Category Archives: Travel

Myths and Realities about Immigrants

 

Immigration issues are top and center in the current America election cycle. Talk to anyone here and they have opinions about immigration or the crisis at the border.

A Recent PBS poll showed immigration was the number one issue in the current political races for the US Senate, House of Representatives, and Presidency. This is particularly true in a border state like Arizona where we have been living. Everyone is willing to opine about immigration even people like me who know little about it. I have been trying to learn more while I have been here.

Many of the people I have talked to here in Arizona think refugees get all kinds of lavish benefits far beyond anything American citizens get. For example, I was told by a good friend here that they are entitled to a car!  My research indicates that is not true. Added to that, many Americans think refugee claimants are taking jobs away from Americans so they harm the poor in America.

Moreover,  many of Americans are convinced that the immigrants are responsible for a “crime wave’ in the country. Remember Trump called Immigrants rapists and murderers on the first day of his campaign in 2015! That continues to be Trump’s view and we must also remember that to many people—I call them Trumpsters—whatever Trump says on the issue is “gospel” truth whether there is any evidence to support them or not.  I choose that word advisedly because they treat him like a religious leader. Many of them nearly worship Trump. Trump himself has likened himself to God.

I want to consider some of these claims. I may make mistakes in this quest. If so, I urge my readers to correct me.

One of the economists I like to read is Paul Krugman who is Princeton professor of Economics as well as a New York Times columnist and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2008. I confess he has a definite left-wing slant. I like him because he writes clearly on economics so a peasant like me can understand much of what he says.

First, he begins with the fairly obvious proposition that almost all modern nations will not tolerate open borders, and contrary to what Republicans in the US say, Democrats don’t advocate for open borders.

Very few people argue in favor of allowing anyone to choose to live in whatever country he or she wants to live. I have never met anyone who says that. As Krugman said, “The good news is that America doesn’t have open borders, and there is no significant faction in our politics saying we should. In fact, immigrating to the United States legally is fairly difficult.”

 Yet, Krugman admits that there is also bad news. That is that America has a very hard time enforcing its current rules.  The main problem though is that the authorities have inadequate resources to deal with the problem. Republicans in particular love to complain, and campaign on the “disaster at the border,” but they don’t want to pay the money to fix the problem however.

 

The most recent example of this reluctance was where the American House of Representatives rejected without even voting on it, the recent bill proposed by a group of non-partisans in the Senate. This group of non-partisans got the Democrats to agree to surprising compromises because they realized the American public was blaming them for the “disaster” at the southern border. That was why Trump instructed his sycophants in the House to reject the proposal which offered the toughest immigration laws in a generation! It also would provide sufficient funds to deal with the problem. At least more than has been allocated in the past. As Krugman said,

The reason they don’t have those resources is that many Republicans in Congress, while fulminating about a border crisis, appear determined to deny the needed funding. Their position is rooted in extraordinary political cynicism, and they aren’t even trying to hide it: Donald Trump has intervened with Republicans to block any immigration deal because he believes that chaos at the border will help his election prospects.

 

That is one of the problems, the Republicans want to rail against the catastrophe at the border but make no proposal to deal with it, reject advancing more money as the non-partisans agree. Instead, they want to rail against the problems because they know their supporters will jump to scapegoating the Democrats for everything that is wrong at the border.

I intend to examine in particular the economic realities at the border, which are very different from the economic myths.

America Can Do Better

 

We have been living in Arizona for nearly 3 months now and immigration is on everyone’s minds. That doesn’t mean they are thinking about it, but they are complaining about it. The complaints are ubiquitous. Thoughts are mostly absent.

First, one thing nearly everybody agrees on is that border reform is urgently needed. In the spring of last year many feared the US was going to have an unmanageable border crisis at the southern border. The government was about to lose the ability to quickly dispel migrants at the border because of the Title 42 provisions that were implemented by Trump in March of 2020 that allowed the Americans to do that as a pandemic prevention measure. At least Trump referred to the measures that way. By 2023 the pandemic restrictions everywhere were being lifted so really this had to go too.

Biden had a plan. He imposed measures that were designed to deal with the expected problem. He imposed stiff penalties for illegal crossings such as a deportation and a 5-year ban on any re-entry. He also expanded the ways asylum seekers could apply for legal asylum from their home countries. Amazingly, this plan actually worked. Encounters at the border dropped by one third! Numbers dropped from about 7,100 per day to 4,800 per day.

