The armed attack this week on an F.B.I. office in Ohio by a supporter of former President Donald J. Trump who was enraged by the bureau’s search of Mr. Trump’s private residence in Florida was one of the most disturbing episodes of right-wing political violence in recent months.
But it was hardly the only one.
In the year and a half since a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, threats of political violence and actual attacks have become a steady reality of American life, affecting school board officials, election workers, flight attendants, librarians and even members of Congress, often with few headlines and little reaction from politicians.
In late June, a former Marine stepped down as the grand marshal of a July 4 parade in Houston after a deluge of threats that focused on her support of transgender rights. A few weeks later, the gay mayor of an Oklahoma city quit his job after what he described as a series of “threats and attacks bordering on violence.”
Even the federal judge who authorized the warrant to search for classified material at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s beachfront home and club, became a target. On pro-Trump message boards, several threats were issued against him and his family, with one person writing, “I see a rope around his neck.”
While this welter of events may feel disparate, occurring at different times and places and to different types of people, scholars who study political violence point to a common thread: the heightened use of bellicose, dehumanizing and apocalyptic language, particularly by prominent figures in right-wing politics and media. [Continue reading…]