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STOCHASTIC TERRORISM (UPDATED)
The term “Stochastic Terrorism” has been making the rounds again this past weekend. What does the term “ stochastic terrorism” mean?
Stochastic terrorism is officially defined as, “the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.”
The word “stochastic,” in everyday language, means “random.” Terrorism, here, refers to “violence motivated by ideology.”
Here’s the idea behind stochastic terrorism:
A leader or organization uses rhetoric in the mass media against a group of people. This rhetoric, while hostile or hateful, doesn’t explicitly tell someone to carry out an act of violence against that group, but a person, feeling threatened, is motivated to do so as a result. That individual act of political violence can’t be predicted as such, but that violence will happen is much more probable thanks to the rhetoric. This rhetoric is thus called stochastic terrorism because of the way it incites random violence.
Terrorism experts, security analysts, and political observers have been increasingly using the term stochastic terrorism since the late 2010s, especially in terms of how rhetoric from political and religious leaders inspires random extremists, typically young men considered to be radicalized by ISIS or white supremacist groups.
Dr. Juliette Kayyem, a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and now faculty chair of the homeland security program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government wrote about the concept in 2018, following the mass murder at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston South Carolina by avowed white supremacist Dylan Roof, one of the first of the mass murderers to refer to the so-called “Great Replacement”:
“Public speech that may incite violence, even without that specific intent, has been given a name: stochastic terrorism, for a pattern that can’t be predicted precisely but can be analyzed statistically. It is the demonization of groups through mass media and other propaganda that can result in a violent act because listeners interpret it as promoting targeted violence — terrorism.
“And the language is vague enough that it leaves room for plausible deniability and outraged, how-could-you-say-that attacks on critics of the rhetoric.
“White-supremacist terror is rooted in a pack, a community. And its violent strand today is being fed by three distinct, but complementary, creeds. The community has essentially found a mission, kinship and acceptance.
“First, the mission. Young white men today are the last generation of Americans born when white births outnumbered those of nonwhites. Seven years ago, the Census Bureau reported that minorities, particularly Hispanics, were the majority of newborns in the United States, a trend that will continue. The development can be viewed as natural for a nation of immigrants or, in the white-supremacist interpretation, a ‘white genocide’ controlled by Jews.
“In other words, this strain of white supremacy doesn’t simply dislike the ‘other;’ it views the other’s very existence as part of a zero-sum game. The sense of ‘the great replacement’ seeps beyond the bounds of their in-group, finding a voice even among politicians who may inadvertently bolster that view, as when Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) in June tweeted, without providing a comment or context, an article from the Texas Tribune with the headline: “Texas gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident last year.”
“Second, the kinship. White-supremacist terrorism has what amounts to a dating app online, putting like-minded individuals together both through mainstream social media platforms and more remote venues, such as 8chan, that exist to foster rage. It is online, much like Islamic terrorism, that white supremacy finds its friends, colleagues who both validate and amplify the rage. When one of them puts the violent rhetoric into action in the real world, the killer is often call a ‘lone wolf,’ but they are not alone at all. They gain strength and solace from like-minded individuals. No one would have said an individual Klansman attending a Klan meeting in the woods was a lone wolf; 8chan and other venues are similar meeting spaces in the digital wild.
“Finally, the acceptance. It is too simplistic to blame President Trump and his inflammatory rhetoric for the rise of white-supremacist violence. But that doesn’t mean his language isn’t a contributing factor. Historically, racist ideologies don’t die; Nazism survived World War II, after all. They just get publicly shamed. Communities evolve to isolate once acceptable racism or xenophobia. But they can also devolve back to hate.
“The similarities between Trump’s language about Hispanics, immigrants and African Americans marks them as the “other” and is mimicked by white supremacists. He fails to shame them. His rhetoric winks and nods, curries favor, embraces both sides and, while not promoting violence specifically, certainly does not condemn it (until after it occurs).”
