Bob Sheak, March 15, 2023
The purpose of this post is to gather evidence that Trump, the Republican Party and their supporters are encouraging if not perpetrating violence in their mission to win control of the White House, both branches of the U.S. Congress, and states across the country. They now have the support of the cult-like support of Trump’s massive electoral base and, additionally, much of the corporate community, right-wing media, and the Supreme Court. They pose systemic threats to U.S. democracy. This analysis is hardly uplifting, but it is one element (verifiable evidence) in a larger, multifaceted process of trying to save democracy. With all its flaws, the Democratic Party is presently the only viable alternative with respect to domestic policies and affairs.
Trump’s CPAC speech, a call to arms?
John Hendrickson reports for The Atlantic magazine on March 4, 2023 on The CPAC [Conservative PAC] conference, focusing on Trump’s nearly two-hour speech (https://theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2023/03/donald-trump-cpac-speech-message/673288). Hendrickson offers this summary of the former president’s speech and the violent implications.
“Tonight’s address was among the darkest speeches he has given since his ‘American carnage’ inaugural address. Trump warned that the United States is becoming ‘a nation in decline’ and a ‘crime-ridden, filthy communist nightmare.’ He spoke of an ‘epic battle’ against ‘sinister forces; on the left. He repeatedly painted himself as a martyr, a tragic hero still hoping for redemption. ‘They’re not coming after me; they’re coming after you, and I’m just standing in their way,’ Trump told the room. He pulled out his best, half-hearted Patton: ‘We are going to finish what we started. We’re going to complete the mission. We’re going to see this battle through to ultimate victory.’ He was heavy on adjectives, devastating with nouns. ‘We will liberate America from these villains and scoundrels once and for all,’ he said.” In similar violent-provoking language, he promised to totally obliterate the ‘deep state.’”
“The audience, largely composed of Trump loyalists, hooted and repeatedly yelled ‘U-S-A!’ A brief selection of the hats dotting the hallways outside the Potomac Ballroom: maga, ’merica, let’s go brandon, trump won, we the people are pissed.” Trump won the CPAC straw poll “with 62 percent of the vote, crushing his closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who received 20 percent.”
Trump’s power rests on his loyal electoral base
Trump’s political power in the Republican Party is based on his electoral base of millions of voters, perhaps at present representing 30-40% of the Republican electorate. Without its support, Trump’s power disappears. In a post sent out on February 6, 2021, I described his base as follows.
Trump has served to unify disparate right-wing forces into an unquestioning populist base of support for him. This populous base includes advocates of unfounded and conspiratorial views of society, some committed to the use of violent methods to achieve their goals, along with overlapping special interest groups devoted to maximum gun rights, closed borders, Christian nationalism, white supremacy, those who question the reality of the pandemic refuse to wear masks and are angered by the lockdowns, and those opposed to covid-19 vaccines.
This is a population that generally takes Trump’s word as definitive, while rejecting the views and evidence from scientists, experts, the “dark state” of government civil servants, and the “fake news.” Emotions and ideology trump evidence. Indeed, some see Trump as chosen by God. They love his admonitions invoking “law and order” and his disparaging statements on the “black lives matter” movement and immigration. And, of course, his continues to rant about “the big steal,” referring to his misbegotten, unsubstantiated, view that he won the 2020 presidential election and did so by many millions of votes.
The nationalistic “America First” rhetoric of Trump leads his base to think that his policies are bringing back American businesses from abroad or keeping such businesses from outsourcing their businesses to other countries. It also likely makes them feel patriotic, the true and only patriots. Meanwhile, imports to the United States continue to soar. In line with such sentiments, many of the Trump supporters accept the idea that the Democrats are “radical socialists” and electing them will take the country down a path where all individual “freedoms” are lost.