As Fareed Zakaria, someone who actual thinks about what is happening on the border said in a Washington Post article, “It was a welcome case of well-designed policy making a difference.”

 But then the Democrats took their eye off the ball. They thought the problem was solved. Border problems are never solved that easily. As Republicans learned but rarely admitted, their “solutions” did not solve the problems either. Border problems are wicked problems that require long-term hard-fought for solutions.

As Zakaria pointed out

“But this success does not change the fact that the U.S. immigration system is broken. The crush at the southern border might be less than anticipated, but it is still an influx, and its effects are being felt across the nation. Texas, overwhelmed by the numbers, has bused migrants to cities such as Washington and New York. But the truth is that migrants have been crowding into major American cities, including Chicago, on a scale that is breaking those communities’ capacities to respond.”

 

A major flaw in the American system is that cities where immigrants arrive are required to pay for the costs of dealing with the immigrants. This is absurd, for the cities are the governments least able to deal with those costs, and more importantly, immigration is a national problem not a city problem. The entire country must chip in to design and pay for a better and more rational system.

And one thing I have learned in my 3 months in America, the Americans are much more interested in yelling at “the other side” and wining political points than in solving this vexing problem. That is a problem.

 

Unite the Right with Hate

 

A transformational event for the far-right occurred on August 11 and August 12 2017 in the US.  This was during the presidency of Donald J. Trump and  It happened in a  college town called Charlottesville Virginia. As Professor Jacob Ware described this event to his listeners at Arizona State University, this was “where a group of outspoken, explicit, proud, white supremacists, and Neo-Nazis, and anti-government extremists gathered in what they called a ‘Unite the Right Rally.’

Before the event, one of the main organizers, Jason Kessler, had been publicizing the event for months by his protests against the proposed removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This helped to fire up white supremacists and other right-wing extremists around the country. Even right-wing Canadians wanted to attend this event.

The trigger for the event was a threat to dismantle a Confederate statute in that community. A young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed during a domestic terrorist attack led by white supremacists. The attack was led by James Alex Fields Jr. who deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people who were peacefully protesting the right-wing rally that was being held in Charlottesville. Only one person, Heather Heyer, was killed but 35 others were injured. As Wikipedia reported,

“Fields 20, had previously espoused neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs, and drove from Ohio to attend the rally. Fields’ attack was called an act of domestic terrorism by the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia’s public safety secretary, the U.S. attorney general, and the director of the FBI.”

 

Some witnesses reported that Fields’ vehicle sent protesters “flying through the air.” After the initial impact, Fields changed the car into reverse to target more people. He backed up at high speeds for several blocks with protesters chasing him.

Fields was subsequently convicted in a state court of the first-degree murder of Heyer, as well as 8 counts of malicious wounding and hit and run. He also pled guilty to 29  hate crime charges  presumably in order to avoid the death penalty. In typical America hyperbolic legal “justice,” Fields was sentenced to life in prison as well as 419 years for the state charges, with an additional life sentence for the federal charges.

As egregious an event as it was, it soon became an international sensation when President Trump entered the aftermath with his infamous tweets and statements. At first president Trump wavered about whether or not he should condemn the terrorists. Trump just could not bring himself to condemn outright the terrorism since the right-wing attackers did not look like terrorists to him. They looked like supporters, which many of them, of course were. How could be publicly criticize his base? That is not like him.

The marchers had been chanting repeatedly, “You will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.” as they carried their patio torches. This of course is a direct allusion to the common white supremacist trope that members of the American left are trying to replace whites with more compliant people from other races.  It was also clearly antisemitic. The closest he could come to criticism of his adoring fans was to say “I think there’s blame on both sides. You also had people, on both sides, who were very fine people.”  What was so fine about whites who mowed down protesters while chanting those racist memes? Recall, he did exactly the same thing on January 6, 2021when his staff insisted he tell the rioters to leave he did ask them to leave but first told them he loved them.

Trump has demonstrated a pattern of praising violent people who support his causes. He is always willing to do his best to unite the right with hate.

The reason this was such a pivotal event in the history of the rise of right-wing violent extremism is that those extremists realized they had a powerful friend and ally in very high places. In fact, they had an ally in the highest place in the land and this filled them with exuberance and confidence.

