Agreed: Trump is responsible for the violent acts committed by his supporters. (42,700,000 hits on Google.)
Agreed: Trump is not responsible for the violent acts committed by his supporters. (42,600,000 hits on Google.)
Sadly, I am not a debater. Since I rarely spoke in high school or college, the mere thought would have caused severe anxiety. The one time I did voice an opinion was in an interview for a foreign exchange student spot. Although you will find it hard to believe, I argued in favor of socialized medicine. Apparently with some fervor, because I didn’t get to study abroad.
Today it should be possible to write with calmness and not fervor, logic and not passion: fourteen bombs sent to Trump opponents did not go off. That story hints of the miraculous but more likely will be part of the instigator’s plan: fear was the intent, not death.
Until the shootings in Pittsburg. Eleven people at a synagogue were shot to death Saturday at a baby’s naming ceremony. All of them were older people, the eldest a 97-year-old woman. It is stomach-turning. This link discusses the events as well as the support from the community, including a Muslim group that has raised over $50,000 for the victims. Yet an outcry over Louis Farrakhan’s “Jews are termites” comment was not heard. It was generally condemned, but his responsibility wasn’t highlighted.
Several approaches to these disparate-seeming events came to mind. The first was simply a refusal to support the idea that tweets cause carnage. I have been disabused of that idea. Here is a quotation from Jonah Goldberg at National Review: “It’s obvious to me that Trump’s demonizing rhetoric, his inveterate lying, and his insinuations that his supporters are the only real Americans are dangerously irresponsible. His responsibilities as president of the whole country do not change regardless of what his critics say about him. But the reactions to Trump are often irresponsible, too. And saying ‘Trump is worse’ doesn’t change that…Yes, everybody is right. But that doesn’t mean everybody isn’t wrong, too.” If you read the entire article, you’ll see that the idea of a vendetta is not limited to Republicans, but looking at hypocrisy from the Democrats can wait. My thought was that the images of Kathy Griffin holding a decapitated Trump’s head or Julius Caesar dressed as Trump being assassinated or Congressmen being shot at a baseball practice might just transcend what-about-ism.
I moved on. My next idea was that influence is real, and not just in reverse. One friend who voted for Trump has never told anyone about the choice. These events, however, influenced this person to stop hiding their views (I know, but it’s the new way to conceal gender) and show courage when others assume a certain slant because of race. The link I was sent is to Blexit, a portmanteau word that combines “black” and “exit.” Their motto? “We free.” Their purpose: “BLEXIT is a frequency for those who have released themselves from the political orthodoxy. It is a rebellion led by Americans wishing to disrupt the simulation of fear. BLEXIT is a renaissance. It is our formal declaration of independence.”
A renaissance, not a resistance. Power, not politics. I hope it works.
Finally, I arrived at what seems a really odd place: The Garden of Eden. Yes, it’s to do with Eve. When you google “The devil made me do it,” you get all kinds of references to our expulsion from paradise being Eve’s fault, her decision blamed on the snake making her sin. I unequivocally reject that. Talk about sexism! It is, indeed, the root of sexism, but I’ve written about that before. For those of a certain age, thought, the phrase “the devil made me do it” originated with comedian Flip Wilson, and you can listen to the skit here. He also invented the phrase “What you see is what you get.” Those were the days.
In conclusion, where am I besides far afield? Influence is not predictable.Even if someone tells you to commit an evil act (extermination?), it is your decision to do it. I can hear the counterarguments being mounted: What about those weak-willed maniacs for whom words are motivation? I think there is no hope, no help for that. Will we ever return to normal discourse? I doubt it. Until that’s clear, a simple reduction can be recommended. Don’t decapitate people. Don’t shoot them. Fear God, not man. Move on.