Lola Gayle, STEAM Register Have you seen this headline making the rounds on social media? "NASA Confirms Earth Will Experience 6 Days of Total Darkness in December" This hoax has been making the rounds once again on social media under several guises, and all from spurious and totally illegitimate websites. A similar hoax circled around in…
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Daniel Block is a brilliant young editor at the Washington Monthly. In the latest print edition of the magazine, which I encourage you to read and support,1 he explores the possibility of prolonged, acute civil violence in the wake of an authoritarian president's downfall and his failed attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election.
Research suggests that a growing number of Americans believe that political violence is acceptable. In a 2017 survey by the political scientists Lilliana Mason and Nathan Kalmoe, 18 percent of Democrats and 12 percent of Republicans said that violence would be at least a little justified if the opposing party won the presidency. In February 2021, those numbers increased to 20 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Other researchers have found an even bigger appetite for extreme activity. In a January poll conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, researchers asked respondents whether "the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it." Thirty-six percent of Americans, and an astounding 56 percent of Republicans, said yes.
"Could the United States experience prolonged, acute civil violence?" Block asks.
I spend a lot of time here at the Editorial Board thinking about ways of seeing familiar sociopolitical issues differently so that we, the free people of this republic, might discover new ways of solving the old problems we all live with. I would like to suggest something that may seem odd at first, but once you think about it, it makes sense. Indeed, once you think about it, it will, I hope, seem so obvious that you might wonder why we hadn't thought of it before. After reading Block's piece, it occurred to me that we're not so much going to experience "prolonged, acute civil violence" after the January 6 insuregency. We are already experiencing it and have been for years.
The American Civil War began formally when Confederate forces shelled Union troops at Fort Sumter off the coast of South Carolina. But there was plenty of informal violence beforehand. Block tells the story of Jacob Branson, a Kansas abolitionist, who got into an argument over land rights with Franklin Coleman, a slavery advocate. One day, a friend of Branson's accosted Coleman. Coleman took out his gun and shot him.
It was the start of what's now called "Bleeding Kansas," which has become shorthand for the period of bloody unrest that prefaced formal war. "A group of abolitionists led by John Brown killed five proslavery settlers in Franklin County," Daniel Block wrote. "Hundreds of slavery supporters retaliated by attacking an antislavery settlement in the town of Osawatomie, murdering several locals and burning most of the settlement to the ground. Abolitionists then drove proslavery forces out of Linn County. Slavery proponents next pulled 11 antislavery settlers from their homes and shot them down."2
Maybe we're seeing our own "Bleeding Kansas." Maybe we're seeing our own period of bloody unrest that prefaces formal war. The challenge wouldn't be asking whether a period of "prolonged, acute civil violence" is coming. It would be recognizing that it's already here. I woke up this morning to news of yet another shooting massacre, this one in Indianapolis.3 Turns out it was the third mass shooting in the city in the last month. Nationally, it came after massacres in Atlanta, Boulder, Colorado, and Orange County, California. CNN ran a graphic this morning showing mass shootings that have taken place over 30 days. There were so many they nearly burst the frame.4 Thousands of Americans have died in massacres. The political violence is here.
We are seeing so many massacres, because there are so many guns in circulation. And we are seeing so many guns in circulation, especially guns designed to kill quickly, because our government has militarized civil society by way of deregulation. Why has our government militarized civil society? Because, as I have said before, democracy stopped producing desirable outcomes. The GOP did not randomly start obstructing popular gun control measures. There was a reason. They started after the Sandy Hook Massacre, which was after the 2012 election, which showed the GOP that normal democracy could no longer be trusted to stop a Black man from being president.
That was when the Republican Party fully abandoned republican democracy. That was when norm-busting and constitutional hardball became requirements. That was when political violence started to become acceptable. Make no mistake: that's what these shooting massacres are. They seem chaotic. They seem arbitrary. Their motives are often unclear. But considered in the long stretch of history, it seems to me obvious that each of them, in their unique ways, was a reaction of some kind to the outcomes of republican democracy, outcomes that have given power and respect to people who had been considered unworthy of them—Black people, people of color, LGBTQ people and women. Democracy could not stop them. The only political options left were violent.
