Monday Reads: White Nationalist Terrorism … call it what it is …

Vote Vote Vote!!!!!

Next Tuesday is the day to say no to all this, Sky Dancers! Get out there and start voting because lives depend on it!

Last week has taught us that we have a well armed, aggrieved group of white nationalist men out there that aren’t afraid to take the out the rest of us.  I’m with Greg Sargent of WAPO on this one: “Trump’s hate and lies are inciting extremists. Just ask the analyst who warned us.”  They have one of their own installed at the very top and they aren’t afraid to let the freak flag and bullets fly.

Sargent interviewed  “Daryl Johnson, the former Department of Homeland Security analyst who created a big stir when he authored a leaked report in 2009 warning of a rise in right-wing extremist activity. Conservatives reacted with outrage, and the Obama administration decided it needed to do damage control.”

This is part of the interview:

THE PLUM LINE: Your 2009 report talked about the rise in right-wing extremism as a reaction to Barack Obama’s election and the financial crash. What are the ingredients now?

DARYL JOHNSON: We’ve had almost eight years of far-right groups recruiting, radicalizing and growing in strength. Typically during Republican administrations we see a decrease in activity. But under this administration they continue to operate at a heightened level. One reason why is the rhetoric coming from Donald Trump.

Building a border wall, deporting immigrants, a travel ban on Muslim countries — these are themes discussed on white-nationalist message boards and websites for years, now being endorsed and talked about at the highest levels of the government. He’s retweeted messages about Muslims from conspiracy sites. What keeps these groups energized and active is the fact that the administration has mainstreamed their message and tried to put it forth as policy.

PLUM LINE: Why do these groups usually go into decline during other Republican administrations?

JOHNSON: Militias and anti-government groups get energized under a Democrat because of fear of gun control; the hate groups get active because of liberal Democratic policies extending rights to immigrants, gays, and minorities. During Republican administrations the fear and paranoia get dialed back because they feel the administrations are not going to repeal gun rights or extend rights to minority groups.

PLUM LINE: This is different.

JOHNSON: Yup. Because of the viciousness of the rhetoric painting Democrats as evil and corrupt. And the different themes that resonate with extremists.

PLUM LINE: How does the Pittsburgh shooting fit into all of this?

JOHNSON: The conservative media has echoed the president … about how Democrats are contributing to this migrant exodus coming up from Central America. There’s a conspiracy theory that the Jews are controlling that. There’s been a mainstreaming of the extremist narratives. Things that were once on the outer fringes are now being brought to the forefront by Trump.

Trump juices them up at every rally and every opportunity he gets to speak to them on Fox.  We’ve seen 3 recent attacks and attempted attacks by right wing men who feel emboldened and empowered to take matters into their own hands. Even the one that denounced Trump still spouted the same memes as the others about Jewish Financier George Soros echoing the ongoing and deeply historical conspiracies about Jewish communities controlling the press, the banks, and the financial systems of the world.

All of these men were outraged by the thought of women and children from Honduras coming to seek political asylum in this country as is their right.  The “caravan” of “invaders” is being hyped by Trump at every turn because he thinks it will turn out his base at the polls.  Then, of course, there is forever the trope that Black people take jobs, hand outs, and life style from the white.  Racism is at the root of all of this. White christian patriarchy is at the root of all of this and Trump embodies it all with his freak flag flying at endless political rallies.

Last week, one white supremacist, frustrated by lack of access to a black church where he could’ve slaughtered more, stomped into a store and killed two elderly black people point blank, execution style.  What does it mean when in this country one white man feels so aggrieved he will attack elderly people doing their weekly chores?

Two black senior citizens were murdered in Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday. Maurice Stallard, 69, was at a Kroger supermarket when Gregory Bush, a 51-year-old white man, walked in and shot him multiple times. Bush then exited the store and shot Vickie Lee Jones, 67, in the parking lot before an armed bystander reportedly fired back, prompting him to flee. Police were unable to confirm accounts that Bush encountered a second armed man, who engaged him in a brief standoff where no shots were fired, according to the New York Times. “Don’t shoot me and I won’t shoot you,” the man’s son, Steve Zinninger, claimed Bush told his father. “Whites don’t kill whites.” Police apprehended Bush minutes later.

Bush had no known connection to either of his victims. Any doubt of a racial motive seemed quelled when surveillance footage showed the shooter forcibly tried to enter a black church minutes before moving on to the supermarket. The Times reports that a member of the 185-year-old First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown grew alarmed when she saw Bush yanking “aggressively” at its locked front doors. Up to ten people were inside the chapel following a midweek service. “I’m just thankful that all of our doors and security was in place,” church administrator Billy Williams said.

