Authors David Neiwert

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I’ve been watching the right-wing narrative regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection with keen interest, and realizing that the American right again intends to resort to its well-worn “waving the bloody shirt” gambit. A thread about what that will mean.

We all know the phrase and its meaning: Someone who “waves the bloody shirt” is a demagogue whose rhetoric callously recalls violent incidents for the purpose of scoring cheap political points. /2

The phrase originated during the Reconstruction era following the Civil War. In the early years, white terrorists from armed paramilitary groups like the Ku Klux Klan roamed the Southern countryside intent on terrorizing black people and anyone assisting them. /3

Preventing blacks from voting was the primary focus of the terrorists. Their reputation for threatening people at the polls themselves was well established. /4

During this period, some 3,000 black freedmen would be murdered in the South. The majority were people lethally attacked at their homes—shot through windows and doors, and at other times lynched. /5