Is There A Pipe Bomber-Synagogue Shooter-Russia Connection? Yes, But . . .
Pipe bomber Cesar Sayoc targeted Democrats, blacks, women, and Jews. His van was festooned with pro-Trump stickers, as well as one with an image of Vladimir Putin and "Wanted Dead or Alive" image of Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros, an intended target of one of his pipe bombs. Robert Bowers is a fanatical anti-Semite and while his support for Trump appears to have been cool, a post in his name on the extremist friendly Gab social-media site noted Trump's fondness for calling out "globalists," widely understood to be a code word for Jews, shortly before he stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue and mowed down worshipers with an assault rifle, killing 11 and wounding six in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
There is a second common thread beyond Donald Trump for Jew-hating Sayoc and Bowers: Both hew to Putin's globalist imprecations, and it is not a reach in these hyper-charged times to suspect, as some people already are doing, that Russia is behind their evil deeds. After all, we know that Russia is behind Trump.
(Let's not forget Gregory Bush, a white man with a history of violence, who about the time Sayoc's 13 pipe bombs were in the mail and Bowers was fine-tuning his deadly masterpiece, shot and killed two African-Americans at a Kentucky Kroger supermarket following a failed attempt to barge into a black church.)
The Facebook accounts of Sayoc, who declared he had "found a father in Trump," include references to "my Russian brothers" and Russian social-media propaganda links echoing Kremlin views that, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller detailed in a recent indictment, are designed to energize angry believers. Sayoc and Bowers also are virulently anti-immigrant, and here Soros plays a starring role in the fevered minds of alt-right wingers who believe he is funding the Democratic Party-inspired immigrant caravan making its way from Honduras to the wall-less southern U.S. border.
But absent documentation beyond the readily evident surface connections, a pipe bomber-synagogue shooter-Russia link is a conspiracy theory too far.
Still, that should not blind us to the reality that monsters like Bush, Sayoc and Bowers are listening when Trump gives them permission to terrorize by advocating violence, including body slamming journalists, playing footsie with neo-Nazis and dog whistling anti-Jewish messages while shamelessly admiring one world leader above all others -- the man who after all is responsible for his improbable presidency and the nightmare it has visited on us.
This makes the orgy of violence not unimaginable, as some of the more oblivious pundits are writing of these 72 hours in a hate-filled America, but inevitable.
Oh, but it's all the victims' fault, Trump wails as he scrambles to normalize all that violence. If only the Tree of Life Synagogue had armed guards. If only Hillary had been locked up. If only the border wall had been built. If only CNN had not brought its own travails on itself if it didn't broadcast all that fake news.
Contrast that response to Lyndon Johnson after the John and Bobby Kennedy and King assassinations, to Ronald Reagan after the space shuttle Challenger disaster, to Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing, and to Barack Obama after the Charleston church shooting.
And so we drag our exhausted, grief-sodden and divided selfs toward a midterm election that will, at best, rearrange the deck chairs on an America steaming toward calamity.
Extremely insightful observations, Shaun. Now that you mention it, it seems obvious that white-nationalist-inspired violence in America is exactly what Putin hopes to achieve through his cyber operations. I now wonder if Russian trolls are frequenting gab.com -- the extreme-right-wing social network where the synagog shooter spewed his venom -- to "rile up the crazies," which a producer of Fox News admitted was also an objective of that despicable network. So don't forget to put Fox in your axis of evil. My hope is that decent but apathetic Americans who might normally stay home will be inspired by these horrid events to get get off their keisters on Election Day.
Thank you, Shaun. I'm trying to find words for a coherent, hopeful reply ... only a fragment of sad lyrics come to mind, from a song I wrote some years ago, in an entirely different context, echoing your grief.
"One more song of loneliness,
One more song of pain.
I don't want to be here now,
But I keep coming back again.
Where's the peace and comfort?
Where're the ties that bind?
Never comes that togetherness,
Never true love I find."
I just paid a visit to the alternate reality of Breitbart News. And now I'm speechless...
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