September 4th note: I began this essay June 30th to rage against our radically right-wing Supreme Court’s absurd and offensive ruling that the US Constitution permits discrimination against LGBTQ people. I didn’t publish till September because their ruling is but a symptom of right-wing hatred and intolerance, which have profoundly dangerous consequences. Legalizing and normalizing hatred and intolerance leads to violence, and America proves week in and week out that hate-fueled violence plus easy access to semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 is deadly. History warns us America could be headed for a genocide if we allow hate speech to flourish in a nation flooded with hundreds of millions of guns. And I felt it necessary to explain how hatred and gun culture are used as wedge issues by billionaires and mega-corporations to manipulate Americans into voting for Republicans, against their economic interests.
I wish this essay were shorter, but these complex issues are intertwined and the topic extremely important. I hope you will at least skim this long essay. I’ll avoid writing such a long essay again because I procrastinated editing it for several months. Lesson learned: Shorter, more focused blog posts!
We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression, and denial of my humanity, and right to exist.
As of today, “Businesses can refuse to serve same-sex couples if doing so would violate the owners’ religious beliefs, the Supreme Court ruled.” (Source: Ivana Saric, “Supreme Court rules businesses can refuse service to LGBTQ+ customers,” 30 June 2023).
This profoundly un-American Supreme Court ruling is an abhorent, dangerous symptom of a broad intolerance movement pushed by right-wing and evangelical causes… and, critically, by the billionaires and media moguls who amplify messages of hatred and intolerance by massively funding and broadcasting cynical, Machiavelian campaigns to manipulate gullible people into voting against their economic interests by appealing to their xenophobic, religious, and socio-cultural jealousies, ignorance, and insecurities.
Jesus’s core commandment was to love one another and help the unpopular and those in need, so it’s astonishing that evangelical Christians have been the stauchest supporters of the most anti-Christ-like of presidents, Donald Trump. (See Sarah Posner’s Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump, Russell Moore’s Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America, and Kristin Kobes du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.)
Evangelical Christians didn’t accidentally mistake the amoral malignant narcissist Donald Trump for Christ. Their brainwashing was engineered from on high. For decades, money has flooded from the ultra-rich into influence campaigns that have sowed fear and hatred in the hearts and minds of evangelical Christians and many other white Americans, dividing America into “real” (white) America and everyone else… gays, blacks, immigrants (often conflated with “illegal” immigrants), the “liberal elites,” etc…. everyone other than “us.”
(Money from billionaires and corporations is a flood in terms of its impact on American politics and political opinions but merely “trickle down economics” from the perspective of those billionaires and corporations. Remember, a billionaire is 1,000 times wealthier than a millionaire, so a $1,000 political contribution feels to a billionaire like a $1 political contribution to a millionaire. Greedy billionaires wisely think, “Why not spend $100,000 to buy influence that could lead to lower taxes saving me tens or hundreds of millions of dollars?!?!”)
(“Trickle-down economics” was a right-wing marketing slogan to trick people into supporting tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. It was always bullshit, but economists recently definitively proved it: “utilizing a newly constructed indicator of taxes on the rich to identify all instances of major tax reductions on the rich in 18 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries between 1965 and 2015… We find tax cuts for the rich lead to higher income inequality in both the short- and medium-term. In contrast, such reforms do not have any significant effect on economic growth or unemployment. Our results therefore provide strong evidence against the influential political–economic idea that tax cuts for the rich ‘trickle down’ to boost the wider economy.”)
This massive propaganda campaign has been intensifying for decades, as documented in Jane Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Kurt Andersen’s Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History, David Corn’s American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy, and Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.
Rupert Murdoch’s “Fox News” (sic) and other right-wing media constitute another dimension of this massive plot by the uber-rich and corporations against ordinary Americans, as documented in Brian Stelter’s Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, Gabriel Sherman’s The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News - and Divided a Country, Jen Senko’s The Brainwashing of My Dad: How the Rise of the Right-Wing Media Changed a Father and Divided Our Nation - And How We Can Fight Back, Al Franken’s 2003 classic Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, and David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt’s The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine.
The logic is simple. As Yoda explained in Star Wars, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Hitler wrote the playbook: divide the world into “us” versus “them” and scapegoat “them” for causing all of “our” problems. Trump appears to admire Hitler’s ability to control the masses by scapegoating “them”:
“Donald Trump appears to take aspects of his German background seriously. John Walter works for the Trump Organization, and when he visits Donald in his office, Ivana told a friend, he clicks his heels and says, “Heil Hitler,” possibly as a family joke.
Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed.”
Though Democratic presidential candidates have won the popular vote in in seven of the last eight presidential elections, this vast right-wing conspiracy has managed to stack our top court with extremists now eagerly overturning long-established precedent without legal justification. They stole the 2000 election via the Brooks Brothers riot and a legally baseless Supreme Court electoral theft: “The late Justice Antonin Scalia joined the majority opinion but privately called the equal protection rationale, ‘as we say in Brooklyn, a piece of shit,’ according to ‘First,’ a well regarded 2019 biography of retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.”
