Following the pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill earlier this month, Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday will take place in a locked-down Washington DC, behind security fencing and a human wall of more than 20,000 soldiers. And, in an unprecedented move, both the army and FBI are vetting each and every one of them for links to right-wing extremism.
Speaking to CNN on Monday, the Tennessee Representative stated that the National Guard is “90 some-odd percent male,” and the fact that “only about 20 percent of white males voted for Biden” is enough reason to suspect dissent among the ranks deployed in Washington. Cohen claimed that “75 percent” of the troops “might want to do something” during the inauguration.
Guardsmen, like any other military personnel, take an oath to defend the Constitution of the US, and not a political loyalty test. Cohen’s suggestion that the majority of troops should be viewed with suspicion was a step too far even for CNN, whose host, Don Lemon, compared President Donald Trump's supporters last week to the “Klan” and “Nazis.”
“To have voted for Trump does not make you an insider threat,” CNN’s chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto responded. “Is there anything you’ve seen to substantiate just how broad this insider threat may be, if it exists?”
Cohen admitted he hadn’t seen any evidence to back up his claims, but went on to say that “if you draw a circle” around “people who were for Trump and not for Biden,” everyone in that circle would be “folks that you’d be suspect of (sic).”
Online, conservatives hammered Cohen’s narrow vision of Biden’s promised “unity and healing.”
“They just can’t help themselves,” one wrote. “Our troops are defending the Capitol but Dems still hate them.”
That Cohen made his racially charged statement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day added an extra layer of irony, given King’s exhortation that his fellow Americans be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
The mainstream media has been suspicious of Trump’s supporters for a long time, and since the events on Capitol Hill, reporters have described them as “extremists,” and “domestic terrorists,” and a movement that should be “cleansed” from public life. Much like Cohen, journalists have called Trump’s most vocal supporters “white supremacists” who voted for Trump out of “toxic masculinity.” Even Trump’s black and minority supporters were described in a Washington Post op-ed last week as suffering from “multiracial Whiteness.”