 

The Return of the Right and racism rekindled

 

After the Oklahoma bombing the FBI started to realize the significance of the militia movement and clamped down on the more extreme of them. For a while it seemed to the terrorist analysts that the domestic problem was not so serious. In my view, this is partly because to so much of law enforcement the right-wing looks like home to them. And terrorists never look like your friends and neighbours, until they do. As Professor Hoffman said during his Arizona State University talk that Chris and I listened to,

 

“the last thing I ever imagined in my career was returning to this particular threat. Then in 2020 with the rise of the pandemic, I was amazed at how quickly, literally within days of the lockdown in March, anti-Sematic, anti-immigrant, anti-Asian and anti-Asian-American and also racist tropes began to surface attempting to target these groups to blame for Covid.”

 

The election of Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States unleashed an ugly and powerful streak of backlash. The FBI suppression of the far-right movement after the Oklahoma bombing led to the movement lying dormant in the US for 8 or 10 years. It was dormant, but it was not dead. It was revived by the election of Barack Obama. Racial fear by whites of being replaced by blacks is part of the bedrock of the modern right-wing and white supremacist movement.

As Professor Jacob Ware said at that same ASU talk, the election of a black president “also led to a huge surge in hate crimes.” White supremacy and anti-government extremism also exploded after that election.

During his first election the volume of threats against Obama led to the greatest secret service protection so early in an election in the history of the country. There was a tidal wave of hate against him and his family. As Ware said. “this was a harbinger of things to come.

During his terms in office Obama faced two major terrorist attacks. The first was in Norway in 2011in Oslo and Utoeva island by a massacre by Anders Breivik. 77 people were killed the large majority of whom were children. It was a summer camp of the youth wing of the Norwegian labor party. He published a long Manifesto in which he called his victims cultural Marxists, a term since adopted widely in the American right. He said that by attacking the next generation of the left he would be cutting off the head of the snake of multi-culturalism. He saw what he thought was a movement to replace ethnic Norwegians, resembling of course, similar fears of replacement of white nationalists in other parts of the world such as New Zealand, America, and many other places.

In 2015 the Obama administration faced another attack by the right, this time in Charleston North Carolina. There a young white supremacist, Dylan Roof, who killed 9 people during a Bible Study in a black church.

According to Ware these were both highly significant events because “they both provided tactical and ideological inspiration.”

Zone of Interest.

 

 

The greatest films and novels are those that change your life. That is the purpose of art.If seeing this film does not change your life, you should quickly make an appointment to see a psychiatrist before it’s too late.

This is the story of blind human indifference to the suffering of others. Not just by Nazis either! It is a story about all of us! It tells the story of an ordinary German family of a Commandant in Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.  The family lived on the very edge of Auschwitz Concentration camp in Poland.

According to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, unlike some of the other German Concentration camps during the Second World War,

“the Auschwitz camp was above all a place of extermination. In other camps, the death rate was lowered from 1943 in an effort to conserve the labor force. In Auschwitz, however, where new transports, mostly of Jews, arrived continuously and kept the camp supplied with labourers, human life never had any great significance.”

As a result, historians estimate that around 1.1 million people perished in Auschwitz during the less than 5 years of its existence. Of course, around 90% of these were Jews and it is estimated that the majority, around 1 million people, were Jews. Coming in a distant second were Poles. 70,000 to 75,000 of those killed were Poles and coming in third were approximately 20,000 Roma.

That are a lot of people who were slaughtered here, but this fact is ignored by nearly everyone in the film. The film is an examination of the way this carnage was ignored while people went about the minutia of their daily lives. The victims did not count.  They were outside the zone of interest. The Germans who lived their lives and tried to establish a civilized life next to the crematoriums were the ones who counted. How is that possible?

The German family of Commandant Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) presided over their family home immediately adjacent to the Concentration Camp, from which sounds are emitted from time to time but pleasantly ignored. The Commandant is in charge of a facility in which thousands of people are murdered each week, but he is more engaged by the fact that the locals have insufficient respect for his prized lilacs while Hedwig, his wife, has time mainly for her children and her lovely garden of which she is justifiably proud. Rudolf and Hedwig were like the Lord and Lady of the castle. Hedwig loved it when Rudolf called her “the Queen of Auschwitz.”

The family has no time to give attention to the people being murdered. They don’t see them or hear them. It is as if they are not there. The victims don’t count. Only the Höss family counts. That is as far as their zone of interest stretches.