After the 2004 election, Rolling Stone ran a long article raising serious questions about “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?”, and Karl Rove’s chief IT consultant in Ohio, Michael Connell, died in a plane crash while under investigation, suspected of having run a man-in-the-middle attack that flipped Ohio’s electronic votes – and the presidency, which came down to Ohio – from Kerry to Bush. CBS News called Connell, “a Republican media consultant who was instrumental in the presidential and gubernatorial campaigns of three members of the Bush Family” with a “central role in building the IT infrastructure of the White House” adding:
In 1999 he told the Cleveland magazine Inside Business, “I’m loyal to my network, I’m loyal to my friends, and I’m loyal to the Bush family.”
…CBS Affiliate WOIO reported that Connell, who had recently been subpoenaed to testify in relation to a lawsuit alleging vote rigging in the 2004 Ohio election, was warned at least twice about flying his plane because his plane might be sabotaged.
Quoting an anonymous close friend of Connell’s, WOIO correspondent Blake Chenault also reported that twice in the past two months Connell, who was an experienced pilot, canceled flights because of suspicious problems with his plane.
Years later, an intrepid journalist reported:
Connell and [Ohio Secretary of State] Blackwell agreed fourteen months prior to the 2004 election that Connell would have “remote monitoring capabilities” to the computer counting Ohio’s presidential vote. That means Blackwell planned more than a year in advance for Connell’s private partisan external third party company and a subcontractor to have unfettered secret access to Ohio’s 2004 vote tally.
The newly discovered contract contains an “Exhibit B” which called for a “mirror” website to handle Ohio’s 2004 actual vote count on Election Night provided by Connell’s company, GovTech. The document stated: “GovTech shall install and host (as set forth in Exhibit B) a mirror site of the Application to provide a fail-over solution in the event of failure of the primary installation on Election Day.”
This “hot rollover configuration,” as the document explained, “can completely re-point the site if the primary site should fail by using some remote monitoring capabilities.” And that’s exactly what happened at 11:13pm when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was up three points over Republican incumbent George W. Bush. Ohio’s 2004 votes were outsourced to Smartech in Chattanooga, Tennessee, owned by right-wing evangelical publisher Jeff Averbeck, subcontracted by Connell.
The vote count inexplicably flipped at 12:21am changing from Kerry winning by over 3 percentage points to Bush winning by over 3 percentage points. Overall, there was an unexplainable rapid 6.7 percent shift in the vote count. Smartech was also, curiously, the company that handled Karl Rove’s private email accounts from the White House. Millions of Rove’s email files have since mysteriously disappeared.
Most recently, Republicans infamously denied Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a vote following Antonin Scalia’s February 2016 death on the grounds that it was a presidential election year, thus stealing Obama’s seat for Donald Trump and Neil Gorsuch. Then – four years later – Republicans proved their hypocrisy by cramming Amy Coney Barrett through just a week before the 2020 election, despite Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg having died seven months later in a presidential election year than Antonin Scalia had. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham specifically swore in 2016 that Republicans would NOT do in 2020 precisely what they did in 2020, rushing through a Republican Supreme Court justice immediately before the election.
On multiple cases, the illegitmate Republican Supreme Court extremists have willfully misinterpreted legal precedent and even essential facts of the cases before them to twist their “reasoning” to “justify” their desired ruling, as I recently ranted on Mastodon:
The corruption, hypocrisy, arrogance, and shamelessness of the current right-wing Supreme Court majority is enraging. After decades of ranting about “activist judges” and wielding “strict constructionism” as a regressive club to bash modernity, they’re now just making shit up and slapping lipstick on each pig before they shove it into the public eye. Every damn decision is now “Bush v. Gore”! Disgusting and infuriating.
Just as this extremist court immediately abandoned its beloved “strict constructionism” as soon as it seized unchecked power, so too it is hypocritically shedding its decades-long support for “states rights” now that it can impose its preferred policies across the entire country. As Adam Serwer’s analysis in The Atlantic explains, “The Constitution Is Whatever the Right Wing Says It Is.”
In my youth – the 1970s and 1980s – I disagreed with but respected many prominent Republicans. They were reasonable people who seemed to care about “the national welfare.” But today’s modern Republican Party is bankrolled by billionaires and mega-corporations, operated by seemingly amoral, psychopathic politicians willing to do and say anything for power, and supported by people most of whose lives actually improve when Democrats are in power and worsen when Republicans take over but have been brainwashed into thinking Democrats are evil by the “news” organizations pushing the Republican Party’s agenda and propaganda, which is basically an unending diet of social “wedge issues” (many completely fabricated) designed to push viewers’ emotional buttons.
Democratic presidents have so outperformed Republican presidents that The New York Times asked, “Why Are Republican Presidents So Bad for the Economy?”.
The national debt is another dimension in which Republican spin has tricked supporters into believing Democrats are the bad guys when it’s quite the opposite. Politifact.com judged the following Tweet “basically accurate” and “Mostly True”:
Reagan took the deficit from 70 billion to 175 billion. Bush 41 took it to 300 billion. Clinton got it to zero. Bush 43 took it from 0 to 1.2 trillion. Obama halved it to 600 billion. Trump’s got it back to a trillion.
