Vigilante Politics

We're likely to see more instances like the Capitol Riot and the Kyle Rittenhouse shootings.

WASHINGTON,DC-DEC12: Proud Boys during a rally for Donald Trump in Washington, DC, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

Sam Tanenhaus has a long feature in the Washington Post Outlook section titled “Jan. 6 wasn’t an insurrection. It was vigilantism. And more is coming.” I call the piece to your attention not to continue the pointless semantic debate on what to call the Capitol rioting but rather his analysis of what motivated the movement and, more importantly, what it portends for the future.

nternal assaults on American government usually come with the promise of greater freedom. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. He was referring to Shays’s Rebellion, an uprising of 4,000 Massachusetts citizens in protest of taxes imposed by the state’s governor to liquidate Revolutionary War debt. Seventy-five years later, the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, explaining another rebellion, said the South had no choice but to “take up arms to vindicate the political rights, the freedom, equality, and State sovereignty which were the heritage purchased by the blood of our revolutionary sires.”

To its participants and their emboldened intellectual allies, the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was another such “battle cry of freedom” — a patriotic exercise against tyranny. President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might deplore this as an “assault on our democracy,” but “what they mean by ‘our democracy’ is their oligarchy,” the author and journalist Roger Kimball said in a September speech at Hillsdale College. The protest against them may have become unruly, but it was by no means an insurrection.

He may be right, though for reasons different from the one he gave. Militant protest, as Garry Wills wrote in “A Necessary Evil,” his history of “American distrust of government,” comes in different forms. At one end of the spectrum are insurrectionists, who “take arms against the government because it is too repressive.” At the opposite end are vigilantes, who “take arms to do the government’s work because the authorities are not repressive enough.” They become “vigilant,” Wills writes, in times when they believe “the government is too slow, indifferent, or lax.”

[…]

In their minds, the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 was meant not to subvert democratic “traditions,” “procedures” and “norms” — the terms we hear so often — but rather to restore them through whatever means were necessary to stop a “stolen” election, “rigged” by the true enemies of “our democracy”: the election officials and vote counters, the judges in courts across the land, even Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr. So, too, the chilling words “Hang Mike Pence” were shouted in protest of the vice president’s refusal to “do the right thing,” as Trump recently said — which in this case meant decertifying the election won by Joe Biden.

This was the vigilante’s cry that the government has been hijacked to thwart the will of Trump and his supporters. Though they’re in the minority, there are many millions, nevertheless, for whom the government’s failure to do enough to look after their interests has made it the enemy.

For them, the battle cry of freedom has become, as it was for Jefferson Davis, a demand for repression. And only vigilantism, storming the citadel, will do the job.

I very much think this is right. It would have been a very bad thing, indeed, if those who assaulted the Capitol that day to stop the counting of the Electoral College votes did so believing that Joe Biden won the most votes but thought Trump better represented their interests and values. But it’s actually a scarier thing that they honestly believed the election was somehow stolen and that it was their duty to defend the Republic.

There are those who believe John Kennedy stole the 1960 election, George W. Bush stole the 2000 and 2004 elections, and that Barack Obama was an alien ineligible to run in 2008 and 2012. And, while few thought Donald Trump stole the 2016 election, thousands were so enraged with his minority victory and his open misogyny and racism that they marched in the streets ahead of his inauguration proclaiming themselves a Resistance. Rather crucially, however, there was essentially no violence associated with any of these beliefs.

While I don’t believe, as some do, that we’re on the brink of another civil war, we’re in the midst of something more like 1860 than 1960 or 2000. Huge numbers of people simply question the legitimacy of the system.

As Tanenhaus’ essay makes clear, the main danger is from the Right, which seems keen to use violence to settle the issue. But many on the Left, including the moderate left, not unreasonably question the sustainability of a system that’s stacked against them on multiple levels. The Electoral College has given us two instances in a span of five elections where the President who got fewer votes won the election. The House and the Senate both vastly over-represent rural interests and the Senate compounds that by requiring a 60 percent supermajority to pass significant legislation. And, to add icing on the cake, the Supreme Court has six Republican appointees to three Democratic ones.

