Expert in right-wing extremism slams Lauren Boebert and those readying for civil war
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) (R-CO) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol June 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Jeff Sharlet is a prominent expert on far-right extremism in the United States. His investigations have exposed the beliefs of the group that owned the so-called National Prayer Breakfast, the C Street group and "The Family."

Speaking to MSNBC on Tuesday, Sharlet revealed his latest project: exploring the increase in right-wing violence in the U.S.

In a recent Vanity Fair excerpt from his latest book, he describes seeing Boebert in her short Daisy Dukes and her assault rifle. "I am the militia," she told him. The subtitle of his book is "Scenes from a slow civil war."

Another man Sharlet interviewed went by David G. "Things are going down the hole. Fast," he told Sharlet.

"How will I know when things are going down the hole?" Sharlet asked him.

"You get into the city areas, you will see the people," David G. explained. Which people? The "instigators." David G. said. Sharlet would see them fighting in the streets.

"When I say it's going down the hole fast, I'm talking about that. I'm talking about those of us who have less tolerance for the instigators ... So some will resort to, let's just say, other methods," said David G.

During Sharlet's appearance on MSNBC this evening, host Chris Hayes brought up the notion that Americans are "arming" themselves "for the struggle to come."

"I've been reporting on right-wing movements in the United States for 20 years," said Sharlet. "And traveling back and forth across the country since Jan. 6th, I've seen more guns than in all the years before that. And it's not just places like Shooter's Grill, which is sort of leading with guns. But churches — churches that have their own militia. The first militia church I went to, I thought, was a fluke. And then I started to realize churches were arming up with the expectation of civil war. And I think that's different than the gun culture of the past. The doomsday prepper of the fringe has become a mainstay of right-wing culture."

Sharlet confessed that he, like Hayes, has been testing using phrases like "civil war" and "fascism."

"I'm cautious. History moves slowly," he said. "And yet, I think you could call it a kind of cold war, but there are casualties. In Nashville, Tennessee, there were casualties. Women who have a lack of reproductive rights are casualties. Those places are making casualties. And in terms of the gun culture, when you have weekly skirmishes where Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Proud Boys, showing up with AR-15s outside of libraries, schools, hospitals. We're at a simmer now. We are at a simmer. It doesn't make it inevitable. I don't think we have to call it into being, but I think we have to beware of the threat level."

Sharlet went on to talk about Ashli Babbitt. He noted that when the far right speaks of her, she's described as an innocent, unarmed woman.

"She was carrying a nasty little knife. That's the evidence photo on the cover," said Sharlet. "As soon as I saw her death on Jan. 6th, and you could see the hands of the police officer who killed her, and he was a black man. Because I'm an American and I study American history and mythology, I knew what the right was going to do. And, sure enough, within days, they were telling the same old story. The lynching story."

Sharlet described the mythology of the little white girl attacked by the angry Black man. It's the same "story" that started the attacks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that resulted in whites burning down the most powerful Black business community in the country and massacring hundreds. The myth is also used by Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird. Sharlet explains it's the same story.

"There's a lot of people who speak of the right as a death cult," he said. "They want to be innocent of history, innocent of race and Ashli Babbitt served as this white martyr. So, now you have a situation where the Proud Boys hand out challenge coins with Ashli Babbitt. 'One more in the name of love,' tweets Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). #sayhername."

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Expert in right-wing extremism slams Lauren Boebert and those readying for civil war