Terrorism’s Tools

The hits keep coming.

Pipe bombs mailed, churches and synagogues targeted, young people once again mowed down by armed, unstable individuals…Last Sunday, the New York Times devoted several pages in its Sunday magazine to the phenomenon of homegrown, white rightwing terrorism (and the government’s failure to track it), and Time Magazine headlined a story “Why Terror is Rising in America.”

Both reports emphasize the relatively small number of perpetrators of these horrific assaults. For example, despite the Tree of Life massacre and the spike in anti-Jewish incidents, survey results suggest that anti-Semitism in the U.S. is at an all-time low.

Anti-Semitism has never been eradicated, and probably never could be. It dwells in the crevices and fissures. Largely extinguished in the uppermost reaches of society, it flourishes most among cranks and broken souls on the margins–those for whom the post-industrial world provides few satisfying occupational or real world communal niches. Jew hatred is a minority phenomenon, to be sure. In an age when AR-15s are easy to come by, even the smallest minority is profoundly dangerous.

Anti-Semitic incidents have increased dramatically, up 57 percent in just the last year according to the Anti-Defamation League, and, in fact, hate crimes are up across the board. Statistics show the number of people killed by far-right extremists since Sept. 11 are roughly equal to the number killed in the U.S. by jihadist terrorists–a fact that has received little public attention and gone unremarked upon by F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray in his annual testimony before Congress. Hate crimes against Muslims also rose almost 20 percent in 2016 over 2015.

When the Constitution was being crafted, James Madison and other Founders worried about “the tyranny of the majority.” Madison assumed that minorities–by which he meant people who held dissenting and/or anti-social beliefs–would be unlikely to find each other; they would easily be outnumbered (and silenced) by majorities of citizens who disagreed with them.

Madison couldn’t have envisioned the Internet, where all manner of advocates, kooks and haters can join each other in creating communities of the like-minded, and reinforce each others’ extremist beliefs.

As we’ve seen all too often, these online communities have become gigantic amplifiers, emboldening their participants and strengthening them in their most vile convictions. Just as the Internet turbocharged the jihadi universe and created a global support community for ISIS, it has networked and inspired the far-right.

Another thing Madison could never have predicted, of course, was the election of a President as dangerously anti-democratic, racist and dysfunctional as Donald Trump.

The second development that has lit up this increasingly linked and animated extremist world is the advent of Donald Trump. The statistics demonstrate clearly that the biggest bump in hate crimes in recent history coincides with the period since his presidential campaign began. This is not just a matter of correlation but causation. Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, from his accusation that Mexicans coming to the U.S. were rapists to his claims that the caravan of impoverished Central American migrants coming north included Middle Easterners–aka “terrorists”–has given license to those who peddle hatred to emerge from the shadows. Much as ISIS has done with its far-flung recruits, Trump’s conspiracy theories have weaponized mental disability.

A friend of mine, the chief executive of his firm, recently shared a rule he imposed at meetings: complaints and criticisms would be welcomed, but only when accompanied by proposed solutions.

Complaining about something without proposing a solution is just whining–and whining doesn’t get us anywhere.

This particular complaint is the growth of domestic terrorism. One part of the solution is obvious; we must replace Donald Trump with someone who understands the role and responsibility of the Presidency.

Madison’s question of faction–and the ease with which unstable individuals can now connect–is harder. But as the Times article suggested, a far more robust government response would be a good start.


  1. Sheila:

    You are undoubtedly correct that “Another thing Madison could never have predicted, of course, was the election of a President as dangerously anti-democratic, racist and dysfunctional as Donald Trump,” and you are also correct that he must be replaced posthaste. But, and this is a big one, I do not believe that replacing him will dial down the hate. In fact, I expect it to increase as his followers over-react, blaming their “other” enemies for “rigging” or “stealing” elections and seek revenge.

    The seeds for Donald Trump were planted in the ’80’s and have been nursed to fruition by right-wing ideologues for decades now. Whether we like it or not it is now a part of our makeup. It will take years if not decades to eradicate, and, it will likely include much more senseless violence.

