On Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Party organization dedicated to getting lawmakers elected on a national level, removed a candidate from its Young Guns initiative promoting politicians who “show promise of running a successful campaign.” Florida veteran George Buck Jr., who is challenging Democrat Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, was booted from the program for issuing death threats to representatives Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib — four first-term congresswomen known as “the Squad.”
Referring to the representatives in a November 26 email obtained by CNN, Buck wrote: “We should hang these traitors where they stand. I have no tolerance for those who are abusing our system to destroy our country.” Buck — who also accused Omar of being a foreign agent — denied that he wrote the email, though his signature is on it.
“The fact that those who make these violent threats very publicly without hesitation reaffirms just how much white supremacy has spread within the [NRCC],” Tlaib tweeted on Wednesday, prior to Buck’s dismissal from the Young Guns program. “They are raising money on a call to hang a Black Muslim member of Congress and too many are silent.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ultimately made the call to remove Buck from the initiative on Wednesday.
Following President Trump’s racist attack on the four congresswomen of color this summer, there has been an uptick in viable or otherwise prominent threats against the freshmen-class representatives — particularly toward Omar and Tlaib, who are Muslim. In July, two police officers in Louisiana were fired for suggesting that Ocasio-Cortez should be shot. In August, a gun-store owner in North Carolina reluctantly took down a billboard inciting violence toward the lawmakers. After Trump tweeted a video of Omar spliced with images of the World Trade Center falling, Omar said that she “experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the president’s video.” Though it appears to have been taken down, a vendor listed target shooting rings with Omar’s figure on them earlier this year.
On November 18, 55-year-old Patrick Carlineo Jr. pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Omar for a call he made to her Washington office in March. “Why are you working for her, she’s a [expletive] terrorist,” he asked one of her staffers. “Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. Back in the day, our forefathers would have put a bullet in her [expletive].” Carlineo also pleaded guilty to possessing guns illegally: In a police search of his home in western New York, officers found an AK-47, a .45 handgun, and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Despite the threat, Omar wrote to the presiding judge urging leniency: “Who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves?”
The menacing email from Buck Jr. wasn’t even the only death threat that Omar faced that week from a Republican candidate running for a House seat in 2020: On November 29, Twitter permanently suspended the account of Danielle Stella, who is challenging Omar in Minnesota, for tweeting that Omar should be “tried for #treason and hanged.” (It appears that the Party has not issued a statement condemning Stella, who is more of a fringe candidate than the formerly GOP-endorsed candidate in Florida: Her previous round of national attention followed an announcement that she “stands 100% behind the principles” of QAnon.)
“This is the natural result of a political environment where anti-Muslim dog whistles and dehumanization are normalized by an entire political party and its media outlets,” Omar said of Buck Jr. “Violent rhetoric inevitably leads to violent threats, and ultimately, violent acts.”