Essay #12: Planting the Seeds of Violence

Occasionally, I am in the mood to become depressed, so I check out the conversation happening on the subreddit, r/politics. It used to be a default subreddit and when you made a Reddit account, you would be automatically subscribed along with other “default subreddits” like r/science, r/news, r/technology. It gave you a jump start while you figured out what subreddits you were interested in.

Over the years r/politics has leaned farther and farther to the left. Currently, it is a heavily partisan discussion board peppered with some disturbing content. As I scrolled down it’s front page, I saw a post entitled: “Remember What They Did – Do not allow the enablers of the Trump administration to rejoin polite society, ever”. It links to an article that gave the post it’s title, and I want to discuss some excerpts.

“The cur­rent occu­pants of the White House will leave, and all of their assort­ed enablers will dis­perse back into the world like fun­gus spores float­ing on the wind…”

I have bolded what I believe to be the two most important phrases in this sentence. The author uses very general language (“assorted enablers”) to describe who he is talking about. I have no way of knowing what his intent was or if he had any, but I know where such generality leads.

In 81 BCE, Lucius Sulla was appointed as Dictator of Rome by the Senate after returning home to destroy the coup that tried to oust him from his seat as Consul. The attempted coup to remove him had resulted in the intentional massacre of Sulla’s allies that had been in the city at the time. As a response, Sulla made a list of 80 names. These 80 people he determined were guilty of conspiracy against him and he called for their death. The following day, the list expanded to 200. The list grew and grew and grew, and there was state-sanctioned bloodshed in Rome at a frightening level. Names were added to the list after the person had been murdered and some people were killed for suspected harboring of a person on the list. The requirements for being an enemy of Sulla were vague and people took advantage of this to settle old grievances or cut down rivals. The author of the article is helping lay the groundwork of a vague call for intimidation, and I find it irresponsible and, if they intended it, evil.

Calling Trump enablers “fungus spores” is characteristic of populations that are getting ready to wage war on another population. It is hard to hurt and kill another human, so people shift their perception to believe that, though they may be the same species, they are not part of humanity and thus can be eliminated with little moral conflict. Dehumanization.

“When you can­not vote for change because the dis­tricts are ger­ry­man­dered and the right to vote is sup­pressed, and you can­not appeal to the courts for change because the bad peo­ple wrote the laws and picked the judges, and you can­not buy change because eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty has been baked in to ben­e­fit a tiny minor­i­ty, you have to get cre­ative.”

The language “get creative” is becoming popular these days. Antifa’s language provides a term that means something similar: “diversity of tactics”. It means that conventional tactics such as peaceful protest, civil disobedience, voting, etc. have yielded unsatisfactory results, and thus new tactics are required to enact change. The language is purposefully general so their audience can interpret how they wish. Some may read it as an encouragement to merely yell obscenities in the face of law enforcement others, but others may see it as an encouragement to fling feces at police officers or perhaps physical violence.

“…when you see Kayleigh Mce­nany hav­ing a birth­day par­ty in the back of a Wash­ing­ton, D.C. restau­rant, you should gath­er your fel­low din­ers and go back there and yell at her about what she has done until she is no longer hav­ing fun.”

Even if the reporter only wants those who were in Trump’s circle to be made uncomfortable in public, did they forget that 63 million people voted for Trump in 2016? Do they not notice that tens of millions will vote for him again in 2020? These people will not sit back and allow their public figures to be treated this way. Either they will seek to directly protect these people, or they will treat Democratic figures in kind. If you believe that your political opponent has no morals, do not be surprised when you take the low road and they meet you down there.

I do not believe that this article should be taken down or silenced, of course. This comes close to an incitement of violence, but it does not cross that line. However, I do wish people would take rhetoric like this more seriously. It is tempting to say such an article does not represent most people on the left, and I would agree. However, it was on the front page of r/politics and had a net of 29,100 upvotes. That is not trivial, and it is certainly enough to create a conflict that we may find is hard to put a lid on.

Observe how the commenters(comment has since been removed) in r/politics discussing the article accidentally happen upon Nazi strategies:

P.S. I will see you all on the other side of this election. I’m not sure what will happen (obviously), but I hope everyone remains safe.

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