  2. Wray is correct. I could present a strong argument that it has always been our makeup. Let’s see, we committed genocidal atrocities against Native Americans and just took their land. Sounds like Palestine, Yemen, and Africa.

    Then we bought and sold African slaves in markets and made them work for free to build fortunes for the Oligarchs.

    And on, and on…

    Trump is just a symbol…he’s not the cause so removing Trump from any equation isn’t a solution to anything. It would be like plucking one seed off a sprouted dandelion head then declaring, “Problem solved, no more dandelion.”

    Causes and conditions. I believe there are natural laws at play here.

    I just shared a FB post from the John Birch Society claiming that Globalists in the New World Order are manufacturing environmental scares.

    Who’s creating such nonsense?

    Causes and conditions.

    Who is behind all these “anti-government” conspiracies?

    Or, should I ask, who benefits from concocting these conspiracies which spread like wildfire causing a reasonable person to vote against their own self-interest?

    For one, the Koch brothers and any company linked to the fossil fuel industry. I read the posts underneath the Birch Society’s post.

    Want to know how long it took for the followers of this whacky society to link immigration of brown people to environmentalists and the New World Order?

    The hate immediately targeted brown people and Jews who are behind funding environmentalism.

    The media today focuses on the plucking of dandelion seeds when the free press was designed to get to the root causes and effect of the problem so the people can make informed decisions. The free press should be targeting the root of the dandelion.

  3. With the current Republican administration; which will be slow in making changes even with the Blue wave (small “w”), and the evangelical control, will we be forced to chose a religious denomination to be identified with? Given a choice between converting to the Jewish religion or the Catholic religion…no hesitation, I would become a Jew in a heartbeat. If we are going to follow the Bible, even in part, I would continue following the words and meaning of Jesus Christ’s message as a Jewish Rabbi. The Catholic religion has ignored the basic and primary words of Jesus and twisted their meanings to fit their controlling denomination of Christianity. But so have most protestant denominations. Enough of that!

    “A friend of mine, the chief executive of his firm, recently shared a rule he imposed at meetings: complaints and criticisms would be welcomed, but only when accompanied by proposed solutions.”

    I wise man, your friend; this should be required of our government and any and all parties who seek to control this country and remain a world leader. The obvious solution regarding the many “home-grown terrorists” (predominantly white); is to resolve the question of the meaning of or amend the bastardization of the 2nd Amendment. In other words…common sense gun control by using full background checks. Don’t start with the usual argument about other weapons, including vehicles, read the statistics.

    “The seeds for Donald Trump were planted in the ’80’s and have been nursed to fruition by right-wing ideologues for decades now. Whether we like it or not it is now a part of our makeup. It will take years if not decades to eradicate, and, it will likely include much more senseless violence.”

    Wray’s words are true but I view the ’80’s as the replanting of Jim Crow laws which have gained momentum (and groups of peoples); the current crop of White Nationalism has been fertilized and violence is approved by Trump, supported by the Republican Congress and fully funded by Citizens United. Donald Deutch issued a stern warning on “Morning Joe” this morning to watch for a total and dangerous total meltdown by Trump on camera…and that it is coming soon. I believe that to be true; Trump is the current source of our terrorism and it has spread far beyond our national borders.

  4. “For example, despite the Tree of Life massacre and the spike in anti-Jewish incidents, survey results SUGGEST that anti-Semitism in the U.S. is at an all-time low.”

    I would strongly SUGGEST that someone tear up that survey. Who needs to be anti-Semitic when you have Donald Trump doing all the dirty work? Let’s get real.

  5. Marv,

    The “root” cause is, literally, from our roots. The tribalism that allowed us to succeed as a species is still the artifact for those who have chosen not to make the complete intellectual leap to real civilization. When a person’s life is basically vacant, those deep-seated, tribal animosities rise out of those “cracks” in their own unused brains. The more desperate these people are to ease their self-inflicted pain, the more outwardly violent they become.

