Mail bombs: Hate speech can have consequences

Anyone who wonders about the link between hateful threats and actual violence was given something serious ...

Posted: Oct 25, 2018 9:58 AM
Updated: Oct 25, 2018 9:58 AM

Anyone who wonders about the link between hateful threats and actual violence was given something serious and grave to think about this week. Authorities found several pipe bombs delivered to people and organizations that for years have been on the receiving end of a flood of right-wing hate speech.

First it was billionaire philanthropist George Soros: A pipe bomb was found on Monday in his mailbox in Westchester County, New York. On Wednesday, bombs were mailed to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, former attorney general Eric Holder, and CNN's offices in Manhattan. The CNN bomb was addressed to Obama administration CIA Director John Brennan. (Only the one directed at Soros, who as a private citizen does not have Secret Service protection, arrived at its destination; the others were intercepted by law enforcement).

Bomb threats

Bombings

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal offenses

Discrimination

Societal issues

Society

Unrest, conflicts and war

2018 Political package bombs

Bombs and explosive devices

Business figures

Conservatism

Domestic terrorism

Donald Trump

George Soros

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Hillary Clinton

International relations and national security

John Brennan

National security

Political Figures - US

Terrorism

Terrorism and counter-terrorism

US federal government

Weapons and arms

White House

We don't know who did this, though authorities suspect all the devices were made by the same person or group. It's a sad commentary on our times that the motivations could be multiple. Sowing or threatening violence in many places over a short space of time is a classic tactic of terrorists, and others who wish to destabilize society -- for example, ahead of an important political event.

The midterm elections, coming up in less than two weeks, fit this bill. Republican Party efforts at voter suppression have made for a tense climate that President Donald Trump has worsened by insinuating that Democrats, whom he calls an "angry, leftist mob," may commit voter fraud.

The charge recalls the starring role of hate speech -- and repeated allusions to violence -- that have characterized Trump as a candidate and President. Who can forget Trump, in 2016, pretending to pull a trigger as he "joked" about "Second Amendment people" acting against Clinton, or elected Republican officials like Oklahoma State Rep. John Bennett and New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro calling for her execution?

Just a few days ago the President mimicked, admiringly, Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte's 2017 body-slamming of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. "That's my kind of guy," exulted Trump, who last December retweeted a meme of himself with a bloodied CNN logo on the bottom of his shoe and, earlier, a video of him wrestling to the ground a man with a CNN logo for a head. If we go back further to his days on the campaign trail, when Trump offered to pay legal fees for anyone arrested for roughing up protesters, and early in his presidency, when he cautioned law enforcement officers against "being too nice" to suspects, a consistent theme of encouraging violence emerges.

On Wednesday, Trump emphasized that "threats or acts of political violence" have no place in America and said that "in these times, we need to unify." That's true. But it's also true that with hate-chants against CNN a standard feature of Trump rallies, it would be hard for the President to make his apparent feelings about CNN deserving some kind of punishment any clearer.

As constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe tweeted, every recipient of the bombs "has been a target of Trump's vicious comments at his raucous rallies. He didn't light the fire, of course, and he's condemning it, but he brought the kindling and the matches."

And in fact, we can't attribute any direct responsibility for the bombings to Trump: His White House, through press secretary Sarah Sanders, condemned the "terrorizing acts," and Trump stated that he "fully agrees" with Vice President Mike Pence's denunciation, via tweet, of the bombings as "cowardly actions."

Yet the inclusion of Soros among the bomber's targets appears to indicate that this attempt at violence is meant to at least appear to connect to a larger right-wing crusade against "globalists" -- long a code word for Jews like Soros -- which Trump has embraced. It's hard to find a figure more demonized by the global right than Soros, an investor, philanthropist and Democratic funder who has devoted much of his fortune and time to defending democracy in Europe.

Soros' placement on an apparently equal footing with Obama and Clinton as a target of these bombings may not give us a direct diagnosis of motivation for these threatening acts -- again, we don't know why they happened -- but it does remind us that the global right has a foothold in our own country, thanks to elected officials like Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who have become propagandists for foreign right-wing "anti-globalists" like Vladimir Putin.

Authoritarians know that unrest and fright bring a desire for order, and they are always ready to step in, sometimes with special government measures, to "calm things down."

That is another reason to hope that the bomber (or bombers) is brought to justice and the more reasonable elements within the GOP take a second look at the real-life consequences of the hate speech that has overtaken their party. On this issue, breaking with Trump would truly be a civic duty, and one that might save American lives and democracy in the future.

West Lafayette
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 59°
Kokomo
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 59°
Rensselaer
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 54°
Fowler
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 59°
Williamsport
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 59°
Crawfordsville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 55°
Delphi
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 58°
Monticello
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 58°
Logansport
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 54°
Warming up with plenty of sunshine!
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events