Bull From the Bully Pulpit

Toy Collection Photo From Pixabay

There is a Worldwide Pandemic of Hatred and Fear

Boris Johnson has much more in common with Donald Trump than weird hair and disregard for the truth. Vladimir Putin had a position on Brexit and an opportunity to sway the election on Brexit that may hurt the British economy, but the larger game afoot is the destruction of the European Union. The time line for that destruction is very long. After all, look how long it took for Western Europe to unite; separating them will naturally take a lot of subversive work.

Marine Le Pen may have lost a French election but the alarm over immigrants and the demand for lower taxes assure that there will be a rematch. Perhaps with different faces; perhaps not. Le Pen’s party got a loan from a Russian bank in the amount of nine million euros back when the Russian annexation of Crimea caused an immediate need for European friends.

In The Netherlands, Thierry Baudet is advancing the flags of xenophobia and authoritarianism carried this far by Geert Wilders. Baudet’s supporters won stunning victories in the spring elections.

After Mr. Trump defaulted the United States, leadership of the so-called Free World fell on Germany’s Angela Merkel. Her party then began to lose seats in the Bundestag to the same alleged populism, with the common driving force of fearing immigrants.

European media — Mr. Putin would call them purveyors of fake news — -put together a task force to undertake the tactic that has borne so much fruit in the U.S.: follow the money. In a trove of documents still being examined showed the flow of euros from Russia to the fear-mongers in the European Union. One allegedly bought German, Markus Frohnmaier, had publicly recognized the Russian annexation of Crimea in contradiction of official German policy. The documents were solid enough to require an attempt at damage control:

Italy also backed away from the 21st century in recent elections, and the politician who would blame all ills on immigrants is Matteo Salvini. The same trove of documents that proved Russia had bought a member of the Bundestag supported the claim that Russia sent money to Salvini’s party, Lega Nord.

In Austria, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, among the highest ranked right wing populists installed by the Russian invasion of the E.U., had to resign when a video surfaced showing Strache promising government contracts to a woman who claimed to be bearing political cash from Russia. Even after Strache resigned, his governing coalition fell apart, setting up elections in September.

Within the United States, Donald John Trump is the Typhoid Mary of White Supremacy. His election was celebrated by neo-Nazi and white supremacist Richard Spencer as well as white supremacist and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke. Spencer and Duke have leveraged the Internet to acquire numbers of followers that depress those of us who lack the white bona fides to join the human race.

Paul Nehlen is a white supremacist who got a friendly public recognition if not an endorsement from Mr. Trump when he ran for Congress as a Republican against Paul Ryan. Nehlen supported Trump in 2016 but now refers to Trump as a “cuck.”

Nehlen’s insult is no longer just short for cuckold. It’s an evolving insult that started out with racist connotations but apparently has shed them. A more recent version is short for “cuckservative,” a pejorative term for a mainstream Republican opposed to a Trumpers or a Trumper, depending on who is talking.

The insult probably intends to suggest somebody is too wimpy to do violence when violence is called for. When your country is being “invaded,” as Trump claims, violence appears to be the proper response and Trump fans are delivering violence.

On August 5, Cesar Altieri Sayoc, Jr. was sentenced to 20 years in prison for mailing pipe bombs to persons he believed to be political enemies of Donald Trump. He pled guilty to 65 explosives-related charges. The relatively short sentence reflects that the pipe bombs — while real — lacked detonators, and so people were merely terrorized, not hurt.

Photo of Sayoc Bomb Packaging Released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Public Domain

Sayoc, 56-years-old at the time and a registered Republican, was living in a van covered with pro-Trump stickers and some pictures of Trump critics with gunsights superimposed.

Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson has remained in custody since his Feb. 15 arrest and subsequent indictment in Maryland on firearms and drug charges.

Lt. Hasson had a collection of weapons that got a great deal of attention, but his “hit list” showed his interest in firearms was not entirely recreational. This is the hit list, with last names first so I could use the “sort” command. There was some overlap between Hasson’s targets and Sayoc’s targets.

Blumenthal, Richard

Booker, Cory

Cuomo, Chris

Gillibrand, Kirsten

Hayes, Chris

Jackson, Sheila

Jones, Van

Kaine, Tim

Lemon, Don

Melber, Ari

O’Rourke, Beto

Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria

Omar, Ilhan

Pelosi, Nancy

Podesta, John

Scarborough, Joe

Schumer, Chuck

Warren, Elizabeth

Waters, Maxine

In a memorandum opposing pretrial release for Lt. Hasson, the U.S. Attorney’s office alleged that two U.S. Supreme Court justices were also on the kill list but did not make public the names of the justices.

The government’s memorandum went on to claim that on the same day Lt. Hasson compiled his hit list, he performed the following Google searches at the following approximate times:

8:54 a.m.: “what if trump illegally impeached”

8:57 a.m.: “best place in dc to see congress people”

8:58 a.m.: “where in dc to congress live”

10:39 a.m.: “civil war if trump impeached”

11:26 a.m.: “social democrats usa”

“The defendant is a domestic terrorist,” the memo said, “bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”

Hate crimes have been on the upswing since Trump took office, but it’s hard to pin down causation on a national level.

Back in March of this year, The Washington Post reported on a study conducted by Professors Regina Branton and Valerie Martinez-Ebers and Ph.D. candidate Ayal Feinberg, all of the University of North Texas.

The scholars aggregated hate crime incidents and Trump rallies at the county level. They controlled for county crime rates, number of active hate groups, minority populations, percentage with college educations, location in the country and the month when the rallies occurred. They found that a Trump rally is associated with a spike in hate crimes by 226 percent on the county level.

The events of this week remind us that there is approximately six months more data, should anybody wish to replicate the University of North Texas study.

A few Republicans have spoken out against political violence, and the magazine that used to be the bellwether of conservative opinion, National Review had the nerve to say we should pay the same attention to white supremacy killings we pay to radical Islam killings. I do not jest when I claim it took nerve, because publications devoted to political opinions of any stripe are always on the edge of solvency in these times.

Persons who have already made up their minds are not attracted by political analysis, whether it is offered by National Review or The Progressive. Every outbreak of political violence is another reminder that there are lots of people certain enough of their opinions to kill those who disagree.

The pandemic of political violence has a long way to go before the fever breaks and we start talking to each other directly instead of through Internet memes of questionable provenance spread by armies of bots impersonating humans.

Enrolled Cherokee, 9th grade dropout, retired judge, associate professor emeritus, and (so far) cancer survivor. Memoir: Lighting the Fire (Miniver Press 2020)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store