A disturbing video has been making its way around the internet since the beginning of the week, after some high-profile politicos in the state finally made statements, media stories have begun to appear about it, but most fail to call out some of the deeper and more sinister meaning behind it.
Otero County Commissioner and “Cowboys for Trump” leader Couy Griffen said in a recent video that (and we are quoting this historically racist phrase, be warned) “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” That phrase, originally coined by Civil War general Philip Sheridan about Native Americans and made “popular” by Theodore Roosevelt, is clearly hate-speech and a dog whistle for white supremacists. Even IF you were unaware of the historical context, the call for political violence is clearly unacceptable but in line with Griffen’s brand of far-right, alt-right thuggery.
Griffen’s Cowboy group have made something of a name for themselves riding their horses and dressing in costumes around the country in support of Trump but specifically showing up to support the most extreme far-right policies of his platform like vigilante groups along the southern border and bringing guns to the state capitol. The picture included with this article is from their Facebook page and appears to be Griffin in Denver during the armed “open up” protest in that city a few weeks ago.
It’s not lost on us that their role-playing of anglo colonialists and the use of anti-Native American language is supremely unfunny.
An edited version of the speech was originally floating around some online accounts, but Cowboys for Trump posted a more complete (although still with signs of editing) version. Here’s the original video
We can already see the videos getting edited.#PoliticallySpeakingOnly,— Cowboys for Trump (@RideWithC4T) May 19, 2020
what’s a good democrat?
The democrats will manipulate anything they can to tear America apart.
How long will you believe their lies? pic.twitter.com/399M7bJ21k
Despite Griffen’s immediate back-peddling it is clear from the crowd’s response what he wanted to convey and what they wanted to hear.
There are some online petitions circulating that you can sign if you want to add your name, but it is unlikely to sway Griffen’s mind nor those of his party any time soon. While some groups like the Young Republicans have issued calls for apologies, state leadership from either the party or their chair, Steve Pearce, has been basically nil:
The Republican Party of New Mexico wants to state for the record that any statements, whether in jest or serious about harming another individual are just plain wrong.— New Mexico GOP (@NewMexicoGOP) May 20, 2020
You can read all about how the New Mexico Republican Party has amassed a long list of racist and bigoted posts, statements, and positions even in just the last few years, although in reality, we’ve seen such statements increase in frequency and loudness since the 2016 election.
Appropriate outrage has been expressed at Griffen’s call to violence in general, however, our community would be remiss in not addressing the racist terminology that is incredibly tone-deaf and hurtful toward our Indigenous communities in particular.