Tag Archives: Boogaloo Boys

Bananas

During the past four years, assertions that the U.S. is devolving into a “banana republic” have become almost commonplace.

“Bananas” is also a term used to describe people or behaviors that range from bizarre to insane. Bananas thus describes our everyday political reality in the Time of Trump.

There was the plot to kidnap Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The FBI described the plan as a months-long effort that also saw members of a rightwing militia “consider forgoing the kidnapping and instead executing Whitmer on her doorstep.”

According to the affidavit, plotters twice surveilled the governor’s vacation home and discussed blowing up a bridge leading to the house and using a boat to flee with the captured Whitmer.

The plot continued to gather pace into October, before the FBI arrested Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta in a series of raids on Wednesday night.

“When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard,” Whitmer said on Thursday. “But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this.”

In addition to the militia primarily responsible–the “Wolverine Watchmen”–there was evidently a connection to the “boogaloo boys” movement, which is mostly dedicated to eradicating the government and killing law enforcement officers. (Boys will be boys!)

There has been steady growth of these groups of rightwing, anti-government, racist lunatics over the past twelve years. Hysteria over the election of a Black President apparently gave them impetus, and the subsequent election of a psychological fellow-traveler has been seen as permission and encouragement.

More bananas: Trump has always been unhinged, but evidently a combination of impending electoral loss and steroids has magnified his psychoses. As David Von Drehle recently wrote at the Washington Post

President Trump on drugs. Wow. I have to admit that I failed to see this one coming. Trump’s political career has been such a wild ride all by itself, it never occurred to me to wonder what would happen if this grandiose narcissist with the bombastic flair were to be filled to the gills with a powerful steroid. Just as I never looked at Usain Bolt, the great Jamaican sprinter, and mused: What would he be like on a rocket sled?…

Even after the president returned to the White House from the hospital, his docs continued to pump in dexamethasone, a steroid normally given to covid-19 patients struggling for life on a ventilator. Its purpose is to tamp down an overly intense immune reaction known as a cytokine storm but, in this case, it may be ramping up the chaos known as Donald Trump.

And talk about chaos! As Heather Cox Richardson described Trump’s recent behavior,

The major, obvious, in-your-face story of the day is that the president is melting down. He has spent much of the last two days calling in to the Fox News Channel and Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and ranting in a manic way that suggests he is having trouble with the steroids he is taking for his illness.

In an interview with Rush Limbaugh today, Trump boasted that “our nuclear is all tippy top now,” and said about Iran, “If you f*** around with us, if you do something bad to us, we’re gonna do things to you that have never been done before.” He tweeted that “Obama, Biden, Crooked Hillary and many others got caught in a Treasonous Act of Spying and Government Overthrow, a Criminal Act. How is Biden now allowed to run for President?” This is pure fiction, of course, but his campaign later put it in a fundraising email.

Trump’s doctors have yet to clear him for interactions with people, but that hasn’t stopped the narcissist-in-chief; he invited 2000 people for a rally on the South Lawn of the White House. (That, as Richardson points out, is yet another violation of the Hatch Act–but in an administration as corrupt as this one, that’s barely worth a footnote.)

Von Drehle cites the Mayo Clinic for an enumeration of side effects of the drug the President is receiving: “agitation,” “anxiety,” “irritability,” “mood changes,” “nervousness” and — perhaps most apt — “trouble thinking.” 

What happens when you give a drug with those side effects to a man who already exhibits those behaviors–and whose level of intellectual development is best displayed by his description of America’s nuclear capability as “tippy top”? 

Friday, my husband and I made another trip to the City-County Building to cast early in-person votes. At 8:15 in the morning, the line was once again incredibly long–and as it moved (briskly, I’m pleased to report), it was steadily replenished. When we drove by yesterday,  the line was nearly twice as long.

I am cautiously optimistic that sane Americans have developed an allergy to bananas.

 

Confirmation Bias At Work

There’s a line from the Simon and Garfunkel song, The Boxer, that has always seemed perceptive to me: “A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.”

No kidding!

We can really see that phenomenon in the debates, Facebook posts and memes and twitter wars over the widespread Black Lives Matter protests. It won’t resolve the issue of confirmation bias–“seeing what we want to see and disregarding the rest”–but a recent study of the demonstrations documents the reality behind the spin.

The report was from the U.S. Crisis Monitor, which is a collaboration between the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative. The project collects and analyzes data on protest movements, using news reports, social media and a variety of other sources.

The report covers data gathered on protests between May 24, the day before police in Minneapolis killed George Floyd, and Aug. 22. During that period, the researchers collected more than 10,600 demonstration events across the country, with more than 7,750 of them related to the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests peaked in late May and early June, and while they have leveled off since, activists in many places across the country continue to hold largely peaceful demonstrations every day.

The overwhelming majority of the protests — more than 10,100 — involved peaceful protesters, the researchers found. In only about 5%, or under 570 of the protests, did participants engage in violence.“

The vast majority of demonstration events associated with the BLM movement are non-violent,” the researchers wrote. “In more than 93% of all demonstrations connected to the movement, demonstrators have not engaged in violence or destructive activity.”

What about the protests that became violent? The report found that, when violence occurred,  it either began with what the report labeled “state-sanctioned violence”–described as “violent intervention from local, state or federal authorities,” or was initiated by counterprotesters from extremist groups.

The research also reported that the police or military “disproportionately used force while intervening in demonstrations associated with the BLM movement, relative to other types of demonstrations.” In nearly 10% of BLM protests they studied, the police violently intervened by deploying tear gas, rubber bullets and/or pepper spray, and were seen assaulting protesters with batons and other items.

If 93% of the demonstrations were peaceful, why do so many Americans believe they were violent?

The researchers suggest three likely reasons: selective media coverage (they don’t point fingers, but the identity of those media sources isn’t hard to deduce), “disinformation” campaigns on social media, and viewers’ pre-existing political opinions. In other words, confirmation bias.

And for those who are prejudiced against Black people, we have the new phenomenon of right-wing provocateurs infiltrating the protests, pretending to be “Antifa” or BLM members. According to NPR and other sources, far-right white supremacist extremists are responsible for much of the protest violence. The Boogaloo Boys (I wonder where that name came from) are reportedly working to foment a race war, and a white supremacist channel on a messaging app encouraged its followers to commit violence during George Floyd protests, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

These strategies are aimed at Americans who harbor racial bias along with confirmation bias. Trump supporters hope that enough people believe what they are already primed to believe–and disregard the facts.