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How Deeply has Fear of Political Violence Influenced Politics and Justice Today?

 
 
Bogulum
 
Reply Thu 30 Nov, 2023 07:33 am
I just heard listened to an interview on a podcast. The person being interviewed was author McKay Coppins, who recently released his biography of Mitt Romney, called "Romney: A Reckoning".

A fascinating interview. Coppins had spoken with Romney for two years in all kinds of settings - sometimes getting intimate insights into the man that I haven't seen spoken of anywhere else. I have always sort of blown Romney off as only being a substantial or significant figure because of his wealth and privilege, not because of any particular gifts of political savvy or strategic facility.

But several of the things he was able to share with Coppins gave me a new respect for him... well, maybe respect is a little too strong of a word. I still can't help putting Romney in the same category of all the dozens of other Republicans who waited too long to get bold in their denouncements of Trump. Maybe its more accurate to say a new appreciationof the guy.

The thing that stuck out with me was when Coppins revealed that when Romney finally came out strongly against Trump after the events of January 6th, he began to receive a large volume of death threats to himself and his family. He hired security that cost him $5000 A DAY. No mention of how long he paid for that security - if it was just for a week or a month, or if it goes on to this day, maybe at some reduced scale.

Coppins speculated that even though US Senators and Congresspersons are on the average much better off financially than the average citizen, not many of them could afford to hire a $5000 a day security detail. But that all of them were probably acutely aware of the kinds of threats that were coming the way of anyone who speaks out strongly against Trump.

Hearing that made me think about discussions we've had here about why some of our officials have been "hands-off" of Trump. I said from the beginning that Merrick Garland was afraid of retribution, but I received a lot or pushback. There have always been alternative, often fuzzy legal or psychological reasons (excuses) for the actions or inactions taken vis-a-vis Trump. One person here even asked me to explain 'what could Merrick Garland possibly be afraid of' - as if it was a ridiculous notion that a US Attorney General would be influenced in his actions by fear of personal harm. I didn't then, nor do I now consider it at all ridiculous.

What if Trump hasn't been jailed for contempt or jailed while he awaits trial for the simple fact that judges are receiving death threats toward themselves and their families? What if all the legalese mumbo jumbo that has allowed Trump to delay, postpone, avoid, and generally thwart any attempts at holding him plain old accountable for his own actions are just that - a bunch of malarkey put out to deflect from the truth - that they don't hold him to account simply because they are afraid?

I don't have to tell you (I hope) that if it is true that fear of personal harm has been, and will continue to be allowed to play this big of a role, then it changes everything. It moves us down the road to changing a democratic republic into a fiefdom ruled by mob justice.

And that ain't good.

 
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Nov, 2023 09:56 am
@Bogulum,
I've been watching this myself. Hell, a weather forecaster in Iowa had to secure protection for his family and eventually leave the state because of threats against him – for discussing climate change. This is why most civilized countries don't allow the general public to have easy access to firearms and why the 2nd Amendment should have been repealed (or at least edited) back in the early 1800's when the USA realized it needed to rely on a standing army instead of network of local militias.

In the young country, there were legitimate reasons for citizens to own firearms – farmers who needed to protect livestock from predators, hunting as a source of food, etc. These weapons were single shot muzzle loaders, slow to load, awkward to use. But by the time of the Civil War, mass production of improved breech loaders, cartridges, revolvers, and reloading mechanisms became the norm. And after the Civil War, tens of thousands of military-grade weapons were left in the hands of returning soldiers – especially in the South, and especially to terrorize the newly-freed black population. Even today, the most gun deaths per capita are still found in the former Confederate states.

Even this level of gun ownership was kept somewhat under control through state and local laws. The courts didn't recognize an unlimited personal right to own firearms. And the weapons themselves were designed for hunting and target shooting. The real push for unlimited access to firearms began in the '60s and '70s as the NRA and the weapons manufacturers began a coordinated effort to convince people that they needed a weapon for their own personal safety.

But even this effort was still hampered by state and local regulations. This changed as the Supreme Court became more conservative. And at the same time, the guns became more lethal, capable of firing military ammunition from extended magazines out of small easy-to-carry semi-automatic rifles which could be fired from the hip. And pop culture went right along, featuring TV shows and movies which emphasized an atmosphere of fear and menace, relieved only when the pernicious drug dealers or human traffickers met their end in a bloody shootout.

