Tag Archives: political violence

Hillary and the Left flirt with political violence

Summary:  The Left’s reactions to the San Jose riot reveal why we’ll get more riots — and worse. The previous post quoted Leftists excited about violence — when their side uses it (Trumps’ supporters will be deemed brownshirts if they use violence). This, the third post about the increasing violence of Campaign 2016, looks at the response by Democratic leaders.

“The thugs were lucky supporters remained peaceful!”
Tweet by Donald Trump. He made no promises about the future.

If we don’t keep a leash on our leaders, this might be America’s future

Violence

Videos show the small scale attacks against Trump supporters at the his San Jose rally. It’s an escalation from previous attacks. Most of those on the Left excused those, so the weak condemnations shouldn’t surprise us. Local leaders, good Democrats, replied with the standard justifications of politicians to the actions of the violent allies (popular fronts often have an associate violent “fringe” doing their dirty work). San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo gave the “blame the victims” defense, as if Trump’s words forced rioters to attack his supporters.

“At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign. It is regrettable that this has become a pattern for cities hosting Mr. Trump across the nation.”  {His tweet.}

On CNN Hillary echoed the sheriff’s blame the victim attack, conflating Trump’s language with rioters’ actions — using the rioters’ actions to condemn Trump.

“I condemn all violence in our political arena. I condemned it when Donald Trump was inciting it and congratulating people who were engaging it. I condemn it by those who are taking violent protests to physical assault against Donald Trump. This has to end. He set a very bad example.

“He created an environment in which it seemed to be acceptable for someone running for president to be inciting violence, to be encouraging his supporters. Now we’re seeing people who are against him responding in kind.

“It should all stop. It is not acceptable.”

Eventually the local authorities prepared a rational story. The San Jose Police released a statement (red emphasis added)…

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San Jose’s riot tells us about the Left, Trump, & the coming violence

Summary: The violence after the recent Trump rally reveals so much about our America. Let’s start with the facts, and then look at the even more interesting reactions by the Left. It’s a story of political theory, myopia, and hypocrisy.

Journalists watching the riot at Trump’s event in San Jose reported with photos and videos.

“Donald Trump supporters were mobbed and assaulted by protesters on Thursday night … The violence broke out after the event in San Jose wrapped up just before 8 p.m. Some Trump supporters were punched. One woman wearing a “Trump” jersey was cornered, spat on, and pelted with eggs and water bottles. Police held back at first but eventually moved in. …several protesters were arrested and one officer was assaulted in the melee.” {NBC News.}

Protesters waved Mexican flags and one could be seen burning an American flag, with another burning Trump’s “Make America Great Hat.” Some chanted “F— Donald Trump” and “Donald Trump has got to go” … As Trump supporters exited the rally, protesters shouted insults at them and accused them of being racists …At one point, a man was sucker-punched and knocked to the ground and police arrested his assailant. In another instance, demonstrators closed in on a Trump supporter and started punching him in the face… {CNN’s report.}

Katrina Pierson, national spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, gave us one perspective on this: “Media complained that I say anti-Trump protesters are anti-American. They are flying the Mexican flag & burning the American flag tonight.” {Source: Twitter.}

Bien pensant Vox journalist Emmett Rensin gives us a liberal’s perspective on these events. It tells us much about their view of America, and what they consider the boundaries of free speech and political thought.

“Advice: If Trump comes to your town, start a riot.” on June 3, 2016.

“Let’s be clear: It’s never a shame to storm the barricades set up around a fascist.” on June 3, 2016.

After people followed Rensin’s advice, he justified his statements.  First, it’s everyone’s fault! He gives passive aggressive support to the rioters.

“What, we can’t repeat every day that a man is a unique threat to the fabric of society without some people taking us up on that?” {June 3, 2016.}

“And listen: I do tend to agree Trump is atypically threatening. That’s why I’m not going to condemn rioters.” {June 3, 2016.}

Rensin conflates “protest” with “violent riots”, a standard line of defense for liberal hypocrites.

“This is the same thing. Instinct is to concern troll people protesting as an affront to democracy and the rule of law. It’s a bad instinct.” {June 3, 2016.}

It’s ok for Rensin’s team to wreck other people’s property. Again, he doesn’t say if the right can also legitimately do so.

