At his press conference on September 30, Governor Pete Ricketts made a statement that should have made local headlines. An AP reporter asked him two questions about white supremacist groups on the heels of President Trump’s comment that the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by.”
I don’t know about you, but if I were asked to denounce white supremacist groups, I would make it clear that they are vile in their racism, intimidation, and violence and that there is no place in a functional democracy for them.
That’s not what Ricketts said, though. Take a look at the transcript:
Ricketts: “There is no place for white supremacy groups in Nebraska or our country. There is no need for those folks to go to protests. We’ve got fine men and women on our law enforcement and our National Guard that can handle security. We don’t need militia groups to show up, that sort of thing so absolutely condemn white supremacy groups.”
The reporter then asked about Trump’s Proud Boys comment.
Ricketts: “So the question was about the president’s remark last night with regard to the Proud Boys standing by or whatever, I don’t recall exactly what the quote was–but again I think that we’ve got fine police, we’ve got fine National Guards that can handle security. There isn’t a need for any other outside groups to be getting involved or attending these protests other than to peacefully protest.”
So what Ricketts is saying is not that these groups are vile, fascist, and anti-democracy. What he is saying is that they are redundant because we have police. Though he starts off sounding like he’s going to actually show some minimal moral courage and specifically denounce them for their white supremacy, he pivots and ends up essentially saying what Trump did: “stand back and stand down.”
Nowhere in his response does he condemn their violence, their racism, their threats, or their intimidation. What he “condemns” is their being underfoot when the police are trying to do what the white supremacists supposedly came to do. Ricketts is either elevating the Proud Boys to the status of police, reducing the police to the status of violent white nationalists, or both.
Let’s bear in mind that as recently as this summer the Proud Boys showed up at a pro-OPD rally in Omaha, and the Omaha World Herald dutifully described them as “uninvited guests” and reported the implausible claim that Omaha Police Officers Association President Sgt. Tony Conner had never heard of them before, despite the group regularly making headlines for their violence at rallies (for which some of them have recently been convicted of gang violence).
Of course, local media also yawned when Governor Ricketts was discovered to have employed a literal Nazi in his 2018 re-election campaign.
So no real surprise that Omaha media largely ignored these remarks or spun them in the governor’s favor. WOWT ran a story with the headline, “Governor denounces white supremacists groups, falls short of calling out president.” A line in the story reports: “When asked directly if he would condemn white supremacy groups the Governor said, ‘Absolutely, there’s not a place for white supremacy groups in Nebraska or our country.'”
Well, that’s an awfully generous presentation of a comment that was actually condemning the groups because they are unnecessarily duplicating police.
If you are serving dinner and someone walks in and dumps a pile of shit on the table, you don’t say “There is no place at this dinner table for shit: I already have dinner covered with this lasagna!” You don’t treat the shit dumper like an overzealous guest who thought your dinner party was a potluck, you treat them like a goddamned shit dumper.
Unless you are a shit dumper yourself.
The final line of the WOWT story says,”It’s important to note the Proud Boys have not been connected to any known crimes or violence in the metro.” Important to whom? And why is the fact that they have not been charged with crimes in Omaha “important” to anyone? This is a known hate group with a string of documented violence around the country. Mentioning that they have not committed violence in this particular city is not just irrelevant, it is evidence of the agenda of WOWT to minimize white supremacist violence. “It is important to note that Al Qaeda have not been connected to any known terror attacks in the metro area,” their coverage of 9/11 definitely did not say.
So a well-known white supremacist (and misogynist) group–who, incidentally, is against masturbation because they want to reserve all their nut-busting energy for knocking BLM heads and inseminating brood women–shows up flying their flags in support of OPD, OPD pretends to have never heard of this organization committing white supremacist street violence around the country, and local media lapdoggishly reports OPD’s coy naivete as fact. Later, when the Nazi-employing governor says sure, he condemns them–not because they are violent fascist fuckwits but because they committed the faux pas of bringing their own beer to a brewpub–WOWT reports this as “denounc[ing] white supremacist groups” that have “important[ly]” not committed any violence here. No, apparently that is the police’s job, according to the governor.