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Please Stand Up

Thu, 02/01/2024 - 09:43


The poster, hand-lettered in red and blue marker, caught our attention. Someone was inviting the public to a screening of two documentaries promising to explain “what really happened on January 6” at the American Legion Hall in Amagansett last Saturday. “Find out from someone who was there,” the poster said. Although the host of the program didn’t list his name on the flier, we, being in the newspaper business, recognized the phone number on the bottom: It belonged to a well-known former chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee.

At least one Montauk resident who attended, and whose letter to the editor appears in this week’s paper, was captivated — moved and inspired, apparently — by the documentaries. One of them was produced by the Epoch Times, a far-right, primarily Chinese-language media company associated with the Falun Gong movement. The second was made and produced by a man named A.J. Fischer, from a nonprofit called Investigate J6.

A.J. (Alan) Fischer is, according to court papers, a man from Florida who was captured on video marching to the capital on Jan. 6, 2021, with the Proud Boys, the neo-fascist extremist group that used to describe itself on its own website as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” Mr. Fischer was, according to court documents, among the most aggressive insurrectionists who pushed into the Capitol-building tunnel where some of the worst violence against police officers occurred. He was later arrested for, among other acts, assaulting police officers, throwing two chairs, a pole, and a traffic cone.

If you are so moved, you might want to visit the X (formerly Twitter) page of Investigate J6 to see what seems to be passing for mainstream Republican conversation on a given Saturday in January in Amagansett. On X you will be edified to learn that it was, according to A.J. Fischer and his friends, the U.S. Capitol police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department who caused the problem, firing “unrelenting munitions” on “peaceful protestors” without warning. Investigate J6 has posted a “Wanted” poster of an individual police officer on X, with a photo, calling him a terrorist.

What does all this have to do with small-town East Hampton politics? Nothing and everything. It wasn’t so long ago that we were proud to boast that at least pockets of local politics remained divorced from the us-versus-them dichotomy of the national political landscape. Despite the jibes from some frequent letter writers that The Star is left wing in its editorial leanings, that isn’t quite correct. We are proud to support those who serve on any line on the ballot, as long as they are the best for the job. Party politics is not what’s best for East Hampton.

We wanted to take this moment of escalating feelings — panic, quite reasonably, in some corners over the threat to our democracy posed by election denial — to applaud the principled stand taken by some members of the East End G.O.P. who, instead of hosting screenings of wild-eyed-fantasy films produced by the radical, racist far right, are standing up to defend the actual, longstanding principles of the real G.O.P. See, for example, the letter this week from Perry Duryea III. A.J. Fischer is no Republican. He’s a neo-fascist nationalist who would bring down democracy by brute force, if he weren’t such a pipsqueak. Perry Duryea III is a Republican.

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