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Editor’s Note: This piece first appeared back in September of 2017. I’m re-running it today because things have changed…but that may not make us safer. As Trump slides from power, he and his supporters may become increasingly hysterical. So, as then so today, watch your backs, folks. There could be serious craziness to come.
Today, I’m not going to write about politics, per se. No. Instead, I’m going to be asking you to be careful.
I mean, really careful.
Here’s why. In the last few days, the nation’s attention has been tightly, and rightly focused on the hurricanes which have been battering Florida and Texas—the hurricanes of unprecedented power and fury, which somehow the climate change deniers are still dismissing as unrelated to global warming. (A triumph, don’t you agree, in the twin arts of denial and magical thinking?)
But, before the storms hit, there was something else going on in Right Wing circles. Specifically, there was an observable trend toward …well, strident, even violent language in the public statements of the Right’s leadership.
Let me just take a few of the more interesting proclamations to have recently come from that part of the political world:
1) On June 23 of this year (2017) Alex Jones of Infowars said that “the Left” had started a cultural civil war and, according to Newsweek, offered to personally execute traitors. He also made references to “killing a bunch of liberals.
2) Somewhat later, but also in June, the National Rifle Association released a video that was widely interpreted as being a more or less open call for violence against Liberals and other Leftists. In the video, scenes of a social breakdown appear while right-wing pundit Dana Loesch denigrates Liberals of every sort and adds “The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.
3) Shortly thereafter, the NRA released a second video in which Ms. Loesch told the New York Times that “We’re Coming For you.”
4) Then, in August, long-term Trump advisor, Roger Stone announced that any attempt to remove Trump from office would result in “bloody” civil war, and that any member of Congress who voted for impeachment would be risking their own lives in the process.
5) Moving ahead a month, on September 8, according to Right Wing Watch, conspiracy theorist Carl Gallups announced that “he has proof a demonic ‘deep state’ is out to destroy President Trump.” Further, we are “in a spiritual war,” and, with, perhaps, Liberals playing the role of the demons in this particular apocalypse.
I could go on, but you already get the point. In statement after statement, broadcast after broadcast, video after video, the Right has announced that the Left is evil and violent. (It is fascinating, for instance, to watch the demonization of the AntiFa movement, which—let’s face it—is pretty small and relatively unimportant. Yet, to hear the Right, you’d think it was a vast army of radical thugs, as if the Red Guard were already patrolling the streets.)
And here’s the really troubling thing. None of the above statements explicitly call for violence. Or, rather, none of them can’t be interpreted as being merely strong political language. The NRA never openly calls for its members to pick up their guns and shoot liberals. Even Alex Jones, when confronted by Newsweek by the potential legal consequences of his statements, announced that his broadcast was, in fact, “clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance.”
But, no matter what you call them, these statements…and the vast number of similar pronouncements made by Right-wing figures over the last few years…are extreme. If they are not, technically, an incitement to violence they could easily function as such.
Which brings me to two additional points. First, “Stochastic terrorism.” You’re probably already familiar with the term, but if you’re not, it means the use of mass media, and extremist language, to encourage but not directly cause, violence. In other words, you say again, and again, and again, that your target is a deadly threat to all the culture holds dear, and that “someone ought to do something.” And, eventually, someone does.
We’ve seen this principle in action a number of times. Consider Pizzagate…a total fabrication which reported, falsely and insanely, that a pedophile ring, supported by Democrats, was operating out of a DC pizza parlor. There wasn’t a word of truth to it, but fake news story followed fake news story…growing ever more alarmist…until finally a sad, sick man picked up a gun and went to “investigate.” Only luck prevented anyone from being killed.
Second point…I’m about to engage in a bit of conspiracy theory myself, and you are free to reject it. But, given the stridency of the language now coming out of the Right, and its frequency, I fear that we could be being prepared for some kind of mass violence…some kind of planned, overt, political action against Trump’s opponents.
I do not know that for a fact. I hope that I’m simply being paranoid. Yet…when I look at those videos, and hear that “performance art,” I truly wonder.
So…my conclusion, my friends, watch your backs. And watch each other’s backs. Whether or not there really is a plan to melt all us snowflakes in one great flash of napalm…or merely just a vague longing in certain quarters for a lone psycho with a machine gun…we seem to be moving into dangerous times.
So, be careful.
We need you…the future needs you…alive and well…
And fighting for freedom, and for peace.