Weaponizing Hate

Weaponizing Hate By Paul Shemella

American citizens have split into two political camps.  For brevity, let’s call them Right and Left.  The split began with the formation of modern political parties, but the “factionalism” feared by the founding fathers – and realized during the last three decades – has evolved into “militant” behavior on both sides.  That behavior has now taken on a martial tone.  We are in a “cold civil war”, with regular usage of firearms and explosives.  What would it take to turn this into a hot civil war – where citizens are actually killing each other in mass quantities?

Not much, I’m afraid.

George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officers and three weeks’ worth of Black Lives Matter protests.  Largely peaceful street demonstrations have turned violent due to agitation from outside the BLM movement.  There is evidence that both extreme leftist and extreme right-wing elements are behind the hijackings.  What’s the difference?  Leftists are protesting both the regular killing of unarmed black men by police, and the government they believe has failed to curtail it.  The most extreme want to “defund” the police (whatever that means).  The right wing is angry at the BLM demonstrators (conflating them with violent mobs), and at the government they say leaves them on the street.  The right, in a reasonable call to protect the police, often chants “Blue Lives Matter”.  What’s the score of this contest so far?

Neither side is winning; both are losing.

This is a culture war that is gathering strength and ugliness with each passing day.  President Trump and his attorney general are with the right wing.  Trump’s base is following the script.  The rest of the country is on the left (there is no middle ground).  One of the many frightening aspects of this mess is that one side has most of the weapons – and a lot better training.  The left is a confusing mix of activists with myriad agendas.  Antifa itself is not an organization, but rather a loose network of extremists who sometimes destroy property.  Not a good thing at all.  But the right is largely organized into militias and other groups (the Boogaloo, for instance) whose members actually kill people they oppose.  That includes the police.  This happened just last week in the socialist paradise of Santa Cruz, California.

If it can happen in Santa Cruz, it can happen anywhere.  And it does.  See Gilroy, California last summer.  See El Paso.  See Dayton.  See Pittsburgh.  And so on.

My second novel, A More Perfect Union, tells a scary story about right-wing hate.  I chose the year 1999 to distance domestic terrorism from the Islamist terrorism we’ve come to fear since 2001.  The book – second in the Jungle Rules Trilogy – profiles a fictional Wyoming militia trying to start a revolution in the United States. They believe they’re acting out the original the US Constitution.  I put the upside-down American flag on the cover of my book as an expression of extreme irony.  These people draw inspiration from Timothy McVeigh and other “patriots” who’ve upheld the principles of the country’s founding.

Except that hate and mass murder were not among those principles.

We have to find the middle ground again.  That is where compromise happens.  That is where decisions are made that make all our lives better.  If we are to be a country at all, we must be a society at peace within.  Tough to do when we’re all arguing on social media, and foreign powers are actively trying to divide us.  Abraham Lincoln kept the country together during the last civil war.  There’s no Abraham Lincoln out there to keep us together during this one.

8 Responses

  • Paul,
    Well said. I feel too many have no sense of what the forest looks like because they are so fixated on their favorite trees. We read fiction for primarily for pleasure but we also learn a great deal from it and there is much that can be learned from A More Perfect Union. It entertains and educates and deserves a vast audience.

  • Terry,
    Yeah, this is bad. It appears the bad guys out there read my book! I did not expect ‘A More Perfect Union’ to become non-fiction…

  • Thanks Paul, I always find your blog posts interesting and insightful!

    I do want to respond to your section on efforts to “defund” the police. While I think that the term is off, I think that the underlying approach is spot on. We, as a society, have put our police officers in the difficult position of responding to all sorts of situations, without the proper training or equipment to conduct their missions. As you have written about, and as we taught to foreign governments for many years through our work at CCMR, the ultimate effect of this will be mission failure.

    If we want our police to not only deal with armed criminals, but also with mentally illness, chronic homelessness, minor domestic disputes, etc., they will need much more—and different— training than they are receiving now.

    But do we really want the police undertaking these missions— do they really want them? Would departments of behavioral health, housing, economic development or other social service providers be more effective?

    I think that when people talk about de-funding the police, they really mean shifting resources to other agencies that are better prepared to address social problems.

    Anyhow, good stuff, keep it coming!

    • Nick,
      Thanks for giving me a platform to talk about “defunding” the police. I’d like to think it means “restructuring” police institutions (only the extreme left thinks we don’t need police forces at all). When we taught “defense restructuring” at school, there were four elements: 1) Operational concepts, 2) Technology, 3) Decision-making processes, and 4) Organizational design. These four can be the basis of restructuring police institutions across the country. With comprehensive guidance from the national level, state and local governments should examine the “roles and missions” of law enforcement versus other government institutions, creating a family of security institutions – funded according to their responsibilities. This is not rocket science. Citizen security is more than just fighting crime. All of us benefit from having all other citizens free of drug abuse, hunger, medical issues, and mental illness. Instead of defunding the police, we need to make them more effective at the things that only the police can do for the community.

  • Paul,
    I just learned about you becoming an author in a search to locate you for personal reasons. You know I’ll have to read the trilogy and start reading your blog regularly. From day one on the Dicky Doo, you have been a great mentor, teacher and friend. When you can, send me an email and I’ll bring you up to date on Harts and family and share my reasons for getting in touch.

  • Paul, there’s so much I could say about this that I’m really reluctant to start. Were it not for this chaotic world we’re in, my bride and I would probably be back out there with you and yours having this discussion face-to-face. But you are, unfortunately, spot on. I often believe that Stephen Covey was right when he said the world tends to fall into two camps: those who believe the world is a place of “abundance“ and those who believe is a place of “scarcity.” Those in the former camp feel almost anything is possible, and those in the latter believe the only way I can prosper is if it comes at your expense, and vice versa. About the only thing I am certain of right now in our current environment is that we could use some real leadership at the top. We need someone who will at least try to be a uniter and not a divider. It saddens me that fully 1/3 of the country thinks the person at the top right now is a hero and someone who merits not only their support but their worship. I’m sad that they feel so disenfranchised that they would look to someone like him. I’m saddened that they see their lives so otherwise destitute that an empty cry like “make America great again“ gives them such solace. Empty solace, but I guess comfort nonetheless. But I do remain hopeful. Not hopeful that one election cycle will cure all of our country’s ills. But rather, hopeful that we have within us what it takes to, in someone else’s words, write this Ship of State.

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