Many of Trump’s base are motivated less by economic distress than by ideological commitments and special interests. Robert A. Pape, political-science professor at the University of Chicago and Keven Ruby, Senior research associate of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, find that “a closer look at the people suspected of taking part in the Capitol riot suggests a different and potentially far more dangerous problem: a new kind of violent mass movement in which more ‘normal’ Trump supporters—middle-class and, in many cases, middle-aged people without obvious ties to the far right—joined with extremists in an attempt to overturn a presidential election” (https://theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/the-capitol-rioters-arent-like-other-extremists/617895).
In an article for The Atlantic magazine on March 7, 2023, investigative journalist Barton Gellman, considers the continuing right-wing attacks on election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, with references to evidence on how widespread support is for the big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump and how election officials who certified the electoral college votes of their states have been harassed or attacked by Trump supporters
“More than a third of Republicans are still hard-core Trump supporters, and nearly two-thirds still believe the 2020 election was rigged.”
“According to a fall 2022 survey by the nonpartisan Democracy Fund, one in four election officials has experienced threats of violence because of their work. In the largest jurisdictions, that number increases to two out of three.”
Malcom Nance, a globally renowned, highly engaging expert on terrorism, extremism, and insurgency and best-selling author, offers the following description of Trump’s electoral base in his book titled They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency (publ. 2022).
“The Trump worshipping base has become an openly fascist movement. It endangers the nation with near constant threats to take up arms and create political instability through violence. The goals of TITUS [Trump Insurgency in the United States] are not just to alter and coopt the national dialogue but to dismantle the framework of government and the Constitution itself. They openly advocate the destruction of America’s diversity, multiculturalism, and equality. They continue to demand that an unelected dictator be put back into office. They want a strongman who will impose the will and ideology of forty million misguided people over the voices and lives of all other Americans” (p. 241).
Right-Wing acceptance and promotion of and/or engagement in violence: Some examples
#1 – January 6 Was a Dress Rehearsal. Now the GOP Readies for 2024
Author of 25 books and talk-show host Thom Hartmann explains in an article published on March 7, 2023, what the Republicans and their grassroots allies are doing in attempts, sometimes violent or violent precipitating, to ensure the 2024 elections, particularly the presidential election, are won by right-wing Republican candidates (https://commondreams.org/opinion/january-6-dress-rehearsal). Hartmann argues that the full impact of their efforts will not be felt all at once, but only gradually as one anti-democratic “success” is followed by others.
“With few exceptions,” Hartmann writes, “they are systematically destroying American democracy with the clear objective of replacing it with strongman authoritarianism, a new and American version of what Benito Mussolini called fascism” [a one-party, authoritarian state melding together state and corporate power]. Hartmann gives a host of examples to illustrate his view. Here are some of his examples. The right-wing is:
Infiltrating police departments and the enlisted ranks of the military
Gerrymandering states so regardless of how people vote, Republicans control the levers of power
Building media structures that will support the authoritarian takeover when it happens
Organizing armed paramilitary militias, with back-channel connections to local police
Radicalizing average Americans through social media and an ever-growing network of hard-right radio shows and podcasts
Gradually, then suddenly
Consistent with the other evidence, Hartmann offers his thoughts on what Trump and Congressional Republicans would do if they should win the 2024 elections. Here are a few of his points.
“Trump had previously proclaimed his desire to change the nation’s libel and slander laws so he could sue or imprison his political opponents and those in the media who opposed him; if he had succeeded on January 6th, that would have happened by now, and people like me (and maybe you) would be in jail.
“Trump had previously promised his violent partisans that he’d pardon them and pick up their legal fees; if he’d held onto the White House…”
“If Republicans held a large enough majority in Congress, a constitutional convention like rightwing billionaires have been promoting and annually rehearsing in Washington, DC would be underway to rewrite our founding document. The right of all Americans to vote, separation of church and state, civil rights, protections of free speech and assembly, the right to due process and equal protection under the law, even the obscure Emoluments Clause would all be on the chopping block.”
“Trump-friendly corporations would be running political purges reminiscent of the Republican ‘Red Scare’ and ‘Blacklist’ of the 1950s all across the country as social media accounts were examined for evidence of “leftist” leanings….
