Compared with the bizarre ideas and half-baked wackiness that now infest American political life, the arguments between the North and the South [in the Civil War] look like a deep treatise on government.The United States now faces a different kind of violence, from people who believe in nothing—or at least, in nothing real....[we face] random threats and unpredictable dangers from people among us who spend too much time watching television and plunging down internet rabbit holes. These people, acting individually or in small groups, will be led not by rebel generals but by narcissistic wannabe heroes, and they will be egged on by cowards and instigators who will inflame them from the safety of a television or radio studio—or from behind the shield of elected office. Occasionally, they will congeal into a mob, as they did on January 6, 2021....They will tell you that they are for “liberty” and “freedom,” but these are merely code words for personal grudges, racial and class resentments, and a generalized paranoia that dark forces are manipulating their lives...their causes are a farrago of conspiracy theories and pulpy science-fiction plots.What makes this situation worse is that there is no remedy for it. When people are driven by fantasies, by resentment, by an internalized sense of inferiority, there is no redemption in anything. Winning elections, burning effigies, even shooting at other citizens does not soothe their anger but instead deepens the spiritual and moral void that haunts them.
Donald Trump is central to this fraying of public sanity, because he has done one thing for such people that no one else could do: He has made their lives interesting.He has made them feel important. He has taken their itching frustrations about the unfairness of life and created a morality play around them, and cast himself as the central character.Trump, to his supporters, is the avenging angel who is going to lay waste to the “elites,” the smarty-pantses and do-gooders, the godless and the smug, the satisfied and the comfortable.I spoke with one of the original Never Trumpers over the weekend, a man who has lost friends and family because of his opposition to Trump, and he told me that one of the most unsettling things to him is that these same pro-Trump family and friends now say that they believe that Trump broke the law — but that they don’t care. They see Trump and his crusade — their crusade against evil, the drama that gives their lives meaning — as more important than the law.I have heard similar sentiments among people I know.Some of these people are ready to snap and to resort to violence. A Navy veteran in Ohio was killed in a standoff last week after he attacked the Cincinnati FBI office; a man in Pennsylvania was arrested and charged today for threatening to “slaughter” federal agents, whom he called “police state scum.” But that doesn’t stop charlatans and con artists from throwing matches at the fuses every day, because those hucksters, too, have decided that living a normal life and working a straight job is for saps. They will gladly risk the occasional explosion here and there if it means living the good life off of donations and purchases from their marks.When enough Americans decide that a cult of personality matters more than a commitment to democracy, we risk becoming a lawless autocracy.
I have read a number of comments on twitter recently about how people are trying to push back against the fantasies they hear from former friends or families. Its not easy - there is a QAnon Casualties reddit group with 241K members who talk about how to deprogram family members sucked into conspiracy theories. I wish everyone could see Trump this way:This is why we must continue to demand that Trump and his enablers face the consequences of their actions: To cave in the face of threats means the end of democracy. And it would not, in any event, mollify those among our fellow citizens who have chosen to discard the Constitution so that they can keep mainlining jolts of drama from morning ’til night.We are going to be living in this era of political violence for the foreseeable future. All any of us can do is continue, among our friends and family and neighbors, to say and defend what is right in the face of lies and delusions.
