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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Rhetoric and Violence


At ABC, Mike Levine reports on Trump's rhetoric:
"I think my rhetoric brings people together," he said last week, four days after a 21-year-old allegedly posted an anti-immigrant screed online and then allegedly opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 and injuring dozens of others.

But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
In nine cases, perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically attacking innocent victims. In another 10 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant's violent or threatening behavior.
Jeremy W. Peters et al. at NYT:
There is a striking degree of overlap between the words of right-wing media personalities and the language used by the Texas man who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso this month. In a 2,300-word screed posted on the website 8chan, the killer wrote that he was “simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
It remains unclear what, or who, ultimately shaped the views of the white, 21-year-old gunman, or whether he was aware of the media commentary. But his post contains numerous references to “invasion” and cultural “replacement” — ideas that, until recently, were relegated to the fringes of the nationalist right.
An extensive New York Times review of popular right-wing media platforms found hundreds of examples of language, ideas and ideologies that overlapped with the mass killer’s written statement — a shared vocabulary of intolerance that stokes fears centered on immigrants of color. The programs, on television and radio, reach an audience of millions.
Brennan Gilmore at USAT:
I attended the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville equipped with only a cell phone. I happened to be filming counter-protesters as Heyer’s murderer gunned his engine down 4th Street. As the killer and his motive were mischaracterized in the hours after the attack, I feared that others might be in danger and I shared the video to give people an unobstructed eyewitness view: Heyer’s murder was an intentional act, full stop.

But I had no concept at the time of the conspiracy theory network that was about to be ginned up to maximum effect against me and others already traumatized by the events in Charlottesville, including Heather’s own mother. This online community has a terrifying capacity to warp perceptions of an event and mangle it into something unrecognizable, while also inflicting lasting damage on the victims of a heinous act and the bystanders who document it.

Alex Jones and InfoWars comprise perhaps the most powerful conspiracy factory of them all. Pointing to my work with the State Department, they and other online conspiracy theorists militantly propagated a narrative through their online channels that I was a CIA operative. They said I was part of a plot to orchestrate the Charlottesville events, and convinced untold numbers of people.
As a result, my family and I were doxed and I was incessantly harassed online and even in person, in what has become a sadly predictable pattern for online targets.
Every day since, I have had to worry if any one of the countless death threats streaming into my inboxes would materialize into actual violence. These worries are not frivolous. In May of this year, the FBI identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorist threat for the first time, in recognition that these dangers do not remain online.