“Private prisons would expand to take in the hundreds of thousands of people arrested protesting in the streets or for speaking out on social media. For most Americans who voted Republican or were completely apolitical, though, life would go on as normal….
“A handful of high-profile progressive politicians would have been assassinated or survived assassination attempts; the police and the FBI, however, would have been as clueless about their killers (or complicit) as they were about 10,000 people planning to storm the Capitol and assassinate the Vice President and Speaker of the House on January 6th.”
Hartmann argues there is no compromising with Trump and his right-wing allies
“They are building their power and their organizations right now; armed paramilitary groups are expanding across the country as the GOP has become so radicalized that they even proclaim Liz Cheney as their enemy.
“Billionaire-owned media properties like Fox ‘News’ and hate-talk radio push naked lies to their viewers and listeners — all to make a buck and consolidate their political power — with no loss of audience.
“And they’re packing our courts with young, hardcore rightwing ideologues.
Republicans are openly preparing for a second Civil War, calling for a “national divorce.”
“Reuters did a major and shocking report on how police forces, presumably sympathetic to local neofascist elements, refuse to even investigate death threats against elections officials and Democratic politicians.”
In short: “January 6th was a rehearsal; they’re now planning 2024. Coups build to an explosive tipping point, then suddenly appear as a fait accompli.
Unless we stop them in-process, this may be our last chance.
#2 – The explosion of white-supremacist’s propaganda to all-time high
Rebecca Beitsch reports on this unsettling trend (https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/3890599-us-sees-white-supremacists-propaganda-jury-to-all-time-high-adl). She writes:
“The United States saw its highest-ever distribution of white supremacist propaganda last year, jumping 38 percent, according to data collected by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“The group recorded 6,751 incidents of propaganda activity in 2022 — a jump from 4,876 in 2021 that the ADL attributed to growth in the number of white supremacist groups and their membership.
“‘There’s no question that white supremacists and antisemites are trying to terrorize and harass Americans and have significantly stepped up their use of propaganda as a tactic to make their presence known in communities nationwide,’ Jonathan Greenblatt, president of ADL, said in a statement alongside the report.
“Three white supremacist groups — Patriot Front, Goyim Defense League and White Lives Matter — were responsible for 93 percent of this year’s activity, which includes banners, posters and events.
“Much of that content was specifically antisemitic in nature, with ADL noting that such propaganda surged from 352 incidents in 2021 to 852 incidents last year.
“The uptick in antisemitic propaganda “was largely due to [Goyim Defense League’s] growth and their initiation of propaganda campaigns. The formation of several new antisemitic white supremacist groups in 2022 also contributed to the rise in antisemitic incidents,” ADL found.
“The spikes come as national security leaders have repeatedly warned that white supremacists extremists are an increasingly large share of the domestic violent extremists in the U.S.
““Racially motivated violent extremism, specifically of the sort that advocates for the superiority of the white race, is a persistent, evolving threat,’ FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers last year.
“‘It’s the biggest chunk of our racially motivated violent extremism cases for sure. And racially motivated violent extremism is the biggest chunk of our domestic terrorism portfolio,’ he added.”
House Republicans refuse to denounce the white supremacy and “great replacement” theory that fuels right-wing violence
Julia Conley reports on this issue (https://commondreams.org/news/republicans-white-supremacy). She quotes what Jamie Raskin told his Republican colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Led by ranking member Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrats on the U.S. House Oversight and Accountability Committee this week warned that Republicans doubled down on ‘a dangerous lie’ when they refused to back a statement denouncing white supremacy.”
Raskin (D-Md.) was joined by all 20 Democrats on the committee in signing a brief, straightforward statement condemning “white nationalism and white supremacy in all its forms, including the ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory,” which claims that white Americans are intentionally being “replaced” by people of color, particularly through immigration policy.
“These hateful and dangerous ideologies have no place in the work of the United States Congress or our committee,” reads the statement.
