A new report from The Kansas City Star outlines the longtime affinity of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) for far-right causes. Hawley gained an extra level of national infamy after he announced his plan to object to the Congressional certification of some of Joe Biden’s electoral votes, a move that helped incite the recent rioting at the Capitol, where Trump supporters tried to stop the proceedings to certify the electoral college outcome altogether. Now, The Kansas City Star has shared the news that, back in the 1990s, Hawley actually wrote articles in which (among other points) he defended anti-government militia groups in the United States.
Hawley was a teenager in the 1990s. He launched his defense of militia groups after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, when 168 people lost their lives via the work of militia-connected terrorists. Within the months following the incident, Hawley insisted that many of the people who were “populating these movements are not radical, right-wing, pro-assault weapons freaks as they were originally stereotyped,” defensively adding that those involved in the militias were “dismissed by the media and treated with disdain by their elected leaders.” Again — Hawley offered these defenses of domestic militia groups not long after the groups’ actions culminated in the violent deaths of over 160 people in Oklahoma City.
In another instance, Hawley offered a written defense for Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman, whose “use of racial slurs came to light during the O.J. Simpson trial,” The Kansas City Star notes. Hawley complained that “derogatory labels such as ‘racist’ are widely misused, and our ability to have open debate is eroding,” while in another column from the same year, he complained that the late Martin Luther King Jr. “must be rolling over in his grave” over the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s support for affirmative action programs, which are designed to proactively undo the historical exclusion of Black people and other marginalized groups from certain sectors of society.
Hawley’s articles appeared in a Lexington, Missouri publication called The Lexington News, which appears to still be in print. Lexington itself is a comparatively small town, although it’s the county seat of Lafayette County, Missouri.
A selection of people who knew Hawley in his earlier years, prior to his entry into politics, have spoken out against his recent behavior. Memorably, 87-year-old Shirley Guevel, who attended church alongside the Hawley family in Lexington, told The Kansas City Star that “she viewed him as a person who had never been told “no” as a child,” the publication summarizes. Andrea Randle, who went to middle school with Hawley, emailed Hawley’s campaign last year talking about the version of Hawley who she knew, which she characterized as “the young man who looked into the future,” but she “never received a reply,” according to the Star. Randle was “urging her childhood friend to speak out” amidst nationwide protests against racial injustice, according to the publication.