Since President Trump’s election there’s been a well-documented rise in the number and visibility of extremist groups. I don’t mean extremist in the way some people automatically refer to anyone who disagrees with them. I mean: officially designated and classified as a dangerous extremist organization.
As evidence of the increasing visibility of these groups, members associated with certain branches of those organizations exist right here in our backyard — including two hosts of a local radio show. And, earlier this month, I found myself targeted and attacked on that show because I had quietly refused their invitation to appear.
Let’s take a step back. Earlier this year, the hosts of ConnectingRight, a local radio show, invited me to appear as a guest. Without any public fanfare, I declined.
To be clear, I’m always happy to engage with people from across the political spectrum, and I enjoy doing so. In fact, I believe it’s critical to our democracy that we have open conversations with one another, regardless of political party, and that our elected officials take the time to listen to different viewpoints and work to represent the entire community — not just those who voted for them.
I’ve spent significant time being interviewed by conservative media, and I will continue to participate in such interviews in the future. But I will not give a platform to extremists to help with their quest to normalize dangerous and intolerant positions.
ConnectingRight is hosted by two self-proclaimed members of the Three Percent, an organization that has been classified by the Anti-Defamation League as an extremist organization. Members of various branches of the Three Percent have plotted domestic terrorist attacks and incited violence against members of Congress and other elected officials.
Heavily armed, other Three Percenters have patrolled the border for immigrants and took part in the recent neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville.
The hosts of ConnectingRight have made their involvement with the Three Percent a central tenet of their radio show, talking about their membership, posing with guns in front of the Three Percent flag, and even displaying the Three Percent tattoo on one of the host’s arms. The radio show now serves as an outlet for the Three Percent to ingrain itself in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The show regularly espouses the dangerous viewpoints of the Three Percent, while also exhibiting extreme misogyny. As just one example, the hosts titled a recent podcast episode: “Kamala Harris is a f***ing c**t.”
For me, rejecting the invitation to appear on the show wasn’t hard. And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to reach across the aisle. Here’s why I declined:
I’m an American, and I believe in the fundamental and self-evident truth that everyone is created equal. So I will never amplify the voice of a group whose members defend white supremacists, terrorize immigrants, and sanction hate crimes because of someone’s skin color or religious beliefs.
I’m a patriot, and I will never amplify the voice or reach of a designated extremist group that calls for the assassination of public officials and the violent overthrow of the United States government.
I’m a feminist, and I will never amplify the voice of a person who is openly misogynistic, or calls our sitting Senator a “f**king c**t.”
From Charlottesville to Berkeley, hate crimes are on the rise and polarization is at an all-time high. Now more than ever is the time to unite and hold onto our shared values as Americans.
We must not normalize hate and can’t turn a blind eye to extremism. Let’s join together to proclaim in a single voice that such vile viewpoints have no place in our community.
Bryan Caforio is a candidate for California’s 25th Congressional District and a consumer rights attorney who lives in Santa Clarita.