In Pittsburgh, eleven people have been murdered in what is obviously an anti-Semitic attack.

This follows a week of bombs disguised as packages sent to a variety of targets, each of which being people regarded as enemies by the US right.

Almost overlooked among that violence was a third incident: in which two people were murdered in a racially motivated shooting.

I’m not going to link to the crap being posted on some of the right-wing sites I still track. It is the mix you will expect: deflection, denial, jokes and conspiracy theories about the first two incidents I listed above and blankly ignoring the shooting in Kentucky. The difference between the more extreme people (let’s call them ‘Rabids’) and the less extreme (let’s call them ‘Sads’) is that the Rabids are more overtly pushing a conspiracy theory of false-flags and paid provocateurs, whereas the Sads are either joking about how the bombs look fake or rhetorically asking what the odds are that two such events (actually three) would occur around the same time.

The sad truth is that an attempted mass shooting is quite likely in a given week in the US. Data from the Global Terrorism Database shows that the total number of armed assaults with features of terrorism have been increasing over the last decade in America.

This graph from the GTD data shows the frequency of armed assaults and bombing incidents in the US 2007-2017. The increase is due to shootings.


The high frequency of such cases makes it easy to appear to ‘predict’ them. Far-right websites claiming that this week’s parcel bombs were a hoax or a false flag, made a big deal of ‘predicting’ that a mass shooting would be the next thing. In truth, it would be hard for such a ‘prediction’ to go wrong, particularly with an open-ended time period.

Murderers motivated by right-wing ideology are not new in the US but the frequency of such attacks is growing. As the frequncy grows, the lies about such attacks intensify on the right as well.

16 thoughts on “Deplorable

    1. There is something quietly awful in the manner in which these people think their inability to grasp statistics is a sign of intelligence…

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  1. When Muslim terrorists commit atrocities, a lot of effort is devoted to tracking down, not just the killers themselves, but the people who inspired and radicalized them. (“Hate preacher” Anjem Choudary has been much in the news lately, having been released under strict license conditions mid-way through a five-year prison sentence for inciting hate crimes.)

    Clearly, we need to find our who’s inspiring and radicalizing these right-wing terrorists, and apply the same laws to them.

    (Anyone think this is going to happen? Yeah, me neither.)

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    1. As you no doubt are aware various Republicans, from the President on down, have been engaging in demagoguery about a refugee caravan in transit from Honduras to the US border.

      Reports are that the shooter is an extremist even by US right standards – he thinks that Trump is a Jewish dupe and insists loudly that he didn’t vote for him. Reports are however that he was triggered by demagoguery from a particularly nasty Republican congressman who asserted that “the Jews” were responsible for the caravan.

      US free speech absolutism might get in the way, but I wonder whether wrongful death civil lawsuits against stochastic terrorists stand a chance of working.(One against Trump, by a person assaulted at a Trump rally, failed – Trump’s words weren’t unambiguous enough to make him liable.)

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      1. Trump’s rhetorical style (which I would describe as “word salad, a long way past its best-before date”) is generally susceptible to multiple interpretations, fair enough.


  2. This is how stochastic terrorism works, though; it’s entirely predictable that it will happen based on the rhetoric that these individuals follow/obey/worship … but the actor is always random. Stochastic terrorism gives plausible deniability to the individual who is *actually* responsible: the individual delivering the rhetoric.

    The anti-Semitic attack is likewise predictable; Trump by his own words has emboldened anti-Semites, racists, and various other bigots … and that he has a Jewish son-in-law makes him appear to be a hypocrite in the minds of those individuals.

    I loathe this first family to exactly the same degree I loved the last one. I am not kidding. I have *never* seen such hate-mongering and demagoguery outside the pages of my history books. I will never again ask how it is that the thinking people of Germany could let Hitler come to power. I now know that it wasn’t the thinking people. 😦

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  3. It does sometimes feel as though there is no hope left any more, but i still find it in places like this
    I don’t mean the article itself, thats as vicious and vile as anything he’s ever written, but the comments, after all, if even Conservatives are having trouble believing that Donald Trump is not tangentially responsible for the increased violence in America, that’s got to mean something positive right?


    1. I read The American Conservative because they are comparatively sane and civil, even with the likes of Buchanan and Dreher in the line-up. They also attract many readers who are not conservative, but see it as the best place to find ‘reachable’ conservatives. I haven’t gone to see this one yet, but there are often perceptive comments.


      1. If the writers at the American Conservative considered to be sane and civil, I feel the countries in more trouble than I originally thought.
        Sure, they are more eloquent but the message is essentially the same, the leftist liberals are responsible for everything that’s ever gone wrong in the country and with the leftist hegemony always constantly pushing, is it any wonder that a derranged individual would snap and kill innocent people.
        It’s an fortunate, but…

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  4. Sometime in the last couple of weeks I saw a Tweet which basically said that the writer was worried sick about the fact that we appeared to be leaving a William Gibson future behind for a Bruce Sterling future, and it’s seeming more and more accurate. Apparently, the phrase “stochastic terrorism” was coined by a blogger/commenter on the Daily Kos in 2011, but I’m convinced that Sterling basically described the concept in his 1998 book Distraction. As most dedicated SFF readers probably know, in that book a retired Secret Service agent ancillary character described a bot-net which sends crazy e-mails out to thousands of semi-loons, on the theory that it’ll provoke at least one or two to take action against the bot-net’s target.

    I just re-read Distraction again. And Heavy Weather. Now I’m having trouble sleeping. For all practical purposes, our beloved president Trump and his cronies are replicating Sterling’s bot-net. I don’t think they’re actually trying to get people hurt (except for those with ovaries or brown-toned skin), mostly, but it’s clear they don’t give a shit about any injuries along the way. And the problem is that compared to a few thousand e-mails, Trump’s words get spread ad infinitum, generating attention and discussion Jesus Christ himself would envy.

    Can’t we get back to a corporate/bureaucratic hellscape of fog and neon? Please? Remember those halcyon nights when the sky was the color of a dead TV? And there were lots and lots of drugs and Velvet Underground references? I could use some kind of serious consciousness alteration just about now.

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  5. Yeah, that’s a pretty straight forward graph. It went up with Obama’s election and Sarah Palin’s fear-mongering rallies (the rehearsal for Trump), (as well as the Great Recession,) then down a bit when the Republicans took the mid-terms. It went up again when Obama was re-elected and kept going up because they feared the Republicans would lose Congressional control in the 2014 mid-terms. It went down a bit when they didn’t lose that control. And then it went up, up, up with the next prez election and Trump fear-mongering and has kept going up because they believe they might lose control in the mid-terms.

    I don’t know that we’ll see a drop if they don’t lose in the mid-terms though, because Trump has to keep the fever pitch going constantly.

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