Verbal Terrorism


I have come to the realization that President Elect Donald Trump has created a whole new form of warfare. I have dubbed it ‘Verbal Terrorism’ While using many of the same basic structures and forms of traditional terrorism, he has added a non-lethal aspect that allows him to commit acts of terror with near impunity.

Traditional terrorism uses random acts of violence, usually against civilians to entice fear in a population. A continuous series of these attacks can destabilize governments and numb a population into accepting just about any ideology to make it stop. Roadside bombs, Suicide bombers, car bombs explode on streets and in buildings without warning, setting the population on edge, never knowing when or where the next attack will be. Faith and trust erode and the society is weakened drastically as it descends into chaos. At first terrorist sympathizers are demonized, but as the attacks continue and grow in frequency, the sympathizers become harder to identify, as the terror reaches its zenith, there is a switch in loyalties. Not that the general population accepts the views of the terrorists, but that they are willing to resign themselves to it out of fear, and in time, simply to maintain some semblance of peace in their day to day lives. Somewhere during that transition, anger and hatred towards the establishment arises for its inability to secure the population and anger originally focused on the instigator is misdirected onto the victim.

This is the goal of a terror campaign, and throughout history it has failed with few exceptions.

Now lets look at America in 2015-2016.

Donald Trump declares his candidacy for president. He begins his campaign with a blast of racially charged rhetoric, stunning the population. This quickly escalates and more verbal bombs begin to go off, on TV, social media and even on the stage of the party debates, a structure once thought impregnable to such explosions is ill prepared to deal with the fall out and the victims on the stage fall to the sharp shrapnel of these verbal bombs. Devoid of reason or method they could go off anywhere at anyone. No one is safe. and the candidates quake in fear at what will happen at the next debate. Some try to fight back, but are woefully unschooled in tactics, and have no effective weapons against this new and frightening type of war. Like the red coats in their orderly rows marching into battle only to be sniped at by woodsmen hiding under cover, or soldiers riding armored vehicles into a village only to have a commonly dressed child loaded with plastique explode next to them, Political candidates in their suits and prepared notes are devastated when one of their own shouts blatant lies and then just continues to shout so their stunned response can’t be heard. The prepared notes flutter to the floor, useless against this staged guerilla warfare, and decorum withers in its onslaught.

Debate after debate, nomination to presidential campaign these verbal bombs went off day after day. Attacks on veterans, women, unions, CEOs, Muslims, Mexicans, Republicans, Democrats, news personalities across the spectrum, talkshow hosts,actors,civilians….no one was safe, and each victim was left standing, unbloodied, alive, and thus, somehow perceived as uninjured. We as a society didn’t know how to react. Trump’s verbal terrorism seemed unbounded by any ideology and thus became it’s own, and without a way to measure the damage we simply stood in awe, or worse, bemused by these non-lethal, but still devastating attacks on our psyche.

Day after day these bombs went off, and Trump’s sympathizers and supporters planted more until we bacame numb to the onslaught. another day another outragious claim, any one or two would have exploded in the face of a regular politician ending their career in a spectacular burst of press flashes, but now there were to many, moving to fast, no one could get purchase on one before another exploded, we as a society could not gather our outrage because it was being fragmented across the landscape of a lunar landscape of verbal craters, overlapping each other, we were separated into tiny groups latching on to one or two of the affronts while our neighbors and friends were blown into another by the detonation of yet another verbal bomb. Our outrage was spread to thin to have any traction and while we could all agree something was wrong, we couldn’t agree on what.

Somewhere during this barrage we were fed stories of improprieties from our allies, Bernie was cheated, Clinton was a monster, The Democrats corrupt. Even when they tried to unite us, that misdirected anger towards the establishment took hold. Bernie plead with us to support Clinton, but to many didn’t listen, their rage was already peaked and being fed by the visual terrorist attacks across social media in memes and videos. Many, unable to deal with the situation, numbed into a stupor began to grow quiet, others would speak out and become the target of the vocal terrorists, spamming them with meaningless rhetoric and obvious falsehoods. They to fell silent. Election day arrived and those lulled into a sense of inevitability stayed home. Those sure that the establishment would overwhelm the terrorist, stayed home.

In a few short weeks, barring the overwhelming rebellion of the electoral college, Donald Trump will assume the presidency, and the verbal terrorist campaign will become the normal day to day lives of the citizens. Already we have seen those citizens who have risk voicing criticism dragged out onto the street of Twitter and beaten as an example to the rest of us. Already the fear of reprisals grips the talking heads and business leaders, out of fear, try to normalize the upcoming regime by pretending that this will soon revert to a more traditional way to conduct a government. Just as they said about the candidate debates, and they said about the Presidential debates, and they said about the President-elect and about the cabinet he would chose.

This is not normal, it will not become normal, it was a terrorist revolution that so far has succeeded, and will continue it’s program of random verbal terror attacks not only on it’s citizens, but beyond it’s borders as well.

We cannot tell what the results of that campaign will be, but I suspect it will no longer remain bloodless.

Daniel O’Neail

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