Har­vest­ing hate

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial -

Learn from oth­ers’ mis­takes - there’s some good, clear ad­vice. You can see the toll a mis­take takes and avoid the er­ror with­out hav­ing to go through the pain your­self. And right now, there’s plenty of pain.

In the United States, there have been two sets of at­tacks that clearly show po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion: the ar­rest of a man be­lieved to be re­spon­si­ble for a string of mail­ings of pipe bombs to po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and an at­tack on a syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh that left 11 dead and six in­jured.

You can ar­gue that both of the at­tacks were com­mit­ted by in­di­vid­u­als with clear and ob­vi­ous men­tal is­sues - af­ter all, con­cerns about refugees is not usu­ally ad­dressed by en­ter­ing a re­li­gious sanc­tu­ary and shoot­ing who you see. Mail­ing bombs to peo­ple doesn’t re­ally fall un­der the am­bit of “nor­mal con­ver­sa­tion” ei­ther.

At same time, both of the sus­pects have clearly been rad­i­cal­ized by the state of pol­i­tics in the United States right now.

Nor­mally, when you hear the word “rad­i­cal­iza­tion” used, it has to do with other sorts of pol­i­tics; when young men were leav­ing to join ISIS, for ex­am­ple, the term was reg­u­larly used.

In this case, though, it’s the move­ment of Amer­i­cans from usual po­lit­i­cal dis­course into vi­o­lence.

And the term is apt: the at­tack­ers in both cases are par­rot­ing the kind of terms that even the U.S. pres­i­dent uses now: “fake news,” the me­dia as “en­e­mies of the peo­ple,” along with the grow­ing amount of anti-Semitic and an­ti­im­mi­gra­tion rhetoric that in­flames with­out in­form­ing.

We can see what’s hap­pen­ing to the south of us: politi­cians are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the fact that fear can used to cre­ate sup­port, and they are us­ing it with­out re­gard for what that method can bring with it.

There are sug­ges­tions that the same can hap­pen here, that politi­cians may look south at what worked in Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion, and try to use it here - sow fear about strangers, stoke racism while deny­ing that you’re do­ing any such thing, and cast doubt on the va­lid­ity of the news me­dia (some­thing that al­lows you to cre­ate and di­rect your own nar­ra­tive, usu­ally with your­self as the star).

When you draw up a picture of your na­tion as one that’s be­ing run by some sort of “dark state,” when you cre­ate vil­lains and claim they are mas­ter­mind­ing ev­ery­thing that hap­pens, when you cast doubt on the hon­esty and in­tegrity of po­lice and other in­ves­tiga­tive forces, you drive the un­sta­ble to be­lieve that they are jus­ti­fied in tak­ing mat­ters into their own hands.

And in­no­cent peo­ple die.

There’s an­other piece of ad­vice worth keep­ing in mind, and it’s from the Old Tes­ta­ment: “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirl­wind.”

Let’s not sow that wind here.

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