By Bria Brown

(CNN) — Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan warned Friday of the increasing threat for political violence and that “words have consequences,” a day after an alleged domestic terror plot to kidnap the state’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was revealed.

“I hope that this got a lot of people’s attention and we can all take a deep breath and really think about how fear and division is dividing this country and stop being pitted against each other,” Dingell told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.”

The plot against Whitmer, announced by federal and state authorities on Thursday and resulting in 13 arrests, highlighted the threat from far-right extremist groups across the country, particularly in the closing weeks of the 2020 election season. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, in a separate interview on “New Day” Friday morning, said it’s “not just a Michigan problem” and said there are similar groups operating in different states.

Dingell, a Democrat, said she knows “what it’s like to be the target of some of this hate” and that the threats against her and in the state have worsened over the years.

“Let’s not be blind to what’s happening, and it’s all of our responsibilities. It’s not a Democratic or a Republican issue. It is an American issue. And we need to denounce violence on the far right and the far left. So let me be clear about that,” Dingell said. “But what is happening is not OK in this country. Hatred is not OK.”

Whitmer on Thursday specifically blamed President Donald Trump for emboldening far-right groups with his rhetoric, an accusation Trump rejected. Dingell, whose late husband has been the object of mockery and scorn by the President, indicated Friday morning that she believes his behavior has encouraged extremist groups.

“I think the rhetoric of a lot of people are ginning this up, and I don’t think that anybody can afford to turn a blind eye. All of us have a responsibility,” Dingell told CNN.

She added, “There may be some that contribute more, but all of us — we can’t just blame it on one person or another. We all have to take some responsibility here for standing up against it.”

Nessel, however, argued that there appears to be a “pattern” of Trump of condoning right-wing extremist groups’ activities but then pointing to violence from left-wing groups, like Antifa.

“When we talk about domestic terrorism, the President doesn’t skip a beat when it comes to calling out extremism when it comes from, say, you know, someone who is Muslim or a person of color. But when it is right-wing, White men that seem to be involved in these activities, you rarely hear anything come out of the President’s mouth that would presume that he opposes their conduct,” Nessel, a Democrat, told CNN’s John Berman Friday.

“Everybody keeps talking about it being a dog whistle to these groups, but I see it more as a call to action,” she said.

Trump has repeatedly declined opportunities to forcefully condemn right-wing extremist groups. At last month’s presidential debate, he said “sure” in response to a question about whether he opposes them before quickly calling attention to far-left groups such as Antifa.

“Proud Boys — stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem,” he said.

In response to Whitmer’s remarks, Trump on Thursday said he did “not tolerate ANY extreme violence” but accused the governor of insufficiently thanking him for the response of “my” federal law enforcement and again pointed to left-wing extremist groups to draw a political equivalency in the matter.

Thirteen people were charged Thursday in the alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer as part of a scheme that authorities said included plans to overthrow several state governments.

Authorities believe several of the suspects arrested in the alleged plot are supporters of the Boogaloo movement, an emerging incarnation of extremism that seems to defy easy categorization. Boogaloo members appear to hold conflicting ideological views, with some identifying as anarchists and others rejecting formal titles. Some pockets of the group have espoused White supremacy while others reject it.

Friday morning, Whitmer emphasized the importance of condemning extremists in no uncertain terms.

“They’re not ‘militias.’ They’re domestic terrorists endangering and intimidating their fellow Americans,” Whitmer tweeted. “Words matter.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Comments

Leave a Reply