Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)
Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS
By Kurt Eichenwald, in the 2-12-16 issue
Before we start, I would like to point out that the author, Kurt Eichenwald, is an epileptic and the journalist who was targeted by extremists and sent a video specifically designed to trigger an epileptic seizure. In other words, someone tried to hurt him via e-mail with the technical equivalent of anthrax. (Seizures can kill. From the CDC: Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy ) He also receives hate mail attacking him, his family and their home, as well as the fact that he is Jewish. He refuses to stop writing and has chosen to keep on educating us about the problems as he sees them.
I am writing this with only 3 weeks left to the election and believe me, I’m counting the days down. I am actively avoiding political news–I don’t seek it out and if it shows up on my timeline, I may read it but I am no longer making minor wall o’texts explaining my view about whatever new atrocity comes out of the GOP camp. I want to be informed, not inflamed. So when the link above showed up, I read it but without any real surprise. It just confirmed my thoughts about the subject.
If you don’t want to click on the link, let me give you the short story: “…the right-wing militants who, since 2002, have killed more people in the United States than jihadis have. In that time, according to New America, a Washington think tank, Islamists launched nine attacks that murdered 45, while the right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead.” This does not include Timothy McVeigh, also an anti-government extremist, whose attack in 1995 killed 168 people.
Also from the article: ” These Americans thrive on hate and conspiracy theories, many fed to them by politicians and commentators who blithely blather about government concentration camps and impending martial law and plans to seize guns and other dystopian gibberish, apparently unaware there are people listening who don’t know it’s all lies. These extremists turn to violence—against minorities, non-Christians, abortion providers, government officials—in what they believe is a fight to save America. And that potential for violence is escalating every day.”
I am NOT going to try to list all of the times that Donald Trump has lied to his supporters and actively encouraged them to take up arms and fight against the government. The term is “sedition” and I believe that he will be the main reason if the “deplorables”, to borrow a term, do mount an armed insurrection. If he loses, as it appears he might, he would not care about bringing down the Federal government in order to assuage his anger and regain “face”. (The Chinese term for pride or appearance of power.) Narcissists are like that. He is a perfect textbook example–and in fact, some psychology/psychiatry professors are using him to explain Narcissism to their students.
There are places that will provide you with that list of his words. Keith Olbermann (The Closer, on GQ online) talked about more than 170 of them, several weeks ago. I’m sure there’s at least 10 more now. Trump is feeding his supporters exactly the kinds of things they want to hear: the government is essentially crooked, the election is rigged (for HRC, not for him, of course), they will have to give away their rights to “those others”–blacks, LGBTQ, uppity women. They are “what will make America great again”, ignoring the facts that we are actually still pretty great. We are not at the edge of some dystopian apocalypse, there are still jobs to be had, and if the government is that crooked…well, that’s another blog. And Trump’s new campaign strategy is specifically to suppress voting. Excuse me, I need a moment to put my brain back on its track. A candidate, for the highest office in our land, is actually trying to keep people from voting. His suggestion that the election is rigged is particularly heinous and strikes at the very heart of “government by the people”. Our voting system is actually very free of fraud, as shown in this:
So there were 3600 TIMES more UFO sightings and almost 34 times more deaths by lightning than there was voter fraud. Thirteen credible cases of voter fraud in 649 MILLION votes cast. I think it’s a fair conclusion to say that voter fraud is NOT a “thing” in our elections. We do not need to fear that our elections are “rigged” within the voting population. Is there some “rigging” elsewhere? I’d say yes, such as gerrymandering our districts to increase the votes for their candidates. (For a detailed analysis, see Princeton author Sam Wang in his 2012 paper) I’d also agree that there was rigging with the whole “hanging chad” issue in the 2000 Presidential race–and not in the ballot forms themselves, but in the recount. (And if not rigging, then some serious finagling.)