    That’s what makes Donald Trump such a loathsome creature. He and his pathology have tapped into those cracks of the minds of the vacant and have conjured up all this latent hate. He and his Republican enablers have NEVER made an intellectual leap about anything, least of all peace and comity among the human community.

  6. If America is to be saved from catastrophe, something better be started before January 3, 2019. If not, things will remain the same within the Democratic Party leadership and they will run away from responsibility as they always have done, since the election of Bill Clinton and his TRIANGULATION STRATEGY, which was just what the Republican Party needed for their recovery.

  7. Why was Donald Trump elected? The partisan bill Obamacare came as a shock to many individuals as they saw saw their healthcare coverage obliterated by overarching laws. They lost. No one seems to want to understand. No just this, but how someone from the moderate to far right might perceive this. Many Democrats left the party over this, especially hard working blue collar workers. Yes calling right wingers white nationalists or other names may stir up the base, but are we finding ways to bridge the gap of mistrust and misunderstanding? Simply calling someone ignorant because they have a different viewpoint does nothing to reduce the vitriol or increase their understanding of where you are coming from. Many called for safety nets in health insurance for those with pre-existing conditions without having an overarching law that literally has ruined the value of the middle class healthcare.
    So how does this fit in with terrorism? The rhetoric to fight new laws and regulations or lack thereof that the left or right puts in place without bipartisan support causes distrust. Trumps rhetoric or the calls to follow politicians into restaurants telling them they are not wanted are both forms of verbal terrorism.
    There is a difference between hating Jews or Muslims. How many Jews are known for planting bombs or terrorizing? Muslims on the other hand are unfortunately seen as being terrorists themselves because a segment of that population has been committed to an apocalyptic cause of bringing armagheddan or fighting against the huge political global power of American corporations that have brought western values to the Middle East.
    How do we compare Muslims willing to embrace terrorism to radical right wing activists that are planting bombs or even radical left wing party hacks that shoot presidents?
    It goes straight to the mindset of mistrust. Can we begin to understand.

  8. Vernon,

    I believe a good start would be an understanding of who convinced Bill Clinton to adopt his TRIANGULATION PLAN. From my investigation, it was Robert Strauss, the Democratic Party insider, whose son was not prosecuted during the Savings and Loan scandal, by the intervention of the then President George Bush. It was simple, something like this: “I did you a favor now you do one for me, that’ll make us even.”

    This perfidy is partially explained in my website: http://www.TheAlarmReport.info

  9. In Texas, taking on Robert Strauss was close to taking on God, except God would have much more compassion. His law partner, at the time, headed up the State Bar of Texas. Any attorney taking on Robert Strauss was looking for a lot of trouble, you better believe it.

  10. John, who are these radical left wing party hacks you mention and who are the presidents they have shot? Please give examples.

  11. Help MAY come (at some point) from enlightened corporate leaders.
    My fantasy includes them coming together and pulling their funding from
    As long as the super wealthy corporations FUND this crap, it will continue.
    Pull the funding, it may wither and die

  12. I need to say something here: SCREW your ‘bill clinton’s triangulation policy’… it is a new day; and if you really believe the Democratic Party is the enemy – then YOU are the terrorists – you are the people who voted trump in – NOT ME. And I am a Democrat and goddamn proud of it. Terrorism? the terrorist in chief sits in the White House. This is all idiocy. People who deflect – first thing: it’s the ‘other party’s fault.’ Tell me something DID YOU VOTE? IF NOT kindly shut the hell up. You have nothing not one word to say to me or any other voter. Another thing; stop with the blame game. The blame belongs to every one of us! Not one of us is innocent – All of this has gone one because NO ONE – not one! has stood face to face with the man in the White House and in front of G-d and everybody told him that HE is the terrorist! HE is the LIAR. I have volunteered 6 buckets of Roofing Tar… NO ONE HAS OFFERED THE FEATHERS… Now kindly stop with the bullshit blame games – let’s work to get the United States of America back into the hands of the People who are its body! And see people who are concerned not that they will be found out – but who work to get this Nation on an even keel!

