Have you heard the joke about placing explosives in the U.S. Capitol? If not, no worries — it doesn’t exist.
During a campaign rally Sunday for GOP congressional candidate Anthony Sabatini, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida complained that one of his colleagues can no longer bring a gun into the Capitol after metal detectors were installed in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot.
“My friend [GOP Rep.] Lauren Boebert from Colorado … as like a 5-foot-nothing woman, she carries a firearm for personal protection,” Gaetz said during his speech at the rally in central Florida. “They got triggered by that.”
“I said, ‘Man, is it tannenite or C4 we wanna put in those metal detectors when we blow ‘em up?” he continued, mispronouncing Tannerite — a brand of compounds that explode when combined.
In a 2013 memo, the FBI warned that “criminals and extremists” may use Tannerite to make improvised explosive devices. C4 is a military-grade explosive frequently used for demolitions during combat.
In a response to Gaetz’s alarming remark, Boebert chimed in that she’d help provide the materials needed to carry out his violent fantasy.
“I’ll bring the Tannerite!” she tweeted, with the vigor of someone bringing green bean casserole to a party.
Former President Donald Trump remains popular among Republicans despite losing last year’s presidential election, and Republican lawmakers have frequently adopted his violent and conspiratorial rhetoric aimed at officials and institutions they don’t like. Gaetz, a Trump sycophant, is prominent among them. And because Gaetz is currently under federal investigation over allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor, he’s all the more eager to distract the public by any means. (Gaetz has denied the allegations.)
“If you can’t fantasize about blowing up useless metal detectors with @laurenboebert at a Florida Halloween political rally for @AnthonySabatini, when can you?” Gaetz tweeted Sunday.
In a tweet responding to critics over their exchange about explosives, Boebert told them to “get a life.”
“The metal detectors are useless and we are getting rid of them when Republicans take back the House,” she wrote.
The GOP has been displaced from power on the national level, and its members are desperate to reclaim that power despite the party’s deeply unpopular policies. That desperation is giving rise to a brand of violent, conservative politics that Republicans try to disguise with claims of humor and “fantasy.”
But Jan. 6 is evidence that the conservative movement acts on violent ideas floated by its leaders — and that’s nothing to laugh at.
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