October 27, 2018

Right-wing violence? I blame Obama (in part)

No, I don't blame former President Barack Obama for being black, unlike the wingnuts who started getting butt-hurt — and potentially violently butt-hurt — over that as soon as he took office if not before.

I DO, though, blame him for singing Kumbaya with Republicans in Congress and conservative thought leaders behind them, even on this issue. I DO blame him for pretending to be, or naively or stupidly hoping and wanting to be, the nation's first "post-racial" president.

That's even after George Zimmerman of my snarking on Cesar Sayoc the mail bombing suspect (claiming there was a real "false flag" and an aged-out on booze and drugs Zimmerman did it) , had confronted and fatally shot Trayvon Martin. Even then, Obama tried to pretend this away, at least in public, with Kumbaya pixie dust. Continued after his re-election in 2012, even though he was full of crap.

The potentially violently butt-hurt? Obama's Department of Homeland Security warned about that in his first year in office. And a year ago, the author of that report, Daryl Johnson, in a non-gloating way, said "I told you."

That 2009 report was prescient. It said that some right-wing groups would recruit based on Obama as a black president. It said that others with anti-Semitic leanings would blame Great Recession housing foreclosures and such on "Jewish elites."

What happened? Caving to those conservatives and the right-wing talking heads propagating the message, Homeland Security threw Johnson under the bus and then did nothing about his warnings. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano originally stood by the report, though caving on the part that talked about recruiting of veterans. The same Obama who threw Shirley Sherrod under the bus without a second thought surely pushed her to do that, and more. The same Obama who threw ACORN under the bus by signing what I and many others said then was an unconstitutional bill of attainder?

And, it wasn't just Obama himself. His last Homeland Security head, Jeh Johnson, passed up the chance to call Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof a domestic terrorist, per this long, in-depth New York Times piece.

Others picked up on Daryl Johnson's report, like the NYT, during the Bundy standoff in Oregon. Some Congresscritters at that time asked Dear Leader to revitalize Johnson's old office within DHS, which he did not.

And, at least in potential, Johnson was right on the ex-veterans. Numerous stories have reported how the Army has lowered its recruiting standards as the War on Terra grinds on. That includes lower standards for things like gang affiliation histories, etc.

Oh, and most American terror-related violence is by right-wing political extremists. It's well ahead of both left-wing political extremist violence AND Islamic terrorist violence in the U.S.

Says who? Says the Anti-Defamation League, which has reason to play up Islamic terrorism if anybody does. Seventy-four percent of such violence was committed by right-wing groups in 2007-16. (And, on Islamic extremism, that stretch of time includes the Fort Hood shootings, which arguably would fall into that.

And it continues. The Kroger killings in Kentucky? May be a hate crime.

And, as I type, the shootings at Tree of Life Synagogue reportedly by an anti-Semitic winger. And, yes, it appears Robert Bowers is indeed that. Even if, as reported, he didn't vote for Trump, his "my people" ethno-nationalism, like that of Sayoc, had the ground for its growth, and the lowering of norms to lead him to do it, all fertilized by Trump — and unchallenged by Obama.

Oh, finally? Speaking of false flags? The false flag of "Bernie Sanders equivalency" over James Hodgkinson is also untrue, as he also had some sort of political interest in Ted Cruz AND Bernie Sanders never incited violence against conservatives or the media at campaign events, which Trump has clearly done.

Despite all of the above, though, federal law enforcement agencies have still devoted little work to gathering intelligence on right-wing extremists.

The real real problem was Preznit Kumbaya believing one can deal rationally with people who have no intention of operating that way in the first place.

This piece from The Walrus, a Canadian mag, tackles some of that. It references an American academic, presumably a social psychologist or similar, talking about "affective polarization." Yep, that's the ticket. Remember that in psychology, "affect" means "emotions." 

Remember that David Hume said that reason the passions need always to follow the passions. By passions, he meant not the rage of some modern Americans, but deep-seated emotional values and drives. Hume did say that such passions, after stimulating thinking, should be reviewed in light of that thinking. While Hume didn't address modern ideas of the subconscious, in general, the passions align with that less than truly conscious self we think we have. (A naturalistic understanding of Hume's take on free will, per the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is vital here. Understanding at least basics of Hume's moral philosophy in general also helps. And modern philosophers who dismiss Hume as an outdated psychologist or similar do so at not just their own peril, but at damage to what Hume still has to teach.)

This is why liberals like Arlie Russell Hochschild get it wrong with "listening tours." Conservatives, at least in today's America, don't do that, and leftists with enough brains before going down that road are smart enough not to do it, but for different reasons than conservatives.

(The Canadian piece ain't perfect, though. It laments Canada's dependence on the American economy, and specifically mentions tar sands oil. It says nothing about getting off its dirty oil addiction. Nor does it ask if Trump's NAFTA 2.0 and Canada's tweaks to its dairy price system will piss off Quebecois.)

Remember how Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, talked about 9/11 being America's chickens coming home to roost? Well, this is some of Obama's chickens coming home to roost. Just.Another.Politician.™

1 comment:

northierthanthou said...

On this and a few other things, I do wish Obama had fought harder. The right wing gained so much ground in popular culture while he was busy trying to work with them.