Source: AUN News
I never imagined that I would have to deal with violent threats when I relocated to Washington, D.C., ten years ago after spending many years teaching at Brown University. However, there have been a lot of violent threats and acts of violence in recent weeks in the US.
One of former President Donald Trump’s supporters attempted to attack an FBI office in Cincinnati last week after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago property. After being repelled, there was a frantic automobile chase that ended with gunfire being fired at the police and the suspect killing.
Members of Congress have been receiving death threats, which has compelled some to obtain security information to protect their safety. Representatives like Liz Cheney, Nancy Pelosi, and Adam Kinzinger have all received specific threats of violence, which called for increased security.
Representative Kinzinger responded to these warnings by stating that “violent threats related to politics have significantly escalated in recent years. However, the darkness has descended to new lows. One caller threatened to “come to Kinzinger’s house and go after his wife and his newborn baby” and said, “I’m going to come to protest in front of your house this weekend,” according to press sources. We’ll bring you home because we know where your family is. We will get your wife and children. I hope you naturally die as early as f**king possible, another said menacingly.
Meanwhile, a Republican candidate for governor of New York was attacked on stage as he delivered a speech. A man with a knife leaped onto the scene in front of surprised audience members and attempted to stab Lee Zeldin. However, onlookers quickly detained the attacker and saved the candidate from catastrophic injury.
Academic experts are also not exempt from this assault. One-quarter of my Governance Studies residential academics have received valid death threats, as I describe in my Brookings Institution Press book Power Politics: Trump and the Assault on American Democracy. We had to report threats of violence to the FBI on many occasions, and at least one of those threats was severe enough to result in an arrest.
In that instance, a man from Louisiana made a graphic phone call threatening that he would “erase the entire Brookings Institution from the face of the f**king earth.” You are all filthy, disgusting, and terrible motherfuckers, and you all deserve to die in the most horrible ways.
Department of Justice
Others fear that there is a genuine chance of military conflict. For the first time in more than 150 years, there is suddenly a severe possibility of violent political instability in this country, according to Joel B. Pollak of the hardline Breitbart News. The fact that some Republican leaders have promised to hold legislative hearings on the Department of Justice, FBI, members of the January 6 Select Committee, and private organizations critical of the former president if they regain majority control of the US House of Representatives does not help, as this escalates political rhetoric and encourages GOP supporters to believe something is wrong that calls for a strong response.
The rise in both threats and actual acts of violence highlights the grave dangers of polarization, extremism, and radicalization that our country is currently experiencing. People now view opponents as enemies, and many do not have faith in the intentions or deeds of opposition leaders. The lack of decorum has reached such a dangerous point that it endangers the security of authorities, their ability to carry out their duties, and the capacity of our society to deal with pressing issues.
Political violence must be taken seriously, and steps taken to reduce the risks, given the variety of current threats. For instance, the domestic terrorism unit of the Department of Homeland Security needs to be expanded to keep track of violent threats. The federal government should strengthen its case management capabilities, train its personnel on how to deal with violent behavior, and collaborate with local officials to lessen domestic terrorism, according to a 2022 DHS assessment.
The FBI should take more enforcement action against those who support violent organizations. Current laws should be upheld, and federal authorities should target individuals who incite violence with their resources. Online language sometimes serves as a precursor to violent acts; thus, monitoring chat groups on the dark web would help law enforcement spot those with violent tendencies.
Our intelligence agencies need to look for potential foreign sponsorship of extremist organizations. According to news sources, foreign organizations might have given money to alt-right leaders involved in the uprising on January 6, 2021. There is also proof that “Russian state and proxy media outlets have promoted themes connected to the violent and chaotic nature of the Capitol Hill incident, impeachment of President Trump, and social media censorship.”
Social media firms must improve how they manage violent material on their platforms. While businesses utilize artificial intelligence to curb the spread of violent threats, some profit from companies that place advertisements on their websites. Companies taking advantage of the increase in violence in America are foolish and short-sighted.
Political leaders must ultimately curb their aggressive language. Dividing language or threats of revenge in response to specific occurrences motivates people to act on that words. Leaders should be aware that their actions and words impact the state of our political system.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network