Jesus fuck, talk about moving goalposts.
So let me get this straight … after Conway referenced the (non existent) Bowling Green massacre (and was called out on it) to support the refugee ban, that non-populist narcissist con man doubled down on this narrative by asserting to senior military officials in his first-ever military address the factually inaccurate and readily disprovable claim of the media literally ignoring terrorist attacks like a big bunch of jerks, right? And then his administration swears, in the face of the ensuing outcry, that they will totally release a list of these tragically ignored terrorist attacks that will justify their actions thus far!
Have I got it right so far?
Sure, we all thought the promised list would (like his tax returns) never materialize. And meanwhile, Propagandist Spicer is already mewling about, trying to walk this latest insanity with justifications of what Trump said wasn’t what he meant, although he meant what he said, just not the exact words– it went from something like “unreported” actually means “under reported,” because Trump feels these terrorist attacks didn’t get quite as much attention as, say, the protests of his inauguration.
“He felt that members of media don’t always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered,” Spicer said. “Like a protest gets blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn’t necessarily get the same coverage.” — Chicago Tribune, Fact check: Trump’s unsupported claim that terrorist acts ignored by media
It seems Trump is a little offended at his unpopularity. That sounds almost like a, “Hey, guys, the vote might not have been exactly unanimous, but I’m no terrorist!”
Uh, Donny-boy, to a lot of people, you are.
Anywho, miracles of miracles, the Joker in Chief actually got his team to scrape up a list of these “unreported” attacks to illustrate his specific complaints. To recap, Trump said Islamic terrorist attacks were now at, “… a point where it’s not even being reported,” because, “in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.
Spicer qualified those remarks, moving the goalpost to the more nebulous and difficult to pin down marker of “under reported” as opposed to “unreported” (because the amount of coverage something deserves, really, is fucking subjective). And it is into this atmosphere the infamous list was released into. Of course, as everyone with basic reading and critical thinking skills has already pointed out, the list completely fails in its stated purpose, on several counts:
- The majority of the terrorist attacks on the list were extensively covered by numerous news organizations–both print, online, and television–worldwide, while only a handful were limited to local news coverage.
- Chillingly absent from the list are the domestic terrorist attacks by Right-Wing Extremists (RWE), Christian Fundamentalist Misogynists (CFMs), and Active School Shooters (ASSs). It is a glaring absence on an official White House document which purports to be about addressing the failings of choosing to ignore or not report information one ideologically disagrees with.
- The damn thing is riddled with spelling errors. Just fucking riddled with them.
So, yeah. Basically, every terrorist attack cited (save for the fake Bowling Green one) were, in fact, reported on by, well, news reporters. Of the news media. Which (obviously) is how Trump knows about them.
I mean, obvious statement is obvious, you’d think, but some people can’t use the brains they were born with.
When questioned/ confronted about the extensive coverage of the attacks on the list, the propaganda team twins responded (in a nutshell) by once again moving the goalposts and definitions of the argument. Starting with Spicer: “Hey– they weren’t reported on enough, and the world is a dangerous place!” (Translation: YOU DON’T REALIZE HOW SCARY THE WORLD IS! THE WORLD IS SCARY AND WE WILL PROTECT YOU!
Throw the ball to White House spokesperson Lindsey Walters: “Look at the list, guys–terrorist attacks are happening every two weeks, okay? Once these would have inspired wall-to-wall coverage in every single news outlet, but now they’re so commonplace the networks are barely giving them any time!” (Translation: Okay! Okay, so they’re on the news, but look, they’re covered so frequently, nobody cares. Nobody’s paying attention. We’re just trying to force you to wake up, people!)
They keep moving the fucking goalposts. Redefining shit and changing their justifications. Talking in circles.
Most insultingly, they didn’t even run a fucking SPELL CHECK. Now, I KNOW any basic Word program spell check wouldn’t have missed “attaker” and “Denmakr,” whatever other flaws those damned unimaginative programs might have. I mean, what kind of rank incompetence is this?!? These are grown ass men who can’t fucking SPELL and people are still taking them seriously as politicians and government leaders? The only conclusion I have is that it was intentional– like they figured, ah, the people this list is allegedly aimed at aren’t gonna buy it, and our base is a bunch of illiterate rubes! Let’s pull a little prank and watch the eggheads explode in nerdrage. (cue evil megalomaniacal laugh).
Now, I did mention Trump and co. left out the domestic white terrorist attacks on their list?This is actually super important, because for years the FBI and Homeland Security have been aware of and quietly investigating the concerning trend of white supremacists infiltrating our nation’s law enforcement. In 2012, they even released a report about the domestic terror threat posed by US-military trained right-wing anti-government nationalist extremists, which was unfortunately suppressed after conservatives took offense and raised an outcry.
The thing is, the report wasn’t saying all conservatives are terrorists. Being conservative is a political belief– like anything else, there are gradients of intensity. There are extremists, moderates, and idealists in all beliefs/ causes/ movements.
