Cawthorne in a play for a big score insulted a real hero. “Remember that (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky is a thug,” Cawthorne said in a Raleigh, NC WRAL video released earlier this month. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt, incredibly vicious and promotes awakened ideologies.”
Cawthorn, having faced criticism from a number of Republican lawmakers, has since taken a different tone. tweet
“The resilience of the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian aggression has inspired the world. The commitment they have shown to the preservation of their sovereign nation is extraordinary.”
His spokesman also tried to clarify Cawthorne’s position, telling CNN that while the congressman supports Ukraine, he “doesn’t want to see America dragged into yet another conflict through emotional manipulation.”
By attacking Zelensky, Cawthorne went after a leader whose courage in the face of rocket attacks, bullets and explosions is admired across the political spectrum. The same can be said for Zelenskiy’s democratically elected government, which has so far held back an unprovoked invasion by a much more powerful power led by a dictator. Cothorn’s inflammatory choice of words – calling the Ukrainian president a “thug” and his government “evil” – is akin to describing Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wartime cabinet as aggressor hooligans during the Blitz.
To be fair, even the master of the trolling game played the war wrong from the start. In the days leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, former President Donald Trump called Vladimir Putin’s strategy “savvy” and “brilliant.” But since then the former president changed my tune
, moving away from praising Putin and focusing more on his belief that American leaders are “dumb.” He also called the invasion a “crime against humanity” and praised the Ukrainians for being “brilliant fighters”.
Cawthorn certainly isn’t completely out of his mind for joining the ranks
Carlson and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green. Carlson called Zelensky a “dictator”, and Grin parrot
Russian propaganda, disinformation and other lies in an attempt take pictures
from President Joe Biden, among others.
Together, Trump, Cawthorne, Carlson, and Green show how outrageous and confusing the response of the most extremist factions of the Republican Party to the war in Ukraine has been.
Some of their comments may have gone too far even for those on the right. NBC report shows several Trump followers said
they were all for doing more to support Ukraine, even if that meant higher gas prices. This sentiment is reflected in Quinnipiac University Poll
Earlier this month, it was revealed that two-thirds of Republicans and 71% of all Americans favor a ban on Russian oil.
Of course, there are pro-Putin sentiments among right-wing extremists, many of whom identify with the conservative, nationalist and homophobic views of the Russian leader and see him as hero “against awakening”
. And a pro-Putin conspiracy theory based on false claims that the US is developing bioweapons in Ukraine has gained support among some of the online communities formed around QAnon.
To be clear, there are biolabs in Ukraine, but the US is funding these facilities to prevent the development of bioweapons. This did not seem to matter to Carlson, who insisted otherwise and clips on air
Russian and Chinese officials supported this idea.
It is likely that Cawthorne, influenced by Carlson and others on the right, underestimated how his comments could be taken more broadly. Whatever the case, the Russians certainly welcomed him into the club of anti-Ukrainian voices to come out.
Meanwhile, the man he called a thug inspires his nation and receives a standing ovation from Congress and the British Parliament. As for Cawthorne, even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the freshman legislator was “wrong.” editorial staff of the Winston-Salem Journal
criticized his comments and called him “North Carolina’s gift to Crazytown”.
And with Cathorn’s electoral competitors lashing out at his unforced error with an eye on a primary less than two months away, he doesn’t have much time to hone his attack dog skills.