Morons: “Democrats cause deficits.”
– Alex Cole, 23 July 2019, https://twitter.com/acnewsitics/status/1153694545986621442
Right-wing “news” organizations no longer even bother pretending to present “fair and balanced” perspectives on anything. Their willfully biased and opportunistically deceiptful modus operandi has long been obvious to anyone not trapped inside their echo chamber.
Because Republicans generally lack good ideas that can appeal to people on their merits while Democratic policies are generally popular, right-wing media generally shuns honest discussion of actual policy issues and instead attacks strawmen, creating completely fake “controversies” designed to outrage their gullible audience. For example:
- “woke” M&Ms
- Obama will take away your guns
- Democrats are child groomers
- Mr. Potato Head is getting “neutered”
- Biden won’t let you use your gas stove
- Biden cancelled Dr. Seuss
- Biden is making hamburgers illegal
Right-wing media’s goal is portraying Democrats as evil and Republicans as good, and they won’t let the facts stand in their way because, as Stephen Colbert long ago explained, “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” See, for example, MediaMatters.org’s “Fox News is the Republican Party. Here are over 400 examples proving it” or evidence arising from Dominion’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News, which was settled for $787.5 million:
Fox’s top executives and stars knew that the claims that were being made on the network about [Dominion Voting Systems]’s purported role in stealing the 2020 election were false, but they continued to push them…
Dominion, in documenting Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s direct oversight of the network, revealed numerous cases in which the Fox News co-founder brazenly used its resources to aid the Republican Party. These include a report that Murdoch shared ads then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign planned to run on the network with then-President Donald Trump’s White House, as well as his repeated and explicit instructions to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott to use the network to help GOP Senate candidates win their elections.
Ironically, the most easily manipulated have been Christian evangelicals, who enthusiastically cheered Donald Trump every hateful step of the way, even as he was one of America’s most un-Christ-like presidents (not to mention attempting a coup to overturn his re-election defeat, something the flag-and-Constitution-worshipping right-wing should abhore), as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg eloquently explained:
The faith that I practice in a Christian tradition and the scripture that I read focuses on making yourself useful to the least among us. It talks about how salvation has to do with protecting the poor, protecting the oppressed, welcoming the stranger. There’s a particular emphasis in Christian tradition and most faith traditions on looking out for those who have sometimes been ostracized or marginalized and put upon by society, those who are in need of defense. It’s so different from what I see as some figures try to invoke religion as an excuse to make things even harder for those who are already on the margins, to afflict the afflicted. I don’t recognize my faith in that.
Even more importantly, none of us should be out imposing our interpretation of our religion on anybody else. …That’s part of what makes America America.
For the many American Christians who obviously need reminding, Jesus healed a leper. His parable of the Good Samaritan said true neighbors give their time and money to others in need. Jesus preached that the rich should give their money to help others: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” And he said the greatest moral imperative is helping those most in need:
The righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Beyond Trump’s intolerance and hate speech – see his Muslim ban and extensive history of hate speech and incitement to violence in this list and this list – his only major legislative achievement as president was a $1.9 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, cementing his legacy as the most un-Christian president: “In the first year after Trump signed the legislation, just 82 ultrawealthy households collectively walked away with more than $1 billion in total savings, an analysis of confidential tax records shows.” (ProPublica.org)
America was founded on free speech:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But free speech is not absolute. It has limits, as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously argued in 1919:
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting “fire” in a theatre and causing a panic… The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger.
Kids say “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Reality is much darker. When hate speech goes mainstream, oppression and murder – and sometimes even genocide – inevitably follow, which is why I lost control of this essay – originally intended to narrowly explain why we must be intolerant of intolerance. The subject naturally expanded into gun violence and genocide because that’s where hate speech leads when it becomes normalized in a society.
The legal boundary separating your freedom/safety from my safety/freedom is blurry and shifts with the whims of legislators, judges, and justices.
Academic research proves “Stand Your Ground” laws kill many Americans:
In this cohort study assessing 41 US states, SYG laws were associated with an 8% to 11% national increase in monthly rates of homicide and firearm homicide. …Increases in violent deaths varied across states, with the largest increases (16.2% to 33.5%) clustering in the South (eg, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana).
– Michelle Degli Esposti, PhD, et al., “Analysis of “Stand Your Ground” Self-defense Laws and Statewide Rates of Homicides and Firearm Homicides,” Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, 21 February 2022
And Florida has decided to encourage even MORE gun deaths, now that “Florida has become the 26th state that does not require a concealed licenses permit.”
Another example: After shooting two people dead – one of whom was “armed” with a plastic bag and the other with a skateboard – and shooting a paramedic wearing a “PARAMEDIC” cap, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges. Though Rittenhouse escaped all punishment, there’s zero doubt he and his victims would remain alive today if Rittenhouse hadn’t gone roaming the streets toting a loaded AR-15 the night of August 25, 2020, when “Kenosha’s streets were filled with crowds protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back and side by a Kenosha police officer”.