Raskin sent the statement along with a letter to committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), saying he was driven to call on his 26 Republican colleagues to sign on to the statement after the panel held a hearing in February titled “On the Front Lines of the Border Crisis.”
In that hearing, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) asked whether immigrants arriving in the U.S. via the southern border are “changing our culture” and both Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) claimed an “invasion” by migrants and asylum-seekers is taking hold at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In his letter to Comer, Raskin noted that he had explained to the chairman at the hearing that “such language borrows from the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, the central dogma of contemporary white supremacy,” and that the theory has been invoked by white nationalists who have committed deadly acts of domestic terrorism in Buffalo, New York; El Paso, Texas; and Pittsburgh.
Republican lawmakers including Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have also alluded to the theory in their attacks on Democratic immigration policy.
Presented with the facts about the rise of white supremacy in the U.S. at the hearing and in Raskin’s letter, Comer and the committee’s other Republicans refused to sign the statement. Raskin wrote:
“On June 8, 2022, following the racially motivated Tops Supermarket mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, House Democrats passed H. Res. 1152, a resolution to condemn the ‘Great Replacement’ theory and affirm the commitment of the People’s House to combating white supremacy and race hatred,’ wrote Raskin. ‘Despite then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s acknowledgment that white supremacy and white nationalism are ‘definitely not American,’ not a single House Republican voted in favor of the resolution.’”
#3 – Mass shootings are up
CNN journalist Paul LeBlanc reviews evidence on “mass shootings” in America during the first months of 2023 and the relative lack of government action on gun control (https://cnn.com/2023/03/06/politics/america-mass-shootings-2023-gun-violence/index.html).
The evidence on the number of mass shootings
“The US has surpassed 100 mass shootings in 2023, a disturbing milestone that underscores the grave cost of inaction in Washington and state legislatures across the country.
“America reached the grim number by the first week of March – record time, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.
“Last year, the US hit 100 mass shootings on March 19, per the GVA, almost two weeks after this year’s date. The previous year, 2021, saw a late March date as well, and from 2018 to 2020, there weren’t 100 mass shootings until May.”
Many Americans falsely believe that more guns mean more safety
“Almost a third of US adults believe there would be less crime if more people owned guns, according to an April 2021 Pew survey. However, multiple studies show that where people have easy access to firearms, gun-related deaths tend to be more frequent, including by suicide, homicide and unintentional injuries.”
The U.S. tops similar countries in the extent of gun ownership
“There are about 120 guns for every 100 Americans, according to the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey. No other nation has more civilian guns than people. And about 44% of US adults live in a household with a gun, and about one-third own one personally, according to a November 2020 Gallup survey.
More gun violence and mass shootings in US than in other comparable countries
“It is… perhaps unsurprising that the US has more deaths from gun violence than any other developed country per capita. The rate in the US is eight times greater than in Canada, which has the seventh highest rate of gun ownership in the world; 22 times higher than in the European Union and 23 times greater than in Australia, according to Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation data from 2019.”
There is little being done by the federal government – or at any level of government – to address the problem seriously.
“Last year’s bipartisan gun safety bill – which garnered the support of 14 Republicans in the House and 15 in the Senate – represented the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence since the expired 10-year assault weapons ban of 1994. But it failed to ban any weapons and fell far short of what Biden and his party had advocated for – and what polls show Americans want to see.” And, LeBlanc adds that there has been little momentum since then toward additional gun-control legislation.
“‘Although fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries are growing, no real legislative response has followed acts of gun violence in support of individuals or the communities in which they live. And there is scant proof that prevention measures, such as active shooter drills, have reduced actual harm,’ Mark S. Kaplan, a professor of social welfare at UCLA, told CNN.”
There are potential solutions
“There are real solutions and tools – including bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines – available now that can make a difference, but only if our elected officials act to implement them,” Kaplan added.
“Yet America’s relationship to gun ownership is unique, and its gun culture is a global outlier, complicating legislative efforts.”
