was “a bad joke.”
“That’s evil,” he said, smiling as some in the crowd laughed.
‘Just as extreme’
A jury convicted former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of murdering Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, after Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes. Floyd’s death sparked months of protests and political organizing against police brutality across the nation and in Omaha.
State Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb said Tuesday that the new state GOP is “just as extreme” as the Freedom Coalition that hosted Stein and “Stop the Steal” protest organizer Ali Alexander. She cited a state GOP email this month that asked Republicans, “Is your torch lit?”
To her, the email’s wording evoked the 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists clashed with others. Three people were killed and more than 30 were injured. Former President Donald Trump blamed the violence on “many sides.”
“There is no sunlight between the GOP and the Freedom Coalition,” Kleeb said.
Kleeb’s social media posts criticized the “extremist behavior” of the Freedom Coalition and the Nebraska GOP. The Freedom Coalition gained notoriety in July by helping conservatives remove the longtime chairman of the state GOP, Dan Welch, during the state party convention.
Delegates replaced him with Eric Underwood of the Lancaster County GOP.
‘No more Nebraska Nice’
The Nebraska Republican Party, through a spokeswoman, had no immediate comment Tuesday.
Kleeb, in one of her tweets, wrote: “We stand with Pres. (Joe) Biden as he calls out MAGA Republicans for their words and actions that are destroying our democracy.”
She said Nebraska Republicans are creating a “hostile environment” where political conversations are impossible “because the leaders of the Nebraska Republican Party and their attack dogs literally call us ‘groomers,’ ‘predators’ and ‘call girls.'”
The Freedom Coalition’s Twitter account in recent weeks has used similar language against Nebraska Democrats, including Kleeb, State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha and Democrats running for local school boards and/or the Nebraska State Board of Education.
Late last week, the Freedom Coalition tweeted that the GOP “has been called everything from racist homophobes to fascist murderers by the Left.” They said they were expected to “play nice, watch our words, and take the high road.”
“We watched cities across the country burn as the media reported ‘fiery, but mostly peaceful protests’ during the Floyd riots; yet, we couldn’t say a word because, ‘you are racist,'” they wrote in one tweet from Friday.
“Well enough is enough — no more Nebraska Nice!”
Stein, who made his name on reality TV as a villain-by-design on “The Glass House,” has built a social media brand by trolling city councils in Texas, and Democratic politicians in Washington, D.C. He has appeared on Info Wars with Alex Jones.
Humor that ‘isn’t for everyone’
He did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday, but retweeted the Democrats’ video of his speech.
During his set in Nebraska, Stein described former First Lady Michelle Obama as “a boy,” the video shows. He said there is “nothing gayer than driving an electric car.” He laughed at the disproven trope that the COVID-19 vaccine might somehow alter a person’s sexuality.
He said people who took the vaccine “are gay.” He then said, “It’s OK to be gay as long as you don’t try to transition my daughter into a boy,” language advocates who have defended the rights of trans people have described as transphobic.
Stein also described the need for conservatives to be “civilly disobedient” in ways that won’t get them arrested. He said Democrats have “weaponized the FBI” and that they “cannot let them weaponize against us. We have to weaponize against them.”
Freedom Coalition Executive Director Patrick Peterson said the group appreciated Stein’s “ability to bring the insanity we now see every day to light and appreciate his culture jamming towards political figures and events through his comedic approach.”
“If his type of humor isn’t for everyone, thank God we still have the First Amendment right in this country,” Peterson said. “The right of free speech is protected.”
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