Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Juan Cole and "Stochastic" Terrorism

University of Michigan comedian Juan Cole is at it again on his curiously-named blog, Informed Comment. In this latest inkblot, Cole addresses the topic of white supremacist terrorism in the wake of El Paso. (Dayton is apparently not addressed since the shooter there was an Elizabeth Warren supporter.) . He even introduces us to another one of those high-falootin academic words nobody ever heard of. "Stochastic". (Hint: It does not mean "fantastic show".)

Let's start with the title:

White Supremacist Terrorism strikes Again in the Age of Trump and Putin

It's bad enough that the left is blaming President Trump for El Paso, but what's Putin got to do with it? Quite a lot, according to Captain Cole. He even throws in the fun fact that Russian bots targeted Colin Kaepernick. I'll bet you didn't know that, but then again, who can argue with the Daily Beast?

"Does anyone have any doubt at all that if the person had been a Muslim with a similar manifesto, substituting Islamic themes and grievances for those of white nationalism, the national security state and the US media would be in overdrive blaming the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims?"

Well, no. Actually the US media would be in overdrive searching for a motive and referring to the perp(s) as mentally ill people who didn't understand Islam and had put the entire Muslim community at risk of retaliation from white Christian Trump supporters-much like Cole would do.

"It isn’t less threatening. It is a national emergency. Research published at WaPo shows that in counties where Trump held rallies in 2016, hate crimes rocketed 226%.
Nationally, hate crimes are growing 9% a year, with Arab-Americans, Jews, and LGBTQ individuals seeing big spikes in hate crimes directed against them.
For eight years, we heard people like Cole complain that hate crimes were increasing during the Obama years because we had a black president. But one has to use care when claiming that this or that president is responsible for hate crimes. Islamic terrorism has no doubt played a role in suspicion directed at Arab-Americans (many of whom are not even Muslim). Trump has rightfully tried to institute a block on people coming from 7 countries who pose a security risk. He has responded in kind to the harsh language directed at him by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, an Arab-American, not to mention Ilhan Omar. For that, he is labled as a hater of Muslims. And what has Trump done or said to support charges that he is anti-Jewish or anti-gay?
As an academic, Cole should know quite well that Jews are under attack on university campuses across the nation, courtesy of the Palestinian-supporting crowd and that whites are being demonized on a daily basis for being "privileged" and "racist". Can't talk about that though.
"And, of course, the insistence of the Washington Establishment that we all be exposed to murderous violence by unbalanced persons wielding semi-automatic military-style weaponry allows such massacres to be carried out. But the toxic ideology of behind that insistence (and it has nothing at all to do with ordinary guns or hunting) is also deeply entangled in white supremacy."
Nonsense. Gun rights supporters will happily support the right of law-abiding minorities to arm themselves for protection. I am reminded of the time one of my old DEA colleagues, an African-American, intervened and shot one of two (white thugs) who were beating a cab-driver to within an inch of his life on the Las Vegas strip. When the agent fired, one of the bad guys was advancing toward him with a long wooden pole and calling him the "magic word". For saving the cabbie's life, our agent was hailed as a hero. Of course, incidents like this are beyond the realm of Cole's ivory tower.

"The Islamophobes like to argue that Islam is an inherently violent religion, that its adherents are quite literally commanded to such violence by its holy scriptures, the Qur’an. It’s a position that, as I explain in my new book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires, is both utterly false and ahistorical."

If Cole wanted to argue that most Muslims do not commit acts of violence against others, I would have no problem with that. To argue that there is no violence associated with Islamic/Koranic teachings is easily countered, however. Just looking at the title of his latest book is enough to refute the author.  

Here is where it gets really good:
"As for Trump’s culpability, I wrote last March:

    “One of the tactics of the so-called “Islamic State group” or ISIL had been to put out calls on the internet and social media for people to engage in random acts of violence . . .Some have called this random, one-off violence, which is almost impossible to forestall, “stochastic” terrorism. When an operation is the result of a fair-sized organization such as al-Qaeda or the Ku Klux Klan, the organization can be tracked and infiltrated and stopped. But some person somewhere or two or three of them, who seem a little off but do not trip any law enforcement wires, can plot out a massacre with relative ease. Mass shootings are not intrinsically difficult to pull off. Just going into a restaurant or church or mosque and shooting people down with automatic or semi-automatic weapons is like rolling out of bed for someone without a conscience or someone who is sick…
    The bad news is that Trump’s promotion of key themes of white supremacism, in conjunction with the billionaire Mercers and bizarre ideologues like Steve Bannon, have clearly produced a new wave of stochastic white nationalist terrorism."
Stochastic. What else can I say about that?

Other than that, Cole's article is a rambling screed about Russian bots, troll farms, "Moscow Mitch", Steve Bannon, White Rabbits, and Nuremberg rallies, all culminating in this:

"[This string of massacres] reveals the lunacy of Nancy Pelosi taking impeachment off the table in the face of this monster in the White House, clearly mentally imbalanced, without conscience, narcissistic, a pathological liar, and promoting hatred and violence at every turn."

I often wonder if the unthinkable happened and Trump were assassinated whether people like Cole would look back on their own words about Trump and ask themselves if they did not share some guilt. This is America, and people have the precious right to criticize their government and their president. But if you are going to link Trump's style and his words to the deaths of others, be prepared to accept criticism of your own words.

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