A New Jersey man who coughed on a supermarket worker and told her he had the coronavirus has been arrested and charged with terrorism.
Amid the chaos and fear over the deadly COVID-19, several individuals are making headlines, and sparking fury among social media users, for threatening to spread the virus. New Jersey resident George Falcone, 50, is the latest to exploit the growing health crisis.
Falcone reportedly made terroristic threats inside Wegmans in Manalapan, N.J. on Sunday. According to BuzzFeed, when an employee asked him to step away from her and the prepared food on display, he allegedly moved closer and coughed on the woman’s hand and laughed, telling her he had coronavirus.
He also told two other staffers that “they are lucky to have jobs.”
According to prosecutors, Falcone initially refused to identify himself when approached by a police officer inside the store. He was subsequently allowed to leave but was charged Tuesday following an investigation.
Falcone has been charged with harassment, obstruction and making terroristic threats in the third degree, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced Tuesday.
“Exploiting people’s fears and creating panic during a pandemic emergency is reprehensible,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.
Falcon is not the first New Jersey resident to threaten to spread the coronavirus, but he is the only one so far charged with terrorist threats.
Last week, Lea Piazza, 28, allegedly coughed on an officer repeatedly during her arrest for drunk driving, telling the cop, “by the way, I have the coronavirus and so do you.”
Among the charges, she was hit with included DWI, reckless driving, and false public alarm over her bogus coronavirus claim.
The Justice Department has reportedly given law enforcement agencies around the country the green light to charge Americans as terrorists under federal law if they intentionally threaten to spread the coronavirus.
New Jersey reportedly has 3,675 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 44 deaths. The state has the second-highest number of coronavirus diagnosis in the country, behind New York.
(BELTON, Mo.) — A man fatally injured by the FBI was planning a bomb attack on a medical facility in the Kansas City area, the agency said in a news release Wednesday.
Timothy Wilson, 36, was injured Tuesday when FBI agents served a probable cause arrest warrant in Belton after a long-running domestic terrorism investigation, according to a statement Wednesday from Timothy Langan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Kansas City office.
The statement did not detail what happened when agents served the warrant, but said Wilson was armed when he was injured and died later at a hospital.
A monthslong investigation determined that Wilson was a potentially violent extremist, motivated by religious, racial and anti-government beliefs, according to the statement. He had planned for several months to carry out a bombing and decided to target a Kansas City-area hospital using a “vehicle-borne” improvised explosive.
Wilson chose a hospital that was providing critical care during the current coronavirus pandemic and had taken steps to acquire materials to build the bomb in an attempt to cause “severe harm and mass casualties,” according to the statement.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force kept close watch on Wilson and was prepared to arrest him when he tried to pick up what he thought was a bomb, although there was no bomb, the statement said. The FBI worked with federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorneys office in Kansas City during the investigation.
Goddamn foul, evil fucking people. Yeah, the ones doing this? Are Traitor Trumps Trumpanzees. They have said again and again they were going to do this because? They just simply hate. In their hate of Democrats, Liberals or others who do not defend and support their fucking shitstain on the underwear of humanity, Donald J Trump? They feel they got a right to go out and purposefully infect people, even though they know by doing so? Could cause people to die.
Trump and his Trumpsters are in fact? The most evil fucks in our country. They all deserve to reap back what they have sown and any of these fucking disgusting degenerates caught doing this? Should be given the death penalty because they are purposefully going out and committing First Degree Murder by their actions.
FBI warning: groups threatening to target police, Jews, non-whites by “infecting them with coronavirus”
One thing you can always count on. Times like this bring the nuts out of the closet, and this one is no exception. Intelligence gathered by the FBI is warning that neo-Nazis and other white supremacists are encouraging members who contract coronavirus to spread the virus to police and Jews. The alert, which went out on Thursday, notified local police agencies that extremists are asking their followers to use spray bottles to spread bodily fluids to cops on the street. Extremist groups are also directing followers to spread the disease to Jews by going to “any place they may be congregated, to include markets, political offices, businesses and places of worship.”
A Man Who Allegedly Coughed At A Woman And Said He Has The Coronavirus Was Charged With Making Terrorist Threats
George Falcone is not the first New Jersey resident to allegedly threaten to spread the virus, though the state Attorney General’s Office said he is the only one charged with terrorist threats by the state so far.
A grocery store threw out $35,000 in food that a woman intentionally coughed on, sparking coronavirus fears, police said
A woman purposely coughed on $35,000 worth of food at a Pennsylvania grocery store, police said. She likely faces criminal charges for coughing, one of the primary ways the novel coronavirus spreads.
The unnamed woman entered small grocery chain Gerrity’s Supermarket in Hanover Township and started coughing on produce, bakery items, meat and other merchandise, chain co-owner Joe Fasula wrote on Facebook.
New Jersey man charged with terrorism after coughing on woman, claiming coronavirus
George Falcone has been charged with harassment, obstruction and making terroristic threats in the third degree. Amid the chaos and fear over the deadly COVID-19, several individuals are making headlines, and sparking fury among social media users, for threatening to spread the virus. New Jersey resident George Falcone, 50, is the latest to exploit the growing health crisis.
Extremists Use Coronavirus to Advance Racist, Conspiratorial Agendas
Others eagerly imagine the coronavirus as a bioweapon against their enemies. One Telegram user advised readers that if they get the virus they should go to the bank, take out hundreds of dollars in small bills, and, “take the shekels home and cough and lick them…Then go on a shopping spree!” In one meme shared on Telegram, a soldier and the virus are depicted preparing to fight together against people targeted by white supremacists, including minorities, the LGBTQ community, and “communists.” A 4chan commenter wrote, “Send the sick to Israel – if you already die at least take out as many Jews as you can.”
Why yes, the Christo-Taliban Reich-Wing Fascists sure do hate this shit. They sure do hate the fact that people are just getting sick and tired of all the bullshit hate they spread and spew from their foaming at the mouth rabid dog mouths on a daily basis.
These fuckers are no different than the Muslim Taliban they decry on a daily basis. They seek to force their Reich-Wing ChristoFascist bullshit upon all of us and then? Piss and shit their Cocksuckers for Christ panties when people stand up to them, especially? The people these scumbag shitstains on the underwear of humanity love to persecute.
This was taken from Gab, a Reich-Wing ChristoTaliban Fascist Traitor Trumpanzee and Russian Repugnant supporting and defending white supremacists, white nationalists and ChristoFascist scumbags.
The Reich-Wing ChristoTaliban crying about people standing up to these scumbags.
Liberal activist groups are pressuring donor-advised funds (DAFs) to blacklist conservative and Christian organizations in the name of fighting white supremacy and “hate.” On Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), themselves far from immune from scandal, released a report urging this philanthropic sector — which held more than $121 billion in donor contributions in 2018 — to join the political warfare effort of isolating conservative voices from polite society. The report favorably cites Fidelity Charitable’s and Schwab Charitable’s decisions to ban contributions to the NRA, citing San Francisco’s resolution condemning the NRA as a “terrorist organization.”
“Straddling the intersection of public and private, the philanthropic sector — like tech companies — functions as a powerful platform for hate,” the report warns. The SPLC and CAIR pepper their report with mentions of specific white nationalist groups and terrorist attacks inspired by white supremacy, associating these things with SPLC-accused “hate groups.”
Yet the document, entitled “Hate-Free Philanthropy,” calls on donor-advised funds to blacklist SPLC-accused “hate groups” in the name of preventing white supremacist terrorism. The report calls on donor-advised funds to combat “hate-funding,” to “abandon the ‘pretense of neutrality’ in their giving strategies to expand their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and to work for “sector-wide reform” by coordinating with “academia” and “advocacy organizations.” I wonder which “advocacy organizations” they have in mind…
The report cites many sources that all trace back to the SPLC’s “hate group” list. It cites CAIR’s report on the “Islamophobia network,” which relies on the SPLC list. It cites the union-owned Amalgamated Bank effort to blacklist “hate groups” called “Hate Is Not Charitable,” which relies on the SPLC list. It cites the “Change the Terms” coalition, which aims to bully Big Tech into booting “hate groups” from the program, relying on the SPLC. It favorably cites GuideStar’s decision to adopt the SPLC “hate group” labels on its charity database website.
