On Friday, November 4, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia spoke on a panel about incendiary language during a two-day conference, titled Extremism: Confronting Hate Without Fear. The conference brought together some of the country’s leading experts on extremism to examine the growing threat of radicalization in America and around the world. The event, hosted at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY, included a selection of award-winning films, with their filmmakers, along with authors, journalists, experts, and academics on dimensions of the topic of extremism.
Garcia spoke on a panel titled “Next Generation Now: Growing Influencers in the Alt Right and the Language They Use.” The panel followed a screening of the documentary film, “White Noise,” which tracks the rise of far-right nationalism. The film, directed by Daniel Lombroso, captures the inside story of the alt right movement and serves as a warning about the power of extremism. The panel discussion that followed also featured Lombroso and was moderated by New York University faculty member Jacqueline Strayer.
During the panel discussion, Garcia spoke about the pattern of incendiary language provoking violence, which he documents in his most recent book, Words on Fire: Incendiary Language and How to Confront It. He described some of the core insights from Words on Fire, shared how civic leaders and engaged citizens can hold leaders who use incendiary language accountable, and answered audience questions.
Watch an amalgamation of clips from that panel discussion here:
https://i0.wp.com/www.logosconsulting.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Confronting-Extremism-Panel.png?fit=851%2C315&ssl=1315851Logos Consulting Grouphttps://www.logosconsulting.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HQ-Lambda-Consulting-Lockup-1030x562.pngLogos Consulting Group2022-12-08 10:00:412022-12-09 10:51:54Logos President Helio Fred Garcia Speaks at Conference on Confronting Extremism
One of the ways Logos Consulting Group serves our clients and our network is to identify troubling social trends and to raise the alarm when we believe those trends are likely to affect clients.
And in early 2009 we noticed a troubling pattern: A surge of incivility by prominent people and in unexpected places. We began advising clients of the risk of such incivility becoming normalized in the workplace and in the public square. And we worried that the trend would escalate.
Over the span of more than a decade we have further raised the alarm as incivility escalated into hate crimes, then terrorism, and then insurrection. All the while American civic life became fractured. And even as a pandemic has taken more than one million American lives, the polarization and turmoil continue.
And through it all we advised clients on how to protect themselves and their people, and to live their values, especially when their people were at risk.
Incivility took tangible form in early August 2009, soon after President Obama proposed what later became the Affordable Care Act. As members of Congress, home for the August recess, held informational town hall meetings, so-called Tea Party activists loudly disrupted those meetings. While originally described as spontaneous uprisings of citizens, the media soon recognized that the disruptions were organized by well-funded Obama opponents and followed a playbook that included these instructions:
“Be Disruptive Early And Often: You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
“Try To Rattle Him, Not Have An Intelligent Debate: The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
A month later, as President Obama tried to regain control of the healthcare narrative, there was another unprecedented disruption. Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and outlined many of the misperceptions the Tea Party had spread about his healthcare initiative. At one point, South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson interrupted the President with a shout of “You lie!” Wilson was later censured by the House, but raised millions of dollars in the weeks that followed.
The incivility moved from politics to celebrity with another unprecedented and highly visible disruption during the Video Music Awards. Breakout artist Taylor Swift won Best Video by a Female Artist. As the young musician took the stage to give her acceptance speech, she was startled as rapper Kanye West stormed onstage, took Swift’s microphone out of her hand, and declared that the rightful winner should have been Beyoncé.
And we saw clients experience similar acts of incivility in the workplace and in customer interactions.
Incivility Turns to Violence
In 2011, during a Manhattan march by Occupy Wall Street activists, a New York City senior police officer pepper-sprayed the faces of peaceful protesters who were being detained behind orange netting. Police guidelines make clear that pepper spray may not be used in situations that do not require the use of physical force. Two months later, police at the University of California Davis were trying to remove several peaceful seated Occupy Wall Street protesters who were blocking a paved path on campus. A police officer systematically pepper-sprayed each of the protesters. Videos of both the New York and Davis incidents went viral on social and mainstream media. Eventually both the New York City police and the University of California Davis reached settlements with those who were sprayed.
