As Right-Wing Rhetoric Escalates, So Do Threats and Violence

Despite this threat, a day later, when the right-wing outlet Breitbart News published the warrant underlying the Mar-a-Lago search, it did not redact the names of the FBI agents on the document. Almost immediately after, posts on a pro-Trump chatroom called them “traitors.”

According to the FBI, there are now about 2,700 open domestic terrorism investigations — a number that has doubled since the spring of 2020 — and that doesn’t include less serious but still serious incidents that don’t reach the level of l federal investigation. Last year, threats against members of Congress hit a record 9,600, according to data provided by Capitol Police.

Still, it’s exceptionally rare for most adults to deliberately inflict harm on other people, especially for political reasons, said Rachel Kleinfeld, senior fellow in the Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Still, Ms. Kleinfeld said, there are ways to encourage the average person to accept violence.

If political aggression is set in the context of a war, she suggested, ordinary people with no history of violence are more likely to accept it. Political violence can also be made more palatable by presenting it as defensive action against a belligerent enemy. This is especially true if an opponent is consistently portrayed as irredeemably evil or less than human.

“The right, at this point, is doing all three of those things,” Ms. Kleinfeld said.

There is little evidence that Republicans and right-wing media figures have tempered their rhetoric, even as Congress and the Justice Department investigate the Jan. 6 attack. Several defendants charged in the riot said they were spurred to action by Mr Trump’s remarks. Still, many Republicans have sought to downplay his role.

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