The Höss family appreciates their privileges but assumes they are natural and fully earned. The film shows how easy it is to take for granted one’s privilege. Privilege slips on as easily and as comfortably as a glove.  The discomfort—and much worse—on the other side of the wall is not allowed to disturb the peace of the Höss family. There is a complete moral vacuum in the family.

Even if you see the smoke from the Crematoriums, as we do from time to time, and even if people are being incinerated, and even if you hear gunshots or snarling guard dogs, you can ignore them and make a comfortable life for yourself and your family. As a result, Hedwig is able to curate carefully the clothes that are available as a result of Jews dying. She takes a fur coat for herself and gives dresses to her staff. She was disappointed that she was outbid by others when she tried to purchase clothes that had belonged to her Jewish neighbour before she was carted off to be transferred to a Concentration Camp—perhaps even Auschwitz itself. Hedwig just tried to create the best life for her and her family. No one else mattered. She was not interested in any one else.

Someone called this a “cerebral” movie. In some ways that is accurate. It makes you think.  But in other ways, it is completely wrong. This is a movie about how people don’t think. They don’t think about those outside their zone of interest.

I was particularly struck by the German officers—including Rudolf Höss—who dispassionately discuss how to improve the efficiency of the killing machine of the camps. They are each eager to make their own camp more efficient thus improving their chances of promotion. The more people are killed the better for the officers. The effect on the camp residents is entirely irrelevant. After all, they are outside the zone of interest.

It is important to remember that the Höss family was just an ordinary German family. Really, they were like families around the world during the war and at other times.  Ordinary people—people like you and I—are often indifferent to the suffering of others. Those victims are outside our zone of interest. How many of us consider how indigenous people on Canadian Indian Reserves live? How many of us worry about how poor African Americans live in American cities? How many ordinary citizens were interested in how slaves lived on American slave plantations? They were all outside the zone of interest.

We can appreciate how the Nazis in the concentration camp were not monsters. They were ordinary people. They were people like us! And this makes the film even more disturbing. Ordinary people could turn themselves with enthusiasm to the task of making the murder of people more efficient. The spouse of the Commandant could cheerfully ignore that a fur coat she coveted was owned by a neighbour. She could feel the injustice of a minor privilege being taken away from her, but could not feel the injustice of an innocent person being murdered right beside her. And the really scary thing is that we would probably be exactly the same in such circumstances. Do any of us have the right to think for one minute that we would have acted differently?  What gives us the right to think that?

I watched an interview with Jonathan Glazer the director of the film on Amanpour and Company.  He pointed out how the significance of the German family beside Auschwitz was that “they were so grotesquely familiar.”  They, like us, were able to compartmentalize the suffering. Those people on the other side of the wall were “them” not “us.” Here on this side of the wall, the family (us), played in the pool, enjoyed the lovely garden while other people (them) were burning on the other side. This raises the question of how this is possible. How can there be such a grotesque disparity between the treatment of us, our family, and the others on the other side of the wall? Why are some lives more important than others?

The victims of the holocaust are never seen in the film. We hear some vague and disturbing sounds but they are invisible. Glazer said enough films had been made showing the victims and how we should empathize with them. He wanted to make a film where, “rather than empathizing with the victims, we have the discomfort of feeling like the perpetrators.”  Our perspective is from the garden side of the wall. As Glazer said, “It is a film not about ‘look at what they did;’ it’s a film about ‘look at what we do.

The only element of hope in the film comes from a 9-year-old girl who lives nearby and fills small packages of food for the prisoners. Glazer actually met that girl, now an old woman, and talked to her. She still lives nearby. She demonstrated the best of humanity.

The deep horror is that the Germans living next to the concentration camp were people just like us. Not monsters at all. Ordinary people. They are us. We are them.

 The film establishes what Hannah Arendt said. Evil is not monstrous. Evil is banal. Evil is every day. Evil is ordinary. Evil is us and we are its cheerful and enthusiastic instruments. And that should scare the hell out of all every one of us. Sadly, our zone of interest is incredibly small. It is so small that we are moral pygmies.

Sometimes there is nothing more scary than us!

 

Past Lives

 

Past Lives is delightful film that resists all the conventions. I like films like that. I never knew where it was headed right from the opening scene. Thats why I won’t tell you much about what happens,  You have to see it develop to appreciate it.

In that opening scene, we see but cannot hear 3 people sitting at a bar.  There is an Asian woman sitting between an Asian man and a Caucasian man and we are invited to consider why the three of them are there.  The Asian woman and Asian man mainly ignore the Caucasian man. What is the story behind this?  I had no idea. I doubt that very many people would guess what was going on.