“It’s very simple: All violence against human lives and bodies is categorically immoral.
Property destruction is vastly more negotiable.” {June 3, 2016.}

Rensin explains that conservatives pointing at inconvenient facts are wrong (that’s the essence of political correctness).

I am looking for a charitable interpretation of this tweet {June 3, 2016.}:

 

The Left’s power to designate someone as “Hitler” justifies violence!  Can the Right designate someone as “Stalin”, justifying political violence? Rensin doesn’t say.

“Listen, if Trump is Hitler then you’ve got no business condemning rioters. If he isn’t, you’ve got no business pretending normal is better.” {June 3, 2016.}

Other perspectives on the San Jose riot

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo gave the “blame the victims” defense:  “At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign.” (Source: AP.) But perhaps the best analysis of Rensin’s thinking was by Maximilian Forte (Prof anthropology, Concordia U, Montreal).

 

For more about the Left’s role as the unique wielder of domestic violence, see Michael Tracey’s “A quick thought on Trump and the justifiability of political violence, drawing on earlier discussions” (he’s a professor of media studies at U CO-Boulder). Also see this leftist paean to violence by the left: “Riots are destructive, dangerous, and scary — but can lead to serious social reforms” by German Lopez at Vox, 30 April 2016. He doesn’t mention if violence by those on the right also leads to “serious social reforms”.

He trots out the hoary “the American Revolution was good, so my violent riots are justified” defense. He doesn’t mention if that justifies violent protests by the right.

Conclusions

Many on the Left casually support violence to advance their goals, often without clear thought about how limits, the likely responses by their foes and the government, or the effect on society if political violence becomes commonplace.

The big question (so far ignored): are we starting a new cycle of political violence in America?

For more about the Left’s use of violence in Campaign 2016: The Left disrupts Trump’s rally. More of this might put him in the WH and The Left attacks US politics by shutting down Trump’s events.

Some consequences: a statement by Vox

On Thursday night, Emmett Rensin, the deputy editor of Vox’s first person section, sent a series of tweets that, among other things, urged people to riot if Donald Trump comes to their town. We at Vox do not take institutional positions on most questions, and we encourage our writers to debate and disagree. But direct encouragement of riots crosses a line between expressing a contrary opinion and directly encouraging dangerous, illegal activity. We welcome a variety of viewpoints, but we do not condone writing that could put others in danger. In this case, Emmett’s tweets violated Vox’s standards and Emmett has been suspended as a consequence.

For More Information

This is a follow-up to The Left attacks US politics by shutting down Trump’s events.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See these posts about political violence, about Campaign 2016, and especially these…

  1. How to stage effective protests in the 21st century.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr’s advice to us about using violence to reform America.
  3. Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests.
  4. Why don’t political protests work? What are the larger lessons from our repeated failures?
  5. About civil disobedience: Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government.

The riots in Baltimore teach us much about America. They’re dark insights.

Summary: Political violence is a flare over society illuminating aspects of America about which we could otherwise only guess. This post attempts to describe things obvious but unstated in the flood of words about the riots in Baltimore and relate them to the quiet revolution now in progress.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Martin Luther King on nonviolence

What can we learn from the riots in Baltimore? The most obvious lesson: they demonstrate our amnesia and inability to learn. We could send America’s journalists and the chattering classes on vacation and just rerun articles from the late 1960’s about their race riots. That would also show our limited progress from that dark time.

These riots are wonderful for the news media (“if it bleeds, it leads”). They’re fodder for America’s thumb-sucking intelligentsia (see examples below). They provide us with some dark humor.  For example, the NY Times drolly reported that “… {new attorney general} Lynch’s aides said that improving police morale and finding common ground between law enforcement and minority communities would be among her top priorities”  (Salon’s Elias Isquith reasonably replied “As the chaos in Baltimore has shown, it’s far too soon to shift our attention to the grievances of cops.”)

