On the internet, hope—and murderous, incoherent rage—spring eternal. I would like to address this post to my hopeful, raging right wing friends.
On Monday, I wrote a piece saying that the civil disobedience targeted at Trump administration officials is just the beginning of what will be a rising wave of anger and frustration, rooted in the simple fact that when moral outrages are being boldly committed by our government, citizens will want the people responsible to know how they feel about it, and they will try to see to it that the people making the big decisions are not completely insulated from the human consequences of those decisions.
This piece was spread widely in the right-wing social media, and as a result I was lucky enough to hear from many of my fellow citizens who also took the time to report me to the Secret Service and the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security as a domestic terrorist, and to publish my address and my parent’s addresses online, and to warn me with a great deal of colorful language that they are heavily armed and ready to kill, should the need arise. The only really concerning aspect of all this, from a civic engagement perspective, was the almost unanimous lack of comprehension among those who felt moved to contact me of what the piece was actually about. If we as a nation are to have proper debates about morality and power and civil disobedience, we must first have reading comprehension.
“Anytime you want war, you fascist nigger, all you need to do is start shooting. You’re threats don’t scare us servant of lucifer,” went one typical email. “We know who you are now,” said another. “ Hey dumbass one of the beautiful things about conservatives being control is that exposes who all of the liberal shitbags like yourself are you think you got friends who know how to blow s*** up m*********** you don’t know who you will be dealing with if that s*** starts hitting the fan we invented the idea of blowing s*** up man so when you’re ready let’s party.....asswipe fucking idiot.”
The most dominant theme of the correspondence seemed to be “Motherfucker I can’t wait to have an excuse to kill you,” followed by “But what about Obama,” with a heavy sprinkling of (direct quote) “if it were possible to track all the funding that goes into groups you support like Antifa and BlackLivesMatter I am sure that trail would absolutely lead back to places like Iran, Russia.” All fine topics to explore, certainly—and hints at fascinating insights into the psychological effects of America’s gun culture—but not really useful engagements with the central themes I was seeking to discuss. So I would like to focus briefly on one response, from author Thomas Wictor (“the planet’s only expert on World War I flamethrowers”), whose popularity may allow us to take the liberty of regarding it as an approximation of a widely shared view on the right:
Wictor’s rationale for this statement, laid out in a 25-tweet thread, relies heavily on the statistics about the strength of US armed forces in Qatar and Djibouti—I will not attempt to sum it up, so read it for yourself—but he concludes:
In the spirit of constructive dialogue with people of different political persuasions, I would like to formally state that I am taking bets from Thomas Wictor or others who would like to wager that we will have “Republican supermajorities in both house of Congress” after the 2018 midterm elections. Please contact me to let me know how much you would like to bet. We will show that we can indeed have a peaceful transfer of power in this country, by one side losing all of their money to the other.