Beyond that, Tanenhaus argues that it’s beyond disputes over who controls the central government. And, here, the issue is all but one-sided:

In the months since Jan. 6, the appetite for vigilantism has been growing on the right — for instance, among those who celebrated the acquitted teenage shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, who in true vigilante form arrived on the scene in Kenosha, Wis., after driving 20 miles from his home in Illinois the day before to “help” authorities not doing enough to impose order during civil unrest there over a police shooting. After his acquittal, GOP lawmakers competed to honor Rittenhouse, making offers of internships. The most outspoken vigilante in the House of Representatives, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), introduced a bill that would award Rittenhouse the Congressional Gold Medal.

This last captures the sinister tone of vigilantism in our current moment.

A striking example is Texas’s new antiabortion law, which, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor and others have warned, could lead to the rise of “citizen bounty hunters” who are invited to collect a check for turning in abortion providers or anyone helping a woman receive abortion services. Existing laws are, again, too lax and don’t do enough. It is up to citizens to fill the breach.

Vigilantes have become a threatening presence during the coronavirus pandemic as well. Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers have tried to police their neighbors — sometimes violently — over their acceptance of mandates. In August, an Alabama man who calls himself the Vaccine Police led a group to a Missouri Walmart, where they berated pharmacy workers administering the coronavirus vaccine. “If they do not stand down immediately, then they could be executed,” he said, for “crimes against humanity.” In the same spirit, Tucker Carlson has exhorted his viewers to “call the police immediately” and “contact child protective services” if they see children wearing masks while playing.

Adding Carlson to the list actually diminishes the seriousness of all this. We’ve had a decade-plus of people carrying assault rifles to protests. While it’s mostly phony-tough cosplay, there is clearly some significant number of folks out there ready to start shooting the libs rather than just owning them.

However anomalous vigilantism may seem, it has a long pedigree. Among the most frightening images on Jan. 6 were those drawn from the American past — the Confederate flag, the makeshift gallows set up outside the Capitol. Today most of us recoil from the idea of the lynch mob. We forget that for much of our history it was deemed an honorable form of justice, the code of the frontier and the segregated South. One of the most erudite legislators of the 20th century, Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia, a devoted reader of the classics, helped defeat an anti-lynching bill in the 1930s by pleading to his Senate colleagues that banning the practice would “destroy the White civilization of the South” and with it, perhaps, “the entire civilization of the United States.”

The virtue of vigilantism was a theme of the Yale political scientist Willmoore Kendall, “the philosopher extraordinaire of the lynch mob,” as the political theorist Murray Rothbard called him. A formative influence on conservatives in the 1950s and ’60s (as well as the subject of two forthcoming biographies), Kendall wrote, in one memorable formulation, “One begins to suspect that the true American tradition is less that of our Fourth of July orations and our constitutional law textbooks, with their cluck-clucking over the so-called preferred freedoms, than, quite simply, that of riding somebody out of town on a rail.”

Kendall himself was continually at war with his Yale colleagues and delighted in provoking them.

The same appears true of today’s pro-Trump intellectuals. For them Trump is less a model leader than a “blunt instrument,” in Trump ally Stephen Bannon’s words, a useful cudgel in wars being waged in milieus — college campuses, newsrooms, social media platforms — where conservative writers and advocates feel outnumbered and disrespected by “woke” activists.

Violence has been a tool in advancing domestic agendas for longer than we’ve been a Republic, going back at least as far back as the Sons of Liberty (who I’ve long argued were a bonafide terrorist group, even though they’re lionized in schoolboy civics tales of our founding). And, while we tend to think of it mostly as a tool of the Right, we’ve seen it employed successfully by everyone from labor organizers to civil rights protestors to environmental and antiwar activists. As recently as last summer’s mostly-peaceful protests against police violence, accompanying mayhem was justified using Martin Luther King’s “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

But, while “both sides” do it, the current danger is almost entirely from the Right.

Whatever these writers think about Trump, most seem to agree that the far graver threat to the republic, or “regime,” comes from “the left” — a catchall term that now includes old-time Democrats like Biden. To the vigilante intellectual, no less than to the vigilante rioter, the upholders of the doddering system must go.

This was the argument in a much-discussed essay written not long after Jan. 6 by Glenn Ellmers, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, the foremost pro-Trump think tank.