But the problem of weaponized police transcends partisan lines, as shown by the NY Times’ description of how Obama’s “Justice Dept. Routinely Backs Officers’ Use of Force“:

At the Supreme Court, where the limits of police power are established, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments. Even as it has opened more than 20 civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices, the Justice Department has staked out positions that make it harder for people to sue the police and that give officers more discretion about when to fire their guns.

… “There is an inherent conflict between people at the Justice Department trying to stop police abuses and other people at the Justice Department convincing the Supreme Court that police abuses should be excused,” said Ronald L. Kuby, a Manhattan civil rights lawyer.

More pointedly, these riots provide a teachable moment for the Left. William Teach at Right Wing News points out the evidence about the political failure which Baltimore’s flames illuminate. Increasing political participation of minorities was a solution to the 1960s race riots.

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Why do we believe an armed society is a polite society?

Summary: Led by the 1%, we’re building a New America. Oddly and unlike our forebears, it rests largely on an intellectual foundation of fantasy. Today we look at one pillar of nonsense that millions of Americans take seriously.

“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”
— From Robert Heinlein’s Beyond This Horizon (1942).

33 murders with guns per year in America

Contents

  1. Robert Heinlein’s most powerful insight.
  2. The logic of carrying guns in civil society.
  3. What about life on the frontier?
  4. Research tells the tale.
  5. An insight from Beyond This Horizon.
  6. For More Information.

(1)  Robert Heinlein’s most powerful insight.

Robert Heinlein’s stories played a formative role in the rise of the libertarian movement, perhaps even more so than the novels of Ayn Rand (Heinlein’s were more widely read, and even more often read to the end), perhaps the first political movement almost entirely grounded in fiction and false predictions rather than history and research. In books such as The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (1965), he sketched out appealing yet ludicrously improbable worlds.

Perhaps Heinlein’s greatest impact came from his deeply held belief, shown in both stories and letters, that “an armed society is a polite society.” He explicitly stated this in his 1942 novel Beyond This Horizon, where full citizens must carry guns. In his 1949 novel Red Planet children come of age in their early teens when they pass the tests to earn a license for open carry of a gun. (Heinlein, as usual, was ahead of his time; both boys and girls carried guns). These are fun stories. The concept is quite mad.

Heinlein’s myths valorize individual autonomy and power. This contradicts history; he could as realistically described people with wings. In the absence of a functioning State, organization and structure comes from gangs (like States, a form of collective action) — not bold free individualists. No matter what the level of weaponry they have.

We see this in prisons (the State doesn’t care to regulate). and ungoverned states like Somalia, or parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Also, to a lesser extent, in the worst of America’s inner cities (too much effort for the State to regulate). And in the horror show of our wild west (more on this below).

Low levels of government authority are often insufficient to maintain order in well-armed societies. In the Three Musketeers, based on the memoirs of d’Artagnan, Capitaine-Lieutenant des Mousquetaires, we see early 17thC Paris stained with the blood of frequent and senseless duels. One of the greatest of the Founders, Alexander Hamilton, died in a senseless duel.

“A few anecdotes and a good just-so story outweigh a hundred historical counter-examples.”
— David Brin discussing Karl Marx, science fiction editor John Campbell, and Robert Heinlein in his review of Beyond This Horizon, Tor/Forge Blog, 12 July 2010.

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Will the Ferguson protest force development of stronger leaders on the Left?

Summary: The Ferguson protests lacked leadership, and so quickly devolved into counter-productive riots. It’s a common problem. Will future protests nurture a new generation of leaders for the Left?

Martin Luther King Jr

We need him again

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Peasants’ protests are a commonplace in history, such as The Great Rising of 1381. The lack of competent leadership distinguishes peasants’ protests from effective means of social change.

Some peasants’ protests are just mobs. Emergent leadership is a rare gift.

Some peasants’ protests have leaders, but not competent ones. Wat Tyler led The Great Rising, bringing his horde to London. King Richard met with Tyler, courteously listened to the peasants’ complaints, thanked him for coming, and killed him. Competent emergent leadership is an extraordinarily rare gift.

And some have great leaders. The Civil Rights movements accomplished great things, steered by its strong leaders (headed by Martin Luther King). The Tea Party was an effective tool for social changed, organized and wielded by a conservative faction of our ruling elites. Five years later it’s still going strong.