And now, today, we have a major political party which stokes fear and racial tension, glorifies vigilantism, and is basically in the pocket of the NRA. The leading politician in this party regularly issues threats against public officials and says he could gun down someone on a city street and still be elected. His heavily-armed followers speak outright of their intention to right the perceived wrongs being done to them through gun violence. A kid hears about civil unrest in a neighboring state and heads there, shoots three people, killing two of them, and is acquitted. "Stand your ground" laws entitle people to shoot anyone who appears "threatening". Cops shoot fleeing suspects in the back for traffic violations. The level of insanity in this country is only matched by that in struggling nations with no history of democracy but plenty of guns – in all probability, sold to their military by the US and now widely distributed.

It's not enough that our way of life is threatened by industrial pollution, social inequality, and climate change – no, we also have to worry about being shot down in movie theaters, dance halls, and concerts by our fellow citizens. It's insane and I only see it changing for the worse.
Bogulum
 
  2  
Reply Thu 30 Nov, 2023 10:47 am
@hightor,
Quote:
What if Trump hasn't been jailed for contempt or jailed while he awaits trial for the simple fact that judges are receiving death threats toward themselves and their families? What if all the legalese mumbo jumbo that has allowed Trump to delay, postpone, avoid, and generally thwart any attempts at holding him plain old accountable for his own actions are just that - a bunch of malarkey put out to deflect from the truth - that they don't hold him to account simply because they are afraid?


Any comment about this specific piece? In the past, when I've said that officials are acting or not acting because of fear, you've suggested other influencing factors. Are you now more amenable to the possibility that its no more complicated than physical self preservation?
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Nov, 2023 02:25 pm
@Bogulum,
Quote:
Are you now more amenable to the possibility that its no more complicated than physical self preservation?

That possibility would depend on the credibility of the threat and the resources the potential targets of violence have to protect themselves. I don't think Garland fears for himself but he may very well fear the larger political consequences of an outraged MAGAverse. But as we move further from the nexus of power the subjects have fewer resources and self preservation may become more prominent. But I don't know how we can prove that there was a specific cause and that cause was physical fear, though it may well be part of the mix.

Quote:
What if all the legalese mumbo jumbo that has allowed Trump to delay, postpone, avoid, and generally thwart any attempts at holding him plain old accountable for his own actions are just that...

It's possible. But I'm not sure that Trump would be effectively silenced by being jailed. And all the delaying tactics are legal maneuvers used throughout his career, way before he was this deeply in trouble. Yes, it would be a great demonstration that no person is above the law. Until some sympathetic judge hears his appeal and lets him out.

Anyway, it's all unprecedented. The only thing that gives me any hope at all is that he'll finally go too far and make some really big mistake – or that he has a heart attack.
0 Replies
 
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Dec, 2023 01:41 pm
I have no fear of these braying armed jackasses.

I remember this from just before WWII:

https://mediaproxy.snopes.com/width/1200/https://media.snopes.com/2020/02/GettyImages-515383500.jpg

Madison Square Garden, 1939. How many of these enlisted on Dec 3th, 1941?


A lot of these armed asses are unconsciously cosplaying. There's no commitment, only endorphins from walking around strapped with traffic warrants and late child support payments.
Bogulum
 
  3  
Reply Tue 5 Dec, 2023 04:12 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
It’s laudable that you have no fear of Trump’s followers.

I’m concerned about the fears of people who have anything to do with the dispensation of justice in his cases, and how those fears may affect their decision making process.
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Dec, 2023 05:03 pm
@Bogulum,
We have to seek justice where justice resides. Sometimes it's in the Halls of Justice. Sometimes it's on the streets.