The SPLC and CAIR, long known for their liberal biases, claim that “leading figures from the sector argue that philanthropy has to shed the idea that it should be ‘neutral’ at all costs. Instead, philanthropy should recognize that taking no action in this climate of hate is an action in itself, and for that reason, it should play an active role in supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.” Funny how this “inclusion” looks a great deal like the exclusion of conservatives and the demonization of their views.
The report follows a one-day closed-door symposium involving more than three dozen “practitioners, advocates, and scholars in the philanthropic sector,” convened by the SPLC and CAIR in August 2019.
Donor-advised funds represent a huge slice of American philanthropy. As the report notes, there were 728,563 DAFs in 2018, and donors contributed $37.12 billion, using the funds to recommend $23.42 billion in grants to qualified charities. Charitable assets held by DAFs totaled $121.42 billion. When donors give money to DAFs, they get an immediate tax write-off. The DAF then directs the funds where the donor wishes. This provides anonymity, as the public report of the transaction shows the DAF contributing to the grantee, rather than the donor.
“Hate-Free Philanthropy” suggests this situation is unacceptable but acknowledges that legal reform efforts are unlikely. Instead, the report lays out three steps to help DAFs “to implement systems to screen out hate groups from DAF portfolios”: having a conversation about “hate groups” at the organization, expanding on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” policies, and then “explicitly” endorsing “anti-hate policies and programs.”
The report acknowledges that “even beginning a conversation around hate groups can be controversial within some organizations due to its political nature.” The SPLC and CAIR dismiss this controversy in the name of “public safety.” “However, it is best for stakeholders to recognize that while there may be a legitimate degree of difference on what constitutes anti-social and polarizing activity, at a core level community foundations should understand the problem of hate within a public safety context.”
As for the “anti-hate policies and programs,” the report presents two examples: Amalgamated Foundation’s terms, which state that the foundation “may consult resources such as the Southern Poverty Law Center”; and the East Bay Community Foundation, which has a “Grand Due Diligence Policy” that prohibits “[g]rants to any organization then listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Group map, as that list may be titled or revised from time to time.”
“Hate-Free Philanthropy” upholds Big Tech as a model for acting against “hate.” The report notes that internet companies once used First Amendment arguments to justify extending their platforms to a wide range of users. Yet tech companies are not the government, so the First Amendment does not restrict them. The report touts the “Change the Terms” coalition, which it claims “very carefully crafted its definition of hateful activity to cover types of speech that courts have said are not protected as free speech: incitement to violence, intimidation, harassment, threats, and defamation.”
The report also praised iTunes, PayPal, and AmazonSmile for taking “measures to screen out hate from their platforms. iTunes blacklisted what the SPLC calls “hate music,” while PayPal blacklists “hate groups” and AmazonSmile — Amazon’s charity contribution arm — refuses to work with any SPLC-accused “hate group.”
The SPLC and CAIR praised GuideStar, which caused a scandal in 2017 by placing “hate group” labels on the webpages of nonprofits attacked by the SPLC. GuideStar removed the labels but faced two defamation lawsuits and employees reportedly faced harassment. The SPLC and CAIR claim, without evidence, that the “hate groups” were responsible for the harassment.
“The use of harassment, intimidation, and threats directed at GuideStar’s staff and leadership shows that groups that promote hate do not hesitate to intimidate and threaten those who seek to inform the public about their less-than-charitable activities,” the report warns. The report encourages DAFs to prepare to face violence should they act against “hate groups,” by installing alarms and surveillance systems.
“Threats are not always physical,” the report warns. “As GuideStar sadly experienced, they could come in the form of lawsuits and coordinated public relations attacks that can easily be interpreted as intimidating. Preparation for these kinds of attacks is equally important. Having in place a crisis management and communication plan, in addition to a physical security plan, is a good first step.”
The report mentioned GuideStar twice more, in both cases emphasizing the threat from “hate groups.” Referring to GuideStar’s labels, the report says, “this modest effort resulted in a campaign of hate and intimidation as well as spurious attempts at litigation by hate groups.” Further on comes this sentence: “As the GuideStar experience has shown, this could also lead to fringe groups and their supporters launching harassment and intimidation campaigns.”
Ironically, the SPLC and CAIR report warns against the problems of “hate-funding, polarization, and anti-social special interest practices,” when the SPLC’s “hate group” accusations have inspired an act of violence and have exacerbated polarization in America.
Donor-advised funds would be wise to ignore this report and reject its politically-slanted suggestions. While DAFs should seek to avoid funding white supremacist groups and organizations that advocate for violence, any reliance on the SPLC will skew their good-faith efforts, turning them into unwitting pawns of partisan political warfare.
It is Trump, the Repugnants and Trumpanzees along with the Reich-Wing News organizations such as Faux Nitwit Newsless, Breibart and others that is causing this hate, these lies, these bullshit acts to be done. Here is the proof.
‘No Blame?’ ABC News finds 36 cases invoking ‘Trump’ in connection with violence, threats, alleged assaults.
But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
In nine cases, perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically attacking innocent victims. In another 10 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.
Seven cases involved violent or threatening acts perpetrated in defiance of Trump, with many of them targeting Trump’s allies in Congress. But the vast majority of the cases — 29 of the 36 — reflect someone echoing presidential rhetoric, not protesting it.
ABC News could not find a single criminal case filed in federal or state court where an act of violence or threat was made in the name of President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush.
The perpetrators and suspects identified in the 36 cases are mostly white men — as young as teenagers and as old as 75 — while the victims largely represent an array of minority groups — African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gay men.
Federal law enforcement authorities have privately told ABC News they worry that — even with Trump’s public denunciations of violence — Trump’s style could inspire violence-prone individuals to take action against minorities or others they perceive to be against the president’s agenda.
“Any public figure could have the effect of inspiring people,” FBI Director Chris Wray told a Senate panel in July. “But remember that the people who commit hate fueled violence are not logical, rational people.”
While asserting that “fake” media coverage is exacerbating divisions in the country, Trump has noted that “a fan” of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders opened fire on Republican lawmakers playing baseball in a Washington suburb two years ago. “Nobody puts … ‘Bernie Sanders’ in the headline with the maniac,” Trump said last year.
And, last week, Trump similarly insisted that the man who fatally shot nine people in Dayton, Ohio, three days earlier “supported” Sanders and other liberal causes.
But there’s no indication either of those shooters mentioned Sanders while launching their attacks, and no charges were ever filed because they were both fatally shot during their assaults.
In identifying the 36 Trump-related cases, ABC News excluded incidents of vandalism. ABC News also excluded several cases of violence — from attacks on anti-Trump protesters at Trump rallies to certain assaults on people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats — that did not establish explicit ties to Trump.
In conducting its review, ABC News did find several cases where pro-Trump defendants were charged with targeting minorities, or where speculation online suggested the defendants were motivated by Trump, but in those cases ABC News found no police records, court proceedings or other direct evidence presenting a definitive link to the president. So those cases were also excluded in the ABC News tally.
Nevertheless, last year Trump said he deserves “no blame” for what he called the “hatred” seemingly coursing through parts of the country. And he told reporters that he’s “committed to doing everything” in his power to not let political violence “take root in America.”
Crimes of Trumpanzees against others
Aug. 19, 2015: In Boston, after he and his brother beat a sleeping homeless man of Mexican descent with a metal pole, Steven Leader, 30, told police “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” The victim, however, was not in the United States illegally. The brothers, who are white, ultimately pleaded guilty to several assault-related charges and were each sentenced to at least two years in prison.
