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    • Antisemitic activity was up 60% in 2017. White supremacist activity on campus is up 250%. Our President acknowledges that he's a Nationalist. And in the last week, we've seen a dozen pipe bombs mailed to his perceived enemies, and a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue where the gunman yelled "All Jews must die!" before opening fire.

      The President would have you believe these events are unrelated, but are they?

      There is a concept called Stochastic Terrorism, which is defined as:

      "The use of mass, public communication, usually against a particular individual or group, which incites or inspires acts of terrorism which are statistically probable but happen seemingly at random."

      In a blog post in 2011, the pseudonymous blogger G2G defined it as "remote control murder by lone wolf".

      "The stochastic terrorist is the person who is responsible for the incitement. For example they go on radio or television and stir up hatred toward a particular person or group.

      The random actor, or "lone wolf" as the term is used in law enforcement and intel, is the person who responds to the incitement by carrying out the violent or terrorist act against the target person or group. For example they shoot someone or detonate a bomb. While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. "given sufficient provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such"), the specific person and the specific act are not yet predictable.

      There may be intermediaries in the chain of cause and effect. For example person A hires person B to go on television and incite hatred of group C; and then person D "pops up out of nowhere" and attacks one or more members of group C.

      At each step, plausible deniability increases through the diffusion of responsibility. "Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I'm not responsible for what people in my audience do."

      The random actor gets captured and sentenced to life in prison, while the stochastic terrorist keeps his prime time slot and goes on to incite more lone wolves."

      We've found ourselves again with "lone wolves" popping up to add to the ever increasing list, and the talking heads are spouting their typical rhetoric. After ten years of increasingly violent rhetoric against Liberals, threatening that immigrants are terrorists and criminals coming here to rape and pillage, that "Democratic Mobs" are rising, that a civil war is imminent, they suddenly clutch their pearls when actual extremists triggered by their rhetoric rise up and commit real acts of violence.

      They point to metaphor used by Democratic leaders as though it's equivalent to the actual murders being committed. Conservatives across Facebook unironically repeat assertions by Limbaugh and the like that Conversatives don't do this, that it must be Leftist. They somehow are completely isolated against the fact that right wing violence has been a constant and recurring theme in this country, which has amplified and accelerated over the last decade.

      James Wenneker von Brunn. Joseph Stack III. Jim David Adkisson. Richard Poplawski. Scott Roeder. Byron Williams. Jared Loughner. Dylann Roof. Chris Harper-Mercer. Nikolas Cruz. Cesar Sayoc Jr. Robert D. Bowers. Lone wolves all, but with a striking consistency of right wing, white supremacist views, and a penchant for taking violent anti-Democrat rhetoric seriously enough to commit mass atrocities.

      No matter how hard President Trump and his media allies attempt to distance themselves from this violence, no matter how hard they try to paint metaphor as equivalent to subtle incitement, they have blood on their hand. The argument that it's "just some crazy lone wolf" type falls flat when we see it's the same crazy lone wolf type over and over again, inspired by the same handful of pundits and political leaders, and the same targeting of the very people those pundits and leaders speak against.

      They should be held accountable.

    • Fascinating. I had never heard of the term stochastic terrorist. I guess they chose the word stochastic because it's related to randomness, hence random actors.

      The data I've seen seem to indicate that hate crimes are up about 12%/year for the last 4 years while most other categories of crime follow the long-term trend of declining, but I'm unsettled as to why. Did Trump inspire it or is he a product of it or both?

      Here's what bothers me. There is a book, Everybody Lies, which shook me up when I read it:

      It's written by a big data analyst who used Google Trends search data and compared it to polling data. Polling data indicated that when Obama was elected, racism was mostly over in America, and most of us believed that. Google search data showed, however, that in the privacy of their own computers there was a huge spike in search terms like n****r president after he won the election. They didn't tell pollsters they were doing searches like that.

      Terry Gross interviewed David Litt, former Obama speechwriter who was born into a Jewish family, and she asked why the rise in white supremacy while Obama was president. Litt responded, to the best of my memory, that the question tormented him and many others in the White House. Finally, after a year away, he decided the answer was that it's particularly threatening to some white men to see intelligent, successful black men.

      Is that it? But why the Jewish angle? Why did white supremacists chant "Jews will not replace us" in Charlottesville? Same reason? Jews are so successful they threaten us?

    • Polling data indicated that when Obama was elected, racism was mostly over in America, and most of us believed that

      I think only some white people (and Clarence Thomas) believed that. Everyone else knew better.

    • I imagine that many people here are too young to be familiar with Tom Lehrer, a brilliant social satirist of the late 50s and 60s. I was reminded of one of his songs:

      I don't mean to make light of the appalling events of the past few days. It's just a reminder that (sadly) it's nothing new.

    • Relevant:

      Ugh. My mother was mentally ill with schizophrenia when I should have been in elementary school, so we lived for a few years among the homeless. She was wonderfully loving and kind to me, but many mentally ill people are defenseless when it comes to hearing angry conspiracy theories.

