Dictionary.com did its part to educate the public by tweeting a definition after an attacker shot and killed five people and injured 17 others over the weekend at Club Q, which has been described as “the heart of the LGBT community” in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Stochastic terrorism is “the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.” Basically, it’s daily programming on Fox News and the ugly garbage that fuels the podcasts and posts at right-wing websites like The Daily Wire, which pursue a relentless, vindictive agenda that falsely accuses LGBTQ+ communities and liberal allies of “grooming” and “indoctrinating” young children.
While the shooter’s motives and connections are still being investigated, LGBTQ+ communities remain under assault from false accusations and venomous conspiracy theories. Even as bodies are buried, Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire and his right-wing circus of hate had no moment of soul-searching, restraint, or even grace. Instead, they resorted to the usual strategy of fake victimhood, grievance politics, projection, and gaslighting.
Walsh mocked liberals and critics who correctly called him out for placing a giant target on the backs of the LGBTQ+ communities and their allies, which includes doctors, politicians, and educators.
“Yes! We can use this as ammo against conservatives who don’t think children should be exposed to drag shows!”, he tweeted sarcastically. Walsh also accused leftists of “using a mass shooting to try and blackmail us into accepting the castration and sexualization of children.”
No, we just want Walsh and his coterie of right-wing extremists to acknowledge that their cottage industry of hate has helped create a toxic environment, that has radicalized unhinged individuals to use violence against targeted groups.
You know, stochastic terrorism.
Unfortunately, the right wing has learned to just double down on hate, lies, and deflection.
Just look at their response to the attack on Paul Pelosi by an unwell man whose path towards radicalization began online with the misogynist GamerGate community and eventually lead him down the rabbit hole to full-blown, violent MAGA conspiracy theorist. He tried to finish what other MAGA insurrectionists started on Jan. 6, 2021, when they aggressively hunted both Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence for adhering to the rule of law and democracy.
Instead of taking any accountability, the right promoted homophobic conspiracy theories to deny any culpability. That piece of fake news was retweeted and amplified by Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest troll, who just invited Donald Trump, the world’s most influential troll, back to Twitter.
And rather than even feigning an attempt to “lower the temperature” after the Colorado massacre, Walsh referred to his critics this week as “soulless demons” who are “evil to the core.” His colleague in depravity, Candace Owens, claimed that liberals are “using the tragedy in Colorado” to get conservatives to “get on board with experimenting on children’s genitals with puberty blockers.” A few hours after the Club Q attack, Libs of TikTok—a Twitter account run by Chaya Raichik that targets LGBTQ+ communities, allies, and drag performers—set its sights on a Denver non-profit that supports young people who want to perform in drag. Tucker Carlson, who is a favorite of white nationalists, has praised Libs of TikTok and normalized its hate as a legitimate source of news information.
This hate doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It nourishes a tightly knit right-wing ecosystem that is primed and weaponized. “You can activate that army,” Steve Bannon once told Bloomberg Businessweek. “They come in through Gamergate or whatever and then get turned on to politics and Trump.” That army includes the Proud Boys, whose leaders participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection after being told by President Trump to “stand back and stand by” during a 2020 presidential debate. Since Pride month, these MAGA brownshirts have intimidated and threatened libraries and schools, accusing them of “grooming” children.
Children’s hospitals and medical professionals are also enduring threats due to an orchestrated right-wing attack that is accusing them of sexual experimentation on children. After Walsh and others fanned the flames, Boston’s Children’s Hospital has come under repeated threats to the point that congressional leaders have finally asked Department of Justice leaders to step up and act.
It’s worth remembering that educators asked the DOJ to intervene and protect them from right-wing threats last year after the right-wing’s critical race theory hysteria was deliberately manufactured to terrify the GOP base into believing their children were being indoctrinated against traditional gender roles and taught to hate white people.
This dirty work is actively promoted and elevated by GOP politicians.
Gun enthusiast and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted the customary thoughts and prayers after the shooting but neglected to apologize for her role in demonizing drag queens, using slurs against transgender people, and promoting the “groomer” conspiracy theory. Before the midterm election, the Wisconsin GOP took a cue from Walsh and accused Democrats of using “our public schools to indoctrinate 3-year-olds with radical gender ideology.”
Instead of tackling white supremacist violence (the No. 1 domestic terror threat in America), the GOP has instead banned books and classroom discussions on gender identity. They have introduced more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that restrict their right to participate in sporting events, deny them medical care, and impose limits on bathroom usage. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2022 will have the most legislation targeting transgender youth than any other year.
The connections are direct and clear. There’s a straight line from the right-wing media ecosystem to these violent, right-wing actors. They all emerge from the same ideological infrastructure.
I’ve been trying to do my part to warn about the violent cost of GOP hate resulting from the right-wing mainstreaming of conspiracy theories. There’s the replacement theory that has inspired terrorist violence against Blacks, Jews, Latinos, and Muslims. There’s QAnon—now openly embraced by Trump—that radicalized Ashli Babbitt and the Jan. 6 insurrectionists to attack the U.S. Capitol. And now the GOP has become so extreme that their leaders stay silent even as Trump threatens Sen. Mitch McConnell (a natural next step after Trump incited a mob that shouted “Hang Mike Pence!”).
If this is how the conservative movement treats its own, what chance do the rest of us have? They’re coming after our poll workers, our educators, our law enforcement, our hospitals, our elected officials, and our elections. Without any accountability, they won’t stop with their stochastic and actual terrorism.
How many people have to die before we stand up to the terror movement in our own backyard? Let’s hope we find an answer before the next tragedy.