Over the weekend I encountered a smattering of stories about the intimidation tactics being used by the growing extremist movement within GOP. This is nothing new, of course, as we’ve seen all manner of threats against politicians, election officials, schools, etc. in recent years. The latest stories have been about the bullying of House Republicans as they vote for a new Speaker, much of it coming from supporters of Jim Jordan (CNN posted the audio of one threatening call to a lawmaker’s wife). Mitt Romney recently revealed that another Republican senator voted against convicting Trump during his January 6 impeachment because he feared for his family’s safety. Trump himself been attacking judges and prosecutors handling his various cases, leading to predictable death threats. The blog Lawyers, Guns and Money has a quick rundown of various incidents.
This week’s comic depends a little on familiarity with Game of Thrones (I recently finished watching season one of House of the Dragon), so some people might not understand all the references. Hopefully it’s clear enough that I’m talking about seemingly unconditional U.S. military aid to Netanyahu and giving him carte blanche to lay siege on Gaza, which he’s most certainly doing. The attack by Hamas was truly horrifying, but conducing massive airstrikes that kill thousands of children (in addition to thousands of adult civilians) is a grossly immoral and unstrategic response.
The White House and State Department have been discouraging language supporting restraint: “In messages circulated on Friday, State Department staff wrote that high-level officials do not want press materials to include three specific phrases: ‘de-escalation/ceasefire,’ ‘end to violence/bloodshed’ and ‘restoring calm.'”
From a Guardian article about diplomatic inaction preceding the current conflict:
Bernie Sanders, for instance, in February had argued that Biden had to recognise this was a qualitatively different Israeli government to anything that preceded it.
He said: “If a government is acting in a racist way and they want billions of dollars from [US taxpayers], I think you say: ‘Sorry but it’s not acceptable. You want our money? Fine. This is what you got to do to get it.’”
I don’t think it’s possible to talk about what’s happening now without mentioning the ongoing tragedy of Gaza, which has been left to fester for far too long in deadly, dehumanizing conditions. What Hamas has done is sickening. Nonetheless, the US not been using its leverage to meaningfully address human rights abuses, or even acknowledge them publicly in an honest way. The very worst response would be for Netanyahu to flatten Gaza, which he’s already doing. This won’t accomplish anything except create more death and destruction and bloodlust. And so the cycle continues.
To put it simply, blaming Democrats (or the left) for the right’s behavior — or for Trump possibly getting re-elected — is relying on a false paradigm. Elections don’t hinge on rational responses to policy minutiae in a vacuum. Everything passes through media of some sort, and the right’s sources of information are dominated by a top-down, antidemocratic movement that seeks to enrich itself and entrench corporate power at any cost. After all that has been revealed about Fox over the last year, we know this to be true, yet some people like to pretend it never happened! As far as the left’s behavior is concerned, the worst and very non-representative examples of overzealousness from someone on social media or elsewhere will always be cherry-picked and blown out of proportion.
As a commenter mentioned below, there is a name for this assumption that Democrats are responsible for everything Republicans do: “Murc’s Law.” According to David Roberts, who is quoted in the post:
This is not some quirk, it is central to reactionary psychology. Every fascist (and fascist-adjacent) movement ever has told itself the same story: our opponents are destroying everything, they’re forcing us to this, we have no choice but violence.