The murder of black seniors is a relatively rare phenomenon in the U.S. People over 65 accounted for just 2 percent of black homicide victims in 2014, according to a 2017 Violence Policy Center report, citing that year as the most recent for which data was available. Yet they have been central victims in recent racist killings. From Charleston to New York City and, now, possibly Louisville, some of the 21st century’s most notorious white supremacists have targeted black seniors for violent deaths. The unique cruelty of this pattern magnifies its obvious illogic, demonstrating yet again that white rhetoric framing black people as threats is shallow cover for terrorizing the vulnerable.

Terrorizing the vulnerable is what Trump excels at … this is why he’s sending US military to frighten rather than provide aid and comfort to women, children and families seeking refuge from violence in their country that we’ve basically enabled.  Again, from WAPO: “A conspiracy theory about George Soros and a migrant caravan inspired horror” by Joel Achenbach shows us this same pattern of race baiting.

Conspiracy theories are flourishing in America, from the Oval Office to the fever swamps of the Internet. They include the viral notion that the liberal 88-year-old billionaire George Soros, a Hungarian American Holocaust survivor, is funding the migrant caravan slowly making its way from Central America in the direction of the United States.

It’s not true, but it has apparently fueled homicidal rage in recent days.

Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man whom authorities have accused of mailing more than a dozen bombs to people and organizations President Trump has criticized, appeared to be obsessed with Soros, mentioning him dozens of times on one of his Twitter accounts. Authorities say he mailed one of his bombs to Soros.

Robert D. Bowers, charged with killing 11 people Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue, also reposted several viral comments on a since-deactivated social media account about the migrant caravan. One post described the “third world caravan” as a group of approaching “invaders.”

Bowers directly posted a comment referring to “the overwhelming jew problem.” He spoke of the U.S. having a Jewish “infestation,” and reposted another user’s anti-Semitic comment: “Jews are waging a propaganda war against Western civilization and it is so effective that we are headed towards certain extinction within the next 200 years and we’re not even aware of it.”

The Soros/caravan theory dates to late March, when an earlier wave of migrants was heading north, according to an extensive blog post on Medium by Jonathan Albright, director of the Digital Forensics Initiative at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. One Twitter post, which had no factual foundation, stated, “Caravan of 1,500 Central American Migrant Families Crossing Mexico to Reach U.S. Border All organized by Soros groups to cause more division.”

Jonathan Chait of the Intelligencer at New York Magazine says “Trump’s Ideology Is Anti-Semitism Without Jews.”

In 1991, Pat Robertson, the Christian Right’s most influential leader, wrote a book titled The New World Order. It received almost no attention — who wants to slog through a Pat Robertson book? — until four years later, when Michael Lind called attention to it in the New York Review of Books. Lind’s review provoked a furor by revealing the fantastical conspiracy theory Robertson had unspooled, in which a cabal of “European bankers” had secretly orchestrated two centuries of world events for their personal benefit.

Some of the furor centered on whether Robertson or his worldview should be described at anti-Semitic. In his defense, Robertson insisted that the book made no explicit reference to Jews as the architects of the nefarious global conspiracy he claimed to uncover. This defense was true, as far as it goes. Robertson had essentially removed references to Jews while preserving the framework of a classic anti-Semitic theory. It was anti-Semitism minus Jews.

The divide around which this argument took place is the same grounds upon which President Trump and his defenders argue that they have no relationship with, or responsibility of any kind for, Robert Bowers’s murderous rampage in Pittsburgh. “The evil act of anti-Semitism in Pittsburg was committed by a coward who hated President Trump because @POTUS is such an unapologetic defender of the Jewish community and state of Israel,” insists White House press secretary Sarah Sanders,denouncing press coverage linking Trump’s rhetoric to both the pro-Trump bomber Cesar Sayoc and Bowers.

The far-right faction with which Bowers identifies does oppose Trump as a pro-Jewish sellout, citing such betrayals as his support for Israel and the marriage of his daughter to a Jewish man. Those differences between Trump and murderous anti-Semites are hardly trivial.

Still, Bowers does identify with some of Trump’s goals and rhetoric, because Trump has inspired the racist far right to a degree surpassing any modern American president. His depiction of immigrants as inherently criminal, and his attempts to connect immigration to shadowy cabals of financiers, closely track white supremacist tropes. During the 2016 campaign, Trump has inadvertently slipped over the line between explicit and implicit anti-Semitism when he tweeted out a meme produced by anti-Semites calling Hillary Clinton the “most corrupt candidate ever!” inside a Star of David. (The star signaled to anti-Semites that Clinton’s alleged corruption was in reality a form of control by the Jews.)

