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The Passionate Intensity Of The Worst

Maybe our institutions are strong enough to withstand temptations to violence -- but let's not test them
The Passionate Intensity Of The Worst

Florida Man:

A Stuart man is behind bars, accused of threatening to kill U.S. Rep. Brian Mast’s children in response to current immigration policies.

Mast has three young children.

Laurence Wayne Key is facing federal charges under the offense of “communication of a threat to kidnap or injure a person.”

A criminal complaint shows Key is accused of calling Mast’s Washington, D.C. office Monday, and telling an intern who answered the phone, “I’m going to find the Congressman’s kids and kill them. If you’re going to separate kids at the border, I’m going to kill his kids. Don’t try to find me because you won’t.’

Documents show that the intern reported the phone call to their supervisor. The FBI was made aware of the threat and began an investigation. Key was arrested shortly after allegedly making the threat.

In an interview with the FBI and a Martin County deputy, Key told investigators he did not threaten to kill Mast’s children, but said if Mast supports President Trump’s immigration policies, Mast should be separated from his children.

Key’s social media pages show he is very politically active. He volunteers regularly for the Democratic Party of Martin County and has volunteered many hours for Planned Parenthood, according to a friend of Key’s.

Last summer, a leftist attempted mass murder of Republican members of Congress. And now one is threatening to kidnap one’s children. Why would anybody want to run for Congress if this is what it means having to face?

If you are a Republican member of Congress today, do you dare to go to the mall with your kids? To take your daughter to a concert? Your son to a ball game?

Jonathan V. Last of the Weekly Standard has written an important essay about the collapsing of American norms. Excerpts:

[Maxine Waters’s exhortation to mob action against Trump administration officials] is a disgusting and appalling lack of civility and a departure from the norms of American political discourse and I cannot fathom where liberals got the idea for it and, by the by, here is a list of some things the current president of the United States of America said while campaigning for his office:

“I’d like to punch him in the face.”

“Maybe he should have been roughed up.”

“Part of the problem . . . is no one wants to hurt each other anymore.”

“I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself or if other people will.”

“The audience hit back. That’s what we need a little bit more of.”

“If you do [hurt him], I’ll defend you in court, don’t worry about it.”

“I’ll beat the crap out of you.”

“Knock the crap out of him, would you? I promise you, I will pay your legal fees.”

It’s a mystery, isn’t it? Where in the world did Maxine Waters and the Red Hen and the people in that Mexican restaurant come up with such terrible, norm-shattering ideas about civility?

Last quotes from a bone-chilling column at The Federalist, in which the author, one Jesse Kelly, thrills to think about the pleasure Indians took in scalping the whites who were coming to take all their land. Here’s how Kelly’s column ends:

So, back to scalping thing. When you make that long trek to the reservation the leftists have set up for you—and make that trek you will—what memories do you want to take with you? When living in the liberal utopian nightmare of 57 genders and government control over everything in your life, you will want to have been a Lakota. You’ll want to know, to remember, even just cherish the knowledge that, one day, you rode out onto the plains and made them feel pain.

How the hell did this get published? I wrote in this space last year several strong commentaries denouncing Tommy Curry, a radical black philosophy professor at Texas A&M, for taking similar stands (regarding violence against whites) in his lectures and public commentaries. And here we see a white conservative taking more or less the same position, from his point of view. Yesterday, leftist writer Hamilton Nolan wrote a screed looking forward to political violence in this country, “when citizens decide en masse that their political system is corrupt, racist, and unresponsive.”

This blog’s commenter Matt in VA is not a Christian, is gay, and is on on the Right. He repeatedly denounces me for being soft, and unwilling to engage in violence to defend the Right. He’s an intelligent guy who often has smart and challenging things to say, so as long as he doesn’t advocate taking specific violent actions, I’ll publish him, as I publish left-wing commenters with whom I strongly disagree. Let me say clearly, though, that even though I am not a pacifist, and even though I believe that all people have a right to defend themselves, even violently, within certain boundaries, we must never allow ourselves to become fond of violence, and never of political violence. I think this is true of everyone, but especially of Christians. That opens up the doors of Hell … as Jonathan Last grasps. Here’s more from his column:

Which is why so many people were prospectively worried about Trump. Not because Trump was the source of some new brand of political violence, but because political violence is a Pandora’s Box. And once it is opened it cannot be shut until it burns itself out—because everyone loves this sort of thing, when it’s their side doing the scalping. Putting a man like Donald Trump in the presidency gave oxygen to these elements or, to mix our metaphors, pushed the undercurrents that have always been there much closer to the surface. What people failed to realize is that a thing like Donald Trump’s presidency Trump doesn’t just bring out the white nationalists. It brings out the radicals in response. It opens the box for everyone.

