In light of the terrible attack in Charlottesville, there's been some debate about what terrorism is. Much of this is a flurry to press or deny the label on the attack.
Let's first go to the Oxford English Dictionary for a definition of terrorism:
The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.
By that definition, assuming that the car attack was meant to intimidate the protesters, then the car attack clearly falls into the scope of "terrorism." Protesters were protesting peacefully, and they were attacked out of an apparent desire to intimidate them with violence.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is calling it a hate crime and opening a federal investigation.
Let's look at a few other examples to test the definition.
How about the man who intimidated two young women and stabbed three people in Portland while on an anti-Muslim tirade?
What about "punching Nazis?" The slogan has come back into use after the Charlottesville attack. After some discussion with supporters of the slogan, the conclusion I walked away with was that the core belief behind "punching Nazis" was this: if enough people punched them, they would be silenced. Is this a form of unlawfully using violence and intimidation against civilians in the pursuit of political aims?
Antifa and some other people have engaged in some such violence in the past. On July 3rd, Philadelphia police arrested 3 Antifa members for "stalking" and then "punching" pro-Trump protesters. Before the car attack in Charlottesville, New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported that an Antifa protester was beating one of the white supremacist / alt-right protester with a club, though I'm not sure whether that happened before or after the Nazi-initiated violence. In Berkeley, masked Antifa threw Molotov cocktails and burned a lot of stuff in order to shut down a white nationalist "March on Berkeley," and on June 4th threw bricks at protesters in Portland.
Now this isn't a question of moral legitimacy, or equivalency. Let's not ask that question. Let's simply ask whether some of Antifa's attacks on protesters would also count as domestic terrorism. Thankfully nobody has died yet from Antifa attacks (as far as I'm aware), but with Molotov cocktails and bricks, someone could.
Here's the big question: is it domestic terrorism? Is it using violence and intimidation for political ends? Is that the right definition or is another one better?
What other groups might be committing domestic terrorism?
Worth listening in context: our podcast episode on The Effectiveness of Political Violence in History.
For all their differences, national socialism and communism have one essential similarity: they both justify mass murder by promising utopia. Their versions of utopia differ, but they are believed to be attainable, not theoretical. First, though, society must pass through a period of chaos, anarchy and mass violence. This transition period - the struggle - is endured since what comes after is expected to be a revolutionary better world. But the need to endure a time of extreme violence is not a small part of either philosophy - it is a core aspect of both. A better world can be had. But first there must be killing.
A pretty amazing new study from Pew Research shows that the parties are fragile coalitions, full of very deep disagreement. This fragility means many very interesting things could happen in the future... and that your stereotypes of each party may not make sense.
I've heard a few discussions that used the Overton Window as a theoretical tool to support certain ways of behaving politically. But do people really understand the Overton Window well enough to wield it wisely?
Political animosity in the US is probably at an all-time high. This isn't news.
Sadly, what is newsworthy is the fact that people are not only politicizing the hurricane, but discouraging helping the victims of it for political reasons. Harvey is something for which we should put our political differences aside, if only for a moment.
New polls and lots of new data after the Charlottesville attack can give us a real idea of the size and power of the Alt-Right, White Supremacists, and Neo-Nazis.
In light of the terrible attack in Charlottesville, there's been some debate about what terrorism is. Much of this is a flurry to press or deny the label on the attack. Can we settle the question?
rump is a big fan of calling various news networks "fake news," especially when they report something about him he doesn't like, such as poll numbers. Having a president so antagonistic against the media is certainly new in American politics, even though yellow journalism has been a thing for years, and Republicans coined the term "liberal media" years ago.
What can be done about it?
A lot of people feel pretty strongly about their political opinions. Often we feel like they are quite set in stone; based on some very deep values that won't change much.
A lot of people also feel like their opinions are based on well-thought-out logic and reasoning, from gathering evidence.
However, there's substantial evidence to suggest that when another tribe's opinions solidify on an issue, our tribe runs away--and we join them. Our opinions on important issues are often fluid and fickle, changing with political wind more than sound thinking.
I got to meet Pat Caddell, who has worked in presidential offices and campaigns since the Carter Administration. He has done a combination of personal interviews, polling, and soul-searching to get a sense of why Trump won the election when, in his words, Trump had no real strategy, few solid positions, and very little in the way of a campaign at all.
We saw the strikes happen last night and woke up this morning to various social media reactions: everything across the spectrum of:
- This is what Obama should have done when he called the "red line" and Trump is a hero of deterrence / justice / good
- We are entering World War III
- This is a distraction in order to do $POLICY
So time for a quick flash poll.