Opinion | Susan Knopf: Anybody have a fire hose?
It seems to me the right wingers have taken playbook pages from a radical Islamist jihad.
Salman Rushdie was attacked for writing about the Prophet Mohammed in ways that created offense.
The New Yorker magazine columnist Robin Wright reports the Ayatollah Khomeini didn’t read Rushdie’s book. Khomeini issued a death warrant — a fatwah — against a man for writing something Khomeini never read. Apparently, it was a political move designed to create fury. Does this sound familiar?
The right wing declared “Defund the FBI.” You can buy the T-shirt online. Are these the same people who denounced “Defund the police?” Is there a difference?
Maybe there is. According to Nature Magazine, “police officers fatally shoot about three people per day on average, a number that’s close to the yearly totals for other wealthy nations.” We have a real national failure in police procedure and training. That failure is deadly.
For the record, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health says Black people are more than three times as likely to be killed by police than white people. This is racial bias — racism.
When protesters say “Defund the police” they are talking about police killing Americans. The same law enforcement altercations happen across the globe, but citizens aren’t killed by law enforcement. What can we learn? What can we do differently?
I’m glad here in Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons initiated the SMART team that helps keep nonviolent offenders who are suffering with mental health issues out of jail. Those calls are managed by a trained multidisciplinary team that helps individuals and our community. That’s a stark contrast to the death of Brianna Grier, who suffered a mental health episode and died in police custody.
The FBI didn’t shoot anybody at Mar-a-Lago. Yet, offended by this court-ordered search, right wingers felt so aggrieved they co-opted the formerly offensive phrase from the left. They ratcheted up the vitriol, and called for attacks on the FBI!
Words have consequences. A man in body armor tried to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati. He was shot and killed by police.
Fox News, News Max, OAN and other right-wing sources have no commitment to the tenets of journalism. They have no commitment to reporting facts. Science Advances has a very interesting study on the matter.
We saw the consequences of this kind of incendiary propaganda unfold in the Alex Jones Infowars case. Jones admitted he knew Sandy Hook really happened. He lied to the public.
Jones has been ordered to pay almost $50 million in real and punitive damages to the parents of a 6-year-old victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Undeterred, Jones portrayed the judge in flames and said jury members “don’t know what planet they live on.”
It’s unfortunate that the only guardrails are suing people who lie using oversized megaphones, speaking from almost unassailable, economically fortified platforms. Can you imagine what it cost to sue Alex Jones? If it was easy or cheap, the Sandy Hook parents might have taken this step years ago, when Jones first claimed Sandy Hook didn’t happen and their kids didn’t die.
Salman Rushdie was attacked at Chautauqua in upstate New York. The attacker seemingly tried to fulfill a decades-long fatwah. Now the Department of Homeland Security tells FBI agents to be on high alert, they are being targeted by right wing violent extremists. So much for the vowed support for the blue line.
The most important issue is influencers must gauge their words carefully. Words have consequences. An imam issued a fatwa. A television extremist condemned law enforcement. Both influencers made the same mistake. Neither read the information they are condemning. Both exhorted men to violence.
A man attacked an FBI field office because fanatical media sources decried the FBI’s efforts to recover what appears to be classified top-secret nuclear documents. This information is interesting since aides were concerned about Trump’s desire to release the same sort of information to the Saudis, while he was still in office in 2019.
Trumps tells supporters the search was a “hoax.” Comedian Bill Maher says, “That’s right average American: think twice before you leave the White House with classified nuclear information.”
Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at email@example.com.
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