There has been a lot of talk lately about incivility and the potential for violence in the current political climate. Yesterday, the danger came sharply into focus when the FBI arrested Paul Rosenfeld for plotting to blow himself up on the National Mall in Washington, DC on Election Day.
Per NBC News, Paul Rosenfeld of Tappan, N.Y. was arrested by the FBI after sending text messages and letters to a reporter in Pennsylvania last August and September. In the messages, Rosenfeld threated to publicly detonate a bomb on the mall to kill himself. The reporter notified law enforcement and Rosenfeld was promptly arrested. In a search of his home, authorities discovered a bomb containing eight pounds of black powder. Crating and other components increased the total weight of the bomb to 200 pounds.
Rosenfeld, who was unhappy with the direction of the country, planned the attack to draw attention to his political beliefs. Was he promoting a radical leftist ideology or was he a right-wing militant? Neither, as it turns out.
Rosenfeld believed in sortition. What the heck is “sortition,” you ask? Sortition is a political system in which representatives are chosen by lot rather than by election or appointment. In such a system, a random sample of regular citizens becomes responsible for government decisions. The system was used in ancient Athens to determine members of courts and councils.
Paul Rosenfeld was ready to sacrifice his life because he wanted government representatives to be randomly selected people rather than political elites. If Rosenfeld would give his life for such a belief, how many other Americans would give their lives to stop what they are told is an attempt to destroy their country and their way of life?
Authorities believe that Rosenfeld acted alone. I would also speculate that he may be suffering from some sort of mental illness. Mental illness is also a frequent factor in the mass shootings that seem to plague modern society.
After his arrest, Rosenfeld confessed to the plot and told the FBI that he did not intend to hurt anyone else. He only planned to kill himself.
"Had he been successful, Rosenfeld’s alleged plot could have claimed the lives of innocent bystanders and caused untold destruction," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney.
The foiled bomb plot underscores the danger present in the current heated environment. Although Rosenfeld’s ideology seems divorced from reality, it is often unhinged radicals who convince themselves to pull the trigger on violence.
As Sen. Rand Paul warned this week, with violent rhetoric common on both sides, “I really worry that somebody is going to be killed and that those who are ratcheting up the conversation ... they have to realize they bear some responsibility if this elevates to violence.”
Thus far, law enforcement has been able to intervene and stop most violent plots but there have been exceptions such as the attack on the Republican baseball team and the white-supremacist car attack on protesters at Charlottesville.
The sheer number of angry activists and people with mental problems in the US means that more political violence and bloodshed is certain to occur. When it does, we should pray that the act does not ignite the powder keg on which the nation is currently perched.
Originally published on the Resurgent