The aberrant became normative in the following months as individuals began to use pepper spray against others. During a Black Friday sale at a southern California Walmart, a woman pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers who were trying to grab a video game in short supply. In New York City, a 14-year-old high school student used pepper spray against her classmates, sending nine to the hospital.
We advised clients to make clear that violence, including but not limited to pepper spray, was unacceptable in the workplace and that offenders would face significant consequence.
Black Lives Matter
In early 2012 Trayvon Martin, an African American teen, was killed in Sandford, Florida by a vigilante who told police the young man looked, “like he is up to no good or on drugs or something.” Although police advised George Zimmerman to not pursue the young man, Zimmerman did, eventually shooting Martin in a struggle. The police originally released Zimmerman, but after significant public outcry they brought charges. He was acquitted after claiming self-defense under Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground law.
Eighteen months later, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teen in Ferguson, Missouri was shot multiple times by a Ferguson police officer. The police mishandled both the immediate investigation and the massive protests that followed.
These two shootings led to heightened visibility of police violence against unarmed African Americans. The Black Lives Matter movement emerged after Trayvon Martin’s murder and grew to national prominence following Michael Brown’s murder. In the years that followed, the movement grew further. In the summer of 2020, after the videotaped killing by four police officers of George Floyd, more than 25 million Americans took to the streets in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, the largest public protest in American history.
We advised clients in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and we were also retained by new clients who had responded ineffectively to changing stakeholder expectations to take Black Lives Matter seriously.
From Hate Crimes to Acts of Terror
In 2015 Donald Trump began his presidential campaign by demonizing immigrants and people seeking asylum in the U.S. Hate crimes against people perceived to be Latino surged. When candidate Trump called for “total and complete ban” of Muslims entering the U.S., hate crimes against people perceived to be Muslim surged.
Throughout his presidency Trump dehumanized groups and demonized groups, rivals, and critics. Acts of violence surged against those Trump targeted. In my book Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It, I describe the Playbook Trump used: twelve forms of communication that create the social conditions that lead some people to accept, condone, and commit acts of violence against those Trump targets.
In the run-up to the 2018 midterm election, Trump intensified his dehumanization and demonization of Latin Americans seeking legal asylum. Trump characterized these asylum seekers using some form of the words ‘invader,’ ‘invasion,’ ‘criminal,’ ‘animal,’ or ‘killer’ with increasing frequency. Trump said one or more of these words between eight and ten times per rally in early October. In the three days before the mid-term election, Trump said one or more of these more than thirty times per rally. His rally speeches were further amplified by his social media posts. He and his allies also asserted that the purported invasion was financed by George Soros and Jewish institutions.
Incivility morphed into acts of terror. Less than two weeks before election day, a white supremacist who embraced Trump’s language committed a terror attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people and wounding two others. That same week, a Trump supporter sent 16 mail bombs to more than a dozen Trump critics whom Trump had demonized on social media. In August 2019, a Trump supporter killed 32 people he perceived to be Mexican in an El Paso Walmart. He said he was protecting Texas from a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
And during COVID-19, Trump continued to refer to the Coronavirus as the China Virus, or Chinese Virus, or even Kung Flu. This led to a surge of hate crimes against people perceived to be Asian.
Throughout, we advised clients on ways to help members of at-risk groups both be safe and feel safe.
Stand Back and Stand By
President Trump began laying the groundwork to claim that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate as early as the Spring of 2020, discrediting the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. By election day he was actively claiming that the election was rigged and refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost.
In the first presidential debate in late September 2020, Trump was asked to denounce white nationalist groups, specifically the Proud Boys. Instead, he called on the group to “stand back and stand by.” The group’s leader replied on social media that they were standing by, and the Proud Boys immediately added the phrase “stand back and stand by” to their line of merchandise.
Following the election that Trump claims he won and months of misinformation, Trump called for his followers to come to Washington. Trump posted on Twitter on December 19, 2020, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” January 6 was when the electoral college votes were to be certified by Congress.
As a result, what had been individualized self-directed acts of violence and terror became a coordinated event, with multiple players all participating in what became an insurrection.