This drawing perfectly captures the hateful, selfish, rude, ignorant, racist, irresponsible, despicable, paranoid, deranged, petty, childish, vindictive, intolerant, and arrogant traits of a man GOP wants to be president.— LA Blue Dot in GA 🌊💔 #TruBlue (@namwella1961) August 14, 2022
Nope! #GOPBetrayedAmerica #TrumpIsANationalSecurityRisk pic.twitter.com/QfShvlgK7W
In other news, Scrimshaw's latest Substack commentary on Sunday included a discussion about Canadian media disingenuousness:
You couldn't script a better example of what Trump actually thinks of "his people" https://t.co/wchillEWpN— Akiva Cohen (@AkivaMCohen) August 15, 2022
I'm at a loss for words. Lisa is among the very best at what she does. I know surprisingly arbitrary decisions can be made in this business but Lisa, you deserve better than this. Way better. https://t.co/VlpseimCbk— Ian Hanomansing (@ianhanomansing) August 15, 2022
You know, if CBC had a brain in its head...— Andrew Coyne 🇺🇦 (@acoyne) August 15, 2022
Lisa LaFlamme out at CTV news | The Star https://t.co/SZk2CLMqqg
After arriving in Canada, I saw Lisa LaFlamme sharing our stories as if they were her own experiences and journeys & she deeply cared. Today is a sad day to the Canadian storytelling institution. @LisaLaFlamme_, Thank you for being our voice for years. You will be dearly missed. pic.twitter.com/XGi1sQWr2X— Tareq Hadhad (@TareqHadhad) August 15, 2022
Oooof. https://t.co/ucJZQk9nyJ— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) August 16, 2022
I’d hate to be the summer intern Bell Media finally decides to blame for all this.— Barney Panofsky's Best Intentions (@mynamesnotgordy) August 15, 2022
Man, I bet Bell Media is really hoping for a Rogers outage tonight.— David Moscrop (@David_Moscrop) August 16, 2022
I can't believe it. Bell Media bosses? Mean, power-mad and misogynist? Come on. https://t.co/ClYdPZISKs— Geoff Berner (@geoffberner) August 16, 2022
And what a terrible position for the new anchor, Omar Sachedina:
“The source believes Melling has consistently demonstrated a lack of respect for women in senior roles in the newsroom and that he fired LaFlamme in order to seize control of CTV News and send a message.”— Pat Atkinson 🇺🇦 (@patnutana) August 16, 2022
@BellMediaPR let the wrong person go. https://t.co/1C9NqiUEeT
Lloyd Robertson got a weeks-long send-off, a documentary, and a tribute website.— Kate (@DrKateTO) August 15, 2022
Lisa LaFlamme got a 6-week gag order until she could send out a message on her twitter account that she recorded from home.
These are not the same. Please explain this to your employer.
Omar Sachedina is very much deserving of the role and is well-respected amongst journalists, but Bell Media’s treatment of Lisa LaFlamme overshadows it all.— Ahmar Khan (@AhmarSKhan) August 16, 2022
A Muslim man helming the biggest National news program — history.
But, diversity doesn’t cover the gaps of mistreatment. https://t.co/YLLnrGYLcl
Here is another major media story in Canada that I hadn't heard about before:
Lisa: I was unceremonosily axed without even a chance to sign off and..— cooool cool cool cool (@sane_opinion) August 15, 2022
Omar: let me just cut in and say how great it is to replace you
I think Canada’s going to wait until a journalist is killed before getting serious about the threat Nazis pose to our free press. https://t.co/duqipIGo5M— David Fisman (@DFisman) August 16, 2022
Some funny ones:
My teen daughter was asked by her doctor when was her last menstrual period. She said “it’s regular, no need for dates”. When I asked her why the reply, she told me that doctors can no longer be trusted and they should become accustomed to not knowing. Welcome to the new America.— MommaT (@tweetmommybop) August 13, 2022
‘Spocking’ is a Canadian practice whereby the features of the prime minister Wilfred Laurier on the Canadian five-dollar bill are altered so that he begins to look like the Star Trek character Spock. [📷: Kelapstick. CCA SA 4.0] pic.twitter.com/gFVlpSqbOk— Quite Interesting (@qikipedia) August 15, 2022
Global treasure Mark Hamill was once fired from a Jack in the Box for impersonating a clown, which he's pretty good at.— The Sting (@TSting18) August 15, 2022
He's decided to go back to work one more shift.
I love this guy. pic.twitter.com/LjEikIiAsv
Don't miss the other wonderful teacher stories that people have added to the comments in this thread.
Let me tell you a story. This is Susan Lung. She taught me to read and write in a single year when I was 7 years old. I've been looking for Susan, hoping to thank her in person, for almost twenty years. And then she surprised me at my reading last night. pic.twitter.com/7YW2EPx1CO— Jamil Jan Kochai (@JamilJanKochai) August 14, 2022
And finally, this:
As an Albertan, I grew up thinking that Liberals hated Alberta, I hated Ontario, and the horror that Ottawa had visited upon our beautiful province. I admired Preston Manning (The guy who created the party that would become the CPC). Then I met a Political Science Prof at MRU— YYC Male with Comorbidities (aka Patrick) 🇨🇦🇺🇦 (@0CynicalBastard) August 7, 2022
RIP, Samuel Sandoval: he was one of the last remaining “Code Talkers,” who transmitted messages in WWII for @USMC using a code based on their native Navajo language—one Japanese cryptologists couldn’t break. He served 5 combat tours. An American hero. 🇺🇸 https://t.co/e2AraxYvwj pic.twitter.com/22BwzQeFQD— Ajit Pai (@AjitPai) July 31, 2022