“Most people living in the United States today — certainly more than half — are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term,” Ellmers wrote. Because of their mischief, “our norms are now hopelessly corrupt and need to be destroyed.” All true patriots must come together in their shared purpose. “It’s all hands on deck.”

While I must confess to being unfamiliar with Ellmers and having lumped Claremont in with so many other banal think tanks, his ideas are hardly novel. There has long been a sense, almost exclusively on the Right, that there is a Real America that doesn’t include places like New York City and Los Angeles. And, as the values of urban and rural America continue to diverge, that sentiment is growing.

A couple months back, in response to arguments, including from me, that, while America is as polarized politically and culturally in a way that we haven’t been since the Civil War, a repeat of that tragedy is unlikely because state borders and regionalism is no longer the chief dividing line but rural-urban, Dave Schuler had the depressing reaction that this doesn’t so much preclude war but change its character:

I would like to suggest that people are thinking about the prospects for civil war entirely wrong. Bowing to the need for more visual expression, let’s consider a couple of movies. The climactic scene of The Patriot, a Mel Gibson movie about the American Revolution, the scrappy rebels form a battle line opposite the redcoats and, through a series of clever tricks, outmaneuver them. There are similar scenes in The Red Badge of Courage and practically every other movie set in the American Civil War ever made.

A civil war won’t be like that. It will be more like Mad Max or maybe Blackhawk DownMad Max depicts a world in which civil order has simply collapsed. No real reason is given for it. Nuclear war? Fuel shortage? Just for the heck of it? It doesn’t really matter. Chaotic gangs kill, loot, and terrorize. Whom do they attack? Anyone in their path.

Not dramatic in the sense of pitched battles. And it’s already going in. The disorder in Portland continues with both left and right arguing in favor of it. Here in Chicago we’ve got broad daylight shootings in the middle of downtown. It’s not just that order has broken down but that the will to preserve order has been eroded.

As to the practicality issue emphasized by James, have people never heard of “ethnic cleansing”? It’s a phenomenon that isn’t just conducted at the national level. It goes on block by block with neighbors turning on neighbors. Thinking it can’t happen here because most states are in fact Purple States is being overly optimistic. Start thinking breakdown in order rather than maneuver warfare. Mad Max rather than The Patriot.

Now, I still don’t think this is a likely outcome. At least, not en masse. But I do think we’re likely to see more Kyle Rittenhouses out there patroling the streets looking for evil-doers to shoot.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Crime, Democracy, Policing, Society, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. We’ll get more for the same reason we’ll get more hate crime hoaxes like Jussie Smollett’s: they get attention.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    @David J Schuler: What the bloody **** has Smollet got to do with anything?

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  3. Jay L Gischer says:

    “Most people living in the United States today — certainly more than half — are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term,” Ellmers wrote. Because of their mischief, “our norms are now hopelessly corrupt and need to be destroyed.”

    What norms would those be? The ones that say gay people are evil? The ones that say people of color have to stay in their place and not try to run things? The norms that paint me as non-American because I’m both a nigger lover and a faggot lover?

    (I hope y’all can understand my use of strong language to illustrate my point. I’m not calling anyone by those names, just dramatizing a mindset.)

    If you give up on core American values such as rule of law and majority rule, then you are the one being Unamerican, and you announce yourself proudly as an enemy of the country I hold dear.

    This is not a policy difference. This is core. This is not a point that can be negotiated.

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  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    In the wake of the Rittenhouse verdict there were several articles that the definition of self defense in many states all but guarantees similar incidents. Though as the Aubery convictions show, murder followed by a successful plea of self defense will be conditional on the quality of the prosecution and even handedness of the judge.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: and compelling video evidence.

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  6. Matt Bernius says:

    While I don’t believe, as some do, that we’re on the brink of another civil war, we’re in the midst of something more like 1860 than 1960 or 2000. Huge numbers of people simply question the legitimacy of the system.

    The more I have been reading about it, the more I think we are closer to 1865 to 1877, Reconstruction, a period that was also marked by a rise in Vigilantism.

    While I must confess to being unfamiliar with Ellmers and having lumped Claremont in with so many other banal think tanks, his ideas are hardly novel.