Among those who responded to the call were the Proud Boys, which formed a new chapter for those coming to DC called the ‘Ministry of Self-Defense.’ On the day Trump called for people to come to DC, the head of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, spoke with Kelly Meggs, the Florida head of the militia group The Oath Keepers, which also had a meaningful presence at the January 6 insurrection. Meggs sent a message to his followers: “Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your shit!!”
On January 6, as the Congress was considering the electoral count in the 2020 election, Trump addressed a crowd of thousands gathered at the Ellipse near the White House. He rallied the crowd to march to the Capitol to disrupt the proceedings. He called on Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election. Among his remarks:
“And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical-left Democrats, which is what they’re doing … We will never give up, we will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
“Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about … We will stop the steal.”
“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
The Proud Boys were among the first to penetrate the perimeter of the Capitol. Thousands of rally-goers eventually arrived, and more than 2,000 entered the building. Some called for the assassination of Vice President Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other members of Congress. One Trump supporter was killed by Capitol police as she tried to penetrate the window on a set of doors leading to the House chamber.
Five police officers who were present during the insurrection died, as did four of the insurrectionists. More than 130 police officers were injured. Of those, 15 were hospitalized, some with severe injuries.
We advised clients on ways to deal both with political polarization and the possibility that some of their employees may have been part of the Capitol attack.
And the incivility, polarization, and violence continue.
Where are We Now?
As 2022 comes to a close, the nation has experienced more than 600 mass shootings, defined as shootings with four or more fatalities, not including the gunman. This puts 2022 on track to meet or exceed last year’s record of 690 mass shootings.
Twitter’s new owner has eliminated many of the standards that previously restrained much violence-provoking rhetoric. As a result, as just one example, use of the N-word on Twitter has increased five times in the month of Elon Musk’s leadership of the social media platform.
And heightened political polarization in the new Congress is likely to spill out into the public square.
What are we advising our clients? That it’s likely to get worse before it gets better; that it will likely take an inflection point of unprecedented proportion before the pendulum begins to move back toward civility.
As Trump faces a range of federal, state, and local criminal investigations, it’s just a matter of time before he is indicted. We need to take very seriously Senator Lindsey Graham’s prediction that there will be “riots in the streets” if Trump should be prosecuted.
So, what can leaders do to prepare?
First, note the pattern of the escalation of incivility… to dehumanization… to acts of individual violence… to acts of collective violence.
Second, call out the pattern and declare that you will hold people in your organization accountable for provoking or committing violence.
In the meantime, Logos Consulting Group will continue our trendspotting and share our concerns and insights with our clients and our network.
This reflective piece is part of our 20th anniversary celebration. Throughout this anniversary year, we will be sharing a series of reflections on the shifts and trends we have been following in business and in the world over the past twenty years, as well as advice to leaders and organizations navigating through the challenges we see today.
https://i0.wp.com/www.logosconsulting.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Logos-20th-Anniversary-Web.png?fit=851%2C315&ssl=1315851Helio Fred Garciahttps://www.logosconsulting.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HQ-Lambda-Consulting-Lockup-1030x562.pngHelio Fred Garcia2022-11-29 09:53:022023-01-09 17:26:18From Incivility to Insurrection: A Logos 20th Anniversary Reflection
On Friday, May 13, 2022, Logos President Helio Fred Garcia was quoted in an article in The Guardian on the rise in violent rhetoric surrounding the Missouri Senate primary. The rhetoric surrounding the Missouri Senate primary, which has included candidates posing with firearms and posting seemingly threatening language about political rivals, exemplifies the heightened polarization and increase in incendiary rhetoric seen throughout the United States today.
