America was shaken by the shocking revelation that several prominent left-wing politicians and media outlets were targeted by suspicious packages that law enforcement described as containing pipe bombs. No one was harmed as none of the devices exploded.
According to the New York Times, law enforcement are investigating the possibility that the packages were hoax devices, as it is unclear whether they could have exploded.
The individuals targeted are all figures vilified by conservatives, often using incendiary rhetoric. Obama, the Clintons, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder, CNN, George Soros, Joe Biden and John Brennan were sent the packages in what appears to be a coordinated attempt to frighten the left as a whole and murder several of its political leaders.
The FBI is currently investigating the incident, with President Trump stating that, “the full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation”.
However, ultimately it is Trump’s rhetoric and the atmosphere of hostility and hyper-partisanship that has encouraged people to view the other side as not only political rivals, but as enemies of the people and threats to American liberty and democracy.
Take George Soros, who was targeted a couple of days before the others. The Jewish billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust survivor is frequently portrayed by Infowars and other elements of the extreme right as being the architect of all left-wing policies throughout Europe and America.
In Britain, he was accused by the Telegraph of being part of a “secret plot” to get voters to reverse Brexit. In America he has been accused by professional lunatic Alex Jones of being a Nazi collaborator and of funding everything from the protests against Kavanaugh to the migrant caravan heading through Central America towards the USA.
When figures such as Soros are painted, in fitting with the anti-Semitic stereotype, as being the secret evil manipulator of world affairs, it is not too much of a leap for a deluded extremist to make that they can end this “evil” he causes through violent means.
The conspiracy theories are not only what caused the bomb scare, but in fact have been the result of it as well.
Several right-wing figures like Ann Coulter, Cadace Owens and Rush Limbaugh have either flat-out declared or heavily implied that they believe this to be a false flag operation designed to sabotage Republicans before the November 6th midterms.
This illustrates the key problem with American politics, which is that people are willing to believe anything that suits their cause, so long as it is remotely plausible. So when, to their credit, Trump and just about every Republican Senator and Congressman denounces the attack and calls for national unity, some of the Republican base are so far gone that they will not accept this as they believe the attack will hurt Republican political fortunes.
The fact that Trump has to be credited for doing this is, in fact, something remarkable. The idea that it would not have been entirely unexpected if he had declared the attack to be a false flag by his political enemies, and that his most ardent supporters are claiming this, is indicative of the fact that Trump’s rhetoric has enabled something like this to happen.
Trump has been denouncing the Democrats as being “the mob” and yet without a hint of irony encourages them to chant like a baying mob for Hillary Clinton to be locked up. He described Obama and Clinton as “the founders of ISIS” and praises a Congressman for violently assaulting a reporter who was simply asking straightforward and non-intrusive questions.
Rhetoric such as this, regardless of actual policy, encourages his base to start viewing the world in terms of a struggle between good and evil, and causes some to see it as a struggle warranting any means necessary to win. If anything good can come out of this frightening event, civility must be returned to politics if the politicians are sincere in their condemnation of this attack and genuinely wish to prevent it happening again.