Dec. 5, 2015: After Penn State University student Nicholas Tavella, 19, was charged with “ethnic intimidation” and other crimes for threatening to “put a bullet” in a young Indian man on campus, his attorney argued in court that Tavella was just motivated by “a love of country,” not “hate.” “Donald Trump is running for President of the United States saying that, ‘We’ve got to check people out more closely,'” Tavella’s attorney argued in his defense. Tavella, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to ethnic intimidation and was sentenced to up to two years in prison.
April 28, 2016: When FBI agents arrested 61-year-old John Martin Roos in White City, Oregon, for threatening federal officials, including then-President Barack Obama, they found several pipe bombs and guns in his home. In the three months before his arrest, Roos posted at least 34 messages to Twitter about Trump, repeatedly threatening African Americans, Muslims, Mexican immigrants and the “liberal media,” and in court documents, prosecutors noted that the avowed Trump supporter posted this threatening message to Facebook a month earlier: “The establishment is trying to steal the election from Trump. … Obama is already on a kill list … Your [name] can be there too.” Roos, who is white, has since pleaded guilty to possessing an unregistered explosive device and posting internet threats against federal officials. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison.
June 3, 2016: After 54-year-old Henry Slapnik attacked his African-American neighbors with a knife in Cleveland, he told police “Donald Trump will fix them because they are scared of Donald Trump,” according to police reports. Slapnik, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to “ethnic intimidation” and other charges. It’s unclear what sentence he received.
Aug. 16, 2016: In Olympia, Washington, 32-year-old Daniel Rowe attacked a white woman and a black man with a knife after seeing them kiss on a popular street. When police arrived on the scene, Rowe professed to being “a white supremacist” and said “he planned on heading down to the next Donald Trump rally and stomping out more of the Black Lives Matter group,” according to court documents filed in the case. Rowe, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to charges of assault and malicious harassment, and he was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
September 2016: After 40-year-old Mark Feigin of Los Angeles was arrested for posting anti-Muslim and allegedly threatening statements to a mosque’s Facebook page, his attorney argued in court that the comments were protected by the First Amendment because Feigin was “using similar language and expressing similar views” to “campaign statements from then-candidate Donald Trump.” Noting that his client “supported Donald Trump,” attorney Caleb Mason added that “Mr. Feigin’s comments were directed toward a pressing issue of public concern that was a central theme of the Trump campaign and the 2016 election generally: the Islamic roots of many international and U.S. terrorist acts.” Feigin, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sending harassing communications electronically. He was sentenced to probation.
Oct. 13, 2016: After the FBI arrested three white Kansas men for plotting to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, where many Somali immigrants lived, one of the men’s attorneys insisted to a federal judge that the plot was “self-defensive” because the three men believed “that if Donald Trump won the election, President Obama would not recognize the validity of those results, that he would declare martial law, and that at that point militias all over the country would have to step in.” Then, after a federal grand jury convicted 47-year-old Patrick Stein and the two other men of conspiracy-related charges, Stein’s attorney argued for a lighter sentence based on “the backdrop” of Stein’s actions: Trump had become “the voice of a lost and ignored white, working-class set of voters” like Stein, and the “climate” at the time could propel someone like Stein to “go to 11,” attorney Jim Pratt said in court. Stein and his two accomplices were each sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.
Nov. 3, 2016: In Tampa, Florida, David Howard threatened to burn down the house next to his “simply because” it was being purchased by a Muslim family, according to the Justice Department. He later said under oath that while he harbored a years-long dislike for Muslims, the circumstances around the home sale were “the match that lit the wick.” He cited Trump’s warnings about immigrants from majority-Muslim countries. “[With] the fact that the president wants these six countries vetted, everybody vetted before they come over, there’s a concern about Muslims,” Howard said. Howard, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation, and the 59-year-old was sentenced to eight months in prison.
Nov. 10, 2016: A 23-year-old man from High Springs, Florida, allegedly assaulted an unsuspecting Hispanic man who was cleaning a parking lot outside of a local food store. “[H]e was suddenly struck in the back of the head,” a police report said of the victim. “[The victim] asked the suspect why he hit him, to which the suspect replied, ‘This is for Donald Trump.’ The suspect then grabbed [the victim] by the jacket and proceeded to strike him several more times,” according to the report. Surveillance video of the incident “completely corroborated [the victim’s] account of events,” police said. The suspect was arrested on battery charges, but the case was dropped after the victim decided not to pursue the matter, police said. Efforts by ABC News to reach the victim for further explanation were not successful.
Nov. 12, 2016: In Grand Rapids, Michigan, while attacking a cab driver from East Africa, 23-year-old Jacob Holtzlander shouted racial epithets and repeatedly yelled the word, “Trump,” according to law enforcement records. Holtzlander, who is white, ultimately pleaded guilty to a charge of ethnic intimidation, and he was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Jan. 25, 2017: At JFK International Airport in New York, a female Delta employee, wearing a hijab in accordance with her Muslim faith, was “physically and verbally” attacked by 57-year-old Robin Rhodes of Worcester, Mass., “for no apparent reason,” prosecutors said at the time. When the victim asked Brown what she did to him, he replied: “You did nothing, but … [Expletive] Islam. [Expletive] ISIS. Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you.” Rhodes ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “menacing,” and he was sentenced to probation.
Feb. 19, 2017: After 35-year-old Gerald Wallace called a mosque in Miami Gardens, Florida, and threatened to “shoot all y’all,” he told the FBI and police that he made the call because he “got angry” from a local TV news report about a terrorist act. At a rally in Florida the day before, Trump falsely claimed that Muslim refugees had just launched a terrorist attack in Sweden.
Wallace’s attorney, Katie Carmon, later tried to convince a federal judge that the threat to kill worshippers could be “protected speech” due to the “very distinctly political climate” at the time. “There are courts considering President Trump’s travel ban … and the president himself has made some very pointed statements about what he thinks about people of this descent,” Carmon argued in court.
Wallace, who is African American, ultimately pleaded guilty to obstructing the free exercise of his victims’ religious beliefs, and he was sentenced to one year in prison.
Feb. 23, 2017: Kevin Seymour and his partner Kevin price were riding their bicycles in Key West, Florida, when a man on a moped, 30-year-old Brandon Davis of North Carolina, hurled anti-gay slurs at them and “intentionally” ran into Seymour’s bike, shouting, “You live in Trump country now,” according to police reports and Davis’ attorney. Davis ultimately pleaded guilty to a charge of battery evidencing prejudice, but in court, he expressed remorse and was sentenced to four years of probation.
May 3, 2017: In South Padre Island, Texas, 35-year-old Alexander Jennes Downing of Waterford, Connecticut, was captured on cellphone video taunting and aggressively approaching a Muslim family, repeatedly shouting, “Donald Trump will stop you!” and other Trump-related remarks. Police arrested downing, of Waterford, Connecticut, for public intoxication. It’s unclear what came of the charge.
Oct. 22, 2017: A 44-year-old California man threatened to kill Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., for her frequent criticism of Trump and her promise to “take out” the president. Anthony Scott Lloyd left a voicemail at the congresswoman’s Washington office, declaring: “If you continue to make threats towards the president, you’re going to wind up dead, Maxine. Cause we’ll kill you.” After pleading guilty to one count of threatening a U.S. official, Lloyd asked the judge for leniency, saying he suffered from addiction-inducing mental illness and became “far too immersed in listening to polarizing political commentators and engaging in heated political debates online.” His lawyer put it this way to the judge: “Mr. Lloyd was a voracious consumer of political news online, on television and on radio … [that are] commonly viewed as ‘right wing,’ unconditionally supportive of President Trump, and fiercely critical of anyone who opposed President Trump’s policies.” The judge sentenced Lloyd to six months of house arrest and three years of probation.
August 2018: After the Boston Globe called on news outlets around the country to resist what it called “Trump’s assault on journalism,” the Boston Globe received more than a dozen threatening phone calls. “You are the enemy of the people,” the alleged caller, 68-year-old Robert Chain of Encino, California, told a Boston Globe employee on Aug. 22. “As long as you keep attacking the President, the duly elected President of the United States … I will continue to threat[en], harass, and annoy the Boston Globe.” A week later, authorities arrested Chain on threat-related charges. After a hearing in his case, he told reporters, “America was saved when Donald J. Trump was elected president.” Chain has pleaded guilty to seven threat-related charges, and he is awaiting sentencing.
