Monday, October 29, 2018

The Glue That Binds. The Face of Violent Radicalism in America. It's Trump.

People like MAGAbomber, Cesar Sayoc; the Butcher of Squirrel Hill, Robert Bowers; and "whites don't shoot whites" killer, Gregory Bush; are routinely dismissed by Trump & Company as rogues, nutjobs, loners who have no connection to the Mango Mussolini. Trump prefers to blame the mainstream media for the rash of wanton mayhem.

Not so fast, lard ass.  At the epicenter of this maelstrom stands one man - Donald J. Trump. The Atlantic reports that an analysis of 30,000 online extremists finds that Trump is "the glue that binds."

America is caught in a wave of radicalization being driven from the top, by the toxic rhetoric Trump blasts almost daily from the biggest pulpit in the world, the U.S. presidency. His casual invocations of violence and consistent demonization of his political enemies have opened the floodgates of hate in communities where anger has long simmered.

...I recently analyzed about 30,000 Twitter accounts that self-identified as alt-right, or followed someone who did, for vox-Pol, the European academic network studying extremism on social media. The results were illuminating.

The alt-right is often described as a movement or ideology. It is better understood as a political bloc that seeks to unify the activities of several different extremist movements or ideologies. While it is international in reach, its center of gravity can be found in the United States. Because the alt-right is a bloc, it has to be understood by mapping its components and analyzing how they overlap and how they differ. (Not everyone who associates with the bloc online self-identifies as alt-right.)
While the author found the alt.right to be a collection of sometimes competing ideologies, he identifies three elements that unite them: opposition to immigrants and Muslims; conspiracy theories; and, above all, allegiance to Donald Trump.
Support for Trump: This, more than anything else, was the glue that held the alt-right social network together. Support for Trump was shared by virtually all parts of the network and was reflected in nearly every metric, including tabulations of the most-followed, most-retweeted, and most-influential accounts; the most-used words in Twitter profiles; and in the top two hashtags (#maga, which outperformed all other hashtags by a wide margin, and #trump).
The melting pot of violent, right-wing radicalism.
...While investigations are ongoing in all three of last week’s incidents, each terrorist appeared to take a different path toward violence. The alt-right bloc and the movements adjacent to it are just cohesive enough that those who enter their echo chamber can access an à la carte menu of ideological bullet points that are especially attractive to potential lone-actor terrorists. Adherents can pick and choose from a multitude of grievances and conspiracies originating with different ideological strains, and some will emerge with a set of beliefs and influences that may be hard to decipher. 
This can be seen most clearly in the case of Sayoc, the suspect in the mail-bomb spree. Sayoc was prolific on social media, but so far his online activity shows a general right-wing orientation, a love of conspiracies, and a baffling claim of nonwhite ethnic identity, while some who knew him offline said he identified as a white supremacist.  ...Sayoc appears to have availed himself of the à la carte nature of the American far-right landscape, picking and choosing conspiracy theories and hyperpartisan opinions from wherever he encountered them, without locking himself into a specific ideology, except, perhaps, “Trump superfan.”

In the case of the deadly synagogue shooting on Saturday, the perpetrator was much more clearly involved with anti-Semitism and the alt-right, maintaining a presence on, the social network popular with alt-right users because of its relatively permissive environment. Many alt-right members, white nationalists, and other extremists relocated their social-media activity to Gab after being suspended on Twitter or Facebook. Reflecting the à la carte menu of influences available to him, the shooter was cool on Trump (finding him to be too friendly with Jews) but extremely hot on Trump’s rhetorical target du jour: the immigrant caravan, which has increasingly dominated the far-right ecosystem in recent days. Trump’s perseverations on the issue have created a feedback loop driving still more coverage, in both mainstream and alternative outlets. Whether or not the Pittsburgh shooter was a Trump fan, he was influenced by the consequences of Trump’s rhetoric. 
In the case of the Kentucky shooter, little is known so far about his path to radicalization, although he appeared to target African Americans and had some history of violence against his African American ex-wife going back some years.
Another article in The Atlantic traces how, early in his administration, Trump defunded groups that had been working to counter violent extremism.


Jay Farquharson said...

No shortage of anti-semitism in this Trump ad.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's pretty disgusting, Jay. I'm reading a book now, "Defying Hitler." It was written as a memoir by an upper-middle class German boy who came of age during the Wiemar Republic and, as Hitler rose to power, became increasingly anti-Nazi. He writes of genteel civil society and how it was seduced by a variety of forces and inducements to throw in with Hitler. The writer had several Jewish friends, as was normal in his social strata before Hitler. He writes of what befell them, little by little, as his other friends watched on and went through a process of disbelief to indifference to outright antisemitism. The writer abandoned his professional career and fled to Britain just in time.

