Calling for a military coup in the United States is a deplorable, possibly criminal act, and one that shouldn’t be tolerated or encouraged by political leaders. And former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones doesn’t believe such a statement is partisan.
Jones was critical Tuesday of the Jefferson County Republican Party’s decision to have Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor, headline an event honoring longtime state Rep. Jim Carns and Alabama Supreme Court justice Mike Bolin. Flynn recently was caught on tape at a Q-Anon event advocating for a military coup and continuing to spread the lie that Donald Trump was cheated out of the 2020 presidential election.
Flynn’s comments, in which he referenced a military coup in Myanmar, and then asked, “I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here? I mean, it can. It should happen here.”
The blowback from all corners of the country — Democrats and Republicans alike — forced to Flynn into damage control, and he offered a confusing explanation for his comments, saying he actually meant the opposite of what he said. But the video is clear, and those weren’t Flynn’s only comments advocating for the use of the military to return Trump to office.
Political and military leaders across the country have admonished Flynn for his rhetoric, and many have encouraged political leaders to steer clear of him. That didn’t stop the JeffCo Republican Party from booking Flynn and sticking with him.
County chair Paul DeMarco told al.com on Monday that he was satisfied with Flynn’s after-the-fact explanation, and Flynn remains the headline speaker. Attempts to reach DeMarco on Tuesday were unsuccessful. An email sent to the organizer of the event was also not returned.
“It’s bad enough that he said what he did, but that he made the comments on Memorial Day weekend — when we are celebrating the lives of the 2,000-plus men who paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can live free in this country, it’s just insulting,” Jones said. “And he can’t walk back what he said. It’s clear as day. It’s a really, really bad look for the leadership of a party to be encouraging that sort of rhetoric.”
Jones, a Democrat, said his criticism isn’t about partisan politics. While in office, he was one of the most bipartisan senators and built a reputation quickly for working across the aisle. Jones said he knows Carns and Bolin to be good men, even if they often disagree on certain issues.
“This is simply about democracy, the rule of law, the American way of life,” Jones said. “If we can’t agree on this, what can we agree on? (Flynn) is not just some usual partisan speaker — I wouldn’t get involved in this if that were the case. Saying what he did, with his history, he’s a destructive force.”
Jones said that Flynn’s past military service, during which he achieved the Army rank of lieutenant general, shouldn’t excuse his comments. Because he’s not the only former soldier to be ensnared by political dogma.
“Just because at one point someone was in the military doesn’t excuse them from what they say or do,” Jones said. “We’ve seen others struggle with the rhetoric and flawed ideology. Look at Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber). Look at Eric Rudolph (the Olympic Park bomber).
“Just imagine if this had been a person associated with the Democratic Party and Democratic event who said something like this. This state would be on fire right now. And rightfully so. His military service doesn’t absolve him.”
It’s unclear which businesses are sponsoring the event. APR reached out to several companies that typically purchase tables at large political events, but so far none have admitted to supporting the event.
“I really can’t believe that businesses in this state would put their names on an event with this man speaking,” Jones said. “It’s a sad state of affairs when businesses will pay money to support that sort of dangerous rhetoric.”