Would you go to war against your fellow Americans to show your support for President Donald Trump? For the last several months, that's exactly what broadcaster Alex Jones—a favorite of the president—has been calling for.
In his radio show, on YouTube and on his Infowars website, Jones—who never met a conspiracy theory he didn't like and who has pushed the notion that Sandy Hook was faked—has been announcing that the United States is on the verge of a bloody second civil war. Like the radio DJs in Rwanda, Jones has been egging on his conservative listeners and viewers—an estimated 2.7 million people monthly—to kill more liberal fellow citizens over their political differences.
Jones is hardly alone in promoting this scary, emerging narrative on the right. The theme gained momentum after the shooting at the congressional baseball game last month. The day before the attack, on June 13, right wing broadcaster Michael Savage, host of syndicated show The Savage Nation, warned that "there's going to be a civil war" because of "what this left-wing is becoming in this country." After the baseball field shooting the next day, he said that he "know[s] what's coming, and it's going to get worse." Savage also said of the shooting that "this blood is on [Democrats'] hands."
After the shooting, Newt Gingrich opined on Fox that "we are in a clear-cut cultural civil war." Former GOP speechwriter Pat Buchanan wrote that the appointment of a special prosecutor and political street clashes presage a "deep state media coup" and that the nation is "approaching something of a civil war," and it's time for Trump to "burn down the Bastille."
But few commentators can match the relentless hysteria and reach of Jones. His recent YouTube video titles telegraph the tone: "Get Ready For CIVIL WAR!" and "First Shots Fired in Second US Civil War! What Will You Do?" and "Will Trump Stop Democrats' Plan for Violent Civil War?"
Jones's followers have already turned broadcaster words into violent action. Last year, Edgar Maddison Welch drove from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., to fire on a pizza restaurant Jones had been saying was a front for Democratic pedophiles and Satanists. Court records indicate he had been talking to his friends about Jones's theories before he went on his mission. In 2014, a right-wing couple, self-described Infowars fans Jerad and Amanda Miller from Indiana, killed two police officers after posting screeds on Infowars. Jones later theorized that the shooting was a false flag intended to discredit the right.
Media Matters for America (MMA), a progressive research organization, has staff assigned to track Jones Infowars shows daily. According to spokesman Nate Evans, right-wing media has been advocating violence more since Trump was elected, but Jones "has been particularly crazy about it."
Among the statements MMA has culled from his broadcasts in recent months are the following:
On June 23, he accused "the left" of starting civil war and offered to personally execute convicted traitors because, he said, "I'm not going to sit here and just call for stuff without actually being part of it." In the same broadcast he said, "I don't need some coming-of-age deal to kill a bunch of liberals," but "we have to start getting ready for insurrection and civil war because they're really pushing it."
On June 15, he warned "you kick off Civil War 2, baby, you'll think Lexington and Concord was a cakewalk." The day before, he implicated himself and his listeners: "You're trying to start a civil war with people. You're taking our kindness for weakness. Do you understand the American people will kill all of you? You understand? We are killing machines, you fools.… But I can shoot bull's-eye at 400 yards, dumbass. I mean, they have no idea who they're messing with."
In a May 13 broadcast, he warned that "leftists want a war," so "cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war."
Jones has also called for extrajudicially arresting former FBI DIrector James Comey and Hillary Clinton and has encouraged Trump to use the military against dissenters. "I'd support the president right now moving against these people physically," he said in a June 13 broadcast. "I mean, let's be honest. We're in a war. I would support the president making a military move on them right now."
This is not the first time Jones has attracted attention by advocating violence against federal officials. In April, he let loose with a rant on California Democrat Adam Schiff, the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee looking into Trump's Russian connections. The profanity laced transcript was also homophobic and included an explicit threat of bodily harm.
"I'm not against gay people. OK. I love them, they're great folks. But Schiff looks like the archetypal cocksucker with those little deer-in-the-headlight eyes and all his stuff," Jones said. "And there's something about this fairy, hopping around, bossing everybody around, trying to intimidate people like me and you, I want to tell Congressman Schiff and all the rest of them, 'Hey, listen, asshole, quit saying Roger and I'—and I've never used cussing in 22 years, but the gloves are off—'listen, you son of a bitch, what the fuck's your problem? You want to sit here and say that I'm a goddamn, fucking Russian. You get in my face with that, I'll beat your goddamn ass, you son of a bitch. You piece of shit. You fucking goddamn fucker. Listen, fuckhead, you have fucking crossed a line. Get that through your goddamn fucking head. Stop pushing your shit. You're the people that have fucked this country over and gangraped the shit out of it and lost an election. So stop shooting your mouth off claiming I'm the enemy. You got that you goddamn son of a bitch? Fill your hand.' I'm sorry, but I'm done. You start calling me a foreign agent, those are fucking fighting words. Excuse me."
Tim Johnson, a Media Matters for America Research Fellow, who tracks Jones says that the civil war theme is a new one, and probably related to the fact that Barack Obama is no longer president, offering a clear, single enemy. "He needs something new, and so it's that criticism of Trump equals civil war," Johnson said.
An attorney with expertise in federal law told Newsweek at the time that Jones's threats at Schiff appeared to break a federal law, U.S. Code Title 18, Section 115, which makes it illegal to threaten to assault a U.S. official and provides a penalty of up to six years in prison.
After Newsweek published that legal analysis, Jones publicly pulled back, and posted a video attempting to clarify his remarks as "clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance."
Federal officials are not known to have contacted him or looked into the matter.