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Archive for the ‘Revolution’ Category

Originally published in Vermont Digger

President Donald Trump has taken the position that Americans have a great deal to fear from terrorism. Fear is the backbone of all his statements. Every time there is a terrorist event anywhere in the world, we get tweets and other White House media coverage that constantly remind us how vulnerable we are to this so-called “terrorist threat,” even though the event in question may have had nothing to do with America. Additionally, the “terrorist threat” is the basis for incredible amounts of “alternative facts” being circulated out of the White House and its employees. Some “true facts” are in order here.According to Life Insurance Quotes, a business that focuses on educating consumers on the various aspects of life insurance, the chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are about one in 20 million. A person is as likely to be killed by his or her own furniture, and more likely to die in a car accident, or in a building fire, or drown in a bathtub than from a terrorist attack.

The libertarian Cato Institute has arrived at its own finding: Nationals of the seven countries singled out by Trump in his travel ban have killed zero people in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015. Zero. Six Iranians, six Sudanese, two Somalis, two Iraqis and one Yemeni have been convicted of attempting or executing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil during that time period. Zero Libyans and zero Syrians. “Foreign-born terrorism is a hazard,” the Cato Institute argues, “but it is manageable given the huge economic benefits of immigration and the small costs of terrorism.” The study concludes that “the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year.”

Business Insider states that Americans are six times more likely to die from a shark attack (one of the rarest forms of death on Earth), 29 times more likely to die from an asteroid strike, 260 times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning, 4,700 times more likely to die in an airplane or spaceship accident, 129,000 times more likely to die in a gun assault, 407,000 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle incident and 6.9 million times more likely to die from cancer or heart disease than they are to die in a terrorist incident.

Heightened fear in populations has often led to the end of existing forms of government, largely because a fearful population is relatively easy to manipulate.

Finally, the National Safety Council states simply that the odds of Americans dying at the hands of refugee tourists are one in 46,192,893 and at the hands of immigrant tourists, one in 138,324,873.

There is no reputable source in this country that says anything different about the terrorist threat. It is anything but real. In fact, the threat is so miniscule that we are forced to wonder precisely what motivates the administration to tout it so forcefully. What are their goals in distorting the truth so ceaselessly? Why are they trying, so obviously, to turn America into a land of “terrorist paranoia”?

People who succumb to the “alternative facts” on the “threat of terrorism” that are now being put out by the Trump administration are creating a new and different world for themselves. It will become more important to them that they be “safe” than that they be “free.” Benjamin Franklin said appropriately in 1755, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” That could not be more true today.

It seems therefore likely that the administration is trying to create and then expand an environment of fear and terrorist paranoia. Why they would be doing that is a far more difficult question. Do they seek additional power or wealth? It is difficult to construct any theory that is benign toward our people or our democracy. It does seem however, that the promotion of “terrorist paranoia” is likely designed to create a situation in which the population will be prepared to give up freedoms to the central government in return for “safety” provided by that same government.

Heightened fear in populations has often led to the end of existing forms of government, largely because a fearful population is relatively easy to manipulate. Fear is a vehicle that despots often try to ride into far more restrictive models of government. History is rife with examples of this and whatever the motivation, there is absolutely no reason to think that American democracy is immune.

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Originally published in the The Rutland Herald and the Barre Times-Argus

It’s difficult to look at our ongoing national political contest and not think that our system is in the unprecedented process of being turned upside down.    One of our major parties has been taken over by a leader and a very large group of dissidents who are pushing it in directions never before seen.    Racism, misogyny, sexism, immigration, civil rights and the endorsement of violence, are only among the most prominent areas that have seen changes in attitude during this election cycle.

During the Cold War, largely because of its preoccupation with Soviet-sponsored “revolution” around the world, the United States’ intelligence community put together profiles of countries likely to be vulnerable to revolution. They were monitored because ongoing developments gave a good idea of the extent to which any given country was either entering a revolutionary state, or maintaining a non-revolutionary status quo.

The primary indicators for revolution were: a large gap between the wealthy and the less affluent, an absent or shrinking middle class and the disaffection of large portions of society with those who held power and used it. Looking at contemporary America in those terms, one could assume that the U.S. is entering some sort of revolutionary phase.

Let’s take a look at current realities in our country, in addition to those outlined above, that might precipitate coming change:

— The richest 1 percent of the American population owns over 40 percent of the country’s wealth. The top 1 percent earn 24 percent of total national income, while those 15 percent (46.2 million people) who live below the poverty line earn 3.4 percent.

— The net loser, apart from the poor, is a disappearing American middle class. During the decade from 2000 to 2010, Americans in the middle of the pay scale saw income go down 7 percent, while the richest 40 percent actually gained wealth. Additionally, 14 million Americans are unemployed and 8.8 million are part-time employees.

— The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has given extraordinary and unprecedented political power to the rich and to corporations, in effect, removing that power from ordinary voters.

— Republican and Democratic administrations have refused to prosecute the most senior members of the U.S. banking community for their role in the recession and financial crisis of 2008, despite clear evidence of law-breaking.

— We have a totally dysfunctional Congress (approval rating in the teens) that cannot work across party lines.

In addition to that, we are faced with some realities that could lead to violence in such a revolutionary environment, augmented by the Republican candidate’s continuing allegation that, should he drop in the polls the election is “rigged.”

— We have a Republican presidential candidate who has attempted to subtly encourage violence within his followers and in the “Second Amendment people.”

— We have a powerful and effective NRA fighting any and every move, however nonthreatening, to our Second Amendment rights to exercise any control, however sensible, over the type and sale of weapons.

— We have more weapons in circulation per capita than any country in the world, and absolutely no ability to further limit either their type or distribution.

— We have increasing racism against blacks and now, Muslims, along with increased violence and ambivalence within police departments about how to handle it.

Most importantly, however, particularly when coupled with our extensive gun ownership, we have an extraordinary rise in the numbers of “militia groups” and their membership.

According to USA Today, the “Southern Poverty Law Center tracked 1,360 anti-government groups in 2012, an eightfold increase over 2008, when it recorded 149 such groups. The explosive growth began four years ago, sparked by the election of President Obama and anger about the poor economy.”

It is generally acknowledged that these groups share a common belief in the imminent rise of a tyrannical government in the U.S., which they believe must be confronted through armed force. Militia News believes that “Tyranny Will Rule If Hillary Clinton Takes The Oval Office,” that “Violence In The Face Of Tyranny Is Often Necessary.” It continues on about “manufactured civil unrest,” “the approaching endpoint of Democracy,” “Liberty fading,” and a “Corrupted FBI.”

In a recent interview on Vermont Public Radio, the interviewee, a young, educated, white, married father of two from the South, when asked what effect the election of the Democratic candidate would have on the country, replied that there would surely be a revolution. He went on to say that he was in the process of joining a militia group.

Violence and racism are increasing. The public is being given permission during this campaign to blame immigrants and minorities for whatever problems white people are facing. This could preface major trouble ahead as Americans pursue the new revolution.    

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