During the rest of the film we learn how they are connected and how those connections change over time. There are some deeply poignant scenes that pull at your heart strings in remarkable ways, always without following conventions and also with keen insight.

I loved the cinematography both in New York City and Seoul. The scene where the young “couple” go their separate ways in a fork in the road.  They look at each other with heart-breaking sadness. There will be  reunions and separations. The scenes of New York were also quietly lovely without being overbearing. . The images of flowers reflected in the water are gorgeous. The city is quietly beautiful. How can that be? Can New York City be like that? Not what we would expect. But this is a movie that will challenge your expectations. That is what makes it so interesting.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Arthur, the quiet American who again is played against conventions. Arthur is not the stereotypical American. He is gentle and loving and does not impose his will on the others. And his gentleness is strong.  The movie will challenge your expectations.

This is a little gem of a film that I likely would not have seen except for the fact that Christiane and I are trying to see all 10 of the films nominated for Best Picture of the year. After all much of it is in Korean with subtitles. But a friend of mine told me in Europe everybody watches movies with subtitles. After all they are civilized. And cultured. Get used to it or be a Philistine. Had I missed this film my life would have been significantly poorer.

Anatomy of a Fall

 

 

The director of this film is Justine Triet who won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with this film that later became a hit in France. She was only the third female director in the 76-year history of that festival to win that top prize.  That the movie was a hit there and not in North America tells us much about the two cultures.

The film is centred on the death of a man from a fall from a French chalet and the sole issue is whether or not he fell or was pushed by his wife. Disturbingly, the corpse was discovered by the son of the couple.

First, I was fascinated by the details of the French Inquisitorial legal system so unlike our English adversarial model of trials. It seemed like the principals at the trial, the judge, the prosecutor, the expert witnesses, and defense lawyers were engaged in a psychological inquiry that felt penetratingly real and satisfying.  In many ways better than ours.

The really haunting actor in the film is Machado Graner who plays Daniel, aged eleven, the son of the accused woman and the deceased.  He says “I want to understand.”   We all want that of course. And that seems to be enough for the French court to permit an 11-year-old child to attend in court while awkward intimate details about his parents are revealed. Yet Daniel is central to the film Even though he is legally blind, what he “sees” or hears or doesn’t see or hear,  is vital to the mystery and its unfolding. It is he who has to decide if his mother killed his father or his father committed suicide. Not a great choice for an 11-year-old kid.

This is a mystery with a deep feeling of reality, even though the lawyer for the accused novelist, Vincent Renzi (Swann Arlaud), tells his client Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller), speaking of her murder trial, “this is not about the truth, this is about perception.” The lawyer also counsels the wife “you have to start seeing yourself how others are going to perceive you.” She tells her lawyer “I did not kill him.” And he responds, “that’s not the point.” If that is not the point what is?

The director Justine Triet who also wrote the script with her partner, said to the New York Times this about why he liked his choice of her as leading actress:

“the absence of any kind of seduction both on and off the set… [she] says what she thinks and is very direct.”..[this honesty], is probably what gives her such power on set: She’s real.

 

I agree with that completely. The fight she had with her husband felt hyper real. It was spell-binding.

The mother wakes up her son the day before her son has to testify in her trial for the murder of his father, and tells him, “I’m not a monster.”

When truth unravels the result is not necessarily a revelation. In fact, it might not even be the truth.  It can just as well be another veiling of the truth.

The family dog, Snoop, may be the only witness to the murder, if it was a murder. In a weird way the dog does bring out the truth. And I mean that literally. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

When Hatred and Violence Goes Mainstream

I have been living in the United States for 2 months now with more to come. I am learning, as if I did not know already, that this is a very dangerous place.

PBS News Hour interviewed an expert on domestic terrorism by the name of Cynthia Miller-Idriss, of American University. She is the director of American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab.

She said she wished she lived in a world where the FBI had enough resources at its disposal to complete its investigation into the crimes committed at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Don’t we all wish that?

Miller-Idriss made one of the most surprising statements I have ever heard. She said this on PBS News Hour:

“We don’t have the capacity in any law enforcement agency to handle a surge of political violence or hate-fueled violence when that — when it’s driven by misinformation that is believed by millions and millions of people.”

