This is an excerpt from the chapter entitled
"Come Back to Your First Love":
Weeks ago, I watched news coverage in Arizona, showing armed Trump supporters gathered to intimidate poll center workers. I’m not sure the quote below from a November 4th article describes the footage I saw or whether it was a similar incident elsewhere in Arizona:
“As tensions flared in Arizona overnight, armed pro-Trump protesters descended on a counting center in Maricopa County, after Biden's commanding 200,000-vote lead was slashed to just 68,000 as ballots continued being tallied.
They faced off with police and security outside the counting center, chanting that every vote should be counted with the result in the balance. At least one person made it inside, forcing the center to close with staff locked in.” (Mulraney, 2020)
The president strongly denounced the counting of votes after election night. Arizona, ironically, was one of the states where the president wanted officials to keep counting votes as Biden’s lead shrank. Governor Ducey has demonstrated that he is an honorable man by promising to keep his “sworn oath” to follow the law, despite the president’s best Twitter intimidation tactics. My concern is that the president’s words often trigger violence. In April, the president tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” as part of his barrage against Governors whose position on opening up their states during COVID-19 didn’t match his. His words helped trigger an armed protest at the capitol building in Michigan. Some of those protesters present were later involved in a plot to kidnap Michigan's Governor:
“In April, President Trump tweeted in support of ‘liberating’ Minnesota, Virginia and Michigan: three states with Democratic governors.
‘I really shuddered and was horrified. I mean, liberate Michigan from who? And by what means?’ said Dana Nessel, Michigan’s top law enforcement official. ‘When you say ‘liberate,’ you know, that is a call to action. It's a rallying cry. And I think it's a call to arms. And that's really, I think, what it turned out to be.’…
Among the protesters, militia groups carried automatic rifles and suited up in body armor to show their support. Some were photographed going into the capitol.
Whitmer reflected on the protests at the state’s capitol.
‘People remember those pictures…where people with weapons were showing up and intimidating legislators and threatening me at that point,’ she said. ‘Now, we have come to find that some other members of this plot were actually at that event. And I think that that kind of tells you how the rhetoric really can have horrible, disastrous, dangerous consequences for others.’
Whitmer said this menacing is absolutely ‘unacceptable’ and ‘a threat to our democracy and the American dream.’ She added that both parties, and the president, have a role to play.
‘I think the hesitancy to even call out white supremacy creates space for groups that are looking for anything to hang their hat on,’ Whitmer said. ‘I do think that the rhetoric has made safe harbor for people that are engaged in these activities.’”
In the excerpt from MGA Vol I below, I shared an incident where the president jokingly remarked that you could get away with shooting Mexicans “in the panhandle.” Nine months later, a man who opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso quoted Trump rhetoric related to stopping the Mexican invasion:
“…Mr. Trump has filled his public speeches and Twitter feed with sometimes false, fear-stoking language…At a Florida rally in May, the president asked the crowd for ideas to block migrants from crossing the border. ‘How do you stop these people?’ he asked. ‘Shoot them!’ one man shouted. The crowd laughed and Mr. Trump smiled. ‘That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that stuff,’ he said. ‘Only in the Panhandle.’
This past summer, Aug 3, 2019, there was a mass shooting in El Paso, TX. The shooter cited white nationalist themes and quoted words used by President Trump:
…President Trump repeatedly warned that America was under attack by immigrants heading for the border. ‘You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!’ he declared at one rally. ‘That is an invasion!’…
Nine months later, a 21-year-old white man is accused of opening fire in a Walmart in El Paso, killing 20 people and injuring dozens more after writing a manifesto railing against immigration and announcing that ‘this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.’” (Thompson, Vol I)
According to the F.B.I, “The president’s rhetoric has been identified in a series of actual attacks,” Mr. Levin added, “but moreover the day-by-day ticks of F.B.I. hate crimes shows there are increases after sustained and fervent remarks by the president that enter into an online feedback loop that also ends up in other discourses, both at the water cooler and on television.” (Arango, 2020) In MGA Vol I, I said, “The President of the United States has a box of matches, and our country is on fire.” (Thompson, Vol I)
Historical data maintained by the F.B.I. shows that the president’s remarks not only have led to an increase in hate crimes but also an increase in hate groups:
“Hate crimes in the United States rose to their highest level in more than a decade last year, while more murders motivated by hate were recorded than ever before, the F.B.I. said on Monday…
The sharp rise in homicides driven by hatred — there were 51 last year, according to the F.B.I. — was attributed in large part to the mass shooting in El Paso in August 2019…
Over all, the F.B.I. collected data on 7,314 criminal incidents motivated by bias toward race or ethnicity or gender identity in 2019. It was the third straight year the metric surpassed 7,100 incidents and it was the highest number since the F.B.I. reported 7,783 incidents in 2008…
Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups,... noted that the rise in hate crimes in recent years has come as the number of white supremacy groups has surged. According to data collected by the S.P.L.C., the number of white nationalist groups grew 55 percent between 2017 and 2019.
The upswing in hate crimes last year underscored the upward trend in bias-motivated crimes during the Trump era, and the harsh rhetoric against Latino immigrants was seen as motivating the gunman in the El Paso shooting.
Hate crimes directed at Latinos rose almost 9 percent, to 527 incidents last year from 485 incidents in 2018… Last year, hate crimes targeting Black people fell slightly, by less than 1 percent…’Blacks are still the No. 1 target, at twice the level they represent in the American population,’ the report said.” (Arango, 2020)
I have a genuine concern for the safety of people in Arizona and other states where the president is still stoking resentment and anger based on false, wide-scale tampering with the election. In this final chapter, I’m calling on all Republican and evangelical leaders to follow the example of Governor Ducey and other elected Republicans to follow the law and call the election over. It’s time to stop supporting the president’s attempts to intervene at the electoral college level to throw out the certified, even hand-counted election results.
It’s time for those continuing to prophesy or insinuate that God is going to produce another election result to stop. Just stop. Stop before it leads to violence. No, you may not be the one to initiate actual violence, but your continued endorsement of false, massive election fraud might trigger violence from groups like the “Wolverine Watchmen” who tried to kidnap Michigan’s governor. (Kapetaneas, Giardino, Fasano, Muldofsky, & Yang, 2020)
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