Oct. 4, 2018: The Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida arrested 53-year-old James Patrick of Winter Haven, Florida, for allegedly threatening “to kill Democratic office holders, members of their families and members of both local and federal law enforcement agencies,” according to a police report. In messages posted online, Patrick detailed a “plan” for his attacks, which he said he would launch if then-nominee Brett Kavanaugh was not confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, the police report said. Seeking Patrick’s release from jail after his arrest, Patrick’s attorney, Terri Stewart, told a judge that her client’s “rantings” were akin to comments from “a certain high-ranking official” — Trump. The president had “threatened the North Korean people — to blow them all up. It was on Twitter,” Stewart said, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Patrick has been charged with making a written threat to kill or injure, and he has pleaded not guilty. His trial is pending.
Late October 2018: Over the course of a week, Florida man Cesar Sayoc allegedly mailed at least 15 potential bombs to prominent critics of Trump and members of the media. Sayoc had been living in a van plastered with pro-Trump stickers, and he had posted several pro-Trump messages on social media. Federal prosecutors have accused him of “domestic terrorism,” and Sayoc has since pleaded guilty to 65 counts, including use of a weapon of mass destruction. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. “We believe the president’s rhetoric contributed to Mr. Sayoc’s behavior,” Sayoc’s attorney told the judge at sentencing.
Dec. 4, 2018: Michael Brogan, 51, of Brooklyn, New York, left a voicemail at an unidentified U.S. Senator’s office in Washington insisting, “I’m going to put a bullet in ya. … You and your constant lambasting of President Trump. Oh, reproductive rights, reproductive rights.” He later told an FBI agent that before leaving the voicemail he became “very angry” by “an internet video of the Senator, including the Senator’s criticism of the President of the United States as well as the Senator’s views on reproductive rights.” “The threats were made to discourage the Senator from criticizing the President,” the Justice Department said in a later press release. Brogan has since pleaded guilty to one count of threatening a U.S. official, and he is awaiting sentencing.
Jan. 17, 2019: Stephen Taubert of Syracuse, New York, was arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police for threatening to kill Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and for threatening to “hang” former President Barack Obama. Taubert used “overtly bigoted, hateful language” in his threats, according to federal prosecutors. On July 20, 2018, Taubert called the congresswoman’s Los Angeles office to say he would find her at public events and kill her and her entire staff. In a letter to the judge just days before Taubert’s trial began, his defense attorney, Courtenay McKeon, noted: “During that time period, Congresswoman Waters was embroiled in a public feud with the Trump administration. … On June 25, 2018, in response to Congresswoman Waters’ public statements, President Trump tweeted: ‘Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has … just called for harm to supporters … of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!'” As McKeon insisted to the judge: “This context is relevant to the case.” A federal jury ultimately convicted Taubert on three federal charges, including retaliating against a federal official and making a threat over state lines. He was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.
Jan. 22, 2019: David Boileau of Holiday, Florida, was arrested by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly burglarizing an Iraqi family’s home and “going through” their mailbox, according to a police report. After officers arrived at the home, Boileau “made several statements of his dislike for people of Middle Eastern descent,” the report said. “He also stated if he doesn’t get rid of them, Trump will handle it.” The police report noted that a day before, Boileau threw screws at a vehicle outside the family’s house. On that day, Boileau allegedly told police, “We’ll get rid of them one way or another.” Boileau, 58, has since pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of trespassing, and he was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Feb. 15, 2019: The FBI in Maryland arrested a Marine veteran and U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant, Christopher Paul Hasson, who they said was stockpiling weapons and “espoused” racist and anti-immigrant views for years as he sought to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” In court documents, prosecutors said the 49-year-old “domestic terrorist” compiled a “hit list” of prominent Democrats. Two months later, while seeking Hasson’s release from jail before trial, his public defender, Elizabeth Oyer, told a federal judge: “This looks like the sort of list that our commander-in-chief might have compiled while watching Fox News in the morning. … Is it legitimately frustrating that offensive language and ideology has now become part of our national vocabulary? Yes, it is very frustrating. But … it is hard to differentiate it from the random musings of someone like Donald Trump who uses similar epithets in his everyday language and tweets.” Hasson faces weapons-related charges and was being detained as he awaits trial. He has pleaded not guilty.
March 16, 2019: Anthony Comello, 24, of Staten Island, New York, was taken into custody for allegedly killing Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, the reputed head of the infamous Gambino crime family. It marked the first mob boss murder in New York in 30 years, law enforcement officials told ABC News the murder may have stemmed from Comello’s romantic relationship with a Cali family member. Court documents since filed in state court by Comello’s defense attorney, Robert Gottlieb, said Comello suffers from mental defect and was a believer in the “conspiratorial fringe right-wing political group” QAnon. In addition, Gottlieb wrote: “Beginning with the election of President Trump in November 2016, Anthony Comello’s family began to notice changes to his personality. … Mr. Comello became certain that he was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself, and that he had the president’s full support. Mr. Comello grew to believe that several well-known politicians and celebrities were actually members of the Deep State, and were actively trying to bring about the destruction of America.” Comello has been charged with one count of murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. His trial is pending, and he has pleaded not guilty.
April 5, 2019: The FBI arrested a 55-year-old man from upstate New York for allegedly threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., one of the first two Muslim women elected to the U.S. Congress. She is an outspoken critic of Trump, and Trump has frequently launched public attacks against her and three other female lawmakers of color. Two weeks before his arrest, Patrick Carlineo Jr. allegedly called Omar’s office in Washington labeling the congresswoman a “terrorist” and declaring: “I’ll put a bullet in her f—-ing skull.” When an FBI agent then traced the call to Carlineo and interviewed him, Carlineo “stated that he was a patriot, that he loves the President, and that he hates radical Muslims in our government,” according to the FBI agent’s summary of the interview. Federal prosecutors charged Carlineo with threatening to assault and murder a United States official. Carlineo is awaiting trial, although his defense attorney and federal prosecutors are working on what his attorney called another “possible resolution” of the case.
April 18, 2019: The FBI arrested John Joseph Kless of Tamarac, Florida, for calling the Washington offices of three prominent Democrats and threatening to kill each of them. At his home, authorities found a loaded handgun in a backpack, an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. In later pleading guilty to one charge of transmitting threats over state lines, Kless admitted that in a threatening voicemail targeting Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., he stated: “You won’t f—ing tell Americans what to say, and you definitely don’t tell our president, Donald Trump, what to say.” Tlaib, a vocal critic of Trump, was scheduled to speak in Florida four days later. Kless was awaiting sentencing. In a letter to the federal judge, he said he “made a very big mistake,” never meant to hurt anyone, and “was way out of line with my language and attitude.”
April 24, 2019: The FBI arrested 30-year-old Matthew Haviland of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, for allegedly sending a series of violent and threatening emails to a college professor in Massachusetts who publicly expressed support for abortion rights and strongly criticized Trump. In one of 28 emails sent to the professor on March 10, 2019, Haviland allegedly called the professor “pure evil” and said “all Democrats must be eradicated,” insisting the country now has “a president who’s taking our country in a place of more freedom rather than less.” In another email the same day, Haviland allegedly wrote the professor: “I will rip every limb from your body and … I will kill every member of your family.” According to court documents, Haviland’s longtime friend later told the FBI that “within the last year, Haviland’s views regarding abortion and politics have become more extreme … at least in part because of the way the news media portrays President Trump.” Haviland has been charged with cyberstalking and transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. His trial is pending.