Now maybe it’ll all work out for us. Our institutions might be diminished, but they’re still relatively robust. It’s just one hipster farm-to-table restaurant, one geriatric congresswoman, one crank on a website. One guy threatening to kidnap and kill a congressman’s kids. (Oh yes, this is a thing which happened last week, too.) But these situations are inherently unpredictable. Black swans are gonna black swan.

Please read the whole thing.

I’m thinking right now of an American friend who served as one of the peacekeeping troops in the Balkans, after the civil war there. He told me of the time he had to enter a large barn in which Serb militiamen had confined scores of Bosnian Muslim males. The Serbs cut loose on them with machine guns, murdering them all in one spasm of violence. The massacre had taken place long before my friend and the other troops entered the barn. The bodies had long since been carted away. Here’s the thing, though: coating the walls was black slime. It was some sort of fungus that was living on blood and other human remains embedded in the wood of the barn’s interior. The black slime was everywhere, and it was eating what was left of all those Muslim men, whose only crime was to be the Other.

This is what human beings can do to each other, if they let their passions run free. Look at this image from the 1916 lynching of Jesse Washington, a black teenager in Waco, Texas. Between 15,000 and 20,000 people showed up to watch him being tortured and killed. It was entertainment. They were seeking mob vengeance upon this man who had been convicted of raping and killing a white woman:

From WacoHistory.org

Those weren’t Bosnian Serbs. Those were Americans. And though these happened to be white Texans, do not for one second think that any of you — whatever your race, wherever you’re from — are immune to the passions that lead to these kinds of atrocities.

The mobs can be right-wing or left-wing. They can be religious or anti-religious. One of the most beautiful streets in the world is the Boulevard Saint-Germain, on the Left Bank of Paris. One night, during the Revolutionary years, the authorities packed some arrested Catholic priests into a horse-drawn coach to take them to the prison the revolutionaries had made of the old abbey. The mob, knowing that priests were in the coach, set upon it with fury, plunging swords through the walls of the carriage. By the time the coach arrived at the prison, blood was gushing out of the holes left by the swords.

Historian Christopher Hibbert recalls another infamous incident during the Revolution:

The same afternoon another small gang of armed men burst into the garden of the Carmelite Convent off the Rue de Vaugirard where about 150 priests who had been held prisoner for the past fortnight, were gathered under guard, several of them reading their office. The men advanced upon them, calling out for the Archbishop of Arles. One of the priests went forward to meet them, demanding a fair trial for himself and his fellow-prisoners. A shot was fired and his shoulder was smashed. The Archbishop, after praying for a moment on his knees, then went towards the men himself. “I am the man you are looking for,” he said, and was immediately struck across the face with a sword. As he fell to the ground a pike was plunged through his chest. At that moment an officer of the National Guard appeared and managed to get the priests away to the nearby church where they gave each other absolution. While they were saying prayers for the dying, the armed gang broke through the door and dragged the priests out in pairs to slaughter them in the garden. After several had been killed a man with an air of authority arrived at the church calling out, “Don’t kill them so quickly. We are meant to try them.” Thereafter each priest was summoned before a makeshift tribunal before being executed. He was asked if he was now prepared to take the constitutional oath and when he said that he was not — as all of them did — he was taken away to be killed. Some bodies were removed in carts, the rest thrown down a well from which their broken skeletons were recovered seventy years later.

Here is what remains of that site of the executions. It’s the back door of the convent. On the spot of the murders, the plaque reads, in Latin, “Here they fell”

It can happen here. You and your loved ones might be victims. You and your loved ones might be victimizers. Don’t think for a second that you are immune to these passions. I’m not. You aren’t either.

UPDATE: Reader Old West says:

I’ve often thought through why I am so non-plussed by Trump, when I do realize I would be terrified by a Democrat saying some of the things he says.

I think that the reason, when it comes right down to it, is very simple: I know that conservatives are completely culturally powerless in our society, and in the future, we will be even more powerless, should such a thing be possible. For the moment, we have enough political power to create a short-term stalemate, but the future belongs entirely to the left.

Therefore, I know for a fact that Trump is ultimately of no danger whatsoever to the left’s agenda, and it beggars belief that those on the left can’t see this as clearly as I do.

I hadn’t quite thought of it that way, but I feel pretty much the same way. He is president, and that ain’t beanbag, but his power is fleeting, and shallow. I would trade with the left in a heartbeat. That is, I would be happy for them to have a blustering, ineffective president and supine Democratic Congress, in exchange for the right having the massive cultural power that it does. I’m not kidding.



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