Though the verdict says otherwise, as prosecuting attorney Thomas Binger said, “You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create.” Since right-wing media outlets and right-wing politicians have fomented hatred and continually loosened gun laws, they have ultimately aided and abetted hate-fueled mass murderers. The politicians and “journalists” who filled Kyle Rittenhouse’s head (and so many other right-wing mass murderers’ heads) with hatred are also culpable, regardless of what our courts say.
Justice is NOT blind. I could cite many studies covering many systematically unjust dimensions of the American “justice” system, but these two facts demonstrate white Americans are “more equal” under the law than black Americans:
Judging from exonerations, innocent black people are about seven times more likely to be convicted of murder than innocent white people.
…African Americans imprisoned for murder are more likely to be innocent if they were convicted of killing white victims. Only about 15% of murders by African Americans have white victims, but 31% of innocent African-American murder exonerees were convicted of killing white people.
In non-violent societies, hatred and intolerance are life-harming. In violent societies, they’re life-destroying, and the U.S. C.D.C. (Centers for Disease Control) says 48,830 Americans lost their life in 2021 due to a gun.
American gun deaths continue spiralling out of control: Mass-killings murdered more Americans in the first half of 2023 than the first half of any previous year.
American legislators and judges are choosing to allow 50,000 Americans to die each year via gunfire.
We know this because some nations refuse to allow guns to kill their citizens, as the following chart from this NPR article illustrates:
Guns kill orders of magnitude more Americans than citizens of “normal” countries where people don’t walk the streets packing heat. Even when measured using data during America’s 10-year assault weapons ban – during which mass-murder deaths were far lower than since its expiration – The U.S. has the world’s 20th-highest firearms death rate, on par with Guyana, Paraguay, Panama, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
The Second Amendment has empowered gun-lovers and their powerful lobbying arm, the NRA, to block legislation that could save tens of thousands of lives a year:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The right of law-abiding citizens to not be murdered at a synogogue or cafe or nightclub seems more important than gun-lovers’ freedom to carry loaded weapons at all times, which hardly seems necessary for “a well regulated Militia” to protect “the security of a free State.”
Because rights cannot be absolute, people disagree where to draw the lines. People also disagree over the significance of the 2nd Amendment’s premise, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” Gun ownership rights are ever-shifting, as laws and constitutional interpretations change. Supreme Court justices could, for example, interpret the 2nd Amendment as applying only to state and federal military and police, since ordinary civilians’ ownership of AR-15s has been destructive to American security, not necessary for it.
Even America’s official militias are hardly “well regulated,” given how many openly right-wing extremists – like Timothy McVeigh – have learned murderous techniques in the military. U.S. taxpayers are training right-wing extremists in the skills they require to perpetrate mass-murders, according to ‘The single biggest threat to the security of the country’: Extremism in the military is alarming experts, Boston Globe:
“If the military ever decides to crack down on extremists they’re going to have to kick at least half of us out,” Develin once wrote using his screen name of Patrick Bateman, an homage to the serial killer in the film “American Psycho.”
…In the last five years, at least 82 current and former military service members have been arrested and exposed as harboring far-right, antigovernment, or neo-Nazi ideologies, according to a [Boston] Globe analysis of court documents, media reports, and studies compiled by independent researchers. (That number excludes the 178 active and former military members arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection.)
Some plotted to kill law enforcement members, torch minority churches, sabotage their own military units, kidnap politicians, and destroy national infrastructure. Others amassed arsenals in preparation for perceived race and civil wars. A handful have fired — at a shopping mall, police officers, and a carful of teenage girls….
“This is the single biggest threat to the security of the country,” said Daryl Johnson, a former Department of Homeland Security analyst, focused on domestic terrorism. “I see this only getting worse. I don’t see it ever getting better in my lifetime.”
The U.S. military admits it has an extremism problem but can only guess at its severity due to weak policies, enforcement, and data collection. University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism has tried to gather data but has been hamstrung because "[The military] could give us military records but they don’t. We only know about the guys who commit a crime [through public records], but the truth is that most cases don’t leave a paper trail."
Mass murder of Americans dropped after the Assault Weapons Ban took effect in 1994, then exploded after its 2004 expiration:
[T]he risk of a person in the U.S. dying in a mass shooting was 70% lower during the period in which the assault weapons ban was active.
50,000 Americans are killed by guns annually, making American guns as deadly as American automobiles. Driving, cycling, and walking in America are especially dangerous because driving is treated as a “right,” not a privilege, so countless cases of distracted/drunk/reckless/incompetent/lazy driving happen daily and go unpunished:
- 7,500 American pedestrians are killed by cars annually
- Roughly 1,000 cyclists are killed by cars annually
- “42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes [in 2021]”.
(While my car was in the repair shop earlier this year – because a reckless driver sped past me in the “slow” lane then slammed me into the guard rail trying to force her way between me and the car right in front of me – my other car was nearly hit by a driver backing out of a hospital parking space without looking as I was driving slowly by. Luckily, they stopped just in time after I hit my horn. As “Hill Street Blues” warned every episode, “Let’s be careful out there!”)