June 5, 2019: The FBI arrested a Utah man for allegedly calling the U.S. Capitol more than 2,000 times over several months and threatening to kill Democratic lawmakers, whom he said were “trying to destroy Trump’s presidency.” “I am going to take up my second amendment right, and shoot you liberals in the head,” 54-year-old Scott Brian Haven allegedly stated in one of the calls on Oct. 18, 2018, according to charging documents. When an FBI agent later interviewed Haven, he “explained the phone calls were made during periods of frustration with the way Democrats were treating President Trump,” the charging documents said. The FBI visit, however, didn’t stop Haven from making more threats, including: On March 21, 2019, he called an unidentified U.S. senator’s office to say that if Democrats refer to Trump as Hitler again he will shoot them, and two days later he called an unidentified congressman’s office to say he “was going to take [the congressman] out … because he is trying to remove a duly elected President.” A federal grand jury has since charged Haven with one count of transmitting a threat over state lines. Haven pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.
Aug. 3, 2019: A gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and injuring 24 others. The FBI labeled the massacre an act of “domestic terrorism,” and police determined that the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, posted a lengthy anti-immigrant diatribe online before the attack. “We attribute that manifesto directly to him,” according to El Paso police chief Greg Allen. Describing the coming assault as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” the screed’s writer said “the media” would “blame Trump’s rhetoric” for the attack but insisted his anti-immigrant views “predate Trump” — an apparent acknowledgement that at least some of his views align with some of Trump’s public statements. The writer began his online essay by stating that he generally “support[s]” the previous writings of the man who killed 51 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand earlier this year. In that case, the shooter in New Zealand said he absolutely did not support Trump as “a policy maker and leader” — but “[a]s a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure.” Crusius has been charged with capital murder by the state of Texas.
Crimes Against Trumpanzees
Jan. 3, 2017: In Chicago, four young African-Americans — sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington, Jordan Hill and Tesfaye Cooper — tied up a white, mentally disabled man and assaulted him, forcing him to recite the phrases “F–k Donald Trump” and “F–k white people” while they broadcast the attack online. Each of them ultimately pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime and other charges, and three of them were sentenced to several years in prison.
May 11, 2017: Authorities arrested Steven Martan of Tucson, Arizona, after he left three threatening messages at the office Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. In one message, he told McSally he was going to “blow your brains out,” and in another he told her that her “days are numbered.” He later told FBI agents “that he was venting frustrations with Congresswoman McSally’s congressional votes in support of the President of the United States,” according to charging documents. Martan’s attorney, Walter Goncalves Jr., later told a judge that Martan had “an alcohol problem” and left the messages “after becoming intoxicated” and “greatly upset” by news that McSally “agreed with decisions by President Donald Trump.” Martan, 58, has since pleaded guilty to three counts of retaliating against a federal official and was sentenced to more than one year in prison.
April 6, 2018: The FBI arrested 38-year-old Christopher Michael McGowan of Roanoke, Virginia, for allegedly posting a series of Twitter threats against Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., over several months. In one posting in December 2017, McGowan wrote to Goodlatte: “I threatened to kill you if you help Trump violate the constitution,” according to charging documents. In another alleged post, the self-described Army veteran wrote: “If Trump tries to fire [special counsel Robert] Mueller I WILL make an attempt to execute a citizens arrest against [Goodlatte] and I will kill him if he resist.” In subsequent statements to police, he said he drinks too much, was “hoping to get someone’s attention over his concerns about the current status of our country,” and did not actually intend to harm Goodlatte, court documents recount. A federal grand jury has indicted McGowan on one count of transmitting a threat over state lines, and it’s unclear if he has entered a plea as he awaits trial.
July 6, 2018: Martin Astrof, 75, approached a volunteer at the campaign office of Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., in Suffolk County, New York, and “state[d] he was going to kill supporters of U.S. congressman Lee Zeldin and President Donald Trump,” according to charging documents. Astrof was arrested and ultimately pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment. He was sentenced to one year of probation.
Feb. 15, 2019: Police in Falmouth, Massachusetts, arrested 41-year-old Rosiane Santos after she “verbally assault[ed]” a man for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in a Mexican restaurant and then “violently push[ed] his head down,” according to police reports. Apparently intoxicated, “she stated that [the victim] was a ‘motherf—-r’ for supporting Trump,” one of the responding officers wrote. “She also stated that he shouldn’t be allowed in a Mexican restaurant with that.” Santos was in the United States unlawfully, federal authorities said. Police arrested her on charges of “simple assault” and disorderly conduct. She has since admitted in local court that there are “sufficient facts” to warrant charges, and she has been placed on a form of probation.
Feb. 25, 2019: An 18-year-old student at Edmond Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Oklahoma, was captured on cellphone video “confronting a younger classmate who [was] wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and carrying a ‘Trump’ flag,” according to a press release from the local school system. “The [older] student then proceeds to grab the flag and knock the hat off of his classmate’s head.” The 18-year-old student was charged in local court with assault and battery, according to Edmond City Attorney Steve Murdock. The student has since pleaded guilty and was placed on probation, Murdock added.
April 13, 2019: 27-year-old Jovan Crawford, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and 25-year-old Scott Roberson Washington, D.C., assaulted and robbed a black man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat while walking through his suburban Maryland neighborhood. Before punching and kicking him, “The two suspects harassed [the victim] about the hat and asked why he was wearing it. [The victim] told them he has his own beliefs and views,” according to charging documents filed after their arrest by Montgomery County, Maryland, police. Crawford later received a text message noting that, “They jumped some trump supporter,” the charging documents said. Crawford and Roberson have since pleaded guilty to assault charges and are awaiting sentencing.
JONESBORO, Ga.—I boarded the Gone With the Wind Tour bus outside the train depot built in 1867 to replace the depot burned during the Civil War. The building now houses the Road to Tara Museum. It has displays of “Gone With the Wind” movie memorabilia including dolls of Mammy, played in the film by Hattie McDaniel, and the pantalettes and green hat worn by Vivien Leigh, who played Scarlett O’Hara.
Rick, the bus driver, switched on the audio track, written and narrated by a local historian, Peter Bonner. We listened to the familiar story of the noble South and its “Lost Cause.” We heard about the courage of the Confederate soldiers in Jonesboro who fought gallantly on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 1864, in a failed effort to block the Union Army from entering Atlanta. We were told of the gentility and charm of the Southern belles. We learned that the war was fought not to protect the institution of slavery but the sanctity of states’ rights. Finally, we were assured that the faithful slaves, the “mammies,” “aunties” and “uncles,” loved their white owners, were loved in return and did not welcome emancipation.
That this myth persists and perhaps has grown as the country polarizes, often along racial lines, means that whole segments of the American population can no longer communicate. Once myth replaces history there is no way to have a rational discussion rooted in verifiable fact. Myth allows people to deny who they are and the crimes they committed and continue to commit. It is only by confronting the past that we can end the perpetuation of these crimes in other forms.
When loyalty to the tribe is more important that truth, fact or justice—a tribalism on display in the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh—an open society is extinguished. Reparations for African-Americans are not only just, they are the only way we as a nation, as with Germany’s reparations to the Jews, can build a shared history based on truth, atone for the crimes of the nation and reverse the legacies of white supremacy. The Southern cause, as Ulysses S. Grant wrote in his laconic memoirs, was “one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”
David Blight in “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory” documents that in the decades after the war whites in the South and the North furiously rewrote the history of the conflict. “As long as we have a politics of race in America, we will have a politics of Civil War memory,” Blight notes. The root cause of the war, the need to emancipate 4 million people held in slavery, was erased, he said, and replaced with the “denigration of black dignity and the attempted erasure of emancipation from the national narrative of what the war was about.” As W.E.B. Du Bois lamented in his book “Black Reconstruction,” which looked at the brief postwar period, from 1865 to 1877, when African-Americans were given some political space in the South to resurrect their lives, “little effort [was] made to preserve the records of Negro effort and speeches, action, work and wages, homes and families. Nearly all of this has gone down beneath a mass of ridicule and caricature, deliberate omission and misstatement.”
