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Officials face 'a sustained campaign of intimidation' from the far-right

There's a "sustained campaign of intimidation" from the far-right against election officials. And public health officials. And educators. And lawmakers.

It was a year ago this month when Donald Trump and Joe Biden met for the first presidential debate of the 2020 cycle, which proved to be memorable for unfortunate reasons. As regular readers may recall, it was the event in which the Republican incumbent expressed indifference toward potentially violent radicals.

Trump telling the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by," for example, jolted American politics and sparked celebrations among extremists.

But as part of the same sentence, the then-president quickly added, "This is not a right-wing problem; this is a left-wing problem." At the same debate, when asked if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and fringe militia groups, Trump shrugged and said, "Sure, I'm willing to do that — but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing."

The then-president's point — Trump wanted Americans to see a far-left menace that eclipsed anything seen on the right — came to mind when reading Reuters' latest report on the "sustained campaign of intimidation" against U.S. election officials at the state and local level.

The unprecedented torrent of terroristic threats began in the weeks before the November election, as Trump was predicting widespread voter fraud, and continues today as the former president carries on with false claims that he was cheated out of victory.... In addition to the messages that threatened violence, hundreds of others contained harassing language that was disturbing, profane and sometimes racist or misogynistic. The intimidation has affected all levels of election administrators, from rank-and-file poll workers to secretaries of state.

The terrifying threats against election officials who did nothing wrong are not to be confused with the far-right intimidation efforts targeting public health officials. CBS News reported in June:

Nearly a quarter of public health workers report feeling bullied, harassed or threatened due to their work as the pandemic was unfolding, with 1 in 8 saying they had received job-related threats. That's according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

USA Today published a related report in July, noting that public health officials "have faced doxxing, online harassment and other threats" stemming from their efforts to address the Covid-19 crisis.

The terrifying threats against public health officials who did nothing wrong are not to be confused with the far-right intimidation efforts targeting educators and school-board members. Anne Lutz Fernandez, high school English teacher, recently wrote a piece for NBC News educators having to deal with "verbal and physical attacks."

Protestors burning masks, ripping masks off educators' faces and hurling obscenities have disrupted and derailed education board meetings nationwide this summer as local officials have sought to allow in-person learning despite a new wave of Covid-19 cases powered by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

The terrifying threats against education officials who did nothing wrong are not to be confused with the far-right intimidation efforts targeting members of Congress. Axios reported in April:

Members of Congress are spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security for them and their families in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, according to an analysis of first-quarter Federal Election Commission reports by Punchbowl News.... Private security expenditures were especially common among anti-Trump Republicans and high-profile Democrats who earlier this year voted to impeach and convict the former president for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, signaling they fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

The terrifying threats against lawmakers who did nothing wrong are not to be confused with the far-right intimidation efforts targeting Capitol Hill. Roll Call reported late yesterday:

As Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger prepares to brief congressional leaders on a potentially violent rally scheduled for Sept. 18, an internal department assessment reveals more violent online discussion around the event and increased attendance numbers for the demonstration. The intelligence assessment, dated Sept. 7, notes that in recent days, the department and partner agencies have found more violent online talk surrounding the #JusticeForJ6 rally, organized by Look Ahead America. The event seeks to support pro-Trump rioters who were jailed for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

A year ago this month, Trump may have said, in reference to violent threats, "This is not a right-wing problem; this is a left-wing problem," but reality is telling a very different story.