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Toxic Hyperpartisanship: The Cancer Tearing American Society Apart
The Daniel Perry Case provides an example showing how toxic hyperpartisanship destroys critical thinking and encourages a 'Team Sports' mentality.
One of the biggest problems we have in American society is the fact that too many of us have embraced toxic hyperpartisanship. It is tearing us apart and making us far more susceptible to authoritarianism.
Toxic hyperpartisanship is a societal cancer that has warped our minds in a way that people view the news of the day through a purely political lens. Rather than think critical about what is happening on the political scene, we simply react to what our politicians and influencers tell us is happening.
It seems that nowadays, we don’t even bother to read up on controversial stories before forming an opinion. Instead, we just assume that Team Red or Team Blue is the problem depending on which side of the aisle we fall on.
Sometimes it seems as if when there is a situation involving a conflict between people, we check the party affiliations of the participants before making our judgments. If you’re on Team Red, you assume that the person on Team Blue is wrong no matter how the scenario played out. The same holds true when you reverse the teams.
The fallout from the verdict in the Daniel Perry case provides a fine example of this unfortunate paradigm. In case you are not familiar, the case stems from an incident that occurred on July 20, 2020 in Austin, Texas amid protests against police brutality after the murder of George Floyd. The Austin American-Statesman reported:
Perry, who is an Army sergeant, was traveling on Fourth Street on the night of July 25, 2020, and turned right onto Congress Avenue, where a Black Lives Matter crowd was marching. Perry stopped, and several protesters approached his car, including Foster, police have said. Protesters have said they feared they were being attacked by someone in a car. Defense lawyers have said Foster, 28, raised his AK-47 at Perry, and that Perry, 37, fired in self-defense.
“A few witnesses said during the trial that Foster never raised his rifle at Perry. Perry, who did not testify, told police that Foster did,” the report continued. “There was no video or photos presented at the trial that showed the position of Foster's rifle when he was shot.”
But there was more to the story.
During the trial, it was revealed that Perry had had a series of eyebrow-raising text exchanges with a friend along with some interesting social media posts. They revealed he carried a deep hatred for Black Lives Matter and those who were rioting across the country.
In one of the messages presented by the prosecution, Perry said: "I might have to kill a few people on my way to work, they are rioting outside my apartment complex."
On another occasion, he texted his friend, saying he “might go to Dallas to shoot looters.”
“Perry also encouraged violence in a variety of social media posts,” according to the Austin Chronicle.
But even more revealing was a conversation he had with a friend named Michael Holcomb, in which he seemed to suggest that he might get away with killing someone if he could claim it was self-defense. The prosecution showed a Facebook Messenger chat that took place two weeks before the incident in which he “argued that shooting protesters was legal if it was in self-defense,” according to the report.
Holcomb, in an attempt to talk Perry down, asked, “Aren’t you a [concealed carry license holder] too?”
He continued: “We went through the same training … Shooting after creating an event where you have to shoot, is not a good shoot.”
This is precisely what I was taught when I went through my gun training.
Another important factor in this case is the allegation that the prosecution declined to provide exculpatory evidence to the grand jury before indicting Perry. The evidence comes in the form of an affidavit authored by Detective David Fugitt in which he claims District Attorney José P. Garza “tampered” with him as a witness.
“I had several conversations with the District Attorney’s Office regarding the presentation of exculpatory evidence related to Daniel Perry,” he wrote. He continued:
It became clear to me that the District Attorney’s Office did not want to present evidence to the grand jury that would be exculpatory to Daniel Perry and/or to show that witness statements obtained by the family of Garrett Foster and/or their attorneys were inconsistent with prior interviews such ‘witnesses’ gave the police and/or the video of the incident in question.
Fugitt also claims that one of the witnesses said she did not suggest that Perry “intentionally and knowingly threatened her with imminent bodily injury by driving a motor vehicle in her direction.”
Conservatives have been highlighting this affidavit as proof that the trial against Perry was unfair. However, it is important to note that Fugitt is referencing evidence being provided to the grand jury, not the trial jury — there is a difference.