    Sadly yes, see as another example this WSJ interview with Norman Podhertz: https://www.wsj.com/articles/norman-podhoretz-spiritual-war-for-america-conservatism-republican-trump-youngkin-carlson-11639149560?mod=e2tw

    That said Claremont is positioning itself at the vanguard of vigilante violence:
    https://www.thebulwark.com/notes-on-an-authoritarian-conspiracy-inside-the-claremont-institutes-79-days-to-inauguration-report/

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nothing says, “All my arguments are losers.” like an AR-15.

    But it’s actually a scarier thing that they honestly believed the election was somehow stolen and that it was their duty to defend the Republic.

    I have my doubts that there are all that many people who honestly believe the election was stolen. A lot of people will say it was because it furthers their specific goals, whatever they might be.

    “pro-Trump intellectuals” strikes me as a contradiction in terms, and WTF is a “vigilante intellectual” other than a person who admits to themself they’ve lost the argument?

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Nothing but it allows for blaming “both sides.”

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  9. gVOR08 says:

    Though they’re in the minority, there are many millions, nevertheless, for whom the government’s failure to do enough to look after their interests has made it the enemy.

    Many found surprising the anti-establishment element in Trump’s message. In The Reactionary Mind Corey Robin identifies this as a constant in conservatism. The establishment has failed in it’s duty of suppressing the other, so we must oppose the establishment to save the establishment by doing it’s duty for them.

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  10. Mimai says:

    There has long been a sense, almost exclusively on the Right, that there is a Real America that doesn’t include places like New York City and Los Angeles. And, as the values of urban and rural America continue to diverge, that sentiment is growing.

    I’ve long been bothered by this. Real Americans. Normal people. Regular folks. etc…

    I don’t have a strong intuition about who expresses this more. I do think it’s interesting to look at the context in which it is expressed. Seems to me that social hierarchy is one factor.

    As you note, the Right tend to contrast Real Americans to denizens of large metros and coastal areas. I speculate that this is due, in part, to the fact that said denizens have more social capital, power, money, etc. (real or perceived). Thus, the NOT Real Americans are “up the food chain.”

    Interesting that this construction seems different than what is used for immigrants, POC, etc., who are historically “down the food chain” (but are ascending). They too are NOT Real Americans, but in a different way.

    The Left is not immune to such constructions. They tend to contrast Normal People to the wealthy, owners of capital, etc. (real or perceived). Similar to the Right, the Left view NOT Normal People as upstream to themselves, though perhaps on fewer dimensions than the Right.

    There is also another flavor to this, which too seems similar to the Right. That is, the Left seems to view rural/non-urban people, lower-income White people, etc. as NOT Normal People. But they are downstream, so the construction is different.

    Regardless of which side does this more, my sense is that the mechanics are rather similar for Right and Left. If that is indeed the case (I’ve been speculating), it would be interesting to zero in on the band of Real Americans / Normal People. That is, how wide is the band, where are the boundaries? And on what dimensions? And how does is this similar/different between Right and Left.

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  11. steve says:

    “What the bloody **** has Smollet got to do with anything?”

    Dave lives in Chicago and sees the world through that lens. We have one instance of an actor striving for attention vs thousands of people showing ups with guns at protests and hundreds of people invading the capital, but that one instance of an actor occurred in Chicago.

    Steve

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  12. CSK says:

    @Mimai:

    Pat Buchanan: “Peasants with pitchforks,” 1996

    Sarah Palin: “We believe that the best if America is in these small towns…,” 2008

    Iowa voter on Donald Trump in 2020: “We are not the party of the country club any more.”

    There’s always been a belief in American popular culture that country equals virtue and city equals vice. These three exploited it.

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  13. Mimai says:

    @CSK: No doubt. This has been key for the Right’s construction of Real vs. NOT Real Americans. And this flavor has only intensified as we’ve become increasingly sorted on this dimension.

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  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    While I don’t believe, as some do, that we’re on the brink of another civil war

    What is your basis for this belief, beyond merely really not wanting to be on the brink of another civil war?

    We have a large scale insurgency that has both the capability and the will to use violence to achieve their political objectives.

