MAGA Senator Suggests Without Proof That White Nationalist Group’s March Is a ‘False Flag’

Members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front marched through the streets of Nashville on Saturday, carrying confederate flags and a “Reclaim America” banner while wearing masks to cover their faces. But Utah Sen. Mike Lee suggested without proof that the event was a “false flag.”

“Without the iron-clad resolve of our ancestors, there would be no America. We are heirs to an expansive and continental homeland purchased with immeasurable sacrifice… Nationalism is natural. Patriotism is inevitable,” the group’s leader, Thomas Rousseau, chanted into a bullhorn during the weekend march. More than 100 Patriot Front members appeared to participate in the Nashville event. The group reportedly vandalized a bridge by spray painting it with their logo and, according to the Tenn

Matt Kriner, a senior research scholar at Middlebury University’s Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism, told Rolling Stone in 2022 that the group is “deeply fascistic, deeply anti-Semitic, very racist, and they don’t hide it.”

But Republican Sen. Mike Lee claimed he has “never heard of” Patriot Front. The Trump loyalist posted video of the march on Saturday and wrote, “I’ve never heard of this group[.] Any chance this is a false flag operation?”

“So much uniformity,” Lee continued. “It hardly has the feel of a grassroots, patriotic group. I don’t think I’ve never seen one that looks or acts like this.”

Lee’s claim that he has “never” heard of Patriot Front almost defies belief. The group participated in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally on the University of Virginia’s campus in Charlottesville, Va., and Rousseau was charged earlier this year for burning a tiki torch with the intent “to intimidate” at that event. Uniformity is part of the group’s brand. Members are often seen wearing khaki cargo pants, blue t-shirts, and face masks to hide their identities.

The group, which advocates for a white ethnostate, per the Southern Poverty Law Center, was in the news last summer when law enforcement, aided by the FBI, arrested 31 members for allegedly plotting a riot at an LGBTQ Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Six of those arrested hailed from Utah, the state Lee represents, as Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis noted on X. Utah is one of a few states where Patriot Front was most active in 2022, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. The charges against Rousseau related to that event were dropped in November.

“They’re basically just trying to get notoriety. That’s what this is all about,” Greg Rogers, a retired FBI agent who went undercover with militia groups, told the Deseret News of Patriot Front. “These kinds of groups get a lot of street cred by showing they’re actually doing something.”

“Just two days after celebrating the independence of our nation, white supremacists have taken to the streets of Nashville carrying Confederate flags and chanting ‘deportation saves the nation’ and ‘Seig Heil,'” the Tennessee Democratic Party said in a statement.

“This is what we’re fighting against in Tennessee. This is what we’re fighting against in America,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Hendrell Remus said in a statement responding to the Nashville march. “While our Republican State leaders sit quietly by, we refuse to let hate-filled racists terrorize our community.”

Lee has had an interesting weekend on X, formerly Twitter. Before denying he had ever heard of the white nationalist hate group, he circulated a false report that President Biden experienced a medical emergency aboard Air Force One. The untrue rumor was initially posted by far-right influencers — first by Laura Loomer and later by Monica Crowley and Dinesh D’Souza.

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