Opinion: The Source of Political Violence Is Clear in the United States

Walter Rhein

Image by Walter Rhein

There should be nothing controversial about denouncing lawless acts of violence. Violence divides our nation and is both dangerous and wasteful.

When the insurrectionists attacked the Capitol on January 6th, it caused damage that taxpayers had to pay for. That money could have been spent on education for our children. It could have been spent on lunches for disadvantaged children.

Instead, that money was used to replace windows broken by adults who decided to throw a temper tantrum without cause.

We need to have a lawful society. Unfortunately, the word “lawful” means something different to both sides of the political spectrum.

It’s not “lawful” to claim there was fraud in an election without evidence.

It’s not “lawful” to scream out insults and death threats.

January 6th is referred to as “an insurrection” because the violence of that day was politically motivated. The right-wing of the American political spectrum, including many prominent politicians, used social media and other means of organization to invite the crowd.

There can be riots for many reasons in our country. Not all riots have a political affiliation. When peaceful protests turn into riots, studies show the individuals who incited violence are most often right-wing agitators.

Everyone in the United States is allowed to protest, but we need to be truthful about which group of protestors represents the biggest danger. Christian nationalists, white supremacists, and other members of the radical right commonly use violence in their political messaging.

One of the problems of the American political right is that they don’t use evidence to make up their minds. Even today, many right-wing activists spread misinformation about the 2020 election. They insist there was election fraud despite failing to provide any evidence.

It’s frustrating that the American political right already has its mind made up and will not change its thinking regardless of facts. Even with video evidence of right-wing agitators storming the capitol, the right insists the other side is violent. It is not.

The American political left is not motivated by violence. The left wants things like education, healthcare reform, and reasonable gun control. When the right refers to the left, they often call them “snowflakes.” The right often mocks the left by saying they’re overly concerned with “feelings.”

It doesn’t make any sense that the right turns around and insists that the “snowflakes” who care about “feelings” are also inclined to violence. This is a blatant contradiction.

I can’t think of a time a liberal group has organized an armed march wearing tactical gear. If you see a group of men out in the street with guns and body armor, you are more likely to think it’s a right-wing group. That’s simply not a commonly used tactic of the American political left.

We have far too much violence in the United States of America. There is too much anger in comment threads. We have a real problem in this country when that anger turns into acts of violence.

The political right insists they are not the violent ones, but their opinion is not based on facts. Left-wing politicians are not inclined to indulge in hate speech or calls for violence. Calls for violence are the kind of “strongman” tactics that the political right tends to celebrate.

The political right insists on its innocence by fabricating the non-existent transgressions of its political opponents. For example, right-wing agitators might show up at a peaceful protest, incite violence, and then blame the protesters.

To get a truthful picture of the division, lawlessness, and violence in the United States you should look at what law enforcement agencies say. Look at the video evidence. It’s not members of the political left who take to the streets and destroy property. The only reason people think otherwise is that they assume the political affiliation of protestors without evidence.

I can't think of any riots where rioters carried the campaign banners of left-wing politicians. The January 6th insurrection represents a violent action where the participants brazenly carried the campaign banners of a right-wing politician.

When you see a truck drive by covered in gun stickers, do you think the driver is politically on the left or the right? It's time our nation started being honest about who is truly responsible for the violence.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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