    The rest of us have precisely three options to respond to this:

    1. Give the insurgency what it wants
    2. Eliminate the insurgency’s will to use political violence
    3. Eliminate the insurgency’s capability to use political violence

    Which of the three do you advocate, and how do you propose to achieve it non-violently?

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  15. Kathy says:

    Remember the mass shooting in vegas a few years ago? That was one person shooting at a crowd from a distance.

    Now imagine five or six wingnuts with similar weapons shooting near point blank at a crowd.

    And then getting off on a self defense claim.

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  16. JohnMcC says:

    @Matt Bernius: Thank you for those citations. Was going to spend some minutes looking such stuff up. Claremont is positioning itself for leadership in something I do not think we’ll like.

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  17. If we get civil war, it won’t be Mad Max, either. It will be the militia movements of the 1990s redux. It will be things like the OK City bombing and the Atlanta Olympics bombing. It will be more like things we have seen in Latin America last century than 1861.

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  18. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Where would it be fought, do you think? Or, more precisely, where would the guerilla/terrorist attacks mostly take place?

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  19. Gustopher says:

    But, while “both sides” do it, the current danger is almost entirely from the Right.

    I suspect that will change. Trumpists are undermining confidence in elections at the same time that they are undermining elections themselves. I think we are getting to the spot where whoever wins will be facing a significant minority that that thinks they are not just illegitimate but utterly fraudulent and within that minority will be some people ready to act on it.

    And, while few thought Donald Trump stole the 2016 election, thousands were so enraged with his minority victory and his open misogyny and racism that they marched in the streets ahead of his inauguration proclaiming themselves a Resistance. Rather crucially, however, there was essentially no violence associated with any of these beliefs.

    Trump’s victory lacked the legitimacy of being the will of the people, and it brought out massive protests. Add in a belief that the system was corrupted to produce that result and you have the recipe for violence.

    The best thing that could happen for our country between now and 2024 is for Trump to die in some well-documented manner, a bit humiliatingly, of natural causes. Heart attack during a rally, perhaps, with classic clutching at his chest.

    But then I read the post about David Purdue, and think “a lot of people need to have heart attacks for this democracy to get back to functional.”

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It will be the militia movements of the 1990s redux.

    More like the Brownshirts, I fear. Oklahoma City was a stupid Underpants Gnome plan.
    = Blow up building.
    – ???
    – Turner Diaries revolt and we win.
    And Atlanta made no more sense.

    Some of this will be violent randos doing nonsense, but some of it will be better focused tactically: intimidation of voting officials and school boards, infiltration of police agencies, breaking up Dem meetings and campaign events, armed “Brooks Brothers Riots”, theft of ballots or arson to invalidate counts, assassinations, and vigilante violence to shut down any counter-protests. Republican pols and others will be feeding them “hints” about where to strike, like the Asshat in Chief did on 1/6, if not outright coordination.

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  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Rittenhouse’s case was constructed by the prosecution to achieve that verdict from the very beginning. The prosecutors in both this case and the Aubrey case accomplished what they were setting out to do.

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  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    That seems awfully Q-ish.

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  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: I suspect that your Venn diagram of “normal people” in the sense of Left/Right dichotomy would consist of 2 separated circles, but I may be being too cynical, and it would make an interesting thought experiment. (And real experiment, too, if one could figure out how to do it.)

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  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Heart attacks are just like potato chips–one is never enough.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: The line between perception and insanity is breathtakingly thin. As always, make of my comments what you will. We all have our own truths.

  26. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I agree. The conditions are just too different.

    Still, given there are many national guard units, both army and air force ones, nominally under the control of state governors, you may get something like South Vietnam. Guerillas with support from organized ground and air units.

    What worries me is how the many, many nukes are secured. Are the famous launch codes meant to authenticate legitimate orders, or are they needed to arm the weapons? Even if the latter, having the weapons physically at hand, bypassing any safety features meant to keep them from being detonated might be possible for people with training in handling ordnance.

    Even if that were not the case, breaking the bombs apart and using uranium or plutonium for a dirty bomb would be simple.