In a nation with probably more guns than people, years of unchecked hate speech by a president is especially dangerous. It has already fostered one coup attempt, and that same former president continues actively spewing hatred and advocating political violence. Widespread gun ownership and decades of left-hating right-wing propagandizing leads serious people to fear America could endure a second Civil War.
What limits should there be on free speech?
Germany famously bans pro-Nazi propaganda:
The German penal code prohibits publicly denying the Holocaust and disseminating Nazi propaganda, both off- and online. This includes sharing images such as swastikas, wearing an SS uniform and making statements in support of Hitler.
It also places strict rules on how social media companies must moderate and report hate speech and threats. These hate-speech laws were tightened last year, after three far-right terror attacks in 2019 and early 2020 prompted German authorities to warn of increasing extremism.
Conversely, American liberals and liberal organizations have long supported the “rights” of Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan to march through American towns and cities. See, for example: Amber Phillips, “A history of the ACLU definding the Confederate flag, the tea party, the KKK, and Rush Limbaugh,” Washington Post, 19 June 2015 and Brit McCandless Farmer, “Why the ACLU defends white nationalists’ free speech,” CBS News, 10 March 2019.
I’ve just read “Too Big for a Single Mind: How the Greatest Generation of Physicists Uncovered the Quantum World”, a fabulous history of the discovery of quantum physics and the incredibly counterintuitive, mind-blowing quantum reality underpinning the solid, predictable, “real” world we perceive around us. This history also vividly illustrates the horrifically anti-intellectual book-burning and genocidal culture Germany embraced under Hitler. Germany was an advanced, intellectual society with world-class universities and brilliant scientists. Within years, Germany de-humanized even its brilliant Jewish scientists, driving them into exile (and the arms of its enemies) and concentration camps.
Hitler’s rise began with hateful words. Hateful words metastatized into hateful actions. Families were destroyed. Cities were destroyed. Millions were murdered.
I draw the line at not tolerating intolerance. In the wreckage of World War II, Karl Popper in 1945 formulated a powerfully persuasive philosophical rationale for not tolerating intolerance, explaining that tolerating intolerance empowers the intolerant to destroy tolerance and the tolerant, just as allowing dictators to win elections can destroy democracies:
If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. …[W]e should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.
Sadly, humanity seems to have collectively learned nothing from our many genocides. Our world is now – frighteningly – FLOODED with intolerance:
- Associated Press, “Gunman’s hatred of Jews motivated synagogue massacre, prosecutor says before jury gets case,” Los Angeles Times, 15 June 2023
- “The Brazilian government denounced today at the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva (Switzerland) the hatred and political violence incited by former president Jair Bolsonaro during his administration (2019-2022)”
- Sydney Bauer, “Elon Musk Has Made Anti-Trans Hatred One of Twitter’s Core Features: The billionaire constantly uses the platform as an outlet for his vicious transphobia—and he’s expanding his campaign all the time,” The Nation, 23 June 2023
- Russia invaded Ukraine because many Russians were jealous of and angry at Ukrainians’ freedoms and economic, cultural, and political successes.
- David R. Hoffman, “We’re seeing hate weaponized in Indiana. Here’s why I believe it’s destructive,” The Indy Star, 2 July 2023
- “India islamophobia: Muslims fear rise of religious hatred during Eid celebrations,” Winona Daily News, 29 June 2023
- “Moms for Liberty spreads its anti-LGBTQ+ hatred to the Northwest,” Seattle Times, 13 June 2023
Violence-inspiring hatred never arises from nothing. Those seeking to manipulate the masses by preying on their passions, fears, jealousies, and prejudices spread hatred by scapegoating “them” as the source of “our” suffering, as Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney recently warned:
“History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and antisemitism… [We must] renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”
– Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) on Twitter, quoted in David Leonhardt, “The Right’s Violence Problem: The Buffalo killings are part of a pattern: Most extremist violence in the U.S. comes from the political right,” New York Times, 17 May 2022
For Hitler, “them” was the more than ten million Jews, gypsies, Poles, and other non-Aryans he and his followers murdered.
For Rwandan Hutus in 1994, “them” was their Tutsi neighbors: “members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group, as well as some moderate Hutu and Twa, were killed by armed Hutu militias. The most widely accepted scholarly estimates are around 500,000 to 662,000 Tutsi deaths. …with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 women raped during the genocide.”.
For the Ottomans in 1915, “them” was the Armenians they massacred:
800,000 to 1.2 million Armenians were sent on death marches to the Syrian Desert in 1915 and 1916. Driven forward by paramilitary escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to robbery, rape, and massacres. In the Syrian Desert, the survivors were dispersed into concentration camps. In 1916, another wave of massacres was ordered, leaving about 200,000 deportees alive by the end of the year. Around 100,000 to 200,000 Armenian women and children were forcibly converted to Islam and integrated into Muslim households. Massacres and ethnic cleansing of Armenian survivors continued through the Turkish War of Independence after World War I, carried out by Turkish nationalists.
For Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, “them” was over one million Muslim, Chinese, and Vietnamese Cambodians.
In Xi Jinping’s China today, “them” is Xinjiang’s Uighurs, whom his regime has spied on, imprisoned, brainwashed, raped, forced into labor, forced into sterilization, and murdered.
America’s Republican Party and its media empire – including Fox “News” and the even less truthful and even more hate-and-intolerance-spewing outlets that have stolen market share from Fox – regularly vomit out a firehose of hateful propaganda. This fact-free manipulation-by-fear outrages many viewers into voting against the “evil” Democrats.
Lies and fear-mongering that dehumanizes “them” also inevitably enrages more unhinged, violence-prone viewers into carrying out violent attacks, like the man who fractured Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband’s skull with a hammer, screaming “Where’s Nancy?,” and said he planned to break Speaker Pelosi’s kneecaps and hold her hostage.
Luckily, Speaker Pelosi was not home because DePape might have killed her. But why?
A former Obama supporter, DePape was driven to attack Pelosi after overdosing on QAnon, Pizzagate, and other right-wing lies and conspiracy theories:
“Everybody liked him,” said Frank Ciccarelli, 76, a carpenter who employed DePape in the Bay Area. But when DePape began talking about politics, his outlook grew darker, they said.
“It was right-wing, all the way down the line,” Ciccarelli said. “He thought climate change was a hoax and Hillary Clinton is running a pedophile ring out of a pizza parlor. It was so ridiculous that it was hard to take seriously."
… [I]nterviews with those who knew him for years… paint a portrait of a man who began to “deteriorate” over the last year and a half, as he spent a great deal of time alone, absorbing extremist views online and shifting his political views from supporting former President Obama years ago to believing in the false “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. His quiet, gentle exterior hid an obsession with conspiracies, said friends, who believed DePape also had a history of mental illness, drug abuse and, possibly, childhood trauma.
This sickening tactic – frequently used by Trump at his rallies, like telling his fans “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. I’ll pay the legal fees”, and even during a Presidential Debate, asking the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” – of goading hot-headed followers into taking violent actions with wink-wink-nudge-nudge calls to violence just veiled enough to have some plausible deniability is called “stochastic terrorism.” You whip others into a frenzy to engage in violence against those you dislike while not actively engaging in the violence yourself.
Even worse, American police departments and the FBI have cracked down hard on purported – but mostly unsubstantiated – illegal behavior by human rights movements, like “Black Lives Matter” and “antifa” (which isn’t even an actual organization but a right-wing talking point) while largely ignoring right-wing and white-supremacist planning and plotting, despite it being America’s dominant domestic terrorism threat:
A new report shows that right-wing extremists were responsible for 330 murders in the United States in the past decade, or 76 percent of all domestic extremist-related murders in that time.
The annual Murder and Extremism report published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows that out of the 42 extremist-related murders in the US in 2019, 38 were committed by individuals subscribing to various far-right ideologies, including white supremacy….
A total of 17 separate incidents were counted last year. The deadliest, by far, was the August white supremacist shooting spree at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which left 22 people dead and at least 24 more wounded.
The U.S. government is acknowledging for the first time that right-wing extremists were responsible for the majority of fatal domestic terrorist attacks last year…
While independent think tanks and outside groups have been pointing to the rise in ring-wing violence for some time, this appears to be the first known instance of an official government or law enforcement agency clearly acknowledging the trend…
“The government has not said this publicly, law enforcement has not said this publicly,” said Seth Jones of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. “This is new.”
The findings about right-wing extremism are “consistent with every single assessment of data I’ve seen, not just in 2020 but in 2019,” Jones said after reviewing the fusion center report.
In October of last year, CSIS published its own analysis of domestic terrorist activity in the U.S. for the first eight months of 2020. Its data showed that white supremacists and other right-wing extremists conducted two-thirds of the terrorist plots and attacks in the nation during that period.
The most prominent example of US intelligence services overlooking right-wing terrorism is January 6th. The Capitol invasion to disrupt the Electoral College was planned on public websites known to intelligence agencies, and tips were sent warning intelligence agencies of the coming armed attack, yet security was paper-thin that day, and reinforcements did not arrive for many hours, even as the world watched on television in horror and shock. In their report titled “Planned in Plain Sight,” the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee found:
➢ In December 2020, FBI received a tip that the Proud Boys planned to be in DC and “[t]heir plan is to literally kill people. Please please take this tip seriously and investigate further.”
➢ On Jan. 3, 2021, FBI also became aware of multiple posts calling for armed violence, such as a Parler user who stated, “[b]ring food and guns. If they don’t listen to our words, they can feel our lead. Come armed”; plans to “set up ‘armed encampment’ on the [National] Mall”; and a tip about “a TikTok video with someone holding a gun saying ‘storm the Capitol on January 6th.’”
➢ On January 4th, DOJ leadership noted multiple concerning posts, including “[c]alls to occupy federal buildings,” discussions of “invading the capitol building,” and individuals “arm[ing] themselves and to engage in political violence at the event.” …
➢ In late December 2020, I&A analysts “identified comments referencing using weapons and targeting law enforcement and the U.S. Capitol building.”