Withal, the fight for reasonable gun ownership continues
“Gun violence activism has become a central plank of Democratic politics, with President Joe Biden repeatedly lamenting Congress’ inability to pass ‘common sense’ measures after multiple mass shootings this year.”
“Most of the public (66%) favored stricter gun laws, a July 2022 CNN poll found, with more than 4 in 10 saying that recently enacted gun legislation didn’t go far enough to change things.”
#4 – Trump, Republicans, and their allies are trying to re-write the violent history of the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol as peaceful
A friendly, site seeing tour?
Chris McGreal examines the Republicans attempt to “reframe January 6 as a sightseeing tour,” despite the overwhelming evidence compiled by the House January 6 Select Committees, which documents that it was a violent attack on the Nation’s Capital in an unlawful, violent, destructive and seditious attempt to reverse a long-established, constitutional practice of certifying the 2020 presidential election (https://theguardian.com/us-news/2023/mar/11/republicans-reframing-january-6-attack
Now in control of the House, Republicans are making light of the violence of that day and assailing the investigation into the Capitol attack. Fox News star Tucker Carlson is also selectively commenting on the videos from the Jan.6 Select Committee. Note that House majority leader Kevin McCarthy give Carlson sole possession of the Committee’s tapes.
Amanda Marcotte argues that both have failed – so far (https://salon.com/2023/03/13/double-duds-jim-jordans-and-tucker-carlsons-lazy-conspiracy-theories-bore-maga).
“I don’t want to speak too soon, but so far, the Republican noise machine has been — dare I say? — underwhelming. Last week was supposed to be a banner week for the two biggest propaganda initiatives started by McCarthy’s caucus. However, the efforts went over like a wet fart in both cases.
“First, Tucker Carlson of Fox News attempted to rewrite the January 6 insurrection with supposedly previously unseen footage of the riot. But even within Republican circles, there’s a palpable sense of disappointment. This was supposed to be the blockbuster release of dazzling right-wing propaganda, but it’s got the same vibe as the ‘Game of Thrones’ series finale.
“Then there is Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio’s “weaponization of federal government” committee. No one of good faith believed that the Jordan committee’s hearing about the so-called “Twitter files” last week would produce any damning evidence against Democrats. (Plenty of evidence of Donald Trump using his power to suppress speech has been unearthed, but of course, none of that bothers the supposed free speech warriors of the right.) But the big surprise was how boring the whole thing was. The conspiracy theories lacked imagination. Republican fake outrage was low energy, too.”
Nonetheless, the efforts of right-wing Republicans and Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson will undoubtedly continue. Their attempts to rewrite the history of that day as a largely a peaceful assemblage of citizens peacefully protesting an alleged rigged 2020 presidential election will go on. They will continue promoting Trump’s “big lie.”
The evidence on Jan. 6 tells a different story
The January 6 Report by the House January 6th Committee (U.S. Government Publishing Office: 2022). Here are some relevant facts and excepts from the report.
“On June 30th , “the House voted on H. Res 503 to establish a 13-Member Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol by a vote of 222 Yeas and 190 Nays with just two Republicans supporting the measure: Representative Liz Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger” (p. 130).
The Committee conducted nine public hearings, “presenting testimony from more than 70 witnesses,” including “nearly all of the President’s principal advisers” (p. 3). “In all, the Committee displayed the testimony of more than four dozen Republicans – by far the majority of witnesses in our hearings – including two of President Trump’s former attorney generals, his former White House Counsel, numerous members of the White House staff, and the highest-ranking members of his campaign general counsel. Even key individuals who worked closely with President Trump to try to overturn the 2020 election on January 6th ultimately admitted they had lacked evidence sufficient to change the election itself, and they admitted that what they were attempting was unlawful” (p. 4).
The report also notes this: “more than 60 Federal and State courts rejected President Trump’s and his supporters’ efforts to reverse the electoral outcome” (p. 3).
Wikipedia has put together summaries of the evidence of the attempted insurrection on casualties, suicides, and damage to the Capitol buildings
“Some rioters[l] and 138 police officers (73 Capitol Police and 65 Metropolitan Police) were injured, of whom 15 were hospitalized, some with severe injuries. All had been released from the hospital by January 11.
