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The Right is Terrified of People Who Care
Fascists respond to progressives being murdered with hate and vitriol, and expose the right for what it is.
In the past week, there have been two distinctive murders that gained national attention. In each case, people grieved and mourned the sudden and seemingly random slaying of two men, remembered by friends and family as wonderful people. And, in each case, right-wing influencers, talking heads, and even conservative media decided to blame these men’s murders on their activism, drawing a link that is utterly dishonest, hateful, and illogical to everyone but depraved fascists. This twisted spotlight added tremendous pain for those struggling with the killings of Josh Kruger and Ryan Carson. But what I want to say here is that this disgusting reaction from the vilest people on Earth serves to show that Josh and Ryan were wonderful people, and that their lives and existence threatened hatred itself, threatened a world built on supremacy and oppression, and that we should seek to emulate these men, especially in the face of those who seek to slander their memories.
I don’t want to dwell too much on these murders, or even on the horrendous response that the right has drummed up. But I do want to remember these men. Josh Kruger was a journalist and activist, killed in his home for reasons unknown. He wrote about his own experiences with addiction and homelessness for multiple Philly papers and advocated for those in the middle of their own struggles. Upon his passing, Larry Krasner said, “Josh Kruger lifted up the most vulnerable and stigmatized people in our communities – particularly unhoused people living with addiction … Josh deserved to write the ending of his personal story.” People gathered in the streets to mourn his passing and honor his life.
Ryan Carson was a beloved community organizer and activist in New York. According to Rolling Stone, he worked for a decade with the non-profit New York Public Interest Research Group, where he advocated for policy reform surrounding drug use and spearheaded community outreach programs. He was also a proponent of harm reduction as an effort to help curb the opioid crisis. In memorializing him Gothamist recalled that, “In 2021, after a close friend died from an overdose, Carson walked more than 150 miles to Albany from New York City to raise awareness for overdose prevention centers and harm reduction resources. He also created the advocacy group “No OD NY.” Over 100 people joined Carson's parents at Herbert Von King Park for a vigil Monday — just days before his 32nd birthday.
Ryan’s girlfriend was right next to him when he was randomly and tragically murdered. In remembering his work to prevent overdoses she said, “I know Ryan's grief saved a lot of lives. And I know that our grief for Ryan will save a lot of lives, too.” Assemblymember Emily Gallagher also knew Ryan, and publicly memorialized and eulogized him. She wrote, “He put his whole heart into making the world a safer place for all people.”
That final sentiment is what I hope to come back to again and again here. I feel compelled to cut the fascist response to these murders off at the knees, and expose how us giving a shit about one another and really caring about other people undermines their whole project, and it is the way that Ryan and Josh lived their lives that makes that case more than anything. Their desire to make this world safe for everyone, their desire to care for those without housing and those suffering from addiction, and simply their care for other people carried the most powerful antidote to those who seek to divide and hurt us with hatred and fear. And, there has been a wave of public love and affection for these men, far out-matching and overpowering the wave of vile commentary.
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But I do need to address some of the horrendous responses to these murders. I will not subject you to the worst of it, things no one should have to read, which were targeted at Ryan’s girlfriend and countless others on Twitter and elsewhere. Near every viral post about the murder of Josh and Ryan was flooded with the sentiment that because these men advocated for progressive change, they deserved their murder. Because a handful of large, hate spewwing account latched on to these stories the word Soros was thrown around, racist comments abounded, and sheer unwarranted hate from strangers towards men who dared to try to make the world a better place was and continues to be spread. What’s both awful and revealing is that this sentiment is the dominant conservative response. The Republican Party and the right in this country is now so overtly fascist that celebrating the murders of a journalist and activist is just accepted in their circles. We know that the New York Post is nothing more than a right-wing rag, but their take illustrates this most clearly
You’ll see that this is from the editorial board. This is the official position of the paper as a whole. And it’s not exactly a new take from The Post. Every time any crime has happened to progressive New Yorkers, they’re quick the bring up that the victim opposes endless police funding, as though that means they deserve to be robbed or attacked. But this might be the first time that they’ve responded to the random murder of a person with left-leaning views by saying progressives caused it, with the attendant implication that Ryan deserved it. It’s not just Andy Ngo, Matt Walsh, and Nick Fuentes, this is the mainstream conservative view now, which goes hand in hand with the rise and entrenchment of fascism on the right. "Our opponents deserve violent murders" is a position that must be called out and cannot become normal in any way, shape, or form.
This position is in a network of other right-wing talking points, such as cities all being violent hellholes, police being in the right any time they kill anyone, and the need for even more mass incarceration in the country that already locks up millions. The short explanation for this is that the right isn’t actually concerned with crime, they’re concerned with control. They want to perpetuate the capitalist and racist status quo, and meeting every deviation from the norm with violence serves that end. It also does nothing to alleviate the underlying problems that lead to crime, but their leaders know that and simply don’t care. What could address the foundational issues of poverty and lack of opportunity is care, investment, and the exact programs that Ryan and Josh advocated for. So while some conservatives are spewing hatred in response to the murder of these men, their leaders are being a little more calculated. They’re trying to kill the very idea that helping one another is the answer to our problems.
Sean Spicer is the perfect example. New York, Philly, and D.C. have not in fact defunded the police over the last three years. The overall police budget in each city is higher than it was in 2020. But if they acknowledged that, the rest of us would be forced to conclude that spending billions on police doesn’t solve crime. The rest of us would have no choice but to think that maybe cops are not the answer to all our problems. After all, with their billions of dollars and 36,000 officers, the NYPD didn’t even stop the latest murder. Maybe we should invest in care. Maybe the homeless should get housing, and drug users should get the care they seek rather than incarceration. Maybe we should try the one thing we haven’t tried yet, investing more in our communities and less in the violence of policing.
I didn’t know Ryan and Josh personally, but shutting down the fascist response to these precious lives lost too soon is an urgent task. Conservatives want us scared. They want us scared of cities and of crime and of each other. And we have to push back. A world where we live in fear is a world where fascists win. It’s a world with cop cities and police on every corner and yet nowhere for people to live, crumbling schools, and unchecked corporate overlords. We have to listen when these vile right-wingers tell us who they are. They celebrate the death of ordinary people who try to help, because they want a society run on fear and hatred, and devoid of love and compassion. So it’s our duty to meet this gross rhetoric and violence with an opposite and overwhelming response. That response must look at times like community defense, like refusing to let fascists take the streets and intimidate school boards and attack libraries. But it also must look like care.
What fascists really hate is community alternatives to police where we look out for each other. What they hate is the idea of people being housed and educated and living well. What they hate is a world where their fear-mongering doesn’t work because we all have what we need and have built comprehensive systems to care for one another. And, increasingly, they’re showing just how vile their hatred is for anyone who seeks to build compassion, to build networks that take care of the most vulnerable, to value every life. So we must double down. We must take care of one another, which can look like punching a Nazi and also looks like making sure no one has to live on the street. Together, we will win. Like Woody Gutherie said, all these fascists are bound to lose. Solidarity, and may the memory of these slain men be a blessing and a revolution.
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