SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee charged Senate Democrats with being on the side of violent protesters he described as “dimwitted, phony drama addicts” for opposing his resolution Thursday condemning “mob violence” in the wake of nationwide demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd.
The Utah Republican’s comments came on the Senate floor during a heated debate with Sen. Bob Menendez after the New Jersey Democrat objected to the resolution, effectively killing it.
Menendez wanted to add a line saying specifically the president should not incite violence or legitimize those who engage in hate-fueled acts, noting President Donald Trump recently retweeted video of someone yelling “white power” and white people pointing guns at peaceful protesters.
Lee refused, calling Democrats’ objection to the resolution “bat guano-inspired insanity.”
“This is a statement that says mob violence is bad. Democrats can’t say mob violence is bad without simultaneously taking a jab at the president of the United States?” Lee said.
Lee said the resolution was designed to be unifying and avoided controversial subjects.
“You can’t really oppose this, it seems to me, without being on the side of the mobs, of mob violence, of mob mentality, of cruelty and intolerance and terror,” he said. “I don’t think one can oppose this without being comfortable with those things.”
Lee said violent protesters aren’t enlightened, edgy or hip.
“They’re frauds. They’re dimwitted, phony drama addicts,” he said.
Lee went on say the mobs were failed by the education system and addled by a social media culture that taught them to be victims instead of citizens, “a privileged, self-absorbed crime syndicate with participation trophy graduate degrees, trying to find meaning in empty lives by destroying things that other Americans have spent honest, productive lives building.”
Menendez also took issue with language in the resolution describing the founding of the United States, saying it “reeks of a supremacist view. We know better.”
There is no mention of America’s “original sin, which is slavery,” he said. Menendez questioned the resolution suggesting the country is morally committed to justice across all ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural difference and to protect equal rights for all.
“Well, I can tell you in my home state of New Jersey and across the nation, there are many Americans who clearly do not believe that we are morally committed to justice across all such differences,” he said.
That was reflected in Republicans’ response to Floyd’s death as well as the deaths of others across the country, Menendez said.
“A lot of rhetoric, very little reform,” he said.
Menendez also said the resolution mischaracterizes what “overwhelmingly” has been peaceful protests.
Lee said it’s important for the Senate to go on record condemning the rising tide of mob violence and the increasingly prevalent mob mentality that’s fueling it.
“The violence struck home for me this week when one of my constituents was shot after an armed mob surrounded his vehicle in Provo,” he said, referring to an incident Monday where a gunman shot a man driving as protesters attempted to block Center Street. The man suffered a gunshot wound to the arm and shrapnel in his eye and stomach.
Lee said when the Senate returns from its recess later this month, it will be debating more than a resolution. He said it’s time to expose the “shiftless idiocy of the anti-American, anti-science, anti-establishment, anti-Constitution mob and remove their snouts from the federal trough.”
Colleges and universities punish free speech and discriminate against conservative and religious students, city councils defund police departments and states force doctors to mutilate confused children without their parents consent, Lee said.
“The whole garbage fire that is the woke ideology depends on federal money. The mob that hates America on America’s dime. It’s time to cut off their allowance,” he said.
Lee said he thinks Americans would be interested to know who stands for them and who stands for subsidizing the mob.
“I intend to show them,” he said, adding the debate is only beginning.
Menendez said he looks forward to that debate because he has legislation to deal with the rising tide of white supremacists becoming a national threat.
Republicans, he said, are unwilling to call out Trump when his language incites violence.
“What it shows me is that I guess President Trump is right. He could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, and certainly my colleagues here would not hold him responsible,” Menendez said.
According to Lee’s resolution, “some Americans, unsatisfied with peaceful and positive demonstrations, have instigated and indulged in mob violence and criminal property destruction, not in service of any just or coherent cause, but simply as an arrogant, bullying tantrum of self-righteous illiberalism and rage.”
Those mobs have shown contempt for public safety, including an unprovoked attack on a Wisconsin state senator and the shooting of a motorist in Provo early this week, the resolution says.
Violent protesters also have manifest their ignorance and historical illiteracy with the destruction of memorials to historical heroes like Ulysses S. Grant, St. Junipero Serra, Miguel Cervantes, George Washington and Hans Christian Heg, according to the resolution.
The document also notes a reported plan to target a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., financed in 1876 by private donations from freed African American slaves.
The resolution proposes that the Senate call on all Americans to condemn the “rising tide of vandalism, mob violence, and the mob mentality that feeds, including its cruel and intolerant ‘cancel culture.’”
It also says physical assault and property destruction are not forms of political speech but violent crimes whose perpetrators should be prosecuted. The document also says innocent law enforcement officers, public officials and citizens who suffer the mob’s violence and endure its scorn while protecting communities from them deserve appreciation.
The resolution says the nation’s police officers do an “extremely difficult job extremely well,” and despite the inexcusable misconduct of some, the overwhelming majority of officers are honest, courageous, patriotic and rightfully honored public servants.