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Editorial: Harvesting hate

In the U.S., politicians are using fear to level support. —
In the U.S., politicians are using fear to leverage support. — 123RF Stock Photo

Learn from others’ mistakes — there’s some good, clear advice. You can see the toll a mistake takes and avoid the error without having to go through the pain yourself.

And right now, there’s plenty of pain.

In the United States, there have been two sets of attacks that clearly show political motivation: the arrest of a man believed to be responsible for a string of mailings of pipe bombs to political opponents of U.S. President Donald Trump, and an attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead and six injured.

You can argue that both of the attacks were committed by individuals with clear and obvious mental issues — after all, concerns about refugees is not usually addressed by entering a religious sanctuary and shooting who you see. Mailing bombs to people doesn’t really fall under the ambit of “normal conversation” either.

At same time, both of the suspects have clearly been radicalized by the state of politics in the United States right now. Normally, when you hear the word “radicalization” used, it has to do with other sorts of politics; when young men were leaving to join ISIS, for example, the term was regularly used.

We can see what’s happening to the south of us: politicians are taking advantage of the fact that fear can be used to create support, and they are using it without regard for what that method can bring with it.

In this case, though, it’s the movement of Americans from usual political discourse into violence. And the term is apt: the attackers in both cases are parroting the kind of terms that even the U.S. president uses now: “fake news,” the media as “enemies of the people,” along with the growing amount of anti-Semitic and anti-immigration rhetoric that inflames without informing.

We can see what’s happening to the south of us: politicians are taking advantage of the fact that fear can used to create support, and they are using it without regard for what that method can bring with it.

There are suggestions that the same can happen here, that politicians may look south at what worked in Donald Trump’s election, and try to use it here — sow fear about strangers, stoke racism while denying that you’re doing any such thing, and cast doubt on the validity of the news media (something that allows you to create and direct your own narrative, usually with yourself as the star).

When you draw up a picture of your nation as one that’s being run by some sort of “dark state,” when you create villains and claim they are masterminding everything that happens, when you cast doubt on the honesty and integrity of police and other investigative forces, you drive the unstable to believe that they are justified in taking matters into their own hands.

And innocent people die.

There’s another piece of advice worth keeping in mind, and it’s from the Old Testament: “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.”

Let’s not sow that wind here.

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