I’ve been thinking a lot lately about another thread on this forum and it has lead me to a bit of an epiphany on what, exactly, the current conservative mindset is doing to Democracy, and it’s pretty scary.
The thread was about Antifa being “real” and a “real threat”. What does it mean to be “real”? Obviously it means that it actually exists as some sort of entity. It’s not just some idea. But later in the thread Antifa is described as being an “umbrella term” for a lot of different things. But an umbrella term isn’t real, it’s an idea. It’s not a thing, by itself, it’s a collection of other things. It didn’t hit me at first just exactly was going on here, but after quite a bit of thought a rather terrifying reality emerged.
Let’s start with the claim that it is “real” and a “real threat”. If it’s real and a threat then it’s something we need to deal with. It’s something we need to work against. It’s something that every American should think is bad because it is a threat to our way of life. It is a danger to America which must be dealt with. It is a singular, actual thing which exists on its own.
Now let’s look at what an “umbrella term” is. That is where you group a bunch of things together by some criteria as being similar in some, usually specific way. In this case the criteria is “left wing anarchist groups”.
So how do we reconcile an “umbrella term” with being “real”? How do we reconcile something being both a group of things linked by some criteria AND a single “real” thing? You do that the way today’s conservatives always do it. You group everything you don’t like into a single group and assign the properties of any individual in that group to the entire group. In other words you take, “1 cop killer” and “100 looters”, put them into the same group, call that group “real” and you get “101 cop killer/looters”. But wait! There’s more! This looting is happening during Black Lives Matter protests! BLM isn’t an anarchist movement, but if the looting is happening at their protests then the looters must be from their ranks. So you get to throw them into the group anyway. Now you have 100,000 cop killer/looter/BLM supporters!
In short, this way of thinking is a method of dehumanizing large disparate groups of people by throwing all the groups you don’t like into a single “umbrella group” and assigning the worst traits of any single individual in the group to the entirety of the group. You get to, in your head, associate all BLM supporters with looters, rioters and murderers. By dehumanizing them all in this way you get to hate and seethe about and, sometimes, even murder any member of that group with a clear conscience, EVEN IF the only link the person had to the group was the color of their skin. Or that you saw them on TV saying that how you view the group is wrong. Or that they are from the party you didn’t want to win an election.
And it goes the other way too. You get to group the people on your side together. That way ALL people who love America are on your side. ALL people who love America also love Trump, because those two things are part of your group. If someone says something bad about Trump it doesn’t matter how Republican they have always been. They’re really a Democrat! After all, they don’t fit into your group, so they must be part of the other group.
This is such a dangerous (not to mention idiotic) way to think. This is why democracy in America is under the biggest threat it has ever faced today. Republicans see all Republicans who agree with them as being on the “side of good” while all people who disagree with them, Democrat, Republican or otherwise, as being on the “side of bad”. If you’re fighting evil is it wrong to kill that evil? Is it wrong to cheat that evil? Is it wrong to throw out millions of votes because they might support that evil? Is it wrong to steal an election from evil? Is it wrong to actively subvert democracy to stop the evil side from winning?
This mentality allows the right-wing to cheat, rob, bully and even kill anyone who disagrees with them with a clear conscience. And it’s not just the mentally disturbed people in their ranks like it tends to be with the left wing. Ordinary people, even ex-cops, get in their trucks and hunt down a black man and murder him in the streets because he looked like a criminal as he jogged by. It’s okay to actively work to destroy democracy and deprive people of their right to vote based on the color of their skin because of who they’re likely to vote for. Fighting against democracy somehow becomes patriotic for the people who claim to love democracy. You get to both actively fight against democracy and still be the “true patriot” in a democratic society in your head. There is no bigger threat to our democracy than someone who can fight against it while thinking they’re fighting for it. And, in fact, we’ve actually seen right-wing terrorism, the murder of innocent people who disagree with the conservative, defended as a “proper” response to not being conservative. Otherwise ordinary people think it’s good and normal to kill people they disagree with. Though they might not do it themselves, they certainly don’t mind if someone else does it and may even encourage it, since they won’t suffer any consequences from something someone else does.
If you believe that people on one side or the other deserve ANY form of punishment based solely on that person’s political affiliation, or ANY form of punishment for something which is not a crime by American law, or ANY form of punishment outside the American legal system, then you a not love America or democracy, no matter how much you think you do. And if you think the American legal system is unable to touch “powerful” (that means “famous”) Democrats, EVEN THOUGH Republicans had the presidency, the House, the Senate, the courts AND the Department of Justice for 2 years unchallenged then you’re also an idiot.