South Dakota Republicans are making it harder to distinguish checked shirts from brownshirts—or maybe they’ll adopt the term Brandonshirts. Here’s our part-time Governor Kristi Noem engaged in more crypto-crudity for her adoring fascist fans:
Here Governor Noem and Madison seed magnate, hotelier, Republican donor, and presidential election-doubter Terry Schultz proudly display a t-shirt reading “LET’S GO BRANDON”. But they aren’t promoting patriotic economic development in Brandon. They’re peddling another vulgar partisan meme that typifies the smirking bullies that Noem and her party have become:
…It’s a euphemism—and its direct translation is “F*** Joe Biden.”
To understand how an apparent chant of encouragement morphed into a right-wing rallying cry, we have to go back to a NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway that took place about three weeks ago. It was a big day for 28-year-old driver Brandon Brown, who’d just scored his first Xfinity Series win, which is why he was interviewed on camera by NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast. Stavast, on the fly, suggested to Brown that the crowd was cheering “Let’s go, Brandon” in his honor.
But anyone watching could hear clearly that that’s not what the crowd was cheering. It’s unclear whether Stavast misheard or was, as some outlets reported, attempting “damage control,” and Stavast has not commented on the matter. Some confusion would be somewhat understandable—“Let’s go, Brandon” has the same number of syllables as “F*** Joe Biden.” But for conservatives who believe the media is constantly lying to them, it felt like a potent example of a journalist distorting the truth. After that, “the conservative social media ecosystem quickly latched onto the moment,” as the BBC put it.
“Let’s go, Brandon!” has since been chanted at college football games, printed on T-shirts, and praised by Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz. It’s also trended numerous times on social media as a tongue-in-cheek way to criticize Biden and blame him for anything that’s going wrong in the country at any given moment. According to tech site BGR, it’s now “simply being used as a replacement for the more vulgar invective directed at President Biden. Instead of dropping the f-bomb at the president like that crowd did, you can say this [phrase] instead—and people will know what you really mean” [Heather Schwedel, “The Story Behind “Lets Go Brandon,” the Secretly Vulgar Chant Suddenly Beloved by Republicans,” Slate, 2021.10.22].
Noem’s thinly-veiled f-bomb is just another aspect of the brownshirt mentality that now typifies a Republican Party captured by Donald Trump, a party that now affirms the worst impulses of bullies everywhere. Tom Lawrence documents more crassness and Hitler Youth thuggery committed by Republican bullies at the South Dakota State Fair:
This year, pro-Trump idiots repeatedly invaded the South Dakota Democratic Party Building. They harassed and swore at volunteers, destroyed campaign material and tried to record and harass Democrats who were simply seeking to communicate with fellow South Dakotans.
Three men urinated on a Biden-Harris sign at the fair. This isn’t a vague report — one of the men posted a photo of it on social media!
Were there consequences for this behavior? Not in Trump-friendly South Dakota.
The State Fair ignored it, Democrats claim. State Fair Manager Peggy Besch told me it was merely “free speech.”
Local law enforcement declined to make a report. And the South Dakota Republican Party did nothing, and may well have spurred the Trump deplorables on as they attacked the SDDP [Tom Lawrence, “Trump Supporters Repeatedly Harassed South Dakota Democrats at State Fair—and Nothing Was Done About It,” South Dakota Standard, 2021.10.23].
South Dakota Republicans openly engage in vulgarity, bullying, and other bad behavior, and not only does no one hold them accountable, but the top Republican in the state affirms such behavior.