The Civil War, as portrayed in novels and films such as “Gone With the Wind,” histories such as “The Civil War” by Shelby Foote and television programs such as Ken Burns’ documentary series on the conflict, is usually reduced to stories about the heroic self-sacrifice and courage exhibited by the soldiers from the North and the South who fought as brother against brother. The gruesome suffering, widespread looting and rape and senseless slaughter are romanticized. (For every three soldiers who died on a battlefield, five more died of disease, and, overall, 620,000 Americans, 2 percent of the country’s population, perished in the war.) Meanwhile, the far more important struggle, the struggle of black people to rise from bondage to be free, is effectively eclipsed in these narratives of white self-pity and self-exaltation.
“Gone With the Wind,” the 1936 novel by Margaret Mitchell, has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and, according to one survey, is the second favorite book among Americans, after the Bible. The 1939 film version of the book is the highest-grossing movie ever, in inflation-adjusted dollars. The book and film are unapologetic celebrations of historical myth, historical erasure and white supremacy.
The Lost Cause romance and veneration of Confederate military leaders have a powerful hold on white imaginations, especially among those for whom economic and political marginalization is becoming more pronounced. The myth of the Confederacy resembles the retreat into a fictional past I saw in Yugoslavia during the Bosnian War, an ethnic conflict that lasted from 1992 to 1995. That retreat gave Yugoslavs—whether Serb, Muslim or Croat—who had been cast aside by economic collapse and a failed political system manufactured identities that were rooted in a mythologized past of glory, moral superiority and nobility. It allowed them to worship their own supposedly unique and innate virtues. These fantasies of an idealized past were accompanied by the demonization of opposing ethnicities, a demonization used by demagogues to fuel the hatred and violence that led to a savage war.
“He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country,” White House chief of staff and former Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly said last year of the Confederate military commander, Robert E. Lee, a slave owner. “It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today.” Kelly blamed the Civil War on “the lack of an ability to compromise,” adding that “men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”
During my bus ride in Georgia, a woman on the audio guide impersonated Scarlett O’Hara as music from the 1939 movie played in the background: “Now y’all sit back and enjoy this journey back into a time of cavaliers, ladies fair, and cotton fields—called the Old South.”
The theme of the tour could be summed up as “ ‘Gone With the Wind’ accurately portrays life in the South during and after the Civil War.” Over and over, incidents and characters in the novel and film were related to actual events and people. Nowhere was this more pernicious than in the portrayals of black men and women who were enslaved.
“I learned that a black servant 144 years ago so loved her ‘masters’ that she requested to be buried in their family plot. … And when I learned that her masters willingly allowed such a burial request, I had to conclude that there must have been a greater bond, perhaps a loving bond of slave for master, and master for slave,” Bonner writes in his thin book “Lost in Yesterday,” which is sold in the Road to Tara Museum. “The unique and often misunderstood relationship has been presented throughout fiction and the entertainment media, in my opinion, in a multitude of unfair portrayals.”
Bonner goes on to argue that the slaves in the book and the film—Mammy, Pork, Prissy and Big Sam—all supporters of the Confederacy and loyal to the O’Hara family, represent a true picture of many, maybe most, blacks in the antebellum South. He cites the small headstone at the feet of Philip and Eleanor Fitzgerald in the local cemetery that reads “Grace, Negro servant of the Fitzgeralds” and insists “that Grace was honored as a family member.”
That Grace was given no last name on the stone and was buried, like a pet, at the feet of those who owned her seems to escape Bonner. Did Grace have a family? A mother? A father? Brothers? Sisters? Grandparents? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins? A husband? Children of her own? Or had they been sold by her beloved owners?
We stopped outside the 1839 Stately Oaks plantation house, which originally sat on 404 acres before being moved into the city. It is now part of the Margaret Mitchell Memorial Park. The mansion hosts white re-enactors in period costumes, including Confederate uniforms, the equivalent of re-enactors dressed in SS uniforms giving cheery tours of Auschwitz.
In squalid, overcrowded shacks outside Stately Oaks, children were born, lived and died enslaved. They spent a lifetime engaged in hard labor, misery and poverty. They watched in agony as mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers were sold off, never to be seen again. They lived in constant fear and humiliation. They were beaten, chained, whipped, castrated and sometimes shot or hanged. The male slave masters routinely raped black girls and women, sometimes in front of their families, and often sold their mixed-race children.
“Like the patriarchs of old,” Mary Chesnut, a white South Carolinian, confided in her diary in March 1861, “our men live all in one house with their wives and concubines; and the mulattoes one sees in every family partly resemble the white children. Any lady is ready to tell you who is the father of all the mulatto children in everybody’s household but her own. Those, she seems to think, drop from the clouds.”
The Southern tradition, as James Baldwin pointed out, “is not a tradition at all.” It is “a legend which contains an accusation. And that accusation, stated far more simply than it should be, is that the North, in winning the war, left the South only one means of asserting its identity and that means was the Negro.”
The ability to disregard the horror of slavery, to physically erase its reality, and to build in its place a white fantasy of goodness, courage and virtue speaks to the deep sickness within American society. Most Confederate monuments were erected under the leadership of the Daughters of the Confederacy from 1890 to 1920, a time when the terror of lynching by the Ku Klux Klan was at its peak. These statues were designed to romanticize white supremacy and divide blacks into good and bad “negros.” There are no statues to Reconstruction governors and senators or black political leaders, not to mention the leaders of slave revolts such as Nat Turner or Denmark Vesey. The few Confederate generals, such as James Longstreet, who supported black rights after the war are not memorialized, nor are the 186,000 black soldiers—134,111 conscripted from slave states—who served in the Union Army. The historian James Loewen calls the South “a landscape of denial.”
“Public monuments,” the historian Eric Foner writes, “are built by those with sufficient power to determine which parts of history are worth commemorating and what vision of history ought to be conveyed.”
One of the most outrageous public celebrations of white supremacy is Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta. Carved in the gray stone are massive figures of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The Confederate leaders, all mounted on horses, hold their hats over their hearts. The carving covers more than 1.5 acres of rock face and rises 400 feet. It is the largest bas-relief in the world. It is also the most visited site in Georgia.
William Faulkner published “Absalom, Absalom,” his searing condemnation of slavery and the Old South the same year Mitchell published “Gone With the Wind.” The hate-filled slave owner and Confederate veteran Thomas Sutpen in Faulkner’s novel, unlike the characters in “Gone With the Wind,” is “demonic evil.” Sutpen, who engages in miscegenation, buys his slaves “with the same care and shrewdness with which he chose the other livestock—the horses and mules and cattle.” Faulkner understood “the past is never dead. It’s not even past,” that it is subject to constant revision by those seeking to justify and hide their crimes. He warned that the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves lead to moral squalor and self-destruction.
The tour bus stopped at Patrick Cleburne Memorial Cemetery, which holds the remains of some 1,000 Confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of Jonesboro. Most are unidentified. The walkway is laid out in the shape of a Confederate flag. A Confederate flag flies at the entrance.
“In 1872, the state of Georgia pays Stephen Cars, a local cabinetmaker, to rebury the Southern soldiers’ remains and place them in the Patrick Cleburne Memorial Cemetery here,” the audio recording said. “Mr. Cars did not bury over a thousand soldiers by himself. Mr. Cars had a slave named Tom who left with a Yankee captain after the Battle of Jonesboro. When the war was over, Tom returned to Mr. Cars’ house asking for his job back. It was in 1872 that Tom and Mr. Stephen Cars reburied the Confederate soldiers in this cemetery. I told this story to the state of Georgia building authority years ago, they oversee the cemetery, and they remarked that Tom was very similar to the O’Hara slave Big Sam.”
The bus paused in front of a 10-room green house built in 1880 that once belonged to the president of Middle Georgia College.
“Under Reconstruction, five Southerners were not allowed to meet together without a federal marshal present,” Bonner said on the audio guide. “In ‘Gone With the Wind,’ meetings were held in secret. In Jonesboro, there were those secret meetings that dealt with the issues the town had to deal with, including the violence in shantytown. Shantytown was a real location in Jonesboro and many other cities that had a large population of former slaves who are without a job or a home. When this house was being restored in 1995, it was found to have a secret room in the attic, believed to have been used for those secret meetings. There was also a ladder in the wall leading to the cellar. In the cellar, people believed they had found a tunnel. However, upon further research, they found out it was not a tunnel but a bomb shelter where the city fathers planned to store the county records if and when they got back to war” (meaning if and when they resumed the fight against the Union).