➢ On Dec. 30th, I&A open-source intelligence collectors noted online “[d]iscussions of organizing in Virginia and then driving to DC armed together as the police/military won’t be able to stop thousands of armed patriots.”
➢ On Jan. 2, 2021, I&A collectors noted that individuals were sharing a map of the U.S. Capitol Building online, and the I&A collectors messaged each other, “feel like people are actually going to try and hurt politicians. Jan 6th is gonna be crazy,” and “[l]ots of discussions of coming armed to DC.” Despite that intelligence, as late as 8:57am on January 6th, a Senior Watch Officer at the DHS National Operations Center wrote “[t]here is no indication of civil disobedience.”
There are so many more examples and victims. White supremacists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killing 168 and injuring 680 more in their 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Ricky Shiffer’s attempted AR-15 invasion of the Cincinnati FBI “motivated by a combination of conspiratorial beliefs related to former President Trump and the 2020 election (among others), interest in killing federal law enforcement, and the recent search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.” Murderous attacks on LGBTQ nightclubs, Asian businesses, and synagogues happen regularly. Etc. A racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacist plot to destroy Baltimore, MD was recently foiled:
A Florida man and a Maryland woman have been arrested on federal charges of plotting to attack multiple energy substations with the goal of destroying Baltimore, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
The suspects, Sarah Clendaniel of Catonsville, Maryland, and Brandon Russell of Orlando, Florida, were allegedly fueled by a racist extremist ideology as they “conspired to inflict maximum harm” on the power grid with the aim to “completely destroy” Baltimore, U.S. Attorney Erek Barron and a top FBI official said at a Monday morning press conference.
American police and intelligence agencies have been aggressively intolerant of movements promoting tolerance (towards LGBTQ, blacks, minorities, etc.) while being recklessly tolerant of right-wing, white-supremacist movements violently pursuing intolerance. Examples include:
Tactics the right-wing uses to demonize the left include:
- Misquoting, lying, presenting their words out of context to make them say something they obviously weren’t saying, attributing to them things they’ve never said, etc. If you just keep repeating a lie or replaying an out-of-context video, people will believe it more and more strongly, despite its being fake.
- Blaming them for problems they didn’t cause
- Spotlighting and replaying isolated, uncharacteristic incidents over and over to make it feel like such isolated incidents are extremely comman and typical
- Doing bad things and claiming the left did them
Explaining the right-wing media’s manipulation tactics would require a long book, not a paragraph or two, so I’ll focus here on only the last of these, which seems the craziest.
A false flag operation is like murdering someone then framing someone else for the murder by leaving clues pointing at them, not you.
The right-wing “Boogaloo boys” seem to take pleasure in violence that discredits the left by blending into left-wing causes – like Black Lives Matter protest marches – and engaging in violent and/or destructive actions that undercut left-wing causes when their despicable actions overshadow the movement’s peaceful message. (It’s unclear whether they’re infiltrating left-wing causes to discredit them or simply seizing the opportunity to enjoy engaging in violence and arson. Regardless, the consequences are identical.)
Minneapolis was an emotional powderkeg following the release of the bystander video of a policeman murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. For the first few days, protest was mostly peaceful. But violence exploded, and the initial sparks apparently came from right-wing activists pretending to be left-wing protesters:
Footage of the man wearing a mask and carrying an umbrella while smashing shop windows went viral online.
In the video, taken on 27 May, Umbrella Man can be seen breaking the windows with a hammer as people approach him trying to get him to stop. He then walks away from the scene.
Police said he also sprayed a message on the doors of the store.
Police claim that the man’s actions were a catalyst for the violence. The AutoZone store he was seen damaging in the video was later set on fire.
…According to the Star Tribune, the man was identified following an email tip-off. The email claimed the man was a member of the Hells Angels biker gang.
An investigation found that the man was also connected to the Aryan Cowboys, a prison biker / street gang. The Anti-Defamation League identifies them as a white supremacist group based primarily in Kentucky and Minnesota.
This one man disguised as a protestor tossed a match on the powderkeg, transforming days of peaceful protests into rioting and looting, which overshadowed the earlier massive peaceful protests:
A Minneapolis police arson investigator said the act of vandalism at the AutoZone on E. Lake Street helped spark a chain reaction that led to days of looting and rioting. The store was among dozens of buildings across the city that burned to the ground in the days that followed.
“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Sgt. Erika Christensen wrote in a search warrant affidavit filed in court this week. “Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling ‘Umbrella Man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful. The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension. Your affiant believes that this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”
Similarly, video of Minneapolis’ 3rd precinct police station burning went viral, but at least one key figure who shot into the police station and lit it on fire was a right-wing extremist:
Ivan Harrison Hunter, a Texas rightwing extremist, bragged about helping to set the fire then was seen shooting 13 rounds at the building
A rightwing extremist boasted of driving from Texas to Minneapolis to help set fire to a police precinct during the George Floyd protests, federal prosecutors said.