“Morale among the Capitol Police plummeted after the riot. The department responded to several incidents where officers threatened to harm themselves. Four officers from various police departments who responded to the attack committed suicide in the days and months that followed: Capitol Police Officer Howard Charles Liebengood died by suicide three days after the attack, and D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith, who was injured in the attack, died by suicide from a gunshot wound to the head at George Washington Memorial Parkway on January 15, after a misdiagnosed concussion. A former D.C. chief medical examiner hired by Smith’s widow reported that the “acute, precipitating event that caused the death of Officer Smith was his occupational exposure to the traumatic events he suffered on January 6, 2021”; Smith’s widow subsequently sued two of his alleged assailants, claiming they caused a traumatic brain injury with a crowbar or a heavy walking stick, leading to his death. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, some members of Congress and press reports included these two suicides in the number of reported casualties, for a total of seven deaths. In July, two more members of law enforcement who responded to the attack died by suicide: Metropolitan Police Officer Kyle Hendrik DeFreytag was found on July 10, and Metropolitan Police Officer Gunther Paul Hashida was found on July 29.
“The rioters caused extensive physical damage. Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton, who leads the office charged with maintaining the Capitol and preserving its art and architecture, reported in congressional testimony from late February 2021 that the combined costs of repairing the damage and post-attack security measures (such as erecting temporary perimeter fencing) already exceeded $30 million and would continue to increase. In May 2021, U.S. prosecutors estimated that the damage would cost almost $1.5 million. [A later estimate on April 8, 2022 put the property damage at $2.73 billion.] Interior damage from the riot included broken glass, broken doors, and graffiti; as well as defecation throughout the complex, on the floor and smeared on the walls; some statues, paintings, and furniture were damaged by pepper spray, tear gas, and fire extinguishing agents deployed by rioters and police.
The historic bronze Columbus Doors were damaged. Items, including portraits of John Quincy Adams and James Madison, as well as a marble statue of Thomas Jefferson, were covered in “corrosive gas agent residue”; these were sent to the Smithsonian for assessment and restoration. A 19th-century marble bust of President Zachary Taylor was defaced with what seemed to be blood, but the most important works in the Capitol collection, such as the John Trumbull paintings, were unharmed. On the Capitol’s exterior, two 19th-century bronze light fixtures designed by Frederick Law Olmsted were damaged. Because the Capitol has no insurance against loss, taxpayers will pay for damage inflicted by the siege.”
#5 – The politicization of private life, a step toward totalitarianism
In an article for The Nation magazine published on Feb. 3, 2023, Chris Lehmann posits that the GOP today has become the totalitarian force it claims to oppose
(https://thenation.com/article/politics/republicans-totalitarianism). Lehmann is the D.C. Bureau chief for The Nation and a contributing editor at The Baffler. He was formerly editor of The Baffler and The New Republic, and is the author, most recently, of The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream (Melville House, 2016). Here, he refers to the present relevance of Hannah Arendt’s classic analysis of totalitarianism, which leave the individual defenseless against an all-powerful state and the propaganda it propagates. Lehman continues:
“Whatever else the Trumpian right may be, it is not at all squeamish about the politicization of private life. Intellectual historian Robert Westbrook, the Joseph F. Cunningham Emeritus professor of history at the University of Rochester, contends that the cultural right is pursuing its own version of “Gleichschaltung—the Nazi program for coordination, which meant at every level, society would be nazified.”
“The right’s intellectual vanguard is now making that case in more and more explicit authoritarian terms, Westbrook notes: ‘The national conservatives, the intellectual wing of Trumpism… they’re promoting a program for reconstructing the entire society through culture and turning it into a Catholic [evangelical? Christian nationalist?] authoritarian social order.’
