As right-wing rhetoric increases, so do threats and violence

Despite that threat, a day later, when the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News published the warrant underlying the Mar-a-Lago search, it did not redact the names of the FBI agents in the document. Almost immediately afterward, posts on a pro-Trump chat board referred to them as “traitors.”

According to the FBI, there are now about 2,700 domestic terrorism investigations open, a number that has doubled since spring 2020, and that does not include smaller but still serious incidents that do not rise to the level of a federal investigation. Last year, threats against members of Congress hit a record high of 9,600, according to data provided by Capitol Police.

However, it is exceptionally rare for most adults to deliberately harm others, especially for political reasons, said Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow in the program on democracy, conflict and governance at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Even so, said Ms. Kleinfeld, there are ways to lower the average person’s tolerance for violence.

If political aggression is placed in the context of war, he suggested, ordinary people with no history of violence are more likely to accept it. Political violence can also be made more acceptable if we view it as a defensive action against a belligerent enemy. This is particularly true if an adversary is persistently portrayed as irredeemably evil or less than human.

“The right, right now, is doing all three of those things at once,” Ms. Kleinfeld.

There is little evidence that Republicans and the right-wing media have tempered their rhetoric, even as Congress and the Justice Department investigate the Jan. 6 attack. Several defendants charged in the riot have said that Mr. Trump encouraged them to act. Still, many Republicans have tried to downplay his role.

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