The role of a grand jury is to determine whether a suspect should be indicted — nothing more. The prosecutor has sole discretion over what evidence the grand jury sees and is not required to provide exculpatory evidence. It’s standard — and tyrannical — practice that should be reformed or ended.
When it comes to a trial jury, however, all evidence is supposed to come into play, which means the jury likely saw what Fugitt claims was hidden from the grand jury.
After looking at the facts, I believe Perry wanted to be in this situation because he wanted a way to shoot a rioter or protester and then claim self defense afterward. It is too difficult for me to believe that this incident occurring only two weeks after he was discussing this scenario with a friend is some sort of coincidence.
The fact that he chose to deliberately drive his car into the middle of the group of protesters suggests that he anticipated that this might give him the scenario he wanted. I’ve been to several of these protests in my journalistic capacity and I have seen, on almost every occasion, that many participants are carrying rifles and other firearms. This goes for people on both the left and right.
Moreover, there is no evidence that Foster raised his weapon and pointed it at Perry. But I also acknowledge that it is possible that he did even if it wasn’t shown on the video. But there is no denying that it was Perry’s actions that led to that situation.
As Holcomb indicated in the messenger exchange, Texas law does not protect an individual that creates a scenario in which they end up having to shoot someone. This is preciely what Perry did. Had he not drove his car into the crowd, it is highly unlikely that he would have been accosted by the protesters.
However, I understand that reasonable people could look at all the facts and come to a different conclusion. Unfortunately, I do not believe that is what is happening.
For starters, I have seen that most people do not seem to have the full story. I checked five different conservative outlets for their reporting of the story and not a single one included the text message exchanges in which Perry advocated for violence. None of them included details on the conversation with Holcomb in which he suggested putting himself in a position where he coudl argue self-defense.
They left it out completely.
I did the same with left leaning outlets. None of them mentioned the evidence kept from the grand jury.
This leads me to the crux of the matter: Most of those chiming in on this story are forming their opinions based purely on politics and not the facts. As with every other high-profile story, people are letting the perceived affiliations of those involved color their perceptions.
Conservatives are blasting Foster as a Black Lives Matter/Antifa type, which is sadly ironic because, in reality, he was a libertarian. But since they believe he was on the far left, they are bending over backwards to defend Perry’s claim of self-defense even though it is nowhere close to being clear that he was ever in danger. In fact, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott posted a tweet indicating he will attempt to secure a pardon for Perry.
I guess he has to do something to appeal to the base, doesn’t he?
As I stated before, reasonable people can disagree on the outcome of the trial. But knowing that everyone weighing in on this story would be having the opposite opinion if the political affiliations were reversed is sickening.
I suspect most of us have fallen into this trap at one point or another: Having a knee jerk reaction to defend someone simply because they are on your team or to condemn someone else because they are on the opposite team. But this is how the elites have managed to manipulate us into unknowingly helping the authoritarian elites amass more power.
Toxic hyperpartisanship, the extreme loyalty and support to one's political party, has become a defining feature of modern American politics. While political polarization has always existed, what we see today has dangerous consequences. It empowers the elites to continue growing the government and enriching themselves.
When political parties and their supporters become so deeply entrenched in their beliefs and views, they often fail to see the broader picture. This narrow-mindedness has led us to a place where authoritarianism can flourish as we continue to fight each other.
This means that the elites can act with impunity, knowing that they can rely on their base to support them, regardless of the consequences. This lack of accountability can be dangerous, as it allows the elites to ignore the needs of the people they are supposed to represent.
The elites can manipulate the political discourse to keep the public focused on divisive issues, thus allowing them to enact policies that serve their interests while encroaching on our liberties.
Moreover, hyperpartisanship often leads to the demonization of political opponents. This dehumanization of the "other" can make it easier for the elites to justify their actions, no matter how unethical or harmful they may be. In such an environment, the elites can use their power to suppress dissent, curtail civil liberties, and silence opposition voices.
If America does not wake up and see what is happening under their noses, the elites will only succeed at expanding their power while figuring out more ways to suppress our voices, violate our natural rights, and tighten their stranglehold on the government and society. This will only change when we finally realize that the battle is not between left and right, but between liberty and authoritarianism.
If you want a more thorough (and honest) breakdown of the incident, check out this video:
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