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  27. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kathy: Nation Guard units are nothing without Federal funding for their Air and Armor. So even if one went Rouge, after the defections from the soldiers and airmen that dont want to be protected for Treason, no state has the money, supply chain, or logistics chain to sustain an Operation using advanced weapons of War. Further, they also have no Area Air or Surface to Air Defense capability to keep the Air Force from reliving the turkey shoot it had against the Iraqi Army in the Gulf War.

    The conflict would move to armed soldiers against the full weaponry of the US Armed Forces relatively quickly.

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  28. Jon says:

    @Jim Brown 32 & @Kathy: It would most likely be a more ramped-up version of what we’re already seeing; explosives and weapons missing or unaccounted for “mysteriously” turning up in the possession of terrorist groups.

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  29. Modulo Myself says:

    Vigilante is covering a lot of ground here. If a mob lynched Carolyn Bryant (the woman who falsely claimed Emmitt Till whistled at her) tonight, that would be an act of vigilante justice. Southern lynch mobs on the other hand were not acting for justice. They were terrorists and terrorism has always happened in this country. That’s what the dumbasses who stormed the Capitol were doing. They’re the descendants of a lynch mob showing up to kill a Freedom Righter.

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  30. Modulo Myself says:

    Just to add that there’s something terrifying about American history in that Washington and Jefferson were two men who, had their slaves revolted and murdered them, would have deserved their fates 100%. For all of the BS about being men of their times, they were men of their times who deserved to be lynched. That’s not even a comment about how good or evil they were compared to us. But if you are literally an owner of human beings they (the human beings) have a legitimate reason to take justice into their own hands and kill you and the rest of your family.

    I think American notions of right and wrong have evolved to avoid this truth and this is probably why our vigilantes are mostly gun-nut white guys and the KKK.

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  31. dazedandconfused says:

    @Mimai:
    By my anecdotal observation, about 75% of the public is only minimally aware of any of this. What I call “real” Americans don’t pay much, if any, attention to the cable news, shock jocks, et al. The clowns packing heat for premeditated self defense are still a small minority. It’s worth remembering Kyle Rittenhouse and his merry band were a reaction to demonstrations devolving into vandalism.

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    By my anecdotal observation, about 75% of the public is only minimally aware of any of this.

    I’d guess higher. And for them it’s bothsides. Rs say Ds are socialist child murderers and Ds say Rs are destroying democracy. Allee samee, they’re both just exaggerating. And Rs are still living off their reputation as the daddy party. Iran-Contra never got much traction because people didn’t believe Rs would do anything that stupid and silly. And now they don’t believe Rs would try to overturn an election.

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  33. Dude Kembro says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    It’s worth remembering Kyle Rittenhouse and his merry band were a reaction to demonstrations devolving into vandalism.

    Not really. In fact, Kyle Rittenhouse and his merry band were there to make sure demonstrations devolved into vandalism — right wing extremists who joing fringe left extremists in infiltrating protests to specifically to incite riots and chaos. Because the Boogaloo Boys and Proud Boys thugs Kyle Rittenhouse flashed white power signals with while celebrating his killings in a “Free as F*ck” shirt were violent terrorists long beforehand.

    Americans had all kinds of reactions to uprest that did not include murdering people trying to protect themselves and others from a potential mass shooter. So no.

  34. SC_Birdflyte says:

    There are always warning signals before a disaster such as the Civil War becomes inevitable, and the obvious ones (popular vote losers winning the Electoral College, a Supreme Court stacked with GOP lackeys) have been widely noted, one that was overlooked occurred in 2004. IIRC, Bush beat Kerry in Ohio by about 120,000 votes, but if the results had been the other way around, Kerry would have become President while losing the popular vote by over 3 million votes. Does this remind you of any more recent events?

  35. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Thomas Beer, in his book “The Mauve Decade” (covering the U.S.’s literary and cultural history in the 1890s) goes into a precise analysis of the “country good, city bad” mindset and how it has impacted American culture.

    One reason I appreciate Horatio Alger, because he’s about the only author of popular fiction which turns this attitude on its head and has the quick-witted get off the farm and out to the city in order to succeed. (He also portrays a bumpkin mentality as something that will cause his heroes to fail big-time in urban living.) Some of his secondary characters discover they can’t keep up with the required pace of the Big City and return, with relief, to the small town they migrated from, sadder but wiser.