There was a scary situation near the U.S. Capitol this morning, when there was an hours-long standoff featuring a man in a truck claiming to have an explosive device. During the ordeal, in which the man was parked on the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress, the alleged terrorist spouted a series of right-wing claims as part of an online telecast.
Fortunately, the man eventually surrendered and no one was hurt. Whether the suspect had an actual bomb is unclear.
But as many around Capitol Hill began to exhale, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) decided to issue a written statement about the incident.
"I'm aware of the Capitol bomb threat. I'm monitoring the situation. I am in Alabama. My Washington staff is accounted for and safe. I pray for the safety of Capitol Police and first responders on the scene in Washington. Sadly, violence and threats of violence targeting America's political institutions are far too common. Although this terrorist's motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society. The way to stop Socialism's march is for patriotic Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 elections. I strongly encourage patriotic Americans to do exactly that more so than ever before. Bluntly stated, America's future is at risk."
So, a few things.
First, the alleged terrorist's "motivation" was hardly subtle. The suspect accused Democrats of "killing America" and called on President Biden to resign.
Second, given the circumstances, the far-right Alabama congressman probably ought to sit this one out. It was after all, on Jan. 6 when Brooks addressed a pro-Trump crowd and did his best to inflame passions. The Republican lawmaker -- and current U.S. Senate candidate -- told the audience it was time to start "kicking ass," and asked those in attendance what they were prepared to sacrifice for the good of their country.
Insurrectionist rioters attacked the Capitol soon after.
It's against this backdrop that a right-wing white man threatened to detonate a bomb near the Capitol today, leading Mo Brooks to say he "understands citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism."
Eleven years ago, a man named Joe Stack crashed a small plane into an office building in Austin, Texas. Stack, who had a grudge against the government in general, and the Internal Revenue Service in specific, killed three people, including himself.
Soon after, then-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said, "It's sad the incident in Texas happened, but by the same token, it's an agency that is unnecessary. And when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it's going to be a happy day for America." A scandal soon followed.
When politicians express tacit sympathy for the motives of extremists, attention inevitably turns to others in their party. Republican leaders were silent after King's comments about the Austin attack; will the GOP be similarly circumspect now that Mo Brooks has responded to today's threat by expressing his understanding for "citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism"?
Update: Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) described Brooks' statement as "evil." Will any House Republican leaders use similar language?