US attorney Erica MacDonald said on Friday that she had charged Ivan Harrison Hunter, a 26-year-old Texas resident, with traveling across state lines to participate in a riot.
The Associated Press found that quite a few of the violent actions were taken by out-of-staters who presumably came to engage in violence:
Of the 93 people arrested on federal criminal charges in Portland, 18 defendants are from out of state, the Justice Department said.
This has contributed to a blame game that has been a subplot throughout the protests. Leaders in Minneapolis and Detroit have decried people from out of state and suburbanites for coming into their cities and causing havoc….
John Malcolm Bareswill, angry that a local Black church held a prayer vigil for George Floyd, called the church and threatened to burn it to the ground, using racial slurs in a phone call overheard by children, prosecutors said. Bareswill, 63, of Virginia Beach, faces 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to making a telephonic threat…
Three of the men arrested are far-right extremists, members of the “Boogaloo” movement plotting to overthrow the government and had been stockpiling military-grade weapons and hunting around for the right public event to unleash violence for weeks before Floyd’s death, according to court documents.
…they settled on a Floyd-related protest led by Black Lives Matter. Angry it had not turned violent, they brought carloads of explosives, military-grade weapons, to a meet-up about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the protest site and pumped gasoline into tanks. FBI agents arrested them before they could act
The FBI has a long and shameful history of spying on and harassing Black Americans and human rights activists:
- Mike German, “The FBI has a history of targeting black activists. That’s still true today,” The Guardian (UK), 26 June 2020
- Peter Aldhous, “The FBI Used Its Most Advanced Spy Plane To Watch Black Lives Matter Protests,” BuzzFeed News, 20 June 2020
- Jana Winter and Sharon Weinberger, “The FBI’s New U.S. Terrorist Threat: ‘Black Identity Extremists,’” Foreign Policy, 6 October 2017
- Sam Briger, “Documentary Exposes How The FBI Tried To Destroy MLK With Wiretaps, Blackmail,” Fresh Air (NPR), 18 January 2021
- Alice Speri, “The FBI Spends a Lot of Time Spying on Black Americans,” The Intercept, 29 October 2019
- Ed Pilkington, “Fears of renewed FBI abuse of power after informant infiltrated BLM protests,” The Guardian (UK), 14 February 2023
- Alisha Rahaman Sarkar, “FBI agents infiltrated racial justice protests in Portland, report says,” The Independent (UK)
America has not – yet – devolved to carrying out domestic genocide (although America’s maternal death rate shamefully matches that in much poorer nations, including Palestine, Grenada, Lebanon, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Iran, and China), but our current extremist, activist right-wing Supreme Court has just today weaponized Americans’ right to “free speech” to endorse real-life (non-speech) discrimination against and oppression of marginalized groups in physical commerce, as Justice Sotomayor explains in her 30 June 2023 dissent:
Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class. Specifically, the Court holds that the First Amendment exempts a website design company from a state law that prohibits the company from denying wedding websites to same-sex couples if the company chooses to sell those websites to the public.
…Around the country, there has been a backlash to the movement for liberty and equality for gender and sexual minorities. New forms of inclusion have been met with reactionary exclusion. This is heartbreaking.
…A business open to the public seeks to deny gay and lesbian customers the full and equal enjoyment of its services based on the owner’s religious belief that same-sex marriages are “false.” The business argues, and a majority of the Court agrees, that because the business offers services that are customized and expressive, the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment shields the business from a generally applicable law that prohibits discrimination in the sale of publicly available goods and services. That is wrong. Profoundly wrong.
The same argument suggests restaurant owners who claims their religious beliefs prevent them from serving black people or Muslims/Jews/etc. would be legally entitled to so discriminate.
Even more insane, the Supreme Court should never have listened to this case or ruled on it because it was a fake case with no actual dispute or real parties on either side of the non-existent dispute, and the Supreme Court says it does not issue “advisory opinions” but only rules on real cases, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explains.
I’m saddened that perhaps 100 million Americans have been maliciously misinformed into so hating their fellow Americans that they vote against their economic self interest. This is the engineered consequence of decades of mind manipulation – mediated by “conservative” think tanks, partisan, lying “journalists,” and political bribes… I mean political contributions – all selfishly paid for by greedy billionaires and mega-corporations purchasing political power for financial gain.
Billionaires want Americans fighting over scraps by enraging us about immigrants “stealing” our jobs (when, in fact, few Americans are actually willing to do back-breaking farm work, etc.) or “welfare queens” (who pretty much don’t exist).
Billionaires divide and distract us because they don’t want us forming unions to fight for higher wages, more benefits, or better working conditions. Billionaires don’t want us demanding government regulation over pollutors, habitat destroyers, etc. Billionaires don’t want us demanding that the US government demand that pharmaceutial companies stop exploiting Americans with much higher drug prices than paid in other nations. Billionaires don’t want us demanding telecom competition to challenge price-gouging local monopolies. And billionaires absolutely don’t want us questioning why billionaires pay a lower share of their income in taxes than working-class Americans!
I hope America wakes up, rejects hatred, fear, and violence, and unites behind real solutions that will benefit the 99.8% of American non-billionaires.