The 1992 LA Riots were peasants’ protests, violent but ineffectual. The Occupy Movement was a series of classic peasants’ protests — celebratory venting of social tension, ending with violent suppression, leaving little behind. The Fergruson protests (ending in a riot) were peasants’ protests.

Will the gross overreaction of the police to the Ferguson protests have political repercussions? Perhaps. I suspect the odds are low. The police created an opportunity which an organization (or coalition) could exploit, if one existed.

African-American leaders

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Martin Luther King Jr’s advice to us about using violence to reform America

Summary: One of our greatest tools in the struggle to reform America is our history, its ability to inform and inspire us. National holiday’s point to some of these people, so that we can not only celebrate their accomplishments but als0 learn from them. Among those most appropriate for us today is Martin Luther King.  His courage, his ability to lead and recall us to our core beliefs, all put him among our greatest leaders. Here we look at one aspect of his work.

Martin Luther King and company

Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, their wives, & the Abernathy children leading a march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Wikimedia Commons/Abernathy Family

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The dozens of posts on the FM website about reforming America have covered many aspects of building and running a reform movement. One policy of great importance concerns the use of violence. American reform movements have often used violence, almost always (perhaps always) unsuccessfully. Yet the love of violence has deep roots in our culture, seen in our many wars (mostly successful) and frequent state-sponsored political violence (mostly successful, against minorities, unions, etc).

Rev King’s leadership encouraged the civil rights movement to avoid this dark path (against great provocation), and take the moral high ground that has so often proved decisive in US history. Today’s reading describes this history. It worked for them, and can work for us today.
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Excerpt from “When Martin Luther King gave up his guns

Mark Engler and Paul Engler
Waging Nonviolence, 15 January 2014
Posted here courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

A personal conversion

The 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the campaign that first established King’s national reputation, was not planned in advance as a Gandhian-style campaign of nonviolent resistance. At the time, King would not have had a clear sense of the strategic principles behind such a campaign. Rather, the bus boycott came together quickly in the wake of Rosa Park’s arrest in late 1955, taking inspiration from a similar action in Baton Rouge in 1953.

… Soon he was receiving phone calls on which unidentified voices warned, “Listen, nigger, we’ve taken all we want from you. Before next week you’ll be sorry you ever came to Montgomery.” After such threats resulted in the bombing of King’s home in February 1956, armed watchmen guarded against further assassination attempts.

This response reflected King’s still-tentative embrace of the theory and practice of nonviolence. In his talks before mass meetings, King preached the Christian injunction to “love thy enemy.” Having read Thoreau in college, he described the bus boycott as an “act of massive noncooperation” and regularly called for “passive resistance.” But King did not use the term “nonviolence,” and he admitted that he knew little about Gandhi or the Indian independence leader’s campaigns.

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Should we risk using anger to arouse America?

Summary:  Anger can be a political tool, motivating both an organization’s cadre and its mass audience. Too risky or the other available tool? Today we examine both sides of the issue, and end with a question for readers.

Danger: Angry American

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“As for those American soldiers asking, “Was our sacrifice in Fallujah worth it?,” one is at a loss about how to reply to the thought that comes to mind this week: No, it really wasn’t. It is time to get angry.”

— “What the War in Iraq Wrought“, Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 15 January 2014

I remain convinced that motivating Americans is the key to starting a reform movement, both to obtaining the key people necessary to build an organization — and to spur public interest and then involvement.  Appeals to logic and theory are insufficient. Anger is the key to arouse passion, and passion unlocks resources — people’s  time and money.

America, especially the construction of New America on the ruins of the old, provides a plethora of sparks to arouse anger. Jon Anderson mentions one. The bank bailouts rightly aroused anger that led to the Tea Party Movement. The ongoing diversion of Federal, State, and local tax dollars to the 1% provides another.

Readers objected in the comments that anger has an irrational component, easily exploited by unscrupulous leaders. Worse, it often precludes effective decision-making, the balancing of resources, goals, risk, and moral considerations. Too often it leads to futile, senseless violence.

These are all valid points. Consider the dark side of this quote I’ve often cited:

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