Reading this book there emerges a process by which good people are manipulated and ultimately corrupted and, in the descriptions of Berlin in the mid-30s it is uncomfortably easy to identify what is going on in some circles in the United States today.

the salamander said...

.. just an observation.. from up in Canada eh - where Canadians are buffered somewhat from the Trumpian lunacy, yet fully at risk of being 'collateral damage' - As I see it, we're intrinsically bound together re Environment, Economics, War (hello Afghanistan !).. and more and more politically and via mainstream media.. and 'religion' .. You know, the magical 'Rapture' fable where Donald Trump ascends to the mystical land of vestal virgins & gets to take his fraudulently obtained 'wealth' along with him.. (hopefully most of his family leaves Spaceship Earth with him.. resplendant along with Sean Hannity, Alex Jones et al in golden showers with unicorns wearing MAGA hats)

My observation is - more and more I see bonafide medical experts tearing into the disturbed, twisted & diseased reality of the Trump.. his enablers.. GOP, and any of the truly diseased Mainstream Media.. such as Fox TV et al. A few articles I cam across, tore those folks enmasse, a new asshole. Mainly re their vicious untruths re the 'caravan' being funded by Soros, to invade the USA with terrorists & activists, so as to vote (say what ?) in the midterms, and perhaps murder god fearing loyal Trumpists in their beds or basements of pizza parlors ! The horror !

If there are truly any 'enemies of the people'' I have described and identified them above.. and roll in Mitch McConnell, Lou Dobbs, Michael Savage.. plus anyone currently engaged in Election Fraud via gerrymandering, vote suppression, vote flipping & you name it. I swear at this point, the Chinese and the Russians could take over and man the voting sites & as long as Trump, GOP and their midterm candidates won.. they would be thrilled..

That Canada is home to similar & adoring political losers.. the Kellie Leitches, Jason Kenneys, Andrew 'killdeer' Scheer, Joe Olivers, Stephen Harpers who simply thrill to the Election Fraud American style.. and see 'opportunity' in the collapse of the last shred of democracy in the USA or Brazil.. enrages me. Where is the riding by riding representation of the Canadian electorate and population? This is supposedly 'public service' ? Pissing on our legs and telling us its raining ? Howling that there aint no climate change ? Buying us an aged pipeline to Asia or the Gulf Coast to ensure (lie, lie) we meet our Paris targets ? Refusing to utter the word 'methane' ? Extirpating species & habitat as lickedy split as they can ? Zero concern re our children, grandchildren or seniors ? 'Public Servants - my ass ! ! Partisan shapeshifters ..

The Mound of Sound said...

Sal, your comment sent me in search of my bookmark link on authoritarianism. Former University of Manitoba psych professor, Bob Altemeyer's terrific book, "The Authoritarians."

In the book he details how these authoritarians act like a dormant virus. They go unnoticed, passing as mainstream citizens, until some event or individual comes along who emboldens these sleepers among us to emerge in their true colours.

I've been reading a book, "Defying Hitler," a memoir of an upper middle class German coming of age during the rise of Nazism. The fellow had to flee to Britain in the late 30s. What's particularly chilling is his account of how his contemporaries from this privileged segment of German society transformed. Before Hitler, Jews were an integral party of their community. They holidayed and partied together, that sort of thing. When Hitler came onto the scene they at first ridiculed the monster but then many of them changed. At first they became indifferent to Hitler and what he was doing to what had been their Jewish friends. Later, many of these same young people switched to become hardcore Nazis. As an anti-Nazi this fellow was likewise ostracized and then attacked.

It's chilling to read how a civilized, even genteel society transformed into barbarians. It's impossible not to see the parallels in what is now underway in the United States and to a worrisome degree in Canada.

the salamander said...

.. a link to an article that had my teeth grinding this AM, Mound..

Yes I live in Canada.. so why does this kind of horseshit salad crap inflame me ? Its an American problem ? Or that I wonder why the streets are not full of coherent Americans simply blown away by this kind of diseased activity among politicians and media ? I wonder that Pittsburg is not absolutely seething, screaming and blocking the streets to keep Donald and Melania isolated at the airport & hiding out in Air Farce One ?

I think the end is nigh for the delusional and fevered experiment with Trump and the GOP.. and about time. That America cannot put forward a credible candidate to sweep trumpism aside rudely is astonishing. A Grade 5 class could do so. History will record the insolence, the unadulterated madness, the sheer monstrosity of these crude parasites.. and in my view its now unfolding.. American politics is in collapse mode.. swaying, creaking, fracturing, groaning.. the stench of political & evangelical corruption is everywhere in North America.

Get ready for the short reign of Pence..
Trump, Bannon & Hannity can shriek and screetch all they want,
but they are one catastrophic failure after another..

and the toilet is flushing.. on their absolutist fuckery
I don't see a civil war or real revolt..
I just see a coming purge
a fait accompli..