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  • Robert Farago

Americans Support Political Violence!

Or so NPR would have you believe

“An overwhelming majority of Americans believe democracy is 'at risk' in the upcoming presidential election,” NPR reports.

The tax-supported new org’s supposition is based on a legit survey, in terms of sample size and diversity. As always, it pays to read the actual question

As you can see, the threat question was candidate-specific. Take party out of the equation and it’s more-or-less evenly divided. And you could drive a truck through the words “way of life.”

Against that dubious backdrop, NPR wants us to know this “risk to democracy” is some serious shit. Cue the B-side of Hey Jude.

The most disturbing finding, however, is that Americans support political violence.

Nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) agree that "because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

The question assumes a fact (“things are off track”), introduces a contentious term (“true patriot”), contains the answer (“resort to violence”) and incentivizes a positive response (“save our country”).

Also, it’s paranoid, not personal. It doesn’t ask would you resort to violence to save our country?

The Republican response stat plays straight into the Democratic Party’s playbook:

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

President Biden’s proclamation promotes the Party line: the GOP is the not-so-secret face of fascism. Any criticism of the Dem’s progressive agenda and expansion of government power is inherently hateful and, thus, a “dog whistle” for anti-government violence.

The Republican Party is a hotbed of violent extremists ready, willing and if-not-for-us able to overthrow the government, just like they almost did before. The Democratic Party is a peace-loving bulwark against dictator Donald & Co.

So what are we to make of the headline How to behead the Republican hydra and its opening salvo?

We must cut off all of this hypocritical hydra's heads all at once – the prudish-pope heads, the petulant-brat heads, the smarter-than-science heads, the ignorance-is-smart heads, the crowing heads, the whiny heads, the pedantic heads that scorn us for our immorality and the cynical heads that cackle at us for caring about morality. All of them.

Or Hillary Clinton’s recently advice for addressing the “threat” of Trump-led Republicans.

It is like a cult and somebody has to break it, break that momentum… at some point maybe there needs to be a formal deprogramming of the cult members. But something needs to happen.

Over at The Atlantic, writer Tom Nichols agrees something needs to be done to counter The Republican Party’s Culture of Violence.

Not only does Trump expressly model this kind of behavior; he and his media enablers provide rationalizations for such threats. Ironically, many of these excuses were once associated with the violent far left a half-century ago: The system is rigged; democracy is a mug’s game; anyone who disagrees with you is an enemy; those in power will never give it up without being subjected to violence and intimidation. But much of it is also out of the far-right, fascist playbook: The elites are plotting against you; anyone who disagrees with you is obviously in on the plot; the only salvation is if We the People engage in violence ordained by God himself.

Ahead of the Capitol invasion, Republican President Donald Trump told his supporters "If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

Dog whistle or not, that’s no reason to throw the free speech baby out with the fascist bathwater. Or is it?

I wonder if the arrests and convictions for the January 6 insurrection are having their effect: One caller to a representative, after a string of f-bombs and barely veiled threats, made an effort to stipulate that he was speaking only of nonviolent harassment. Perhaps holding such people legally accountable for their actions—whether they intended violence or were just trying to throw a scare into others—might begin to reverse this trend.

Don’t get me wrong: both sides of the political spectrum stoke the fires of paranoia. Google “violent Republican rhetoric” and you’re spoiled for choice.

I bring up the Dem’s inflammatory rhetoric because we should remember that the road to hell – in this case political violence – is paved with good intentions.

There are sign posts along the way– if you’re willing to slow down and read them.

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