So here we are, fall of 2016, in the midst of one of the most incredible, most disgusting races for President that I think our country has ever seen. I still can’t decide if we should decry the Republican candidate for his racist, homophobic, misogynist, and other disenfranchising, dehumanizing views, or thank him for showing us just how much of our country still clings to those ideas. The cockroaches have had a flashlight shown on them, as it were.
This isn’t a new group, this isn’t a modern uprising.
From the long view, standing back and looking not only at today and the near future, but also back to the origins of our country, it seems pretty clear that those who would try to overthrow our Government have tried at least twice before–with the War between the States (Civil War–what an effing misnomer; was is never civil–The War of “Northern Aggression”, whatever) AND the refusal to sign the Declaration of Independence unless slavery was kept in. They may not live in the “Deep South” any more, but the mindset is the same.
What is one of our greatest strengths is also a bit of a problem child–we have extreme diversity, and part of our diversity were the extremists of another country. Remember, GA began as a penal colony. Religious persecution, lack of opportunities (for jobs or for living), famines, and the poor fleeing–or serving as indentured servants–onerous debt laws are just some of the reasons we had immigrants to our shores. They came from every walk of life, for every reason, to the New Land. And America gave this promise, found at the bottom of our Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We ARE the “wretched refuse”. As Bill Murray says in the movie “Stripes”, we’ve been kicked out of every country in Europe. And some of the very characteristics that kept us alive and helped us succeed are the ones in play now, albeit in extremis. The idea that one can be whatever is possible, that the opportunities are plenty, that we have a say in our government to the point where the government answers to the people. (Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Don’t blame me if it doesn’t.)
So we have this group of people, people whose ancestors argued about how the new country was going to run…who waited a mere 90 years before trying to create their own country where they could keep their status quo, which included the denial of basic human rights to an entire portion of their population. We now have generations of people who are so blindly proud of a vile heritage, one that they actually take pride in…and who truly believe that they are somehow outside of the Federal system.
Most of them don’t even really understand what they are longing for…for every grand plantation the South can show off, there were many, many more small farms, with the white “massa” working right alongside of his one slave because working together was the only way to make a living for all of them. A return to the days of plantations and Simon Legree is not possible because it was never real. It’s just an ugly fairy tale. And it was a fairy tale even in the days it existed.
The only people who lived that idyllic life were white men of property and education. It does appear that modern white males are the ones pushing to return to the days of owning slaves, sipping mint juleps on the porch, those days when they were the unchallenged dominant–and dominating–force. Those days when their word was the first and last law on their own lands, and when it came time to vote on government at every level, theirs was the only voice that spoke.
Acknowledging this highly idealized view of the “glorious South” — even for those who are from the Midwest states — we also have to add the realities of their situations. Many of them are poor, un- or under-educated; the farmers who count on the soil — and Federal Grants to help them, because farming is not answerable to laws, only to Nature — are being bought out by Big Agra. Where there used to be many farms, growing a variety of things, we now have millions of acre of corn.
There are quite a few members of this group who rely on the government’s social services, either as food stamps, disability benefits or welfare. They apparently see no irony in wanting to bring down the very system that sustains them — and perhaps anger at having to rely on the government, the faceless, impersonal government, is a reason why they are ready for things to change.
I understand there are many reasons why someone would become a right-wing extremist. To our collective shame, there seems to be only one major reason: to prevent the equal rights for anyone who is not white, and preferably a white male. They seem to feel that “equal rights” are a “zero sum” contest, where one person wins and the other loses. All, or nothing at all. This is simply NOT true. The white (men) will not lose any rights they have had. They will not become the new “blacks” or any other group that has been denied rights. But the united power of white domination will be diluted to a point where they will no longer dictate policy and make laws that favor only them. When they scream about losing rights, what they are really doing is have a temper tantrum that they can’t automatically win and by playing only their previously rigged game.