In the article, Garcia forecasts more violence given the continued heightened rhetoric. It reads, “He thought the US could return to a more normal place after the end of Trump’s presidency but because Trump still insists he won, Garcia thinks it will take more than eight years and further carnage for the pendulum to swing back to a more normal place.”
https://i0.wp.com/www.logosconsulting.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Website-Post-Image-Size-Template.png?fit=851%2C315&ssl=1315851Logos Consulting Grouphttps://www.logosconsulting.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HQ-Lambda-Consulting-Lockup-1030x562.pngLogos Consulting Group2022-05-13 12:24:552022-05-13 12:25:04LOGOS IN THE NEWS: Helio Fred Garcia Quoted in The Guardian
Almost exactly a month ago, I raised the alarm about the increase in incivility against Asians and Asian Americans, provoked in part by President Trump’s use of “China Virus” or “Chinese Virus” to describe COVID-19. The FBI has since warned that a wave of hate crimes against people perceived to be Asian or Asian-American is under way.
Now, this incivility has turned towards our healthcare workers and government officials.
It began nearly two weeks ago, as people began protesting outside of government buildings demanding that states reopen. Resentment has been building about stay-at-home orders since early March, encouraged by conservative media and some government officials – including President Trump.
On April 16, Trump announced new guidelines from his administration on how states should lift stay-in-place orders to restart the economy, titled “Opening Up America Again.”
“Based on the latest data, our team of experts now agrees that we can begin the next front in our war, which we’re calling, “Opening Up America Again.” And that’s what we’re doing: We’re opening up our country. And we have to do that. America wants to be open, and Americans want to be open. As I have said for some time now, a national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution. To preserve the health of our citizens, we must also preserve the health and functioning of our economy.”
The guidelines outline a phased process that governors would lead based on their specific circumstances. This came days after Trump claimed he had “ultimate authority” to reopen states, as governors across the east and west coasts vowed to not reopen their states until the pandemic subsides.
The next day, Trump flipped his script. Several small protests had popped up across the country against the stay-at-home orders. That morning, Fox News aired a segment about a group called “Liberate Minnesota,” which planned to protest the state’s stay-at-home order outside of the governor’s house.
Minutes later, Trump tweeted,
“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” followed by “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINA, and save your great 2nd amendment. It is under siege!”
This apparent endorsement of the protests, in direct violation of public health guidelines issued by Trump’s own administration, was seen by some as a signal. Far-right extremists believed Trump’s tweets were a call for armed conflict, an event referred to as “the boogaloo.” The term “Boogaloo,” shorthand for “Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo,” had been documented in February of this year as a new and growing movement of far-right extremists calling for a new Civil War. Hours after the president’s “Liberate” tweets, more than 1,000 tweets were posted using the term “Boogaloo.”
And, in fact, the 2nd Amendment was not under attack by any governmental or political leader. But protesters took the cue and began showing up in public heavily armed, including with semi-automatic assault weapons.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee immediately recognized the threat posed by Trump’s tweets:
“The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19. His unhinged rantings and calls for people to “liberate” states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.”
“The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies even while his own administration says the virus is real and is deadly, and that we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted.”
Over the next several days, anti-lockdown protests spread across the country, with large crowds gathering outside of government buildings and governors’ homes, many without wearing masks and bearing homemade signs such as “COVID-19 is a lie” and “Social distancing = communism.” Many protestors wore MAGA hats. Some protestors carried weapons, flew Nazi and confederate flags, and shouted phrases typically heard during Trump rallies.
Attacking Healthcare Heroes
And then the vitriol turned to healthcare workers. As the anti-lockdown protests continued, healthcare workers began counter-protesting on their days off across the country, appearing in scrubs and masks in defiance of those claiming the virus isn’t real. Anti-lockdown protestors began harassing these healthcare workers, shouting insults like “shame”, “traitors”, and “fake nurses.”
Lauren Leander, an ICU nurse in Arizona, described her interactions with protestors as she and her colleagues stood silently in scrubs and masks at an anti-quarantine protest in Phoenix:
“It was heated, people were very fired up about what they had to say… A lot of the top comments we got were about us being fake nurses, there was a huge majority of them that still believe this virus is fake, that it’s a hoax and not real at all. They were convinced that we’re fake nurses and that’s why we weren’t talking.”
