On Sunday, Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins posted a disturbing message on his verified personal Facebook page calling for “all of Christendom” to hunt down and kill every single “radicalized” Islamic suspect:
The free world... all of Christendom... is at war with Islamic horror. Not one penny of American treasure should be granted to any nation who harbors these heathen animals. Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identity them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.
The message was attached to a photo of British police standing over the bodies of the terrorists responsible for the recent terrorist attacks in London.
Using a Facebook post to publicly call for the genocide of an entire religious group would be unthinkable for most congresspeople—not because they’re especially smart or moral, but because they seem to enjoy getting reelected. For Louisiana’s Clay Higgins, however, this hardly constitutes the worst abuse of power in his short lived career serving the public.
Higgins is former police captain who resigned from his post in 2007, dodging major disciplinary measures for excessive use of force. Before taking office, he was best known for a series of local Crime Stoppers videos where, like a K-Mart David Clarke, he appeared in uniform berating wanted suspects. The videos got him the nickname of “cajun John Wayne” and their content earned him the ire of his boss, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, who, “repeatedly told him to stop saying divisive, disrespectful or demeaning things.” Even the ACLU chimed in to criticize Higgins’ use of religious terminology when describing his work.
“Bigoted meathead” is a familiar trope in policing. But Higgins is much more and so much worse.
Take another look at that mock swearing-in photo with Speaker Paul Ryan. Notice the glut of wristbands? They’re the same ones depicted here—advertisements for his online merch, previously sold at captainhigginsgear.com. Is it low, bordering on desperate to commercialize one’s own congressional photo-op? Absolutely. But Higgins had a provincial sort of knack for self-promotion. He used the Crime Stoppers videos to launch a side businesses of paid appearances on TV and radio (as well as the aforementioned t-shirts, mugs, and wrist bands). That Higgins spent time between the Army and law enforcement as a car salesman should be unsurprising.
Emails obtained by Salon last year revealed Higgins demanded to be paid in cash for these various appearances—gains which he conveniently left off his tax returns. Yet somehow with these varied income streams, the congressman allegedly has not paid child support to one of his ex-wives in over a decade, and now owes in excess of $140,000.
Higgins is a petty, self-serving tyrant who considers law and geopolitics as a holy war, but that could easily describe Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, or Donald Trump—and it’s unsurprising Higgins is a fan of the current administration. Trump’s outsider win helped pave the way for his own, and the two shared a stage at the annual NRA convention this year, along with current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Sheriff David Clarke. How, when dogged with this many scandals, Higgins manages to remain in office is a question all too familiar for anyone reading the headlines about those in power in Washington.
We’ve reached out Rep. Higgins and Facebook for comment and will update if we hear back.
Update 6/5/17 1:00pm ET: Reached by email, a Higgins spokesperson claimed the congressman was advocating for the extrajudicial killing of all suspected Muslim terrorists, not all suspicious Muslims, stating, “Rep. Higgins is referring to terrorists. He’s advocating for hunting down and killing all of the terrorists. This is an idea all of America & Britain should be united behind.” Some of Rep. Higgins’ other social media posts tell another story.
Update 6/5/17 4:26pm ET: A Facebook spokesperson replied to Gizmodo to state that Rep. Higgins’ post does not violate the site’s standards on hate speech. Their official stance is that Higgins’ sentiment is not directed at all Muslims. Sure, that position doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny, but neither does the company’s own internal manual for moderators.