“The Trump movement did not conjure this movement into being, but it has served as a powerful accelerant. The Reagan coalition was an often-tense shotgun marriage between culture warriors broadly aligned with the evangelical right and the GOP’s business establishment. Trump and his followers have cleared the way for that marriage’s annulment, as invasive culture war rhetoric and policy-making have become the principal calling cards of right-wing politics. Trump’s own ongoing assault on the electoral structure of our democracy is itself a brand of culture warfare, with sinister election workers and voting-machine makers undermining the rightful pride of place accorded to white nationalist rule in the American system.”
#6 – Supporting capital punishment for those who have abortions
South Carolina Bill to Execute People Who Have Abortions Gets Support From 21 Republicans
Julia Conley reports March 14, 2023 in an article for Common Dreams on “a new pro-forced pregnancy proposal in the South Carolina General Assembly that would make people who obtain abortion care eligible for the death penalty” (https://commondreams.org/news/south-carolina-abortion-death-penalty).
Conley gives this background. “Proposed by state Rep. Rob Harris, the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023 would amend the state’s criminal code to give a zygote, or fertilized egg, ‘equal protection under the homicide laws of the state’—meaning obtaining an abortion could be punishable by the death penalty.” There is no exception in the bill “for people whose pregnancies result from rape or incest, and political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen noted its language is vague enough to suggest that some people who suffer miscarriages could become eligible for the death penalty.”
“The exceptions provided by Harris include only people who are “compelled” by others to have an abortion against their will or people whose continued pregnancies carry the threat of “imminent death or great bodily injury,” although numerous cases since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v.
Wade have demonstrated how exceptions to protect a pregnant person’s life often put their safety at risk.”
“Harris and his co-sponsors—seven of whom have requested to have their names removed from the legislation as it’s garnered national attention—are just the latest policymakers to propose punishments for people who obtain abortions. Alabama’s attorney general said in January that residents should be prosecuted for taking abortion pills, and former President Donald Trump said as a presidential candidate in 2016 that ‘there has to be some form of punishment’ for abortion patients before walking back the statement.”
Conley points out that executing women is not fringe GOP but mainstream, “with 21 state Republicans backing the legislation.”
The Biden administration recognizes the threat
On September 15, 2022, the Biden White House held “The United
We Stand Summit: Taking Action to Prevent and Address Hate-Motivated Violence and Foster Unity” (https://whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/09/15/fact-sheet-the-united-we-stand-summit-taking-action-to-prevent-and-address-hate-motivated-violence-and-foster-unity). It’s goal is
“to counter the corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety.” It also wants to “honor the resilience of communities who are healing from hateful attacks, including mass shootings, from Oak Creek to Orlando, Charleston, Pittsburgh, El Paso, Atlanta, Buffalo, and beyond.
In addition, the Summit aimed at putting forth “a shared vision for a more united America, demonstrating that the vast majority of Americans agree that there is no place for hate-fueled violence in our country, and that when Americans stand united to renew civic bonds and heal divides, we can help prevent acts of hate and violence. Today’s Summit is just the beginning of this work, and every American has a role to play in this cause.”
“The White House is announcing a historic package of new actions the federal government, civic, faith, philanthropic, and business leaders will take to address hate-fueled violence and advance national unity:
“The President will announce new agency actions to strengthen the federal government’s coordination and community engagement to prevent, respond to, and recover from hate-fueled violence.
“Federal agencies are announcing new steps to strengthen the resources available to local schools, law enforcement agencies, and cultural institutions like museums and libraries to prevent and respond to hate-fueled violence.
“Bipartisan former White House officials will launch Dignity.us, a Citizens’ Initiative to Address Hate-Fueled Violence in America, to foster dialogue in communities across the country and identify solutions to address hate-fueled violence. The Citizens’ Initiative will be coordinated by four former Directors of the White House Domestic Policy Council under Republican and Democratic presidents. The Presidential Centers or Foundations of Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Gerald Ford will support the initiative.
“New Pluralists, a cross-partisan group of philanthropic and field leaders, is mobilizing $1 billion in new investments to increase support for programs that build bridges among Americans of different backgrounds to foster unity.
