The use of guns is becoming a common feature of the protests and violence raging in many parts of the United States. The way in which the Wisconsin city of Kenosha has been turned into a veritable warzone suggests that some people now see destructive behaviour as a way of gaining attention or making a point.
The recent shooting dead of a man in Portland, Oregon highlights the growing trend for dehumanising people who are on the other side of the political divide. In this instance protesters celebrated the fact that a ‘Nazi’ had been killed. The man was a member of the right-wing organisation Patriot Prayer – which means social media was soon full of claims that it was only a piece of ‘fascist scum’ who got killed.
One man tweeted: ‘If you’re just hearing about a member of Patriot Prayer being killed or another being arrested in Washington you should catch up on who they are. SPLC [the Southern Poverty Law Center] has a good example. They’re not a “conservative” group. They’re at minimum alt-right/fash.’
The implication of this tweet is that this man had it coming. The SPLC, which specialises in branding groups it dislikes as racists or fascists or alt-right, was quick off the mark. It published an account of the disturbances which claimed that the members of Patriot Prayer in Portland were outside agitators who wanted to inflict their white-supremacist hate on the city. . .
The casual manner in which violent attacks on opponents are discussed in the language of ‘they had it coming’ points to an ominous development in political life. Today’s politicisation of identity is often informed by an instinct to dehumanise those who ‘offend’ us. This dehumanisation of opponents is expressed in a language that treats them as evil people with no redeeming qualities. The promiscuous use of labels like ‘fascist’ and ‘white supremacist’ is about indicating that millions of people exist on a lower moral plane than the apparently enlightened advocates of identity politics. (Read more from “Is It Now Okay to Kill People We Find Offensive?” HERE)