It is a safe bet that this house was also a meeting place for the heavily armed goons of the Ku Klux Klan, who rode four abreast at night through the Jonesboro streets to terrorize the blacks in “shantytown.” Over 4,000 people were lynched between the end of the Civil War and World War II in the United States. Georgia had the second highest number of lynchings, with 589. Only Mississippi, with 654 murders, had more.
Lynching was a popular public spectacle in Georgia that could last for hours and included sadistic torture and mutilation. Children were let out of school and workers were given the day off to witness the events. When Sam Hose, who had thrown his ax at a white man and killed him after the man pulled a gun on him, was lynched on April 23, 1899, near Newman, Ga., 1,000 people attended. Many arrived on a special excursion train from Atlanta. Hose was stripped and chained to a tree. His executioners stacked kerosene-soaked logs around him. They cut off Hose’s ears, fingers and genitals. They flayed his face. Members of the crowd thrust knives into him. The logs were lit.
“The only sounds that came from the victim’s lips, even as his blood sizzled in the fire, were ‘Oh, my God! Oh, Jesus,’ ” writes Leon Litwack in “Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow.” “Before Hose’s body had even cooled, his heart and liver were removed and cut into several pieces and his bones were crushed into small particles. The crowd fought over these souvenirs, and the ‘more fortunate possessors’ made some handsome profits on the sales. (Small pieces of bone went for 25 cents, a piece of liver ‘crisply cooked’ sold for 10 cents.) Shortly after the lynching, one of the participants reportedly left for the state capital, hoping to deliver to the governor of Georgia a slice of Sam Hose’s heart.”
On the trunk of a tree near the lynching, a placard read: “We Must Protect Our Southern Women.”
In May of 1918, Mary Turner, eight months pregnant, publicly denounced the lynching of her husband, Hazel “Hayes” Turner, who had been murdered the day before. She threatened to take those who lynched him to court. A mob of several hundred in Valdosta, Ga., hunted her down. They tied the pregnant woman’s ankles together and hung her upside down from a tree. They doused her clothes with gasoline and set her on fire. Someone used a hog-butchering knife to rip open her womb. Her baby fell the ground and cried briefly. A member of the mob crushed the infant’s head under the heel of his boot. Hundreds of rounds were shot into her body. The Associated Press reported that Mary Turner had made “unwise remarks” about the lynching of her husband “and the people, in their indignation, took exceptions to her remarks, as well as her attitude.”
In commenting in 1894 on lynchings, the crusading editor and activist Ida B. Wells said, “[O]ur American Christians are too busy saving the souls of white Christians from burning in hell-fire to save the lives of black ones from present burning in fires kindled by white Christians.”
James Baldwin, in the second half of the 20th century, repeatedly warned white Americans that their relentless refusal to honestly confront their past, and themselves, would lead to grotesque distortions of the sort that decades later we see embodied in Donald Trump. There is a severe cost, he wrote, for a life lived as a lie.
“People pay for what they do, and, still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become,” Baldwin wrote. “And they pay for it very simply by the lives they lead. The crucial thing, here, is that the sum of these individual abdications menaces life all over the world. For, in the generality, as social and moral and political and sexual entities, white Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any color, to be found in the world today.”
The first recorded lynching in Georgia took place near Jonesboro in 1880. We have only the name of the victim, Milly Thompson. No one knows if Thompson was male or female. There is no record of Thompson committing a crime. But I suspect that, as in the cases of most lynching victims, the crime Thompson committed was the crime of freedom. If you were black, in this land of gallant cavaliers and Southern belles, and you objected to being human chattel and to enforced deference and submission to whites, they killed you.
Editor’s note: The 45th president’s approval ratings remain steady despite numerous scandals and missteps. Below is an Oct. 29, 2018, column in which Hedges analyzes Donald Trump’s seemingly indefatigable appeal. On Tuesday, Truthdig will publish a new column by Hedges, one that will present the text of a speech he will give that same day in London in support of Julian Assange.
Cult leaders arise from decayed communities and societies in which people have been shorn of political, social and economic power. The disempowered, infantilized by a world they cannot control, gravitate to cult leaders who appear omnipotent and promise a return to a mythical golden age. The cult leaders vow to crush the forces, embodied in demonized groups and individuals, that are blamed for their misery. The more outrageous the cult leaders become, the more they flout law and social conventions, the more they gain in popularity. Cult leaders are immune to the norms of established society. This is their appeal. Cult leaders demand a God-like power. Those who follow them grant them this power in the hope that the cult leaders will save them.
Donald Trump has transformed the decayed carcass of the Republican Party into a cult. All cults are personality cults. They are extensions of the cult leaders. The cult reflects the leader’s prejudices, worldview, personal style and ideas. Trump did not create the yearning for a cult leader. Huge segments of the population, betrayed by the established elites, were conditioned for a cult leader. They were desperately looking for someone to rescue them and solve their problems. They found their cult leader in the New York real estate developer and reality television show star. Only when we recognize Trump as a cult leader, and many of those who support him as cult followers, will we understand where we are headed and how we must resist.
It was 40 years ago next month that a messianic preacher named Jim Jones convinced or forced more than 900 of his followers, including roughly 280 children, to die by ingesting a cyanide-laced drink. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge and address the impending crisis of ecocide and the massive mismanagement of the economy by kleptocrats, his bellicosity, his threats against Iran and China and the withdrawal from nuclear arms treaties, along with his demonization of all who oppose him, ensure our cultural and, if left unchecked, physical extinction. Cult leaders are driven, at their core, by the death instinct, the instinct to annihilate and destroy rather than nurture and create. Trump shares many of the characteristics of Jones as well as other cult leaders including Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles, the founders of the Heaven’s Gate cult; the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who led the Unification Church; Credonia Mwerinde, who led the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God in Uganda; Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong; and David Koresh, who led the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas. Cult leaders are narcissists. They demand obsequious fawning and total obedience. They prize loyalty above competence. They wield absolute control. They do not tolerate criticism. They are deeply insecure, a trait they attempt to cover up with bombastic grandiosity. They are amoral and emotionally and physically abusive. They see those around them as objects to be manipulated for their own empowerment, enjoyment and often sadistic entertainment. All those outside the cult are branded as forces of evil, prompting an epic battle whose natural expression is violence.
“A cult is a mirror of what is inside the cult leader,” Margaret Thaler Singer wrote in “Cults in Our Midst.” “He has no restraints on him. He can make his fantasies and desires come alive in the world he creates around him. He can lead people to do his bidding. He can make the surrounding world really his world. What most cult leaders achieve is akin to the fantasies of a child at play, creating a world with toys and utensils. In that play world, the child feels omnipotent and creates a realm of his own for a few minutes or a few hours. He moves the toy dolls about. They do his bidding. They speak his words back to him. He punishes them any way he wants. He is all-powerful and makes his fantasy come alive. When I see the sand tables and the collections of toys some child therapists have in their offices, I think that a cult leader must look about and place people in his created world much as a child creates on the sand table a world that reflects his or her desires and fantasies. The difference is that the cult leader has actual humans doing his bidding as he makes a world around him that springs from inside his own head.”
George Orwell understood that cult leaders manipulate followers primarily through language, not force. This linguistic manipulation is a gradual process. It is rooted in continual mental chaos and verbal confusion. Lies, conspiracy theories, outlandish ideas and contradictory statements that defy reality and fact soon paralyze the opposition. The opposition, with every attempt to counter this absurdism with the rational—such as the decision by Barack Obama to make his birth certificate public or by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to release the results of her DNA test to prove she has Native American ancestry—plays to the cult leader. The cult leader does not take his or her statements seriously and often denies ever making them, even when they are documented. Lies and truth do not matter. The language of the cult leader is designed exclusively to appeal to the emotional needs of those in the cult.