 

She is an expert on domestic terrorism in the US and she says that America can’t deal with a surge of political violence! And frankly that makes perfect sense in a country like the US where it is apparent that millions of Americans believe the misinformation that is fueling the hatred there. The problem is that the hatred and violence in the US has gone mainstream! As a result, she says, everyone who works in her field is very worried. And that worries me. Particularly when I live here for 3 months.

 Of course, it is difficult for police forces to deal with domestic terrorism when it has not just implicit, but explicit support from the political leaders.  For example, this is what Republican Congressman  Matt Gaetz said immediately after the violence on Capitol Hill after President Trump fired up his supporters that they must “fight like hell” for their country or risk losing it:

“Some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa.

 

Even more shocking were the statements by the new speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson who earlier had been one of the leaders of the project of the Trump team to file lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He said he wanted to make public a video of the events that occurred on January 6, 2021 but would blur the faces so the rioters could not be identified:

“We have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the events of that day because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ.”

 

Think about that.  the leader of the House of Representatives said openly he wanted to help rioters who threatened to hang Mike Pence and wreck the Capitol to avoid criminal prosecution

In addition, Trump and many of the current GOP presidential primary candidates have promised to pardon Jan 6 rioters.  They are giving their blessing to what many judges and juries have already determined in many cases of the criminal trials of the leaders of the riot was sedition! That to me is astounding! And frightening.

 

When Law Makers and Law Enforcement  Support the Violence

 

One of the things that shocked me when I watched the violence and rioting unfold at the Capitol in Washington on January 6th 2021 was the presence, in a supportive role, of what appeared to be cops or military in the midst of the rioters. They believed in the cause of violent insurrection in the support of a lawless President.

As Ryan Reilly author of a book called “Sedition Hunters: How January 6th Broke the Justice System,” said about the rioters:

“We do have a lot of people within the FBI who are not so enthusiastic about bringing these cases against people who attacked the Capitol on January 6…There are, and I say that because some of these individuals who were at the FBI have come out and said that publicly. They have resigned from the FBI because of these cases.”

 

 

He said he would work against the FBI charging rioters. Reilly also pointed out that not only did current and former law enforcement officials push conspiracy theories, so did members of Congress who outright opposed the investigation into the crimes committed at the Capitol on January 6th. The current speaker of the House, Republican Mike Johnson, was one of those obvious supporters.  Added to that, he said many of them “contributed to misinformation about what happened that day.”

Think about that: Law makers and law enforcement supporting domestic terrorism. I  repeat what I have beeen saying: how can anyone deny that America is a country in serious decline?

Sedition Hunters

 

The investigation by the FBI into what happened at the US Capitol on January 6th is the largest criminal investigation in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI is so overwhelmed it is relies on tips from amateurs doing their civic duty, as they see it, to pursue leads about the rioters so they can help the FBI to identify insurgents. One of those citizens, talked to PBS’s Judy Woodruff and told her that she had joined a massive citizen organization, including Trump supporters, to identify the people who participated in the riot at the Capitol by attacking police and the Capitol security.

As a result, that woman now has to hide her own identity because American right-wing extremists are threatening her personally to such an extent that she fears retaliation. One of the ones she called “insidious” was sending her videos of himself racking his gun. Imagine if you received such a video. 

The group of citizens is now referred to as “sedition hunters,” because as Judy Woodruff said on PBS News Hour,

“Over time, they developed their own methodologies, guidelines, even a software application to keep track of every individual rioter, giving each one a pseudonym and compiling dossiers of evidence that they then turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the rioters’ real identity.”

As Ryan Reilly NBC Justice Reporter said, “The FBI was overwhelmed with the number of tips that they were receiving. They had received hundreds of thousands of tips.” Reilly, the author as well of the book “Sedition Hunters: How January 6th Broke the Justice System,” described how the FBI has struggled to investigate the thousands of claims about people who stormed the Capitol.

Of course, according to FBI data,  the number of domestic terrorism cases in the US have increased by about 490% between 2016 when Trump was elected and 2021 when he lost the election and Biden was inaugurated.

Frankly, it is astonishing to me that the richest country in the world is unable to properly investigate the crimes committed at what the Americans refer to as a sacred place for its democracy. Many of those cases will expire because the statute of limitations is approaching and after that the perpetrators can’t be prosecuted. The FBI does not have the capacity to investigate all cases in time to meet the deadline!

 How can the US deny that it is a country in decline?