Compact to Combat Hate and Extremism, committing to stand up against hate-fueled violence and increase their support for local initiatives that heal divides.
Service organizations, led by Interfaith America, the YMCA, and Habitat for Humanity, are launching A Nation of Bridge Builders, a new partnership that will train 10,000 Americans to be bridge builders in their neighborhoods, and will host over 1,000 bridge building events in over 300 communities.
Technology companies, including YouTube, Twitch, Microsoft, and Meta are announcing new actions their platforms are taking to prevent hate-fueled violence.
At the Summit, the White House will also honor 16 “Uniters” from across America:
Pastor Bob Roberts, Imam Mohamed Magid, and Rabbi David Saperstein – Multi-Faith Neighbors Network, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Richard and Dawn Collins – 2nd Lieutenant Richard Collins III Foundation, Crofton, Maryland
Former Lieutenant Brian Murphy, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dennis and Judy Shepard – Matthew Shepard Foundation, Casper, Wyoming
Alana Grant – Hate Won’t Win Movement, Columbia, South Carolina
Masood Akhtar – We Are Many United Against Hate, Madison, Wisconsin
Jeff Binkley – Maura’s Voice, Atlanta, Georgia and Tallahassee, Florida
Valarie Kaur – civil rights leader, Los Angeles, California
Pastor Tom Breeden and Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin – One America Movement, Charlottesville, Virginia and Arlington, Virginia
Carmina Taylor – civil rights activist, Hatfield Township, Pennsylvania
Chairman Jordan Dresser – Northern Arapaho Tribe, Wyoming
Miriam Vargas Corona – UNIDOS Bridging Communities, McMinnville, Oregon
Reverend Dr. Darryn Scheske – Heartland Church, Fishers, Indiana
Taylor Dumpson – anti-hate activist, Washington, DC
Mina Fedor – AAPI Youth Rising, Piedmont, California
Dr. Suzanne Barakat – University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California
“These heroes are leading extraordinary work in their communities to stand together against hate, build bridges, and heal divides.”
“The Summit will also feature survivors of hate-motivated violence who will share their stories of loss, healing, and advocacy. Participants include bipartisan and nonpartisan federal, state, local, and Tribal officials, civil rights groups, faith and community leaders, business leaders, law enforcement officials, former members of violent hate groups who now work to prevent violence, and gun violence prevention leaders.”
U.S. history is, at least in part, a history of violence against indigenous people, people of color (especially, African-Americans), immigrants, workers and unions, women’s rights, and others. It is reflected in the Civil War, as southern white plantation owners and their government and grassroots supporters fought a losing and bloody war to expand slavery in the west. Adam Hochschild recaptures the government’s suppression of war opponents, socialists, and trade unions during WWI in his book, American Midnight: The Great War, A Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis. Kevin M. Krouse and Julian E. Zelizer edit a collection of essays by historians “to take on the biggest legends and lies” in American history. The book’s title: Myth America. Dana Milbank analyzes the “twenty-five year crack-up of the Republican Party” in his book, The Destructionists. Dan Pfeiffer focuses his book on the “big lie” promoted by right-wing media (Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the Mega Media are Destroying America). Among the most troubling books is the book by Malcolm Nance, They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency.
In this post, and others, I have presented some evidence that Trump, the Republican Party, and their supporters, along with the help of right-wing media, are in various ways encouraging violence against opponents. This is a method, along with voter suppression, cultural wars, and outright lying, aimed at consolidating their support among the tens of millions of Americans who are in the MAGA sphere of influence. President Biden and his administration recognize the problem and are addressing it. The 2020 presidential election and the surprise Democratic control of the U.S. Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, provide some hope that the Trump and his supporters will be defeated in 2024 elections. While that is essential, the Democrats have their own problems in supporting, for example, huge spending on the military, continuing support for fossil fueled energy system, and the lack of a humane immigration policy. But Biden and his administration are doing many things that are benefiting ordinary Americans. And they are not encouraging violence.