On 18 August 2017, the mayor of Boston Marty Walsh announced that the city should avoid the Commons on 19 August 2017 because of white supremacists and the chances of violence at a planned free speech rally. Predictably, thousands of people showed up to protest this group based on the words of the mayor. The mayor was rather unambiguous, “The courts have made it abundantly clear. They have the right to gather, no matter how repugnant their views are. But they don’t have the right to create unsafe conditions. They have the right to free speech. In return, they have to respect our city.” The mayor said that unpleasant white supremacists were going to show up and spout hateful rhetoric, so avoid it at all costs so you aren’t subject to these repugnant views.
The problem here? To put it in the words of one very confused protester that was interviewed by the Boston Globe, “Excuse me sir, where are the white supremacists?” As it turns out, this hate speech movement that Mayor Walsh was warning everyone about was a simple campaign stump speech by a Republican candidate for the Massachusetts State Senate. Who was this despicable white supremacist? Indian-American Shiva Ayyadurai. While his profile does have some bizarre claims, mainly his claim that he invented e-mail, this isn’t any stranger than claims many other politicians make and nothing in his background seems to indicate any form of racial animosity or racial supremacist beliefs, white or otherwise. If anything, his views indicate the opposite as he accuses the US of operating a caste system where academics and politicians take the role of the Brahmin in India and is anti-GMO. These are hardly hallmarks of a right-wing belief structure and have far more in common with the American left.
Further, this is the speech he made. To cap it off, he was flanked by people holding Black Lives Do Matter signs and a woman protesting GMO food. This is a twist that was comical years ago when done on the Dave Chappelle Show, but it loses a bit of its comedy when we fast forward to 2017 and people are actually taking this as gospel, carving out time on a Saturday to yell down a few odd ducks — who dislike Monsanto — as racists.
And this mayoral behavior is expanding. San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has recently come on record denouncing a prayer group operated by Patriot Prayer on Saturday, 26 August 2017. Much like Boston mayor Walsh, Mayor Lee is rather unambiguous in his speech about the purpose of this gathering, “But as mayor of this city, I say: Any message of hate is not welcome.” And as predicted, thousands are going to show up to protest this gathering. But, much like the problem Mayor Walsh incited, this particular rally is going to feature Hispanics, homosexuals and a transsexual speaker all of which will be be run by a person of Japanese descent. His interview makes him sound like he hits most of the Progressive tropes, including ending wars and promoting gay rights.
So, what is going on here?
Why a Climate of Fear Exists
Politicians are actively tapping into modern stress that is generated by the state itself. Emotion is a powerful political motivator. People are heavily motivated to believe things that hit their emotions strongly, as shown by the classic tests to ban water. People generally have no idea what they’re protesting, just that the person has a compelling emotional hook.
When a major villain like, say, Donald Trump, manages to get a hold of a very powerful political organization like, say, the US federal government, people are bound to become fearful for their way of life if they supported a different politician for the role. As I noted previously in an open letter to Clinton supporters, this anxiety is entirely the fault of the anxious since they were the ones that insisted on building those powerful institutions that would inevitably be taken over by individuals that you may not support and used in ways that were not intended.
This is how politicians, who are angling to generate a much more powerful government, so long as you vote for them, are able to paint groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the National Socialist Movement, the two largest white supremacist groups in the country, as major threats to the safety of minorities. And by largest, I mean that the KKK has around 3,000 members nationally (out of 320 million people) and the second largest, the NSM, has around 400. Narratives don’t work without an enemy and the traditional enemy of the mayors actively inciting violence against in their cities is so trivial they can barely make up a decent crowd at a minor league baseball stadium, let alone constitute a threat to the Republic. And nothing stirs up the emotional ire more than some Nazi sympathizers that we’ve had drilled into our heads since elementary school history are, rightfully, right evil bastards.
To point out how trivial and powerless these groups are, bees are responsible for around 100 deaths per year, which is over double the combined amount of alleged right-wing hate groups are responsible for between 2002 and 2016, making the everyday bee 31 times more deadly than white supremacist groups. Yet we don’t see massive rallies of college age students stomping through apiaries demanding bees to be snuffed out, because it’s ridiculous to fear something so powerless.
Politicians are doing what they do from time immemorial, leveraging our fear into the growth of the state. We saw it in the wake of 9/11 with the passage of the Patriot Act, for justification to enter the First World War and even going back further to the dissolution of the Roman Republic into an Imperial power. Manufacture fear, either via an existing external threat or, in the case of Rome under Gaius Julius and the latest mayoral pronouncements that racists are going to run amok in the city, a fake one, stir up the fervor of the population then arrive with the solution, one that requires additional money and power for public office and then ride to the rescue. Stirring up riots and a few deaths perfectly plays to their narrative.
Simply asking people to get along isn’t going to work so long as there is a massive power structure in place that is driving the actual fear. If the people are afraid of the Trumps and KKKs of the world, they could demand their politicians dismantle the power structures at the federal level so it cannot be taken over by disfavored groups and reinstall them at a local level where it is far easier to control who hold the reins of power.