I think we over-rate violence by labeling it 'political'. The Brown Shirts knew diddly squat about politics. They understood being racists and bigots quite well. They knew violence on a professional level. The politicians are their puppet masters.
Bogulum
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Dec, 2023 10:57 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
Do you think that fear of retribution from MAGA thugs could enter into the thought processes of judges and influence their decisions?
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Dec, 2023 09:13 am
@Bogulum,
Of course it does: in varying degrees to various individuals. It also inspires anger and wakens resolve in others to demonstrate resistance in the face of evil people with bad actions on their minds.
Bogulum
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Dec, 2023 02:20 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
bobsal u1553115 wrote:

Of course it does: in varying degrees to various individuals. It also inspires anger and wakens resolve in others to demonstrate resistance in the face of evil people with bad actions on their minds.


I appreciate the definitiveness with which you answer: "Of course!"
The assuredness is of note, to me, because not everyone - not even everyone on A2K - seems to see it as that sure of a thing.

As for me, I certainly agree with you - fear is a natural human emotion, and Trump's supporters have shown themselves to be responsive to his prompts toward violent behavior. so it follows that any human being who is directly involved in deciding his fate would have understandable 'concerns' about how their individual safety would be affected.

Now as to the other assertion - that others would have awakened in them an anger and resolve to resist evil... I hope you're right, but I just don't know. I hope Trump's fuckery has stoked a fire in some of the people who can prevent him with getting away unscathed.

In the whole arc of Trump's influence on national politics - in that whole expanse of time from when he came down that escalator to now - I have been, and remain underwhelmed by the response to his clear evil deeds and intents.
I think there has been such mass cowardice; such mass denial. To this day, I have serious doubts that he will ever spend a day in prison.

I would like to have some rudimentary belief in the mechanisms that are supposed to check and balance powerful criminals. Just because I have to live here, it would be nice to actually live with the belief that there's no way on earth that a civilized modern society would let scum like Trump take an enormous dump on its constitution, and then not only get away with it, but run for (and win?) its highest, most powerful office again.

If Trump's not imprisoned after all this flailing about, I will lose the small vestiges of that hope I have left. And I think we will have surrendered any claims about being a nation that cares about justice, or rule of law, or even simple right and wrong.
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Dec, 2023 05:40 pm
@Bogulum,
One thing is certain: IF there is any chance at all that the Orange Shitgibbon has even the absolute minutely sized of a chance to take over, we had better grit our teeth and get down to it. I'll die on my feet before I live on my knees.

Fortunately, we need have no fear. He's going down along with those who are brainwashed to think they don't need the Constitution.
0 Replies
 
Bogulum
 
  3  
Reply Fri 8 Dec, 2023 07:19 pm
I just heard a conversation between Dean Obeidallah and Elie Mystal on Dean's show on Sirius XM. I love both of these guys (I've actually gotten on the air with Dean twice during call-in segments of the show).

A large portion of the conversation was about - of all things - the possibility, in several different scenarios, of Trump's minions committing political violence, and how that possibility is affecting the decision making of the judges adjudicating Trump's cases.

Mystal said it straight out : The only thing that's going to prevent Trump "from going down" - the only thing at this point that's going to keep Trump out of jail - is if the system itself "blinks, and is too afraid to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law". The reason I can capture direct quotes is because the show saves itself digitally and I can rewind it and play it as long as I want.

But that was not the part that I wanted to share with you here (even though I found it pretty cool to have my point - that the judges are acting cowardly- validated by Elie Mystal).

The next part of their talk gave me a glimpse of hope. Both Dean and Elie were in agreement that they don't believe that there will be mass violence even up to the scale of 1/6 if Trump is sentenced to prison. The reason they don't think so? Because since the beginning of when these 4 indictments started to unwind, Trump has been issuing the same kinds of unsubtle calls to action as he did before 1/6 - and no one has been responding. Every time Trump has made a big announcement that he's about to be forced to appear, or that he expects to see people turn out on this or that court date - the crowds have been paltry, timid, and quiet.

It's almost as if all the 1/6 jackasses being thrown into jails and prisons has had a deterrent effect on the dimwitted hordes who might otherwise show up with tiki torches and ARs.

ALL THE MORE REASON (their argument went) to throw Trump's ass in prison where he belongs, and as he so very richly deserves. Not only will it serve notice on the next president or high official who thinks of stealing secret documents or overthrowing a lawful election, but it would scare the beejeebers out of all the gun-totin' Billy Bobs, Cletuses and Jethros out there who might be thinking about coming to stand by their orange Jesus.

0 Replies
 
 

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