Never underestimate how dumb and dangerous things can get. Yes, our old friends in the United Kingdom have seen fit to elevate a bizarrely coiffed fool of their own to lead their country. And our bizarrely coiffed fool suggested Monday that he could end the conflict in Afghanistan "in a week" if he wanted, he just doesn't want to kill 10 million people. Very cool! The government of Afghanistan requested "clarification" after Donald Trump, American president, referenced the possibility of committing genocide on the Afghan people while wiping their country "off the face of the earth." But that's only one of the insane things happening right now. Take, for instance, the escalation in deranged rhetoric around Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The New York congresswoman was, of course, one of the four women of color the President of the United States told to go back to the country you came from. That Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx, one borough over from Trump's birthplace in Queens, is just one piece of evidence that our national leader was playing around on the Vintage Racism Jukebox. As his morally vacant allies in the Republican Party tried to clean up the mess and have him pivot to merely smearing the four as radical socialists who hate America, they've gotten in on the act, too. Lindsey Graham debased himself on Fox & Friends, slandering the congresswomen as "Communists" and "anti-Semites." Trump's "War Room" on Twitter, an account for his 2020 campaign, appeared to accuse Rashida Tlaib of Michigan of dual loyalty with Palestine. When Ilhan Omar used language that some considered a dual-loyalty charge against American Jews, Republicans blasted it as anti-Semitic and unacceptable.
No, things like "consistency" or "shame" or "the truth" do not factor in when you are Otherizing people. The important thing is to prove they're not Real Americans, and thus have no right to criticize the American government. They should just be happy to be here! Trump himself floated—in response to what looked like an arranged question from a right-wing reporter—the conspiracy theory that Omar married her brother before he headed down to a rally in North Carolina, where the crowd chanted "SEND HER BACK" referring to the Minnesota congresswoman. You see, the lies and the smears and the racism have consequences. People are listening. Just ask NBC News.
A Louisiana police officer was fired on Monday over a Facebook post he made last week suggesting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., be shot.
The officer, Charlie Rispoli, a 14-year veteran of the Gretna, Louisiana, police force, called Ocasio-Cortez a "vile idiot" who "needs a round, and I don't mean the kind she used to serve," referring to her past job as a bartender, according to a screenshot posted by nola.com, the website for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. According to the news outlet, his comment was a reaction to a fake quote attributed to the congresswoman claiming that "we pay soldiers too much."
It's a fake quote. Propaganda. But it led an agent of the state—a law-enforcement officer who, until he was fired this week, had ready access to deadly weapons—to publicly call for a sitting congresswoman to be shot. His colleague, who has also been fired, "liked" it. This is not a one-off. After Trump tried to link Omar to the 9/11 attacks in April with a Twitter video that yanked her comments out of context, she saw a huge spike in death threats against her. Trump repeated the 9/11 smear last week.
You can only cast public figures as foreign agents seeking to infiltrate and undermine The America You Know and Love for so long until the wrong people take it upon themselves to do something about it. Not everyone who hears the words of the president or his allies is stable, or able to separate fantasy from reality. New court filings indicate Anthony Comello, the man who allegedly assassinated a New York mob boss in March, did so because he was a devout follower of QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that holds, in some iterations, that the president is leading the charge to break up a cabal of Democrats who eat babies. That is not a misprint. Comello thought Francesco Cali, alleged leader of the Gambino family, was an agent of the Deep State assisting this cabal.
(One recent act of political violence, the congressional softball shooting, was perpetrated by an unstable person with left-wing politics. But there's no evidence the shooter targeted any specific officials because of a sustained propaganda campaign targeting them.)
Lawyers for Cesar Sayoc, the die-hard Trump supporter who sent pipe bombs to the president's various enemies in the media and the Democratic Party, said in court filings this week that Sayoc watched Fox News "religiously" and planned his day around his favorite shows: Fox & Friends and Hannity. Their argument is that he literally got lost in this parallel universe of misinformation and hate. The vast, vast majority of people who tune into these programs would never turn to violence, but at some point, people who hock poisonous information for profit and power will have to take responsibility for the fact that they are channeling the instability of people out in the country and pointing it towards various Enemies. This is not a game.
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