Glenn Elmers is a Senior Fellow at the Claremont Institute, the leading “intellectual institution” of the far right (They like to call themselves “Claremonsters”). He is the author of “‘Conservatism is no Longer Enough” published in the Institute’s “American Mind,” in which he proposes a “counter-revolution” and suggests that the majority of Americans are not actually citizens:
“Let’s be blunt. The United States has become two nations occupying the same country. When pressed, or in private, many would now agree. Fewer are willing to take the next step and accept that most people living in the United States today—certainly more than half—are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term.
“I don’t just mean the millions of illegal immigrants. Obviously, those foreigners who have bypassed the regular process for entering our country, and probably will never assimilate to our language and culture, are—politically as well as legally—aliens. I’m really referring to the many native-born people—some of whose families have been here since the Mayflower—who may technically be citizens of the United States but are no longer (if they ever were) Americans. They do not believe in, live by, or even like the principles, traditions, and ideals that until recently defined America as a nation and as a people. It is not obvious what we should call these citizen-aliens, these non-American Americans; but they are something else.
“What about those who do consider themselves Americans? By and large, I am referring to the 75 million people who voted in the last election against the senile figurehead of a party that stands for mob violence, ruthless censorship, and racial grievances, not to mention bureaucratic despotism. Regardless of Trump’s obvious flaws, preferring his re-election was not a difficult choice for these voters.
“Practically speaking, there is almost nothing left to conserve. What is actually required now is a recovery, or even a refounding, of America as it was long and originally understood but which now exists only in the hearts and minds of a minority of citizens.
“Overturning the existing post-American order, and re-establishing America’s ancient principles in practice, is a sort of counter-revolution, and the only road forward.”
That’s the “intellectual leadership” the American Right now follows.
Elise Stefanik had a bad week, full of gaffes, Q-adjacent smears, and reminders that the Number Three House Republican traffics in Replacement Theory racism.
Unfortunately, these are the sorts of things she can say that will likely increase her chances of becoming speaker in a GOP Congress sometime in the next decade.
Stefanik’s plunge into MAGA World has been vertiginous; there are no brakes, no handholds, no red lines or timeouts for prudence, or decency. In her desperation to prove her new loyalties, she grasps at whatever memes, conspiracy theories, and slurs are necessary to secure her position in a movement whose craziness is fast-flowing and fluid.
On Wednesday, the Harvard-educated Congresswoman declared that she was “ultra-MAGA.” And proud of it. On Friday she tossed out the casual smear about President Biden, Democrats, and “the usual pedo gifters.” Afterwards, her office insisted she had absolutely not deployed the QAnon meme that her opponents were pedophiles. This was obvious bullshit.
A spokesperson said she wasn’t blaming “pedophile” grifters, but intended “pedo” to mean “children,” which still makes no sense. “Pedo” or pedophile is a well-known dogwhistle to QAnon conspiracy theorists who are baselessly convinced “pedo” Democrats are running an international child sex-trafficking operation.
And then in the aftermath of the Buffalo mass murder, her old Facebook ads she posted last fall were recalled. The one-time Paul Ryan acolyte had pushed the Great Replacement Theory: “Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION. Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”
In response to the negative commentary. Alex DeGrasse, Stefanik’s Senior Advisor posted:
“Any implication or attempt to blame the heinous shooting in Buffalo on the Congresswoman is a new and disgusting low for the Left, their Never Trump allies, and the sycophant stenographers in the media. The shooting was an act of evil and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“Despite sickening and false reporting, Congresswoman Stefanik has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement.”
Referring back to Dr. Kayyem’s article: “And the language is vague enough that it leaves room for plausible deniability and outraged, how-could-you-say-that attacks on critics of the rhetoric.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) put Stefanik directly on blast after the shooting on Saturday and compared her to Cheney, who was kicked out of her leadership position for acknowledging that ex-President Donald Trump played an incitement role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Kinzinger tweeted.:“Did you know: @EliseStefanik pushes white replacement theory? The #3 in the house GOP, @Liz_Cheney got removed for demanding truth.”
Meanwhile, Stefanik’s Twitter feed on Monday shows her doubling down on the racist conspiracy theory she promoted in her ad campaign.
