Update (Aug. 2017):
Man is made up of many willfully broken and ignorant people. The majority has taken up arms against one another in the name of vague, convoluted and unjustified ideologies, and will continue to do so. More will come, until man is made into a race of subjects.
The events in Charlottesville, Virginia (Aug. 2017) have served to confirm some of the fears expressed in this post. The pro-monument protestors’ links to white supremacist and vaguely Nazi views is highly disturbing. As far as evidence goes, here is what I take to be linking these protests to those ideologies:
Slogan with Nazi links chanted by protestors in makeshift riot gear.
Richard Spencer (a speaker at the protest) talks to Aljazeera, displaying modern white supremacist views while disavowing the title.
Violence breaks out at Charlottesville rally in the name of White Supremacy.
The KKK was involved in a protest regarding the same issue one month prior (and yet managed to have a safer protest).
I’ve been surprisingly worried lately; I’ve been anxious, and I keep finding myself getting my family’s important belongings organized into stackable crates and backpacks. I, without fully realizing it, have almost gathered enough supplies for a few weeks away from everyone. I guess I’m reluctantly loaded up and ready to leave if “shit hits the fan.”
I hate preppers. Why have I become one? I didn’t mean to do so. I think it was mostly accidental; I would find myself buying several extra cans of food every time I shopped. And whenever I passed up the opportunity to do so, I found myself imagining my dogs and wife starving (who cares about the reptiles?). An extra rifle, and an extra knife. Two more orders of rope. An extra backpack full of gear to give away.
I feel helpless, I think. Often I do, regardless (I am at the mercy of a faulty immune system, after all). But this has been different: I feel like there’s something waiting to pop up that many of us have been in denial over.
A few months ago I wrote a small, informal blog-post referencing the Caning of Sumner. The point was that, in light of Trump’s election, and other then-current events, we should no longer be surprised at what we might encounter in other people. For, though we live in an era of much progress, we are mistaken in believing that this progress has been flowing through the character of our society, and the individuals within that society. The thought is nothing novel: people have been both inwardly and outwardly evil for a very long time, so to assume that, in the period between the Civil War and 2017 (roughly 152 years), the change in the “hearts and minds” of Americans has been significant seems to be naive. Have we really put down our canes? I do not minimize the physical dropping of canes–that is wonderful. But have they really been dropped?
I’m still being surprised. I feel as though there’s a “something” eagerly waiting to destroy a “something” else. And I feel threatened, which is from where I take my surprise.
My Experience with Non-Physical Violence
There’s been a dark and violent part of people forever. From this is where the worst destructive behaviors and the most horrifying events in history come. This violence and darkness fought for slavery, and when it lost, it went underground–it had to settle in, and wait.
I have seen that common violence manifest itself personally. In High-school, particularly American History, I was taught that the Civil War was fought over states’ economic rights–I left with the impression that my teacher (a Southern California Pastor) wanted us to empathize with the pain of the South. While he did not endorse slavery, this minimization seemed strange. In the Sciences, I was taught that Young Earth Creationism was the only acceptable view of the world: the same pastor, who ran my school, insisted that this be taught. I remember when two teachers, much more learned than any others at the school, expressed uneasiness at stating their true beliefs to other faculty.
Within my Southern California, Orange County community, I heard shouts of the war on Christmas, Christians and Christ. Unsubstantiated claims were used to stir up impressionable people to anger. Arguments were feuds and never discussions. Any request for sources was brushed aside.
Later, I became a Christian, and when I vocalized non-evangelical, non-ultra-conservative views, I was talked down to, accused of having little faith, and told that I was trying to “stir up conflict.” Many told me to “stop being so controversial,” and to “let things go.” Genuine theological and philosophical questions I had were avoided in a sort of gas-lighting fashion. I entered into years of depression and isolation. Even after dedicating myself to Philosophy and Theology, many questioned my faith: upon hearing that I was studying philosophy, one ignorant Church-goer whom I had just met asked, with indignation, “are you even a Christian?” I responded, “yes, but not the kind you are: I’m trying to be like the early Christians.” Time and time again I was met with anger and even, I believe, hatred. For what? Being an outsider.
I was a victim of non-physical violence, and so were many others.
Connecting My Experiences with Evil to the Past
Do not think I am trying to connect every issue to slavery–that I am trying to make every occurance of evil somehow have its origin in the racism of the South. I am merely stipulating a common power between Church abuses, Southern Racism, and the Caning of Sumner. I find several commonalities:
- At least a hesitancy to engage in fair debate,
- A persecution complex,
- A desire to preserve current culture,
- A willingness to preserve current culture through anti-intellectual and harmful means,
- A suppression of other viewpoints (often through shame and power-tactics), and
- A feigning of superiority (in intellect and culture).
It goes without saying that each of these characteristics disposes individuals and groups toward reactionary thinking and increases the probability of violent and harmful outbursts.
The cause of my current anxiety is the recognition that this evil is widely manifesting itself (or that is coming to surface). I do not want, here, to argue about President Trump, or Kellyanne Conway, aside from noting their involvement. I also do not want to stir up conflict with those who voted for him.
Aside from the overly-political branches of the Church (which are very common in the evangelical world), there are potentially five more places that 1-6 can clearly be seen. I will not illustrate exactly how they manifest these characteristics, for the sake of brevity:
First up is the Men’s Rights Movement under the banner of “RedPill.” It’s surprising how many conservatives, and in my own experience, Christians, come under the banner, or at least thinking, of a group which believes women must be manipulated into loving men, and that men are really the only sex capable of true love. The group is a pseudo-philosophical alliance of men who are “fed up;” their rhetoric is surprisingly similar to the Alt-Right, and they regularly classify men who disagree with them as outsiders, and, overall, lesser men. It’s clear that folks like Milo Yiannopoulos have pulled much of their support base from groups like these (just read some of Milo’s anti-feminist articles).
