Three American Reports: Increasing Political Violence

Except of a few assassinations of politicians during the recent decades, the US political system, changes and discourse have all been largely peaceful. But, with the increasing violence in the US, whether in schools, in streets, in movies, in children’s games or on the Internet, the question has become not whether violence would reach the political system, but why it took so long.

These are excerpts from recent reports, not only about the increasing political violence, but also, about expected large-scale political violence that might endanger the basics of American democracy.

First, a report in “The Washington Post,” on results of a recent poll, showed that about 30 percent of the Americans accepted rising against the government if thought to be unjust or unfair.

Second, a report in “Time,” also on results of a recent poll, showed a rising belief in political insurrection among extreme Christians, and that last year’s attack on the Congress building was carried out by a mostly Christian mob.

Third, a report in “Newsweek” warned about a new book that advocated violence against Black “extremists,” particularly leaders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM).

 

“Time”: Christian Political Violence:

“In the aftermath of the attack on the Congress a year ago, a largely forgotten phenomenon were the Christian banners and flags, the wooden crosses, the impromptu praise and worship sessions, the “Jesus Saves” signs, the Christian t-shirts, and the infamous corporate prayer in Jesus’ name in the Senate Chamber. 

Having stormed the sanctum of American democracy, extreme Christians thanked God for “filling this chamber with patriots that love you and that love Christ.”

For several years we’ve measured Christian nationalist ideology by asking Americans a series of questions like whether they believe the government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation, or whether they reject the separation of church and state, or whether they think America’s success is part of God’s plan. 

That is around 30 million adults.

Just as disturbing, white Christian nationalists are also isolating themselves within more homogenous social groups. New experimental research shows that the more right-wing Americans isolate themselves within communities who only share their moral worldviews. Add to this the fact that white Americans who subscribe to Christian nationalism are not only increasingly getting their news from certain platforms and right-wing news sources but they are believing the narratives being shared.

Among the central unifying narratives within white Christian nationalist ideology is that of victimization. 

The threat of immigration and minority status does make whites more Christian nationalist. It’s that they genuinely believe they are persecuted. 

“Newsweek”: Against Black Lives Matter:

“An incendiary book falsely claiming authorship by Kyle Rittenhouse (a White who was recently acquitted after killing two people during demonstrations in the aftermath of the killing of Black George Floyd by a White policeman) hit big sales.

The book talks about the “holy rage" of the "True Patriot," and warns that "only the sword will prevent our nation's ruin.”

The book which went on sale through Amazon website shortly after the not guilty verdict of Rittenhouse, is titled: “How to Defend America From the Woke Mob” (“Woke” stands for the recent alerts about racial injustice by organizations like Black Lives Matter).

These are excerpts from the book that called for political violence:

First, ‘The United States was founded in a violent, anti-authoritarian revolution. And as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently put it, there will be many times where violence is required to renew our God-given liberties,’

Second, ‘Modern America finds itself facing the old threat of communism. But unlike ages past, this threat is not in a foreign land. Domestic collectivists menace our cities and seek to destroy our way of life.’

Third, ‘It is vital that true patriots possess a historical understanding of America's foremost ideological threat. By comprehending the current partisan struggle of this country in its long historical context, a patriot may feel confident that their holy rage is justified.’

Fourth, ‘when collectivist mobs attempt to steal and destroy our cities, only the sword will prevent our nation's ruin … You will probably be vastly outnumbered. It is therefore advisable to use a semi-automatic weapon with a large magazine capacity. The ability to lay down sustained rapid fire is essential when outnumbered...The AR-15...is ideal for confronting a violent woke mob’.

The book attempts to couch its inflammatory rhetoric with a caveat in the small print: ‘This is a work of political theory.’ “

 

“The Washington Post”: Violence Against the Government:

“Thirty percent of Americans say violence against the government can be justified, citing fears of political schism, pandemic. This marks the largest share of Americans to hold that view since the question was first asked more than two decades ago.

‘The world we live in now is scary,’ said Ward, 32, a Republican. ‘I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but sometimes it feels like a movie. It’s no longer a war against Democrats and Republicans. It’s a war between good and evil.’

A year after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the Capitol in the worst attack on the home of Congress since it was burned by British forces in 1814, a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds that about 30 percent of the Americans say they believe violence against the government can at times be justified.

The findings represent the largest share to feel that way since the question has been asked in various polls in more than two decades. They offer a window into the country’s psyche at a tumultuous period in American history, marked by last year’s insurrection, the rise of Trump’s election claims as an energizing force on the right, deepening fissures over the government’s role in combating the pandemic, and mounting racial justice protests sparked by police killings of Black Americans.

A majority continue to say that violence against the government is never justified — but the 62 percent who hold that view is a new low point, and a stark difference from the 1990s, when as many as 90 percent said violence was never justified.”


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