The extremists and idealists are generally some sort of unattached– either in an unhappy relationship or no relationship, no kids/ pets dependant on them (if they have kids/ pets, they’re primarily cared for by someone else), and their employment situation is sporadic/ unpredictable. They sound a lot alike, but extremists tend to want to enforce their worldview by dint of violence, while idealists tend to prefer non-violent action/ self-sacrifice to illustrate their worldview.
I think most people are naturally moderate, especially once they’ve acquired the responsibilities of family/ employment/ community, and aspire to idealism. That said, on a cultural level, the violence of extremism is really admired and romanticized. Culturally, we’ve been fed a steady diet of rebel movements, anti-authoritarian actions, and brave underground resistance fighters who rise up against invading armies.
I think in a sense, it actually feeds the issue of extremism. See, pretty much everyone believes, in their heart of hearts, that they have what it takes to be the “good guys” of the story– the French Resistance, the Wolverines, the rebel spies. But for most of us, it’s a belief that’s sort of like, “If we have to.”
Like, we don’t want to fight … but if push comes to shove, I think most people believe (deep down), they’d be the Rebels, not the Stormtroopers. The Wolverines, not the Russians (or Chinese, if you prefer the reboot). The plucky underdog, not one of the faceless army of the great evil.
But then, when push does come to shove, it’s not about Rebels v. Stormstroopers or Wolverines vs. Foreign Invaders or Resistance vs. Nazis. It’s not about space battles or plucky high school students MacGuyvering a resistance in the backwoods or the romantic tragedy of historical retellings.
It’s here and now, in the place you clock in every day, with the coworkers who are not quite your friends but not quite your enemies, and the manager who brings in donuts every Friday. Those airport workers faced with implementing Trump’s ban– they didn’t have to be cruel. They could have resisted. There might even be some among them who love Casablanca, or Swing Kids, or Star Wars, or Firefly, or The Sound of Music. But when push came to shove, resistance was the choice they couldn’t make. I imagine them hesitating for a the breath of a moment– second-guessing, doubting. Then telling themselves, harshly– this isn’t Nazi Germany, or Star Wars, or some story! This is the real world– I need this job! I have bills to pay. My family needs me.
I imagine confusion, the anger pumping through them, sped by adrenalin. Shouting voices all around them– they work customer service every day and they’ve never had this many people shouting at them! They don’t know the answers– they don’t know what’s going on!
I imagine them scared, confused and angry. Just want to do their job, to keep their job. So they lashed out, unfairly, at the perceived cause of all these problems– not Trump. Not the man who wrote the order, because he wasn’t there, on the ground, dealing with the bullshit he caused. They couldn’t lash out at him.
But oh, the travellers equally taken aback by this insanity? They were right there, and people do that shit all the time– deflect their rage onto the nearest target. Yell at their kid because their spouse was in a bad mood. Scream at the cashier for the store policy they have no influence over. Berate the waiter because of the cook’s pace in the kitchen. Abuse the refugee because the president issued an order that brought out protesters and forced them to work overtime.
I think it’s probably hard to see the way through to the end of the story when you’re suddenly the protagonist. The arcs and plots get all tangled up, and nothing is quite as clean or clear as we imagine it will be before the moment arrives.
But extremists, idealists, see: they push all that muddle aside long before the decisive moment, and construct a clear narrative to justify their actions. So they have this defining cause leading them to enforce their beliefs through violent action (extremists), or sacrifice their own financial security/ physical safety/ freedom in order to illustrate the importance of their cause (idealists). And they’ve gotten all the same cultural messaging, seen all the same films, and also imagined themselves in the role of hero.
The difference is, where moderates say to themselves, “If push came to shove, I think I could defend my family/ myself/ my home,” and idealists say to themselves, “If push came to shove, I think I could sacrifice everything I have for what I believe in,” I think extremists might be saying to themselves, “Why am I waiting for push to come shove me and mine? Preemptive battle motherfuckers! This is waaaaaaaarrrrrrr!”
That in-depth investigation on right wing extremist terrorists in the US was pretty nerve-wracking. Taken in conjunction with the FBI/ DHS investigations and report, it’s pretty clear that an ideological war has been quietly raging right under our noses, and with the infiltrated law enforcement agencies across the nation preoccupied with the battle to clean house, they’re too preoccupied (best case scenario– worst case is the Trump administration/ GOP is preserving the racist status quo and sympathetic to the RWE terrorists) to adequately address the threat of right-wing nationalistic terrorists and the danger they pose to their communities.
And that’s a really scary thought, because since 2002, RWE have killed more US citizens in service to their fundamentalist constitutional/ anti-modern-government, fundamentalist christian beliefs than jihadis have in that same time frame. RWE have launched 18 attacks with 48 total deaths, while jihadis claim responsibility for nine attacks and 45 deaths. I suppose the fact that RWE are already here, and have such ready access to weapons, makes their goal a lot easier.