Second, Milo Yiannopoulos and his support. One of Milo’s most infuriating comments was to claim that “the best science is out” on gender/sex differences, as if this somehow lent itself to his contrarian position. This looks to me to be an attempt at puffing himself up, and making an argument from vague and unsubstantiated premises.
Third, possibly PewDiePie! No further comments on this. It’s almost a joke.
Fourth, the Trump Administration (check sources below for relevant articles).
Fifth, Dave Koresh, his cult, and other cults. I don’t even need to discuss this: it’s clear from common knowledge that his way of governing his cult met 1-6 perfectly.
Why I Worry
Alright, so far I’ve listed the following places as being home to a terrible sort of common evil:
- The people who Caned Summer,
- The Civil-War-South,
- The Conservative-Evangelical Church (this is not to say that every evangelical group is bankrupt, but I do believe many are),
- Southern California Conservative Circles,
- Men’s Rights Groups,
- Milo Yiannopoulos and the Alt-Right, and
- Dave Koresh and other cults.
Briefly, here’s what worries me: I have known many, many people who have the characters consistent with acting out violently towards outsiders. Those people, with those dispositions, I thought, were fairly isolated, but I am now coming to see that those sorts of individuals make up a large part of the U.S. (and even world) population. I once considered much of them as simply misguided, and in need of correction, but am now becoming convinced of a much more serious problem. To have pretended that these sorts of people do not pose a serious, physical threat because of their low numbers was mistaken (they do not have low numbers, it seems!). There has not been a change in character, but there has been a shift in public policy, which has obviously frustrated many! What frustrations will increase, and what would it take for chunks of the population to reach their (stupid) limits? The reasons for frustration are complex, but we know that some who have shown similar characteristics are pushed, for whatever reason, to violence (see sources for more).
Disclaimer: Again, I want to emphasize that my point in writing this is not to cast suspicious eyes over every evangelical, conservative Christian, or to degrade them as a whole. The point is, however, that I have found, through my own experiences, worrying similarities between violent groups and many of the organizations and people I have previously associated with. This is written as a personal article, about what motivates my own worry, and has pushed me to begin a sort of withdrawal from many others. It is about why I find myself unable to trust very many anymore: why the earth seems to be falling away from my feet, and why I am increasingly preparing.
- Spicer Lies/Misleads: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/trump-puts-iran-on-notice-iran-calls-threat-useless.html
- Conway Misleads: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2017/02/03/politics/conway-bowling-green/index.html
- Trump reactionary and anti-intellectual: http://patch.com/california/berkeley/president-trump-threatens-uc-berkeley-funds-following-riot
- Here’s Milo setting himself up as an honest intellectual. He tells liberals they can change his mind “if they only brought facts and logic,” as if he’s never had a critic engage him on that level (skip to 5min). He casts liberals as “self involved,” “stupid” and “lazy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPIMWCCG4fg
- List of Attacks by So Called “White Nationalists”: https://news.vice.com/story/10-plots-and-attacks-by-white-people-the-white-house-left-off-its-terrorism-list
- Who Is Hiding Among Us? http://www.newsweek.com/2016/02/12/right-wing-extremists-militants-bigger-threat-america-isis-jihadists-422743.html
- Redpill and Sexism https://therationalmale.com/2011/12/27/women-in-love/
- Milo’s Anti-Feminism http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/15/heres-why-there-ought-to-be-a-cap-on-women-studying-science-and-maths/
- Milo’s Posturing https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0n76ZozxQAM
- PewDiePie’s Alleged White Supremacy http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/2/17/14613234/pewdiepie-nazi-satire-alt-right
- Quebec Mosque Shooter White Supremacist http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/30/quebec-mosque-shooting-two-students-arrested-gun-attack-mosque/
- Conservative Youtuber Loves Guns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mznp4-LzsZU
In case the most critical links go dead, here is a list of references to articles on the threat right-wing militia groups pose:
Eichenwald, Kurt. “Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS.” Newsweek, 20 Sept. 2016, http://www.newsweek.com/2016/02/12/right-wing-extremists-militants-bigger-threat-america-isis-jihadists-422743.html.
Quote from the article: “They and untold thousands like them are the extremists who hide among us, the right-wing militants who, since 2002, have killed more people in the United States than jihadis have. In that time, according to New America, a Washington think tank, Islamists launched nine attacks that murdered 45, while the right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead… ‘Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face,’ the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security reported this past June, based on surveys of 382 law enforcement groups.”
Owen, Tess, and Keegan Hamilton. “10 Plots and Attacks by White People the White House Left off Its Terrorism List.” Vice, 7 Feb. 2017, http://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/d3xm8y/10-plots-and-attacks-by-white-people-the-white-house-left-off-its-terrorism-list.
Rothwell, Chiara Palazzo; James. “Quebec Mosque Shooting: Student Charged with Six Counts of Murder over Gun Attack in Mosque .” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 30 Jan. 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/30/quebec-mosque-shooting-two-students-arrested-gun-attack-mosque/.
“Terrorism in America After 9/11.” New America, http://www.newamerica.org/in-depth/terrorism-in-america/.
Referenced by Kurt in “Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS.” According to Kurt, “They and untold thousands like them are the extremists who hide among us, the right-wing militants who, since 2002, have killed more people in the United States than jihadis have. In that time, according to New America, a Washington think tank, Islamists launched nine attacks that murdered 45, while the right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead… “