It was started out slowly, at first, but since that mind-shattering and heartbreaking moment, when 20 first-graders were shot to pieces after which the Republicans showed not a care in the world, political violence has grown in popularity. It has grown such that a huge majority of Republican voters believes the sacking and looting of the US Capitol was just peachy,5 because they believe Donald Trump was robbed. They don't need a reason, though. Stealing the election is beside the point. Political violence, even to the point of treason, has already been established as optional. We don't have to wait for the next insurgency. We're still living in the first one.
“Had Liberty’s Executive Committee known in 2018 and 2019 that Granda was attempting to extort Falwell Jr. and thus planning to damage Liberty, and had it known the full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Executive Committee would have refrained from entering into the 2019 Employment Agreement,” the suit states.
“The actions of Falwell Jr. and Granda have injured Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty, enabled the 2019 Employment Agreement that proved detrimental to Liberty’s interests, and damaged Liberty’s reputation,” the suit reads.
The suit also adds that “Granda had plenty of information that could have been deeply damaging to Falwell Jr. in the eyes of the evangelical community.”Falwell, Jr.'s social media posts are infamous, and some are included in the lawsuit. In August of 2020 before leaving Liberty, Falwell said his wife had had a "fatal attraction" extramarital relationship with the man identified as Giancarlo Granda. “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell claimed. But Granda responded by accusing Falwell of being involved in that relationship. "Jerry enjoyed watching," Granda alleged. This is a breaking news and developing story.
'Entire system is to blame': Outrage builds after police union leader says officer killing of unarmed teen was 'heroic'
Outrage over the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago was compounded overnight and into Friday after the president of the city's police union claimed the shooting was "100% justified" and that the officer's actions were "heroic."
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was among the critics who responded to Chicago Police Union head John Catanzara's remarks by calling for "systemic" changes to policing to end the killing of civilians.
"The problem is systemic and it requires systemic solutions," tweeted the congresswoman.
On CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time" Thursday night, Catanzara told host Chris Cuomo that the officer deserved praised for shooting the 7th grader only one time. Body camera footage released Thursday showed Toledo with both arms raised when he was fatally shot with a single bullet by Officer E. Stillman.
"He could have been shot multiple times but the officer assessed in a split second," said Catanzara, who earlier this year defended the mob that violently stormed the Capitol building, saying the group caused "very little destruction of property."
"Unfortunately, he already committed to the first shot, justifiably so," he added.
In the footage from the March 29 killing, Toledo is seen being chased down an alley by Stillman. Despite Catanzara's claim that Toledo was armed, no gun is visible in his hand after the officer orders him to stop and he puts his hands up.
Scott Roberts, senior director of criminal justice campaigns at Color of Change, said in a statement that the killing of Toledo offers only the latest evidence that "Chicago city leadership has failed to meet the moment because of their lack of transparency and knee-jerk reaction to defend the Chicago Police Department."
"This is reminiscent of the handling of the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald," Roberts said. "The issue with racist police violence however, is bigger than one officer. The entire system is to blame. And while police departments continue to adopt piecemeal reforms that have failed to address police violence or create any accountability, we need real, systemic change if we ever expect it to end. Additional training, body-worn cameras, and civilian oversight are not enough to protect Black and Brown lives. We need to divest from police, invest in our communities, and fundamentally reimagine public safety in America."
Journalist Mehdi Hasan condemned Catanzara's justification of the killing, calling the comments "cold-blooded."
Catanzara's "blind" defense of the officer's actions "just shows how incredibly broken our system of policing is," tweeted journalist Justin Kanew.
"Ending this isn't just about consequences for who pulls the trigger," tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). "It's about admitting to and confronting an entire system that exists to protect, defend, and cover up state violence."
Omar noted on Twitter that previous responses to the killings of Black and Latinx Americans by police officers—such as the funding of body cameras and increased training—have clearly not led to a decrease in violence against civilians.
"All that funding and reform hasn't stopped the police from killing people or made our communities safer," tweeted Omar.
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