“Hitler kept his enemies in a state of constant confusion and diplomatic upheaval,” Joost A.M. Meerloo wrote in “The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing.” “They never knew what this unpredictable madman was going to do next. Hitler was never logical, because he knew that that was what he was expected to be. Logic can be met with logic, while illogic cannot—it confuses those who think straight. The Big Lie and monotonously repeated nonsense have more emotional appeal in a cold war than logic and reason. While the enemy is still searching for a reasonable counter-argument to the first lie, the totalitarians can assault him with another.”
The cult leader grooms followers to speak in the language of hate and violence. The cult leader constantly paints a picture of an existential threat, often invented, that puts the cult followers in danger. Trump is doing this by demonizing the caravan of some 4,000 immigrants, most from Honduras, moving through southern Mexico. Caravans of immigrants, are, in fact, nothing new. The beleaguered and impoverished asylum seekers, including many families with children, are 1,000 miles from the Texas border. But Trump, aided by nearly nonstop coverage by Fox News and Christian broadcasting, is using the caravan to terrify his followers, just as he, along with these media outlets, portrayed the protesters who flooded the U.S. capital to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as unruly mobs. Trump claims the Democrats want to open the border to these “criminals” and to “unknown Middle Easterners” who are, he suggests, radical jihadists. Christian broadcasting operations, such as Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club, splice pictures of marching jihadists in black uniforms cradling automatic weapons into the video shots of the caravan.
The fear mongering and rhetoric of hate and violence, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia, eventually lead to widespread acts of violence against those the cult leader defines as the enemy. The 13 explosive devices sent last week to Trump critics and leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, along with George Soros, James Clapper and CNN, allegedly by Cesar Sayoc, an ex-stripper and fanatic Trump supporter who was living out of his van, herald more violence. Trump, tossing gasoline on the flames, used this assault against much of the leadership of the Democratic Party to again attack the press, or, as he calls it, “the enemy of the people.” “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” he tweeted. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its acts, FAST!”
It should come as no surprise that on Saturday another enraged American white male, his fury and despair seemingly stoked by the diatribes and conspiracy theories of the far right, entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and massacred eight men and three women as he shouted anti-Semitic abuse. Shot by police and arrested at the scene was Robert Bowers, who believes that Jewish groups are aiding the caravan of immigrants in southern Mexico. He was armed with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, plus three handguns. The proliferation of easily accessible high-caliber weapons, coupled with the division of the country into the blessed and the damned by Trump and his fellow cultists, threatens to turn the landscape of the United States into one that resembles Mexico, where at least 145 people in politics, including 48 candidates and pre-candidates, along with party leaders and campaign workers, have been assassinated over the last 12 months, according to Etellekt, a risk analysis firm in Mexico. There have been 627 incidents of violence against politicians, 206 threats and acts of intimidation, 57 firearm assaults and 52 attacks on family members that resulted in 50 fatalities. Trump’s response to the mass shooting at the synagogue was to say places of worship should have armed guards, a call for further proliferation of firearms. Look south if you want a vision of our future.
Domestic terrorism and nihilistic violence are the natural outcomes of the economic, social and political stagnation, the total seizure of power by a corporate cabal and oligarchic elite, and the contamination of civil discourse by cult leaders. The weaponization of language is proliferating, as seen in the vile rhetoric that characterizes many political campaigns for the midterm elections, including the racist robocall sent out against Andrew Gillum, an African-American candidate for the governorship of Florida. “Well, hello there. I is the negro Andrew Gillum and I’ll be askin’ you to make me governor of this here state of Florida,” a man speaking in a caricature of a black dialect accompanied by jungle noises said in the robocall. Cults externalize evil. Evil is embodied in the demonized other, whether desperate immigrants, black political candidates and voters, or the Democratic Party. The only way to purge this “evil” and restore America to “greatness” is to eradicate these human contaminants.
The cult leader, unlike a traditional politician, makes no effort to reach out to his opponents. The cult leader seeks to widen the divisions. The leader brands those outside the cult as irredeemable. The leader seeks the omnipotence to crush those who do not kneel in adoration. The followers, yearning to be protected and empowered by the cult leader, seek to give the cult leader omnipotence. Democratic norms, an impediment to the leader’s omnipotence, are attacked and abolished. Those in the cult seek to be surrounded by the cult leader’s magical aura. Reality is sacrificed for fantasy. Those who challenge the fantasy are not considered human. They are Satanic.
The dictator is not only a sick man, he is also a cruel opportunist. He sees no value in any other person and feels no gratitude for any help he may have received. He is suspicious and dishonest and believes that his personal ends justify any means he may use to achieve them. Peculiarly enough, every tyrant still searches for some self-justification. Without such a soothing device for his own conscience, he cannot live. His attitude toward other people is manipulative; to him, they are merely tools for the advancement of his own interests. He rejects the conception of doubt, of internal contradictions, or man’s inborn ambivalence. He denies the psychological fact that man grows to maturity through groping, through trial and error, through the interplay of contrasting feelings. Because he will not permit himself to grope, to learn through trial and error, the dictator can never become a mature person. … It is because the dictator is afraid, albeit unconsciously, of his own internal contradictions, that he is afraid of the same internal contradictions of his fellow man. He must purge and purge, terrorize and terrorize in order to still his own raging inner drives. He must kill every doubter, destroy every person who makes a mistake, imprison everyone who cannot be proved to be utterly single-minded.
Behavior that ensures the destruction of a public figure’s career does not affect a cult leader. It does not matter how many lies uttered by Trump are meticulously documented by The New York Times or The Washington Post. It does not matter that Trump’s personal financial interests, as we see in his relationship with the Saudis, take precedence over the rule of law, diplomatic protocols and national security. It does not matter that he is credibly charged by numerous women with being a sexual predator, a common characteristic of cult leaders. It does not matter that he is inept, lazy and ignorant. The establishment, whose credibility has been destroyed because of its complicity in empowering the ruling oligarchy and the corporate state, might as well be blowing soap bubbles at Trump. Its vitriol, to his followers, only justifies the hatred radiating from the cult.
The cult leader responds to only one emotion—fear. The cult leader, usually a coward, will react when he thinks he is in danger. The cult leader will bargain and compromise when afraid. The cult leader will give the appearance of being flexible and reasonable. But as soon as the cult leader is no longer afraid, the old patterns of behavior return, with a special venom directed at those who were able to momentarily impinge upon his power.
The removal of Trump from power would not remove the yearning of tens of millions of people, many conditioned by the Christian right, for a cult leader. Most of the leaders of the Christian right have built cult followings of their own. These Christian fascists embraced magical thinking, attacked their enemies as agents of Satan and denounced reality-based science and journalism long before Trump did. Cults are a product of social decay and despair, and our decay and despair are expanding, soon to explode in another financial crisis.
The efforts by the Democratic Party and much of the press, including CNN and The New York Times, to discredit Trump, as if our problems are embodied in him, are futile. The smug, self-righteousness of this crusade against Trump only contributes to the national reality television show that has replaced journalism and politics. This crusade attempts to reduce a social, economic and political crisis to the personality of Trump. It is accompanied by a refusal to confront and name the corporate forces responsible for our failed democracy. This collusion with the forces of corporate oppression neuters the press and Trump’s mainstream critics.
Our only hope is to organize the overthrow of the corporate state that vomited up Trump. Our democratic institutions, including the legislative bodies, the courts and the media, are hostage to corporate power. They are no longer democratic. We must, like liberation movements of the past, engage in acts of sustained mass civil disobedience and non-cooperation. By turning our ire on the corporate state, we name the true sources of power and abuse. We expose the absurdity of blaming our demise on demonized groups such as undocumented workers, Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, liberals, feminists, gays and others. We give people an alternative to a Democratic Party that refuses to confront the corporate forces of oppression and cannot be rehabilitated. We make possible the restoration of an open society. If we fail to embrace this militancy, which alone has the ability to destroy cult leaders, we will continue the march toward tyranny.