A blog post promoting a “Militia Second Amendment Rally” in Virginia made the rounds of Colorado conservative Facebook in mid-December. The event, scheduled for January 20, Martin Luther King Day, uses the Confederate Flag as its logo.
Of the people and group pages sharing the post, two were relatively prominent: The Montrose County, Colorado, Republican Party, and KNUS 710-AM radio host Randy Corporon.
Their responses to inquires about the post, however, were decidedly different.
The Montrose Republican Party immediately removed the post, while talk show host Corporon reaffirmed his support for the event, the post, the Confederate flag, and even for a (narrow and specific) definition of “white nationalism.”
The Montrose GOP’s post was noticed by Michal Rosenoer, who was one of the Facebook commenters who expressed concern about it on social media.
Reached by phone, Montrose GOP Chair Ray Langston said that as soon as the post came to his attention he asked his social media person to remove it.
“It just becomes all about the flag and that becomes a distraction,” Langston told the Colorado Times Recorder. “I shared it myself on my personal Facebook, and I read the article. The person who shared thought it might be of interest since we’re dealing with red flag laws here, but all the attention gets drawn to the flag. So once I knew about it, I said we need to take that down, because the message is about the rally and not about the flag.”
Rosenauer, who serves as executive director of Emerge Colorado, an organization that trains Democratic women to run for office, elaborated on her concerns.
“Calling on white nationalist militias to show up covered in guns on MLK day is so blatantly and obviously a show of intimidation and racism that it’s hard to describe how it’s not,” said Rosenauer.
“I was concerned because of recent news about the rise of hate crimes in Colorado specifically. We’re seeing synagogues vandalized and the FBI taking down potential terrorists, and Colorado more than other states has dealt with real people with real guns shooting children or abortion providers or women, and so to nonchalantly post a call from essentially Neo-Nazis to rally about gun rights, especially in a climate where gun violence is a real and everyday problem for Coloradans.”
The post itself made the since-debunked claim that the Governor of Virginia is going to use national guard troops to confiscate private citizens’ weapons. In doing so, it invoked the name of the Confederate Army while speaking of “battle lines.”
BATTLE LINES DRAWN IN VIRGINIA! RICHMOND JAN 20!! ARMY OF NORTHERN VA! NUT UP OR SHUT UP TIME!!!
“The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam (babykiller), is planning on deploying the Virginia National Guard to seize weapons in 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Counties.”
The Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, was the Confederate Army’s largest fighting unit during the Civil War.
Asked why he shared the post and if he had any concerns about it being perceived as racist or supportive of white nationalism considering the image (Confederate flag), the date of the event (MLK day), and the post’s militia/Confederate Army language, Corporon provided a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder.
CORPORON: “I shared the post because I and my law firm (Law Offices of Randy B. Corporon PC, ) are presenting seminars on, writing about, and closely monitoring Colorado’s unconstitutional Red Flag Law. How the citizens of other states are responding to Red Flag is of great interest to me and to those who follow my legal, radio or social media information and commentary.
“I have no concerns about ‘being perceived as racist or supportive of white nationalism’ because the original FB poster used a variation of a Confederate Flag as background for their post. I scoff at those who interpret a Facebook repost that way. I’m not racist. I’m white (is that wrong now?). And, I fully endorse the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page on Nationalism. If, by “white nationalist,” that’s what you mean, count me in.
“I stand up (no kneeling!) for and honor the United States of America’s flag, in part because I revere American history, warts and all. Confederate flags are part of that history and I pay no attention to people who, for political reasons, are trying to erase or alter America’s history. We are the only nation, ever, that fought a deadly war with itself to eliminate the scourge of slavery, and I am proud of that. To back away from the hard parts of that history dishonors those who fought bravely and were injured or died as part of that arc of history.
“I know nothing about the self-described “veteran-owned free speech community” that made the post and did not pay close attention to what you describe as “militia/Confederate Army” language in it. After now reading the post closely, I have no complaints about it. The event they are referencing (Virginia Citizens’ Defense League Lobby Day) apparently occurs annually on January 20th. If that’s true, then it’s a coincidence that this year it is also MLK Day. Also, apparently, the Virginia Legislature will be in session that day and available for lobbying on 2nd Amendment rights.”
Corporon also responded to questions about whether the Montrose GOP’s decision to remove the post, or the recent controversy involving a producer at his radio station KNUS being let go following accusations of being a white nationalist, affected him in any way.
“I am disappointed that the Montrose GOP thought it necessary to take down the post.” wrote Corporon. “Political correctness is an effective tool, sometimes a sword. Succumbing to it, if that’s what Montrose GOP did, is a weakness. Perhaps they didn’t do any of the analysis of the original post that I provided above. But I certainly don’t care what they do and it doesn’t impact what I do. Given that and my other comments above, you can imagine that ‘the controversy involving a KNUS producer’ likewise has no impact on my decisions and, no, I won’t take my repost down. But, thanks for asking!”
The video on the event page shared by Corporon calls for militias to gather January 20 at the Virginia state Capitol for a “show of force” in defense of the Second Amendment.
Organizer Philip Van Cleave, of the Virginia Civil Defense League has said he expects as many as 100,000 to attend. The Washington Post reports that anti-government extremist groups, such as the Oathkeepers and the “Three Percent Security Force” militia are planning to attend.
If Van Cleave’s estimates are even close to being accurate, this would be the largest gathering of militia groups in Virginia since the 2017 “Unite The Right” rally, which resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer by a white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.
The Virginia event has generated so much online attention and misinformation that the Washington Post published a lengthy feature debunking many of the wilder falsehoods circulating on social media. Among them, that the Governor plans to cut the power and wifi to prevent gun activists from organizing, or that he’s already called on the National Guard for help, or even that United Nations troops are being deployed for “shock troop gun control.”
From the Washington Post:
Far-right websites and commenters are declaring that Virginia is the place to take a stand against what they see as a national trend of weakening gun rights… Virginia Civil Defense League [VCDL] president Philip Van Cleave said he is keeping lines of communication open so all sides are prepared.
“Hopefully it’ll not be another Charlottesville,” Van Cleave said, blaming police and state planning for the violence that erupted during 2017’s Unite the Right rally around a Confederate statue. Counterprotester Heather Heyer was killed when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of people.
Van Cleave has appealed to his supporters not to come bristling with intimidating long guns — including assault-style rifles such as the AR-15 — and politely suggested that militia members are welcome but do not need to provide security.
Van Cleave is best known for his on-camera support of Sascha Baron Cohen’s satirical “Kinderguardians” program in which he proposed arming preschoolers and teaching them to shoot people with guns decorated as stuffed animal toys.