  13. Todd @ 7:16am
    “Trump is just a symbol…he’s not the cause so removing Trump from any equation isn’t a solution to anything. It would be like plucking one seed off a sprouted dandelion head then declaring, “Problem solved, no more dandelion.”
    Right, Todd, no solution but let’s remove him anyway. Do we need a reason? OK, let’s just do “it” to him in revenge for what he has been doing to us. Let’s start by encouraging the TV networks to keep his depressing orange face, his do-do coiffure and his zoo mugshots OFF THE freakin’ TV. Let’s start getting used to him being REAL GONE; NO free network coverage to help him make a 2020 move on us.

  14. While the problems left to be solved are many and will require great leadership at all levels in DC I don’t want to loose track of the huge progress made recently. What was demonstrated is that the electorate is fully awake now and largely liberal. There is absolutely no reason to expect that that those trends won’t continue. Democracy is back.

    Congressional Democrats just have to keep their eyes on a couple of balls. Investigation and prosecution, preventing legislation, sorting out the best candidate for 2020, providing the news to show contrast with the fake news.

    It will be hard to maintain focus because there is so much to do to repair the damage already done but the fact of the Senate majority and the reality of Mitch McConnell owned by the same cartel as the Vice President probably eliminates any and all legislative solutions until 2020.

    To me the big variable that could change those priorities is the timing of the big economic collapse on the horizon. If it happens soon (which would be terrible for we the people but good for Republican blamers) it will perhaps require more focus on legislation aimed at keeping the middle class whole than otherwise.

  15. Not only that, Rev. Manuel, but I’m a proud FDR New Deal Democrat lest we forget the great public works accomplishments. Now, on what did we spend $$20 Trillion besides tax cuts to oligarchs and corporations?
    Have you driven on I-65 and/or I-69 lately?

  16. Domestic Terrorism, coupled with mass shootings bring out the McMega Media Press, for a few days of 24/7 coverage. Then it is back to our regularly schedule programming of President Agent Orange.

    Under the radar and ignored by the McMega-Media is the everyday violence in America:

    In 2017, Indianapolis set a record with 156 murders and 178 homicides. Chicago had 608 Homicides in 2017, and as of Nov 10th, 475. The majority of the victims of homicide in Chicago are young, black men. Though there are homicides recorded throughout the city (Chicago) they are most concentrated in the South and West sides.The majority of Chicago homicides are the result of gun violence. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-homicides-data-tracker-htmlstory.html

    Domestic Terrorism for some people is an everyday occurrence.

    The one stand out here is whether it is a mass shooting or the everyday under the radar homicides is the availability of firearms here in the USA.

    So you can track all the hate Web Sites you want or unstable individuals but as long as they have easy access to firearms nothing is going to change. Our major cities will continue to be plagued by firearm’s violence.

  17. As the Reverend says so artfully,

    Screw integrity, ethics, things lot that and make sure you vote for the Democratic Party. It can’t fight the hatred of Donald Trump, but it now has the potential for delivering on the important economic issues. Wray’s program that he outlined does a good job on expressing a potential platform for the Democratic Party.

    But we need a THIRD FORCE to counterweight the effect of the Tea Party, which is Trump’s base. Wray and I discussed this on the blog a week or so ago. He saw the THIRD FORCE coming from within the Democratic Party. I don’t think that’s a good idea. The THIRD FORCE can be allied with the Democratic Party, on the basis: The Enemy of my Enemy is my friend, but it needs to be independent.

    In Germany, in the late 30’s, those Germans fighting from the outside, especially Hermann Rauschning, called for an ETHICAL FRONT. It was forming but it was too late.

    Any THIRD FORCE must be rooted in ETHICS. That something that’s missing in the Democratic Party. But it’s too fragile, at this point in time, to make major changes. It’s better not to go too deep, as that won’t accomplish anything worthwhile. I believe that is the point Vernon has been trying to make.

    This blog’s main focus right now is on partisan politics. That has never been mine. So this is as good a time as any to make a split. Let’s see how Trump and the Republican Party does against an invigorated Democratic Party and an ETHICAL FRONT.