More often, he would invoke anti-Semitic themes without any explicit reference to Jews or Judaism. Trump’s closing campaign ad on television denounced “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities,” over images of Janet Yellen, George Soros, and Lloyd Blankfein, all of whom happen to be Jewish. Trump lambastes his enemies as “globalists,” which, through its implication of extra-national loyalty, closely tracks the primary accusation made against Jews.

Most right-wing thought in general tends to laud the traditional values found in ethnically homogenous rural areas (“real America,” as conservatives habitually call it), and to censure the cosmopolitanism and libertine values of the cities. As a largely urban, educated, and liberal group, Jews naturally find themselves on the negative side of this implicit moral divide. The more sinister strains of this thinking develop conspiracy theories connecting the role of elites and the larger numbers of foreign hordes who seem to pose a threat to the nation’s character.

As David Roberts puts it, this is form of inciting folks to frenzy via conspiracy theories is now rampant in all parts of the Republican party. It is no longer confined to right wing radio loonies like Limbaugh or even the dread Dobbs of Fox.

Additionally, there’s the dread “both siderisms” practiced by most in the media and others trying to equate outrageous acts of terror and murder with citizens expressing anger at public officials in restaurants.

Further exploration of that topic can be found here at Vox by Ezra Klein: Is the media making American politics worse? A difficult conversation about the state of political journalism.”

I want to go a bit further than that. Far from how do we defend American institutions, how do we stop making them worse?

One thing you always get into when you get into any criticism of journalism is that people immediately point to the investigative reporters. God bless the investigative reporters, but that is not what everybody is doing. That’s not what most of what is happening on cable news, for instance, and cable news drives a lot of politics.

Journalism has a definition of newsworthiness. We always say the word means “important,” but it doesn’t really mean important. It is some mixture of important, new, outrageous, conflict-oriented, secret, interesting. There’s a lot of things happening in it. But one of the ways you can hack it is you can just go outrageous enough.

I think of this as the Donald Trump-Michael Avenatti problem. What Donald Trump understood is if you just do the create enough craziness, enough conflict, enough drama, you get all the oxygen in the room. I don’t want to compare him to Trump in his ethics or morals, but I think Michael Avenatti has recognized this way of hacking the system too.

I think about Amy Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota, probably the most popular senator in the country, given the partisan lean of her state. That’s a remarkable thing. Part of the reason is that she speaks in a way that a lot of people can hear her without getting defensive. I mean, even in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, he began by saying, “Hey, look, I may hate all these other Democrats, but Sen. Klobuchar, I like you.” Then he got in trouble by attacking her, and he actually apologized.

But how does she get coverage speaking like a normal human being? Why does arguably the most popular member of the US Senate not get more day-to-day coverage than Avenatti?

So, I’m going to end with this bit of an interview with Hillary Clinton.  I’m pretty sure it’s a distraction and not helpful to the midterms which is exactly what Journalists try to do.  Create more horse races when not enough exist for them.  Our focus should be on the races coming up Tuesday next and getting a few folks across the finish line to start working on getting rid of Trumpism and stuffing white nationalists back under their rocks or jail whichever is necessary.

Hillary Clinton has indicated she could make a bid for the White House in 2020, saying, “I’d like to be president”.

It comes amid growing speculation that the former Democratic presidential nominee could announce another run following the midterm elections.

Asked whether she would run again by journalist Kara Swisher at a live event in New York, Ms Clinton initially said no.

But when pressed on the issue, Ms Clinton said: “Well I’d like to be president.

“I think, hopefully, when we have a Democrat in the Oval Office in January of 2021, there’s going to be so much work to be done.”

She continued: “I mean we have confused everybody in the world, including ourselves. We have confused our friends and our enemies.

“They have no idea what the United States stands for, what we’re likely to do, what we think is important, so the work would be work that I feel very well prepared for having been at the Senate for eight years, having been a diplomat in the state department, and it’s just going to be a lot of heavy lifting.”

Asked if she personally would be doing any ”lifting”, Ms Clinton said: “I have no idea.”

“I’m not even going to even think about it ‘til we get through this November 6 election about what’s going to happen after that,” she said.

“But I’m going to everything in my power to make sure we have a Democrat in the White House come January of 2021.”

How are these statements indicative of a run?  I ask you?  What’s the purpose of not taking her at her word about she’s done?

The only thing each and every one of us has to do is get as many blue wave voters to the polls including ourselves. This crap has to stop.

Anyway, I have to finish up grading and hide from more news including another school shooting where one student shot and killed another in North Carolina.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?