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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Extreme Rhetoric Results in Political Violence: Pipe Bombs and Mass Murder

Given the events of today especially as well as the preceding days, to write that it has been a bad week would be a horrible understatement.


On October 22, a package was found at the home of financier George Soros containing a pipe bomb. Soros has been set up as a boogeyman figure by many on the right and figures prominently in their conspiracies including funding antifa (or really any protest against Trump and his policies):


The attacks against him consistently contain antisemitic tropes. The following day, a similar package containing a pipe bomb was delivered to the home of former president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, though the secret service intercepted the package before it arrived.

The response of much of the right in the United States was to suggest that the pipe bombs were a "false flag" and were carried out by left-wing groups. They blamed the Democratic Party, antifa, George Soros, the Clintons, and Obama. In Canada, the reaction of the groups and individuals I follow on social media followed a similar trend. For example, on the Canadian Combat Coalition page, members simultaneously celebrated the attempted assassinations and denied that they had actually occurred. It was also claimed that anyone who would be arrested was a patsy; the far right knew the "real" truth:


More pipe bombs followed. Between October 22 and 26, George Soros, the Clintons, Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters, John O. Brennan, Joe Biden, Robert De Niro, James Clapper, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Tom Steyer. Almost all of these packages were intercepted at a postal facility. The commonality of all these individuals is that they are prominent critics and political adversaries of Donald Trump. Every one of them have been personally named, attacked, and been dehumanized by Trump.

It shouldn't be all that surprise that this occurred. Violent rhetoric has defined the Trump presidency and that of many of his much of his base. He has encouraged his supporters to attack protesters at his rallies. As recently as last week he praised a Republian congressman for assaulting a journalist. He routinely calls for the arrest of his political opponents (to which his supporters bleat "lock her up" on cue). He refers to the press as the "enemy of the people."

And even after all of this, he still can't help but return to form:






As in the United States, those few Canadians who support Trump refuse to acknowledge that his rhetoric has contributed to this current political climate even as they themselves continue to post comments regarding the need to "purge" society of the left; when someone actually attempted make the online threats a reality, they deny that it could possibly be one of their own:







On October 26, a suspect was arrested:



He was a registered Republican....


.... and a virulently racist who routinely threatened people on the left as well as the press on Twitter and Facebook:


His posts attacking President Obama appear to go back to at least 2011:






However, don't think that something as insignificant as "evidence" or "facts" will sway the far-right in the United States or Canada:



Echoing the antisemitism of many who are claiming the attempted political assassinations are a "false flag" a leader in the Canadian Combat Coalition has posted the following:




They also undermine themselves with posts (and the accompanying comments) such as these:



Many of us who have been concerned about the violent political discourse emanating from the White House have said that it was a matter of time before it would result in a tragedy; truth be told there were numerous instances that I could point to where this has already occurred. Thankfully in this case a tragedy was averted.

If it was lucky that the attempted political assassinations were not successful, the luck ran out today in horrible fashion:


Unlike the pipe bomb suspect who was obsessive in his devotion to Trump and who turned his van into a veritable shrine, the suspect in the murder of (as of this writing) 11 men and women at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was not a fan of Trump. However this isn't because he was a progressive. In fact his criticism of Trump was that he wasn't nationalistic and extreme enough:





However his hatred was based in large part on the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, Islamophobic, and I'd say antisemitic atmosphere of fear, resentment, and blame fostered by people like Trump. For example, these are among the Tweets this month from Trump regarding a caravan of refugees traveling north to the US border:







While the suspect in the synagogue massacre might not have liked Trump, he was still dipping into the same well:




This last post was made shortly before he allegedly attacked the synagogue:



The dehumanization of immigrants and refugees in this country may also have played roll in what could very well have been a horrible tragedy:


Thus far after monitoring the reaction of Canadian rightists, I see a few general themes even though most of these posts were made after the suspect had been arrested and named. They blame antifa:


Muslims:



The Jews and George Soros:



And, of course, all of the above including the old "false flag" chestnut:


I have to admit that right now, I'm not feeling especially hopeful for any of this ending any time soon:

UPDATE: Because far too often we remember the names of the shooters, and not their victims.

1 comment:

Jay Farquharson said...

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2018/10/27/taking-stock-after-this-weeks-domestic-terrorism-incidents-where-we-are-and-what-comes-next/#comments