  18. I love this blog for the thoughtfulness and intelligence of the contributors. Today is an excellent example. I find that even–maybe especially–in disagreement I learn new things–or at least find food for thought. Thank you all for making my daily stop here one in which i find value.

  19. the CDC has been banned from targeting gun deaths as a health hazard,or? again, republicans sing the song,alls well in America. as they do, more die. even a gun ban means nothing as,look at the overall picture,almost everyone owns one,and the rightwings dream, a right wing mallitia. one that is law abidding,and backs the police. as we see, its a fallacy. even when the blacks were protesting in dallas and a lone gun man started shooting,guess who went and hid..or, they figured if they shoot,they would be a target by the cops. some were armed with semi auto m15s. so much for good guy,bad guy,eh? as we still have a denial problem, either way, its a mental problem,both with those who seek to kill,and those who cant have enough firearms. wall street someday may be our goverment,,and the constitution a mere memory. then the gunnowners whine about no second amendment, and wall street sees them as a threat, then it will be a immediate police state,to remove them. this is a mental health issue,denie the public a free health,mental care,and we have today. remove the stigma of mental health, teach it in schools in every grade,continual thru the whole school and secondary schools. have it a talk about,and have others help,not distract,from the issue.like a headache,we all have issues,and its reality. when the new congress is sworn in, immediate issues of healthcare,and public housing,and getting into the low income neighborhoods with real jobs,and mentoring those who need the first steps into a work ethic. but we need money,and since wall streets ideal is a vibrant work force,and they reap the profits of,they should shoulder what has been ntaken from the tax paying public,and invested in wages that are above the current living standard,and publicservices that directly make a vibrant work force,and economy. dems should immediatly,talk,and yell if need be, about the power grab,and what wall,street is doing to keep the working public next to poverty,and how the rich, are just seeing us as pawns in thier games. best wishes.

  20. John,

    Those who “saw their healthcare obliterated” were nothing more than a group of slow learners. Now that they’ve had time to evaluate the empty Republican healthcare promises, they are returning to Obamacare in droves, and have fallen head-over-heels in love with coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    As far as how America might improve in the post-Trump era, I am optimistic. He is by orders of magnitude the vilest character to engage in public service in my lifetime. He makes Nixon and Agnew look cuddly. He brings out the worst in everyone, and some will re-acquaint themselves with their better angels when he is no longer around to incite them. No, the human race will not undertake an about face and assume humanistic values, but the rabble-rousing evangelicals and the Jim Crow sentimentalists and the would-be racists and the fascists and the anti-Semites will no longer have the world’s loudest microphone to re-assure them that they aren’t as evil as many of us think they are. White nationalism will lack a megaphone when it loses its champion, and truth will become far more popular than it is today. The press won’t be nearly as reviled, and friendly nations won’t be antagonized on a daily basis. After all, having a president who is not driven by a stack of neuroses is a good thing in itself, and if we elect someone semi-sane and semi-informed, our prospects are bound to improve. And if we get really lucky, there will be so many women in office by that time that misogyny will recede and rationalism will make a comeback.

    Call me Pollyanna, but his departure will coincide with a return of my sunny outlook on what is possible.

  21. Instead of complaining about those on the right who perceive themselves as a rightful majority, we must establish the diversity of people and thought as a valued and celebrated American ideal. Let’s add some words to the Pledge of Allegiance. The right put God in the Pledge when I was a child. BTW I hate the idea of The Pledge, but let’s work on changing it to included diversity of people and thoughts. I will work on the words. Feel free to contribute your wording.

  22. Yes, we need to replace the president. Each of us also needs to clean his/her own house. (THE HARDEST HOUSE TO CLEAN). What about MY rhetoric? How do I talk about this president or people who oppose my views? We need to do what Ms. Silverman does on her show ” I love America.” We need to get out of our comfortable silos. Those in metropolitan areas who have never been to the small towns of America, should go visit including musicians, artists and all those famous celebrities. We need to put an end to politicized gerrymandering and we need to create campaign finance reform that gives “we the people” our voice again. We can gripe all we want about the president but we will have to roll up our sleeves as well to and be the change we want to see in the world. Thank You Ghandi.