      Whenever I hear completely made up stories about people from the Middle East, members of ISIS, walking through Mexico to the United States, I think of the mentally ill people I'm close to who believe stories like that. Most never commit murder as a result, but they are emotionally tortured and it seems cruel to me. But I guess it can win some votes.

    • And this is the insidious genius behind stochastic terrorism. You know these people are out there. You know they'll take action. You just don't know which one, or when, or where, and thus are able to wash your hands of it.

    • WHAT?! How did I not know about him? I mean, I knew about his song Elements, who doesn't? He's a 90-year-old math professor who hasn't performed music in ages and yet he's a YouTube star. This one has 3 million views:

    • Drop everything you're doing and listen to all of his songs immediately. He's wonderful, though definitely politically incorrect by today's standards--The Vatican Rag, In Old Mexico, Werner Von Braun, The Folk Song's a long list. Almost everything is on three LPs and I've seen a lot of the songs on YouTube. My parents were big fans and I was listening to him before I was old enough to understand half of it. Very smart humor, if a bit twisted sometimes.

    • You know they'll take action.

      But isn't your interest only to get them to the voting booth and cast their vote for you? Don't you lose votes if they go as far as mailing pipe bombs and shooting a congregation?

    • The goal of stochastic terrorism is two-fold:

      - Whip your mainstream followers into a frenzy to be sure they show up to vote.

      - Use lone wolves to scare your opponents in whatever the target class is to KEEP them from showing up to vote. Or showing up anywhere, really.

    • It's not just in the States though. I don't have the statistics, but it's chilling to see how similar - if not the same - some of the nationalist trends are around the world. I remember when my own country, Lithuania, finally accepted some of the Syrian refugees, around a thousand people (there are 3 million inhabitants in Lithuania), the right-wingers tried to whip up hysteria that the Syrians will "turn Lithuania into a Muslim country" or "enforce Sharia law" or, at the very least, that they'd "steal jobs from Lithuanians and/or live off of welfare for generations".

      If I remember right, Hungary and Poland took this even further, not to mention the UKIP in Great Britain or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.

      Just a few weeks ago in Quito, I asked a local taxi driver what he thought of Venezuelan refugees... He shook his head gravely and said, "most of them are thieves and criminals and they'll steal the jobs from hard working Ecuadorians and live off of our good will".

      Bolsonaro's victory in Brazil is absolutely terrifying. I have a very tough time understanding this new rise of nationalism and much worse.

    • When we were in Costa Rica there was a lot of talk about Nicaraguan illegals — perhaps a million of them in a country of 6 million total population. The thing is Costa Ricans have a good enough economy now that they don't want to work the fields or plantations anymore and the Nicaraguans are willing to. But Costa Ricans fret about the crime they think they bring and the burden on their health care system.

    • I was just out running and listened to Kara Swisher's interview of Hillary Clinton (I listen to most of Kara Swisher's podcast). I know a lot of people don't like HIllary and I understand, but two things:

      1. It seemed so amazing to hear someone who would answer the questions with details and actual policy recommendations. What to do about AI? How should we react to Saudi Arabia?

      2. The comments on YouTube were insane and felt like they must have come from being whipped up at the rallies.

    • One day a person who owns a weapons manufacturing plant will have a child or loved one killed in a 'random' act with their own weapons. How will they respond when it actually affects them directly? Will their years of spouting lies become their own reality of will they change their ways? How long will we have to wait before the political will exists to take back control of things from the rich?

    • I'd say Obama reduced overall covert racism but may have led to some more instances of overt racism that otherwise would not have occured. Racism is mainly reduced when older people die and to a lesser extent when people have more experiences with the group they fear. Obama put african americans right in the faces of people who otherwise had limited experience with 'black' people. It may be a bit unfortunate that Obama had to be a politician becaues partisanship is strong related to many biases. Lets hope the overall effect was a positive one. I think so :)

    • Jeet Heer, staff writer at the New Republic has a thread that speaks directly to this -- basically, they are blaming Jewish people for immigration, which they consider replacement and violence.

      I don't know exactly why white supremacists go back to the well of anti-Semitism when the central racism of American life has always been the one in justification of chattel slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It's clear, however, that anti-semitism is core to the radicalization of these people (link goes to an article analyzing self-reports about radicalization on white-supremacist forums -- there is a section about the importance of anti-semitism as a marker of full conversion).

      The mainstream media needs to get better at analyzing this -- they need to consult experts, of which there are MANY, especially on anti-Semitism, since it's been in existence for so long, and keeps assuming its old medieval forms over and over again. But the mainstream media is not covering these issues very well, especially these recent terrorists: Gab is getting more signups because of the way the Pittsburgh killer*'s posts there were covered, reproduced and amplified: almost 100 years after the New York World's anti-Klan piece that directly generated thousands of recruits (they reproduced the membership application, which people cut out and sent in) the media is still making the same mistakes.

      Thanks for this thread, @ChrisJenkins -- the stochastic terrorism concept is so pertinent and valuable.

      *Studies have shown that the media should not be publicizing killers' names, a very simple step, and yet most media trumpets them constantly. We have a long way to go.