“It was more socialism, more pacifism, more weakness and less Constitution,” he told about 100 people crammed into a motel lobby in Kalona, a small town in southeastern Iowa. “It was a recipe to destroy a country.” [...] “We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously."
At a campaign stop in Iowa this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) didn't hold back when condemning the Black Lives Matter movement. The far-right senator chastised BLM activists for embracing "rabid rhetoric," which he described as "disgraceful."
Whether or not one agrees with the assessment is a matter of perspective -- I tend to think this criticism is ridiculous -- but if the Republican presidential hopeful wants to initiate a conversation about whether "rabid rhetoric" really is "disgraceful," it's a discussion well worth having.
We can start the dialog by taking a look at what else Cruz had to say during his campaign swing through Iowa. Consider his takeaway from the debate this week for the Democratic presidential candidates.
The Texas senator acknowledged that he didn't actually see the debate, but Cruz didn't let a little thing like ignorance stand in the way of a borderline-hysterical condemnation. Democrats presented an agenda that might "destroy" the United States, even if Cruz didn't hear a word of what that agenda might be.
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and their rivals are eager to wear a tyrannical "jackboot," he said. Cruz doesn't need to listen to the candidate to be convinced of his own righteousness.
And that's a shame. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent took a closer look at the Democratic ideas on display in Las Vegas, wondering where, exactly, this nation-destroying, constitution-shredding agenda was hiding. Cruz probably should be a little more specific.
But then there's the matter of the "disgraceful" nature of "rabid rhetoric."
The Washington Monthly's Ed Kilgore yesterday flagged a letter Cruz sent to supporters earlier this year, about a month after he kicked off his campaign for the White House.
“The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution isn’t for just protecting hunting rights, and it’s not only to safeguard your right to target practice. It is a Constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny -- for the protection of liberty,” the Texan wrote.
The subject line for the message read, “2nd Amendment against tyranny.”
The style of rhetoric is hardly new, and at no point has Cruz recommended that his right-wing followers pursue a violent course against Americans.
That said, Kilgore made the case that the Republican senator is pushing the rhetorical envelope in irresponsible ways: "[W]hen a guy like Cruz starts tossing around words like 'tyrant' and 'jackboot' and 'destroy the country' and 'strip your and my individual liberties,' isn’t it possible, perhaps even likely, that at least a few of his supporters might think he’s signaling that the time is near to get out the shooting irons and start executing the Tyrant’s agents?"
No one is suggesting that Cruz lacks the right to denounce Americans he disagrees with. His right to hysterical rhetoric is, and will remain, protected by the First Amendment.
But when the GOP presidential candidate sees Black Lives Matter activists, he sees a group of people who are recklessly using "rabid rhetoric," which Cruz evidently believes is unhealthy for the public discourse, and may even lead to possible violence.
One wonders if Ted Cruz has ever stopped to listen to Ted Cruz.