  23. Larry,

    “Is this a new form of triangulation?”

    The Nazi Party was a THIRD FORCE. Unfortunately, the Germans were unable to create a countervailing THIRD FORCE. So far we have not been able to create a THIRD FORCE to counter the Tea Party movement which became a THIRD FORCE in American politics and is a mainstay of Trump’s support.

    This is not a form of triangulation. It might be considered just the opposite. It’s about standing-up instead of backing down.

  24. Once again Wray, you started the comments this morning on a well reasoned and insightful track.

    I do believe we will come through this, but I also fear that Trump, McConnell and all will come through unscathed and feeling successful (well, maybe not Donald). Even if we find several smoking guns, nobody will be prosecuted, punished, or even rebuked because we will be afraid that it would look “political”. Their side can say lock her up, Nixon can act on his enemy’s list, but we must remain “above politics”.

    [Sheila – feel free to strike part or all of this if you think it is best – I hate flame wars]

    Now something different – I resisted this – but while I usually agree with Todd, I must make these remarks on his comment this morning.

    There is a time for silence and a time to speak up. Since Sheila’s post today begin by discussing the hate and violence of pipe bombs and churches and synagogues being targeted, I am taking the rare step to speak out. Since 1967, when Israel could no longer be viewed as the underdog, it has become fashionable on parts of the left to compare Israel to a colonial power or an apartheid regime, to equate Israel with White Europeans taking Native American land. These kinds of remarks usually go unchallenged. Not today. This view is simply balderdash. It is like saying that only WASPs are Americans because they took the land from the Indians long ago, or that Han Chinese are the true Tibetans because the Mongol Yuan Dynasty conquered parts of Tibet hundreds of years ago, or the Manchu Qing Dynasty more recently. The real Israeli/Palestinian comparison should be to the partition of India and Pakistan, or the multi-religious, single ethnic problems in the Balkans – sad and hurtful to all sides. This view also implies that all people on earth have the right to self-determination – except the Jews.

    A few facts
    1) Indigenous people from Judea were forced out of their land, and due to quirks of history, lived for millennia in a culture of endogamy, remaining a separate people displaced from their land. The Romans (Imperial power) renamed the province Palestine (after a Colonial power, the Philistines) in an attempt to erase memory of the Jews from the earth. They failed.
    2) If the other indigenous people from that region want to call themselves Palestinians, so be it. Genetic studies have shown that “Jews” and “Palestinians” are more closely related to each other than to anyone else. Once both sides truly recognize that, there can be a peaceful two-state solution. I hope and pray for this every day – a 2,500-year-old prayer.
    3) The majority of the land in northern Israel was purchased under Turkish law where both the absentee landowners and the squatters had to be paid. It has been suggested that the prices were highly inflated because the Turks knew that rich European Jews were doing the purchasing. Much of the south, being desert, was owned by the Turkish government.
    4) Three quarters of a million Palestinians were displaced in the Israeli War of Independence and property was lost. Subsequently, over three quarters of a million Jews had there property seized by North African and Arab states. Most moved to Israel where they became part of the population and not political pawns in camps.
    5) The love of the underdog is fine, but the Palestinians are hardly the pure innocent victims they are depicted to be. They spent decades after the establishment of Israel attacking Jews instead of the Arabs who stole their part of the partitioned land and put them into camps to use as political pawns. In Entebbe, they separated Jews from other passengers, like the Nazis they supported during WWII. Over the years they have attacked Jewish institutions in Argentina, Mumbai and elsewhere, just to kill Jews. They do not differentiate.
    6) Israel, especially under the Likud, is hardly blameless (I hate Likud), but the Palestinians in their Holocaust denials, reprinting of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Arabic, etc. are hardly the paragon of virtue. The initial decision by Hamas to revoke all treaties with Israel actually reminds me of Trump – sure both sides negotiated for years to get there, but I don’t like it so I don’t have to follow it.

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