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Opinion >  Column

Shawn Vestal: Matt Shea, the Redoubt rock star, keeps riling up his followers for ‘total war’

Roy Lloyd and his daughters Summer, center, and Desi place their hands on a Bible held by former Rep. Matt Shea as Caleb Collier, right, with the John Birch Society leads the crowd in swearing an oath to uphold the constitution during a "Stop the Steal" rally on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Spokane County Courthouse in Spokane.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Roy Lloyd and his daughters Summer, center, and Desi place their hands on a Bible held by former Rep. Matt Shea as Caleb Collier, right, with the John Birch Society leads the crowd in swearing an oath to uphold the constitution during a "Stop the Steal" rally on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Spokane County Courthouse in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Less than a month after the fatal Capitol takeover by self-described patriots battling supposed tyranny, Matt Shea stood before an adoring crowd in North Idaho and told them to prepare for “total war.”

The rambling visions of massive, global conspiracy Shea shared for more than an hour last weekend at a Boundary County Fairgrounds “Freedom is the Cure” event were in many ways, an energetic recitation of his greatest hits.

In the shadow of the Capitol riots, though, all that incendiary talk has taken on a much darker cast, even at its silliest.

Boiled down, Shea’s presentation last weekend went something like this: Christian patriots are under siege from a global conspiracy of Marxists, globalists, communists, socialists, antifa, Democrats, the media, China, Venezuela, Black Lives Matter, moderate Republicans, the FBI, Muslims – and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

That chain, as you may know, stopped carrying the pillows of crackpot Mike Lindell, whose insistence on the Trump election fraud bunkum has become too crazy for even Newsmax. Shea called on his fans to build an alternative economy where MyPillow can thrive.

“As Christians, we should make plans to prosper in this environment,” he said, in a video of the events posted Jan. 31 on YouTube. “We need a company that can replace Bed, Bath and Beyond. Start thinking this way. We need businesses that can replace this garbage with true patriot intent and heart.”

In recent weeks, I’ve checked in on the activities of a couple of local figures from the far right, just to see what they’ve been up to in the wake of the tragic culmination of the Trump-era alt-right movement at the Capitol riot.

Ken Peters, the “patriot pastor” who led the protests outside Planned Parenthood here until leaving to expand his efforts in other states, spoke at a rally in Washington, D.C., the night before the riots, and claimed to have caught a ride there on Lindell’s private plane.

James Allsup, the former white supremacist provocateur and president of a student GOP group at Washington State University who grew to online prominence with the surge of pro-Trump racists five years ago, is still doing podcasts in the alt-right corners of the internet, revising the events of the Trump collapse into a new version of the old anti- Semitic global conspiracy.

His views are close to Shea’s – though Allsup is focused on explicitly identifying Jews as the source of global evil, while Shea sticks to the coded “globalists.”

Shea, who chose not to run for re-election after an investigator concluded he had engaged in “domestic terrorism” by assisting the Malheur occupation in Oregon, has stepped into Peters’ former spot at the head of Spokane’s Covenant Church and continued his role as the rock star of the American Redoubt, serving up big, steaming bowls of alternative-universe gruel.

That’s what he was up to last weekend.

First things first: Shea knows – “incontrovertibly”– that the election was stolen from Donald Trump, and he suggests that he’s got the real facts from the former president himself.

“I can’t say all of what I know,” he said, “but I know what the president knows and eventually that’s going to be coming out.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence – “Boo!” – and others interfered with the revelation of that truth, and he is now a traitor to America who “should be right next to Benedict Arnold in the history books, with his picture.”

Meanwhile, the “illegitimate” government of “Traitor Joe” Biden moves forward, helping to further the massive Islamo-communist-antifa-Democrat-Bed-Bath-and-Beyond plot to destroy the lives of patriots.

“If evil comes to our door, we do not wish the wolf away,” he said. “We drive the wolf off if we have to, we slam the wolf into the ground if we have to, we defend the country we have been given and that was bought by blood. And if we are not prepared to do that, we do not deserve to live free.”

Shea connected a wild, wide array of dots, including:

  • A discussion of the Battle of Tours in the year 732 (“The Army of Islam would go into churches and rape all the nuns on the altar until there were no more virgins left and then they’d start in on the boys.”)
  • An exhaustive depiction of antifa as the violent arm of Marxists in cahoots with government officials, offering a dot-covered map of supposed antifa strongholds labeled “Communists in America.”
  • A “plandemic” vision of a coronavirus plot (“It is not about COVID, it is not about COVID, it is not about COVID. It’s about collapsing the economy, destroying the middle class and small business owners, and then blaming it on Trump.”)
  • The revelation that “China is arming Black Lives Matter protesters with illegal weapons.”
  • Urging people to stop consuming real-world media (And to “stop sending me messages about whether something is true or not that’s coming from KXLY!”)

The upshot of the gathering was Shea’s answer to the question: What do we do now?

“That’s actually the wrong question. What are you willing to sacrifice? Because that’s going to determine what you’re willing to do next,” he said. “Are you willing to go to jail? Are you willing to die for your country? I’m asking the serious question – founding fathers had to ask it. …

“If we want to live free, we have to act,” Shea said, swelling toward his grand finale. “It’s not enough to post online anymore. It’s not enough just to show up at things like this. We have to organize. We have to fight back in every single sphere we possibly can, and if they come to take our guns we will stand and look them in the eye and say, you are not taking one step further. This is the line in the sand. And our country will remain free for our kids and our grandkids, amen, hallelujah, in the name of Jesus Christ.”

The crowd went crazy.

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