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Right Wing Politicians Fan Flames

Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash

The Radical Right Is America’s Ammonium Nitrate

We’ve seen the horrific images from Beirut after a warehouse full of ammonium nitrate exploded. Brides were blown off their feet, windows came crashing in on children, ceilings collapsed on top of priests, 300,000 residents transformed into homeless wanderers in an instant. All because greedy and corrupt leaders left 2,700 tons of volatile material open to catastrophic failure if the right conditions were ever met.

The same forces in the U.S. are systematically transforming a large portion of our own populace into explosive material that may lay waste to our nation.

We’ve grown up with stories of shapeshifting werewolves and vampires. We watch movies like Ladyhawke and The X-Men, read books like How to Walk Like a Man and Wild Seed. Calvin and Hobbes always had their transmogrifier handy.

We’re less familiar with people transforming themselves into explosives.

That’s essentially what the 9/11 hijackers did, what the Las Vegas concert shooter did. It’s what Trump and other desperate GOP leaders are doing to a large segment of the conservative right.

We’re informed of “isolated” incidents, shooters targeting a Black Bible study or a synagogue or Sikh worshipers. We hear of “random” attacks on LGBTQ folks, on Native Americans, against Muslims. We hear of “lone wolves” murdering Latinx shoppers at Wal-Mart. And we see a regular stream of “bad apple” police shootings of unarmed Black men, women, and children.

Right Wing Politicians Fan Flames

The fuse, though, is the growing support for such behavior from the increasingly radicalized right.

We are subjected to a deliberate, undisguised effort to transfer wealth to the top 1%, pitting the rest of us against each other, creating the most fundamental ingredient for the explosion. We’re subjected to a deliberate attack on vital infrastructure, a deliberate refusal to act on the climate crisis, a deliberate plan to disenfranchise more and more voters. Access to human rights becomes a game of musical chairs where the losers lose everything.

We see reporters physically attacked by right-wing politicians, their supporters, and the police. We hear praise for murderous vigilantes from the president himself, from other elected officials, from the police, right-wing pundits, and our right-wing relatives on social media.

Conservative candidates label Democratic leaders sociopaths. They call for the killing of gays and gay allies. They declare those on the left cannibals and child traffickers. The description they give of everyone not a far right conservative is so repulsive that anyone who believes that description can’t help but want to take action.

One spark under just the right conditions and our country will explode. It was just such a spark that set off WWI in Sarajevo, just such a spark that set of Kristallnacht in Germany, just such a spark at Ft. Sumter that set off the Civil War in the U.S.

Too many on the right envy the bomb from the movie Speed, which Dennis Hopper describes as needing to explode if it is to fully embody its nature, its essence. Too many want to be triggered, want to be ignited, so that the subsequent murders won’t really be their fault.

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They willingly allow themselves to be convinced they are doing “God’s work.” They see themselves wielding the “sword of God.” There’s a reason that those who sing, “Onward, Christian Soldiers” now call themselves members of “Patriot Prayer.” “Saturday’s Warriors” itch to embark on a religious rampage like the Crusaders of the Middle Ages who slaughtered “infidels” by the hundreds of thousands.

Christian conservatives rail against “Sharia Law: We Know What It’s About – Really?

">Sharia law” while working to enact “God’s law.” They sneer at radicals who kill in the name of “Allah” but have itchy trigger fingers of their own, desperate for the opportunity to kill in the name of “God.”

Sharia Law: We Know What It’s About – Really?

Maybe even get bonus points on Judgment Day.

It’s like getting a free pass to cheat on your husband or wife. It goes against the morals they’ve been taught their entire lives, but they want it so desperately they deliberately choose leaders they know will provide it.

Flamethrowers Accusing Antifa

Trump supporters are flooding phone lines now in Oregon claiming “antifa” are setting the wildfires ravaging the state. There appears to be no lie too low, no behavior so base, that the far right won’t use it to attack their fellow man.

The ammonium nitrate is all around us, in every city and state, susceptible to the right conditions virtually anywhere. Even if we manage to avoid a cataclysmic explosion in the coming months, chances are the amount of hazardous material will only continue to increase over the next few years. Yet a pre-emptive strike against these radicals would only add to the danger of a massive detonation now.

The only thing we can do at this point is vote flamethrowers out of office. And that doesn’t just mean voting against Trump as if he is the only arsonist. It means voting against all flamethrowers and for “firefighters” on school boards and city councils, in county government and state legislatures. It means being willing to run ourselves.

It means boycotting companies that financially support flamethrowers, no matter how inconvenient. It means filing lawsuits and pushing for positive change, even if it’s time-consuming and expensive. It means no longer arguing with far-right members of our family who have willfully chosen never to be persuaded by facts. It means we stop fanning the flames ourselves.

We don’t take the bait, we don’t make that easy dig. We de-escalate while not giving in.

Because if we can’t remove the source of heat from the unstable material, we’ll be responsible—not equally but substantially—for the ensuing tragedy as well.

Johnny Townsend

Yet we still do one more thing. We make contingency plans in case the ammonium nitrate does indeed explode. Because those perfect conditions only have to be met once for that huge warehouse to be transformed into a mushroom cloud which could envelop the entire nation.

Johnny Townsend