Internet Lynch Mob Monday

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Here’s how lynch mobs form, in the age of the alt-right and “alternative facts.”

First, you inadvertently wave a red flag at an arena full of bulls. Then you sit back and wait for the internet to do its dark magic.

In my case, the red flag was a few paragraphs at the end of a recent column, speculating on what would happen if Donald Trump truly and dangerously lost his marbles. I wondered about one “possibility … that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders”:

The principle of civilian control of the military has been deeply internalized by the US military, which prides itself on its nonpartisan professionalism.… But Trump … [is] thin-skinned, erratic, and unconstrained — and his unexpected, self-indulgent pronouncements are reportedly sending shivers through even his closest aides.

What would top US military leaders do if given an order that struck them as not merely ill-advised, but dangerously unhinged? An order that wasn’t along the lines of “Prepare a plan to invade Iraq if Congress authorizes it based on questionable intelligence,” but “Prepare to invade Mexico tomorrow!” or “Start rounding up Muslim Americans and sending them to Guantanamo!” or “I’m going to teach China a lesson — with nukes!”

It’s impossible to say, of course. The prospect of American military leaders responding to a presidential order with open defiance is frightening — but so, too, is the prospect of military obedience to an insane order. After all, military officers swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the president. For the first time in my life, I can imagine plausible scenarios in which senior military officials might simply tell the president: “No, sir. We’re not doing that,” to thunderous applause from the New York Times editorial board.

Needless to say, when I wrote this, it didn’t occur to me that anyone could construe it as a call for a military coup. Perhaps this should have occurred to me, given the current state of American political discourse, but it didn’t. I received a couple of polite email messages from readers who argued that I shouldn’t have even raised this as a hypothetical possibility, but most initial comments came from readers who took what I wrote in the spirit in which it was intended: What might happen if the US president gave an order that was truly, frighteningly unhinged, and all normal checks and balances had failed? Could we imagine a military refusal to obey the commander in chief? Should we imagine it?

Rosa Brooks @ BILL MOYERS

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About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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16 Responses to Internet Lynch Mob Monday

  1. Den says:

    Don’t piss off the redneck morons hiding behind their keyboards, trolls.

    Won’t be long before they leave their Mommies basements, armed and dangerous.

  2. Den says:

    Latest on the Dam News, they are dumping 100,000 cu ft/min of water down the damaged concrete spillway and have brought the lake level down below the emergency spillway so it quit running over. Helicopters poised to drop large bags of rock on to the weakened area.

    5 days of rain starting Wednesday, so they are hustling to get this done, over 200K people evacuated below the dam. As it stands now the imminent danger of a break has been reduced however evacuations are still in place until the PTB can insure the spillways integrity, the upcoming rain will decide what happens next

  3. º¿carol says:

    Micki, so very sorry to hear about your sister. 😦 Which of your sisters did you lose?

  4. º¿carol says:

    Nice here today, lots of sun. High of 43° again. Went to the big box grocery store, and when I came out and headed home I had to open a few of the car windows. Too hot, lol.

  5. David B. Benson says:

    TVD bridge and return in a slow 55 minutes. Some birds perched in the fir trees, but hard to make out the species. Sunny day.

  6. David B. Benson says:

    Leg of lamb at the Hillside Cafe. First time here.

  7. David B. Benson says:

    Ice pancakes pix:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-38955668
    Appear to be griddle cake size or larger.

  8. David B. Benson says:

    Home from the euphonium/tuba concert. Interesting hour well spent.

  9. Den says:

    Why we never take our sheep fishing:

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