Even politicians have propagated this language, questioning the legitimacy of the health workers. Who were counter-protesting. Former Arizona state senator, Dr. Kelli Ward, tweeted on April 21,
“EVEN IF these “spontaneously” appearing ppl at protests against govt overreach (sporting the same outfits, postures, & facial expressions) ARE involved in healthcare – when they appeared at rallies, they were actors playing parts. #Propaganda #FakeOutrage”.
Meanwhile, Trump continued passively supporting the protests.
In Words on Fire I document a pattern Trump uses when asked to denounce people who commit or threaten violence in the wake of Trump’s rhetoric. Trump’s response typically includes some or all the four elements below.
Deflect. He does this in several ways. He ignores the call to denounce. He changes the subject. He professes ignorance about the event. He characterizes the event differently. Sometimes he expresses sympathy for victims while not addressing the event that caused them to be become victims.
Diminish. If pressed he diminishes the significance of the event or attempts to create equivalence between the event and more benign topics.
Denounce. After an interval, sometimes of hours, but often of days, Trump issues a written denunciation or reads a statement denouncing the event or person, often in a tone of rote recitation.
Revert. Not long after the denunciation, Trump reverts to his earlier language and behavior, as if his denunciation never happened. This is a constant; it happens after every denunciation.
On April 20, President Trump was asked specifically about whether he was worried that his words may incite violence. It led to this exchange:
Q You know, these — you referred to these protests earlier. You know, some of them are getting pretty intense and were actually getting some death threats to some governors who are reluctant to reopen.
He went to Step 1, Deflect:
THE PRESIDENT: You are, in the media?
Q No, the governors are getting death threats. You know, governors of Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia. They’re getting increased level of death threats. And are you concerned that your talk about liberation and the Second Amendment and all this stuff —
THE PRESIDENT: No. No, no.
Q — are you inciting violence among a few people who are (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve seen the people. I’ve seen interviews of the people. These are great people. Look, they want to get — they call it “cabin fever.” You’ve heard the term. They’ve got cabin fever. They want to get back. They want their life back. Their life was taken away from them…
Q Are worried about violence though? I mean, some of them (inaudible) threats at them.
He then went to Step 2: Diminish:
THE PRESIDENT: I am not. No, I’m not. I think these people are — I’ve never seen so many American flags. I mean, I’m seeing the same thing that you’re seeing. I don’t see it any differently.
Q There are Nazi flags out there too.
THE PRESIDENT: They are who?
Q Nazis flags.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that I totally would say, “No way.” But I’ve seen — I didn’t see that. I see all — of course, I’m sure the news plays that up. I’ve seen American flags all over the place. I have never seen so many American flags at a rally as I have at these rallies. These people love our country. They want to get back to work.
He has yet to denounce the protestors, despite the fact that the majority of Americans are more concerned about states reopening too quickly than restarting the economy. Why is that?
Trump has played to this base before, since the very beginning of his first presidential campaign. He has frequently used language recognized by white supremacists and white nationalists.
And although Trump may not directly share their views, we know he is not averse to working with people who share the ideology of the protestors.
And he surrounds himself with people who are similarly-disposed.
On April 23, reports came out the Trump’s newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Caputo, had deleted more than a thousand tweets, including tweets from March that included racists and derogatory comments about Chinese people, the very rhetoric that caused the wave of hate crimes the FBI warned about.
Caputo’s tweets also claimed that Democrats were rooting for the virus to kill thousands of people, and conspiracy theories about how the virus was a hoax to hurt Trump.
This man will now be the chief spokesman for America’s healthcare infrastructure.
We’ve seen the effects of Trump’s incendiary rhetoric before. We know the predictable consequences of that rhetoric. If Trump continues to use language that encourages people to violence, eventually someone will answer his call.
https://i0.wp.com/www.logosconsulting.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Trumps-Liberate-Tweet-Puts-Lives-At-Risk-guest-helio.jpeg?fit=1801%2C1867&ssl=118671801Helio Fred Garciahttps://www.logosconsulting.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/HQ-Lambda-Consulting-Lockup-1030x562.pngHelio Fred Garcia2020-04-28 09:44:492021-09-17 10:22:31GUEST COLUMN: Trump’s Liberate Tweet Puts Lives At Risk