It’s far past time for the Montana Republican Party and its leaders to denounce the lawless violence of the anti-government, militia movement in this state before someone gets killed.
The latest in a long line of Republican-supported extremists are Deanna and Ron Marshall (a candidate for House District 87) of Freedom Vapes, who lost their minds this weekend following the news last Friday that the state would begin its enforcement of a ban on flavored tobacco products following the expiration of a temporary stay issued by a Ravalli County judge.
In a series of posts on Deanna Marshall posted her plan to begin “armed resistance” against enforcement of the ban, a photograph of a $10,000 gun, a M82 Barrett sniper rifle that can only be described as a weapon of war, and a series of attacks on Attorney General candidate Raph Graybill, who is spearheading the governor’s legal effort to keep candy-flavored nicotine out of the hands of children culminating in his logo with a red circle crudely drawn over it.
It’s chilling stuff, meant to intimidate and threaten those who would enforce the government’s order and represents just another step in the escalation of rhetoric and violence that have for so long been tolerated by the Republican Party in Montana.
I’ve attached some images of the posts here.
The Marshalls are hardly anonymous members of yet another Ravalli County fringe group. As photos below show, they meet regularly with Republican leaders, boasting on Facebook of invitations to Greg Gianforte’s home and their meetings with other Republicans like Steve Daines, Matt Rosendale, Ted Cruz, and Republican AG candidate Austin Knudsen.
And that is precisely why Republican leaders like Gianforte, Daines, Rosendale, and Knudsen must speak out against this dangerous set of the threats and condemn those who would use tactics of intimidation and threats to law enforcement officers and government workers charged with inspection and enforcement of the law.
While Gianforte has both taken money from and donated to white supremacists, Rosendale has spoken at militia rallies, and Daines has given interviews to militia media outlets, perhaps the greatest onus falls on Knudsen, who is running to be the person who oversees Montana’s legal system. He must demonstrate his commitment to the rule of law, even if it means alienating an influential potential Republican supporter.
Reasonable people can disagree about how the government regulates vaping. I, for one, commend the governor and Graybill for protecting Montana kids but understand that others disagree. What is clear–what must be clear, though–is that we cannot tolerate members of society issuing terroristic threats because they oppose changes in the law.
It’s far past time for those who have enabled and empowered dangerous anti-government sentiment to fester in the Montana GOP to speak up and condemn it. It’s time for Republican leaders from Gianforte to Knudsen to stand up for the rule of law.
And it’s time to hold them accountable for their failure to do so.