(Originally, I had done something on a MMT podcast with some of its major luminaries, but I’ll save it for a future AC chat diary, since Historical events seem more important for MeetUps)
First problem: even as it’s an old ploy initiated by right-wing elements, there is no actual antifa organization to designate as a domestic terror organization.
The next step is to create a “domestic terrorism law” that would allow the WH in an Executive Order to create “enemies of the state”. The real threat is right-wing groups like Boogaloo Bois, who are more dangerous because if anything they are better armed.
Referencing Antifa is another Trumpian diversion to brand, or “media frame” a diversion from a systemic racism that amplified the events evolving from the killing of George Floyd.
“Antifa” is a rhetorical frame to divert attention from police violence as well as some “very fine people” like the right-wing at Charlottesville. “Antifa” allows a deflection of attention from 104,000 pandemic deaths. It is a dogwhistle for a host of RW groups and diverts attention from the actual police violence.
Linguist and rhetoric scholar George Lakoff argues that, in order to persuade a political audience of one side of an argument or another, the facts must be presented through a rhetorical frame. It is argued that, without the frame, the facts of an argument become lost on an audience, making the argument less effective. The rhetoric of politics uses framing to present the facts surrounding an issue in a way that creates the appearance of a problem at hand that requires a solution. Politicians using framing to make their own solution to an exigence appear to be the most appropriate compared to that of the opposition. Counter-arguments become less effective in persuading an audience once one side has framed an argument, because it is argued that the opposition then has the additional burden of arguing the frame of the issue in addition to the issue itself.
At a granular level the stories of Breonna Taylor and Duncan Lemp are hardly equivalent but they do share some common features, aside from police shooting first.
More than a tale of two martyrs, what these two stories share is the problem of media framing and police tactical procedures.
In both instances police fired rounds from the outside into housing using no-knock warrants.
The stories diverge as much as ideological frames but the structurally identical use of warranted state power to rationalize using deadly force. It is still about social justice and police reform for Americans, even as Trump tries to hide behind the chaos by framing some unlikely causes.
- Duncan Lemp has as yet not become Horst Wessel because don't we all have our bedrooms booby-trapped. He was shot in his home
- Breonna Taylor has become caught up in the fervor of the George Floyd protests. She was shot in her home.
What remains is the systemic racism, the institution that reflects a 400 year relation of people to property that is asymmetric and exploitative. Privilege is a frame that preys on uncertainty and fear, and remains a commodity easily fetishized, as class, social, or cultural status.
+ LMPD officers went to the home of Breonna Taylor on Springfield Drive on March 13 to serve a warrant related to a drug trafficking investigation.
+ LMPD officials described that warrant as a “no-knock warrant,” meaning the officers were not required to announce themselves upon arriving at Taylor’s home, but those LMPD officials said they did anyway. Taylor’s family and attorneys dispute that the officers announced themselves.
+ A shootout ensued between a suspect inside the home — Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker — and the LMPD officers. One LMPD officer was struck, and three of them fired back. The officer who was struck has recovered. Taylor’s family has filed a civil lawsuit that states Walker thought someone was breaking into the apartment, and that’s why he fired his gun.
Even the most casual observer can see that the difference. For example in street confrontations in Portland Oregon, one can see the difference in demands for actual armed insurrection, and that the bright line is racism and sexism.
The one thing everyone who witnessed the pre-dawn police raid on 21-year-old right-wing activist Duncan Lemp’s home in Potomac, Maryland, can agree on is that the police shot him.
Everything else about the March 12 incident is up for dispute: why the raid happened; whether Lemp was dangerous enough to merit a no-knock raid; whether he was allowed to own guns; and whether Lemp was asleep in his bed when he was killed, or holding a rifle.
With so many open questions about the incident, talk of Lemp’s killing has spread far beyond Potomac, the affluent Washington suburb where he was killed. Now Lemp has been embraced as a martyr by some of the most extreme elements of the anti-lockdown protests: supporters of the “Boogaloo,” the Hawaiian-shirt-clad protesters who are itching for a civil war.
Across the country, these armed anti-lockdown protesters have adopted Lemp as their mascot—giving their names to reporters as “Duncan Lemp,” and putting his name on their body-armor vests. Lemp’s name has been used as an alias by anti-lockdown activists in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, Indiana, and Nevada. He’s been cited by those protesting business closures, and even one man said he was inspired by Lemp to allegedly go out hunting for police officers in a foiled attempt at a revenge killing.
“People are calling for law enforcement to be targeted for revenge for Duncan Lemp,” said Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League.
Police in Minneapolis apprehended individuals in a stolen vehicle with no plates, no lights on, and confiscated an “assault rifle” allegedly used to fire on police.
Media framing is but one aspect of information / disinformation analysis and there will be much more in this election year.
Framing is so effective because it is a heuristic, or mental shortcut that may not always yield desired results; and is seen as a 'rule of thumb'. According to Susan T. Fiske and Shelley E. Taylor, human beings are by nature “cognitive misers”, meaning they prefer to do as little thinking as possible. Frames provide people a quick and easy way to process information. Hence, people will use the previously mentioned mental filters (a series of which is called a schema) to make sense of incoming messages. This gives the sender and framer of the information enormous power to use these schemas to influence how the receivers will interpret the message.
These are difficult times and we need situational awareness.
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