What about violence?

Organizers and the host pastor of the Reawaken America Tour in Batavia vehemently denied that violence follows their events. In fact, they announced legal action against NYS Attorney General Letitia James for sending a letter suggesting there might be racial violence. You can read the letter here. And here is a public radio news story about what happened at the event.

To be fair, there was no outward violence, or hint of physical violence, at the event (other than bodyguards and armed security). I did not hear any speaker urge people to riot or join a militia or use guns against anyone. When a constant theme of speakers, however, is that “they are coming for us, and we have to be ready” and “our enemies must be destroyed before they destroy us,” some people will inevitably hear that as a call to take violent action against their enemies.

One speaker on Saturday morning did exactly that. John Michael Chambers is creator and founder of American Media Periscope (https://americanmediaperiscope.com/), which “has interviewed such patriot guests as General Michael Flynn, Sydney Powell, and Kash Patel.” His website says it is “America’s Patriot Only Network,” and everywhere he speaks  he claims to present “The News Behind the News.” His website, though, is more an online store for books and merchandise supporting Trump and various conspiracies.

His 15-minute speech began with prayer for “our president” and his family (meaning Donald Trump). “The storm is upon us,” he said – “Trump’s signal to patriots.” He uses the language of war and enemies – “We win, they lose … We are at war, on a wartime basis … Evil enemies of freedom.” As he repeated the “stolen election” lies, he even claimed that “all military branches documented it.” This means, he said, that “war has been declared.” If the “military steps in with midterm elections, we win.” And “the media is aiding and abetting the enemy.” This was a call to arms, to rise up for freedom.

This is how wars begin – with demonizing the other and stirring up hate toward “the enemy.” Words like “evil” and “demonic” were used throughout the event by multiple speakers, referring to President Biden, to LGBTQ persons, to “the government,” to the unspecified “them.” Organizers resist the charge that their events stir up fear and hate wherever they go. When speakers, however, constantly use the language of hate – evil, demonic – and call for “enemies” to be destroyed, that is the result. This event builds on a narrative of evil and enemies – a narrative that people in the audience hear and watch all the time on sites like Rumble (https://rumble.com/), One America News Network (https://www.oann.com/), Alex Jones’ Infowar (https://www.infowars.com/), and The Glenn Beck Program (https://www.glennbeck.com/st/podcast).

When speakers constantly use the language of enemies and war and evil, violence will inevitability follow – somewhere, sometime. Our nation must prepare for it.

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