Here’s the grim reality of what the Republican leadership is creating:
A poll taken in December found that nearly half of all Republicans believe there is a plot to “replace” native-born Americans with immigrants.
The Conservative Entertainment Complex and Republican politicians have mainstreamed white supremacist ideology.
Max Boot noted the enthusiasm of ultra-MAGA candidates for the idea:
“A number of Republican politicians, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Rep. Scott Perry (Pa.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.), have openly espoused the ‘great replacement’ theory too.
“A few hours after the Buffalo shooting, Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters (R) posted a video saying: ‘The Democrats want open borders so they can bring in and amnesty **tens of millions** of illegal aliens — that’s their electoral strategy.’
J.D. Vance, the GOP Senate nominee in Ohio who - like Masters, is bankrolled by tech billionaire fascist Peter Thiel - offers an even sicker twist on this demented theory: He says that Democrats are not only opening the borders to create “a shift in the democratic makeup of this country” but that President Biden is deliberating letting fentanyl into the country “to kill a bunch of MAGA voters in the middle of the heartland.”
Here is Tucker Carlson in his own words in 2018:
“How, precisely, is diversity our strength? Since you’ve made this our new national motto, please be specific as you explain it. Can you think, for example, of other institutions such as, I don’t know, marriage or military units in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are? Do you get along better with your neighbors, your co-workers if you can’t understand each other or share no common values? Please be honest as you answer this question.”
And this is directly from the Buffalo terrorist’s manifesto:
“Why is diversity said to be our greatest strength? Does anyone even ask why? It is spoken like a mantra and repeated ad infinitum “diversity is our greatest strength, diversity is our greatest strength, diversity is our greatest strength...”. Said throughout the media, spoken by politicians, educators and celebrities. But no one ever seems to give a reason why. What gives a nation strength? And how does diversity increase that strength? What part of diversity causes this increase in strength? No one can give an answer.”
The above is exactly how “Stochastic Terrorism” works.
I can’t believe I am about to say I admire Liz Cheney for her integrity, but I cannot think of another word to describe her actions this past year, despite my disagreement with her on so many policy questions. This morning, she tore into the GOP leaders:
“The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse.”
Every political party has its share of schemers, weather vanes, and chameleons. The question is, how do the smart opportunists think they can gain power? In the GOP, the answer is clear: by becoming Uber-MAGA Trumpists, even if that means speaking the language of racism and Qanon.
Richard Hofstadter had it right back in 1954, writing about the Pseudo-Conservatives:
“The pseudo conservative is a man who, in the name of upholding traditional American values and institutions and defending them against more or less fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously aims at their abolition.”
UPDATE: I love it when the idiots go to the effort of proving the criticism completely accurate.
Fox News, according to Oliver Darcy, a media correspondent for CNN, “largely ignored” the fact that the shooter had been inspired by replacement theory. Darcy searched transcripts from Fox News’s shows, and found one brief mention, by Fox News anchor Eric Shawn.
And then the WAPO’s excellent Philip Bump commented after Elise Stefanik doubled down on her support of GRT:
“It’s great replacement theory — but leaving open the idea that maybe it’s all a coincidence.
“She’s not saying this is an effort by elites to intentionally replace American voters. She’s just saying, you know, Democrats want to bring in a bunch of immigrants and let them vote. That’s all.
“Deny, deny, deny. Lump the media in with critics on the left. Never acknowledge that you erred but, instead, argue that you are being unfairly accused of having erred because of bias. By now, it’s rote — even when the question is whether you stand by an argument that was allegedly deployed by a man accused of killing 10 people at a grocery store.
“In 2016, Trump ran in explicit opposition to immigration, even at one point making an argument that the Democrats wanted to bring in uncountable numbers of immigrants who would vote for their party. He refused to admit his errors or his lies. And then he won. And then he retained enormous popularity with the base.
“And lessons were imparted.”
Remember this: “And the language is vague enough that it leaves room for plausible deniability and outraged, how-could-you-say-that attacks on critics of the rhetoric.”
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