It is not right, in any society as homogeneous as our is, for any one group to have the majority of power over the rest of the population–and at every level, not just within the government. We were established as a democracy, with the government for, by and of the people. The people were explicitly given the power to make sure that the government kept this covenant with them. If it didn’t, it was their duty, as the people, to change the government. This meant even to the point of removing the entire government and establishing a totally new government which would then answer to the people. But “the people” in that context means the entire population–again, not just one small group of disgruntled citizens. And the warning was also given that it was better to deal with a government that had some problems but was salvageable,rather than chucking the whole thing out to possibly end up with something worse.
Maybe our Federal government has failed the folks who are now getting more and more extreme in their responses. We’re seeing very public showing of “thumbing the nose at the Feds”, with the stand-off at the Bundy Ranch and the illegal occupation of Malheur Wildlife Refuge. We’re having more and more bombings and killings perpetrated by those who do identify with the right-wing, who are trying to “take America back”. The kettle is already at a boil. If the election results are not what they want, chances are good that the lid will blow off and people will die.
I cannot imagine being President and having to call the military to subdue your own population. We’re Americans. We don’t do things like that. Using the military to subdue the civilians is the tactic of dictators and “President for Life” leaders. Even in our own Civil War, the war was fought between the soldiers for each side. And when General Sherman “Marched to the Sea”, he did not kill civilians as he decimated their homes and land. All he took was their ability to wage war but not their lives. Considering the predominance of fundamental Christianity and its attendant mindset within the military, they might not fight against the revolution but join with them.
Oh yes. Fundamental Christianity. I will try to keep this part brief. Having come from a family that prides itself on its Southern heritage, I have the background to make some observations.
Many, if not most, fundamental religions, Christianity included, have a very strict hierarchy, whereby the Bible and perhaps God Himself speak to the pastor, who then interprets the message to the congregation. This creates an atmosphere of simply accepting what you are told, no questions allowed unless they are the “right” questions, along the lines of “How do I get to serve?”. Many of the fundamental Christians are hereditary members, with 2 or more generations attending services together, and for all their lives. I personally attended church with my parents and my grandparents for many years.
Having been introduced to absolute obedience from a very young age, with a family tradition of “Father Knows Best” and he only defers to the pastor, who only defers to God…means that there is a population of what we call “sheeple”–those who blindly follow without understanding why they do so. “Being Saved” is never a choice but an inevitable ritual in the life of the a child within the fundamental church. They are people who need to be told what to do, who need to be led by a father figure to the Promised Land, whatever their concept of that may be.
The male dominance of their lives would explain why so many of them cannot, let alone will not, vote for a woman in the Supreme Top Job. They simply cannot fathom it. It’s a concept outside of their ken. So when a man stands up and says that the woman running for that office is evil, a liar, corrupt–they are more than ready to believe it, all the way to their toes. And of course “she” would try to rig the election; after all, Eve tempted Adam with the apple and led him into sin. <sarcasm font>Women are by nature devious creatures and need to be kept in line by the men who own them. I mean, by their fathers and then their husbands.<end sarcasm font>
There’s also the infamous injunction from Paul the Apostle which says that “women are not to be over men” and “they are to remain silent in the (church)”. Which begs the question: how many of the women who are involved in right-wing extremism really understand what they are protesting against? Do they really choose it, or do they just accept the Word of Man?
I do not understand how anyone can hate, can choose to hate, any one else, let alone an entire subsection of our population–or multiple subsections. Even with the despair of poverty, the hopelessness of employment beyond a certain level (based on personal skills and education), I do not understand how violence becomes the answer–and apparently without too much consideration of any other form of change. I do not understand these things, but I can see how they might drive someone to use any means to change their situation. So who’s fault is it that we have this portion of our citizens at a point where they believe that violence is the solution? How do we reach out to them and try to offer alternatives? Can we even reach out–it’s almost impossible to change the mind of someone who KNOWS their version of the truth to be The Truth, no questions asked.
As with any problem that deals with people, there are no simple answers. But it does seem very possible that we will have more extremists, not less, if the election goes to HRC. And for that, we can blame the Republican candidate with his propaganda and inciting statements and lies.
We need to prepare for the revolution, because the right-wing extremists certainly are.