Loomer has called Muslims “savages” and Islam a “cancer”. That she’s now a GOP nominee for Congress points to a deeper rot in the party.
Anti-Muslim extremist Laura Loomer, who has been banned from multiple social media platforms for hate speech, won a Republican congressional primary in Florida on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old far-right activist secured the six-way race in Florida’s 21st congressional district, home to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, after receiving an overwhelming 14,457 votes – 42 percent of those cast.
She will battle Democratic incumbent and House Representative Lois Frankel for Congress in November.
Loomer, who has called Muslims “savages” and referred to herself as a “proud Islamophobe,” is notorious for her xenophobic rhetoric and public political stunts. She is a vocal supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits that a “satanic cabal of elites” are running a secret global paedophile ring.
Trump took to Twitter to congratulate her on Wednesday morning.
Great going Laura. You have a great chance against a Pelosi puppet! https://t.co/pKZp35dUYr— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2020
While a win in November is unlikely, Trump’s support could give her a major boost. Also backing Loomer are right-wing figures like Roger Stone and House Representative Matt Gaetz, who is also from Florida.
Loomer has built her public profile through vicious attacks against Muslims and immigrants. Her vile rhetoric has seen her blacklisted by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Medium, PayPal, Venmo, GoFundMe, Uber and Lyft – garnering her the self-awarded title of “the most banned person in the world”.
I've spent much of the past 5 years thinking and writing about the worst people on the internet, because they reveal something important, if terrifying, about our new attentional economy. Even I never imagined that Laura Loomer—Laura Loomer!—could win a Congressional primary.— Andrew Marantz (@andrewmarantz) August 19, 2020
Her primary win underscores the degree to which explicit anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t just tolerated in the Republican party, but rewarded.
An Islamophobic portfolio
A former contributor to the conspiracy site InfoWars, Loomer was well known in the right-wing ecosphere for working for Project Veritas, a conservative group that specialised in ambushing politicians and journalists in questionably edited sting videos.
In July 2017 she cheered on the deaths of migrants, infamously calling for 2,000 more to die in response to news that 2,000 migrants had perished crossing the Mediterranean.
When Laura Lommer shows you who they are, believe them. pic.twitter.com/qx49setUTu— The Sparrow Project (@sparrowmedia) August 19, 2020
After an ISIS supporter killed eight people with a truck in November 2017, she went on an Islamophobic rant on Twitter, blaming ride-hailing apps for employing Muslim drivers.
“Someone needs to create a non-Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver,” she wrote. Uber and Lyft subsequently became the first of many tech platforms that barred her.
In 2018, Loomer garnered attention when she travelled the country “investigating” Muslim candidates for office.
During Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s first House run, Loomer showed up at a campaign event and harassed Omar and Rashida Tlaib, two women who went on to become the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress.
Loomer, who is Jewish, then claimed both Omar and Tlaib were “anti-American and anti-Jewish,” and that Omar supported female genital mutilation because she is Muslim, leading to a ban from Twitter in November for a series of tweets attacking Omar.
Her obsession with the two Muslim congresswomen didn’t end there.
In 2019, Loomer visited Capitol Hill, filming herself trying to interrogate Omar and Tlaib, falsely claiming that they were illegitimate members of Congress because they both swore their oath-of-office on the Quran and wanted them to retake their oath on the Bible or “go back to the Middle East if they support Sharia”.
Facebook and Instagram banned her in May 2019 after she called Islam “a cancer on humanity” and that “Muslims should not be allowed to seek positions of political office in this country”. She additionally claimed Omar wanted “another 9/11”.
The next month on Telegram, Loomer demonstrated her utter disregard for Muslim lives, saying that “Nobody cares about Christchurch,” referring to the 2019 white nationalist massacre of 51 Muslims inside two mosques in the New Zealand city. “I especially don’t.”
Laura Loomer uses social media (Telegram) to make it clear that she cares more about social media than she does the 51 people brutally massacred by a white nationalist terrorist who sounded a lot like Laura Loomer on social media. pic.twitter.com/sZmMdYR8QF— Luke O'Brien (@lukeobrien) May 17, 2019
According to a report from Right Wing Watch, Loomer works closely with a Florida-based organisation called United West, which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group.
The watchdog also noted that the white nationalist website VDare supported her candidacy for Congress. She previously posed for a photograph with prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Symptom of a deeper rot
Conservative journalist Jonathan Last in the Bulwark wrote that Loomer won “not in spite of being a crazy, but because she is a crazy”.
Loomer is just the latest example. In the current cycle alone, six QAnon sympathisers have won Republican primaries.
Earlier this month, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon devotee who has made a litany of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic comments, won a Georgia primary and is on track to win a congressional seat in November.
Voices once on the fringe have now been emboldened to run openly for political office, indicating that the rot in the Republican party runs deep, and while exacerbated by Trump, predates him. Extremism and conspiratorial rhetoric has gradually become a selling point to conservative voters since the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president.
If the trend holds, the next crop of “rising stars” of the GOP are set to be unabashed racists, bigots and conspiracy loons – and on their way to challenging for and even winning the highest public offices in the land.
Even if Trump loses in 2020, the problem of a party that elevates people like Loomer will still loom over American politics.