Should we worry? It would seem appropriate. Why? Referenced are the ever more frequent threats and delivery of violence by what appears a growing number of Americans who’ve become upset or disenchanted with their lives. Then there are those who harm others when not understood or do not respond to them on their terms or with whom they disagree by religious or political differences.
Violence in Oregon was notable at the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge take-over by right-wing militia members. The refuge occupation was an event in which government workers employed at the refuge, local residents, and journalists covering the incident had their lives threatened while federal property damage occurred at huge costs in tax dollars to repair.
Ultimately it ended badly with the death of a militiaman. More recently, we’ve witnessed the case of state Senator Brian Boquist. He threatened violence to the president of the state senate, Peter Courtney, and threatened to kill any Oregon State Police officer sent out to return him to the duties in the Capitol he swore to uphold. Consequences have followed for Boquist who now seeks help from President Trump. This fits.
Each act and threat of violence serves as predicate for Trump, who himself provides words of encouragement for violence, thereby providing tacit permission to those who otherwise might not act out. An increased level of late has to do with threats and delivery of violence by white supremacists to Americans of color. As we know, almost half the U.S. population is made up of persons of color who are mostly citizens and will not “return from where they came” since most were born here. Then, too, African Americans were forced here by slavery, Latinos settled in the Southwest before whites, while the forebears of native American tribe members arrived millenniums ago.
The disgruntled elements in American society are making their appearance more and more often by lawless acts, resulting in the infliction of injuries predictably leading to homicides. As they have notoriously demonstrated in 1930s Germany and post-Revolution Russia, right-wing and left-wing militias are almost always paramilitary organizations, using intimation, and, ultimately, murder to gain the upper hand. We’re on the verge of critical mass by violent acts in Oregon.
Violence is delivered every day throughout the U.S. Millions of Americans struggle with opioid-based substance abuse disorders while the nation’s pharmaceutical industry continues to pay-off medical doctors to prescribe it for so much as a sprained ankle with death for hundreds every day as a common outcome. Reports by the hour inform us that persons high on alcohol and/or marijuana drive a vehicle causing a violent death to innocents. Then there are those who bring violence by gun use almost every minute in America while little is done, save afterwards, prayers and condolences.
What can any ordinary American do about these threats to our health and democracy? There are not enough police officers to stop it entirely. So, each of us must denounce it whenever and wherever it shows up and make certain our children and those we can influence find futures through more education and training in apprenticeships, college certificate and degree programs and so on. Thereby, secure for our children a future that does not end for them in shouting hateful slogans, beating people up and ending in jail with a rap sheet. Waiting for others to remedy our social ills is bound for a land of disappointment.
(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion regularly in the Keizertimes.)