I’m sure that many of those who have been paying attention will agree that this has been one of the oddest, most disconcerting and least professional political campaign seasons in the history of…well…ever! Never before, during a presidential primary, has there been so much talk of criminal investigations, political revolutions, or the candidates’ sexual anatomy. And, in case any of that slipped past you, there’s also been a lot of talk about political rallies, protesters, the definition of Freedom of Speech, and…I think…yeah, I think I heard something about people beating their political views into other people. It’s been different.
Perhaps the most “different” thing about this political season is the Trumped-up vitriol being spewed by one particular candidate. I’m not sure there has been this level of hatred, fear mongering and calls for violence in any U.S. presidential race in the history of our country. The fact that Donald Trump has been recorded encouraging violent action, and then denying that he ever has, is the most blatant display of arrogance one could ever imagine. Either that, or he simply doesn’t listen to the words coming out of his mouth.
Look, I agree that guy was wrong for rushing the stage in Ohio while Trump was speaking (even though I might understand why he thought he needed to do it). But then, Trump saw a random Tweet that implied the guy was an ISIS supporter, instead of vetting the social media report, Trump retweeted it with his own commentary. Turns out, as one or two things on the Internet turn out to be, it was a hoax. The video was of the correct person, but was from a completely unrelated protest that happened almost a year ago.
Did that stop the Republican frontrunner from standing by his message? What do you think? In fact, The Donald’s response shows his special brand of denial and refusal to accept responsibility (we’ll touch more on that in a bit). Instead of saying, “Oops, guys. Sorry I sent that without checking first,” in an interview with moderator Chuck Todd of Meet the Press, Trump said:
Now, I don’t know, what do I know about it? All I know is what’s on the Internet.
Wait? What’s that again? It’s on the Internet is your citation? Well, fact checking be damned! By that logic then, I’m here to finally reveal to you today that we know why autism is at epidemic levels; we also know that there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. That’s because:
Neither one of these articles was written by someone with more or less credibility than the typical Twitter user. Yet, by Trump’s logic, even though he doesn’t “know [anything] about it, both satirical conclusions are on the Internet, so both must be true. Well, alrighty then. Check and check. Moving on.
It’s this absolution from responsibility that follows Trump wherever he goes. And it’s this absolution that is most dangerous. Trump will say whatever he wants to, so long as it incendiates his followers (check out these Rachel Maddow and Kate Snow timelines). Then, he walks away saying that he never encouraged violence, doesn’t condone it, and refuses to accept responsibility.
In fact, Trump feels that he should get credit for how he has handled violence and should not be scorned. In fact, again on Meet the Press, Trump said:
“I don’t accept responsibility, I do not condone violence in any shape.”
“I’m just expressing my opinion. What have I said that’s wrong?”
Well, let me think. On 2/1/16 in Iowa, you’re recorded as saying:
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”
Then, 21 days later in Nevada, you said:
“I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks. It’s true. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”
And 2/26, in Oklahoma:
“In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast. But today, everybody’s politically correct. Our country’s going to hell with being politically correct.”
Sure, I’ll give you that those two are just commentaries. But, don’t you think they might just have a tiny scrap of influence on rabid followers? By way of example, Charles Manson never killed anyone personally that we know of. But he was able to get his followers to do it for him.
Like in this case, on March 4 in Michigan:
“Get out of here. Get out. Out! … This is amazing. So much fun. I love it. I love it. We having a good time? USA, USA, USA! … All right, get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it. … We had four guys, they jumped on him, they were swinging and swinging. The next day, we got killed in the press — that we were too rough. Give me a break. You know? Right? We don’t want to be too politically correct anymore. Right, folks?”
You’re right: People deserve to be silenced and thrown out for having differing opinions.
Quietly holding a sign that says “Equality” will get you rousted, too
March 9, in North Carolina, Trump waxes nostalgically for the Good Ol’ Days (when was that again? Refresh my memory for me, please. Was it 1938? 1944?):
“In the good old days, this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily. But today, they walk in and they put their hand up and put the wrong finger in the air at everybody, and they get away with murder, because we’ve become weak.”
First, minor consequences for flipping somone a single-finger salute is not letting them “get away with murder.” They, just us Trump claims to be doing, are expressing their opinion toward his vitriolic rhetoric. Then, two days later in Missouri, Trump doubled down on his own opinion regarding protesters (he and his followers are apparently the only ones entitled to have an opinion):
“And honestly, protesters, they realize it — they realize that there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences. There are none anymore.”
It’s true: that pesky Constitution thingy gets in the way of beating non-believers into submission. That’s probably one reason why The Donald would love to get rid of the damned thing, anyhow.
Trump, promising that the US Constitution will not get in the way of his administration
Under Donald Trump’s watch, people like Woodward and Bernstein would have been sued beyond recognition.
In fact, he has interfered with legitimate journalism throughout his campaign as well
Check out this video where a credentialed journalist was arrested for resisting arrest. First, he was never told he was being arrested, and there is no evidence of his resisting (though he did identify as a credentialed reporter).
While the freedom of speech and expression of those who oppose Trump is suppressed at every turn, The Donald insists that his freedom of expression not be. He has so much as encouraged the violence that results from his venomous speech, including offering to pay the legal fees of any of his supporters who is arrested for assaulting a protester.
The direct result is the “freedom of expression” Trump’s supporters are inflicting upon otherwise innocent people, even outside of the rallies. Take this headline, for example:
And what about when kids begin to emulate and pick up on it?
Trump was later asked by NPR reporter Cokie Roberts if he was proud of the way children are repeating his hateful speech and rhetoric. Instead of reflecting on the question and responding with insight and understanding, Trump attacked Roberts, saying:
“Well, I think your question is a very nasty question.”
He brushed aside Roberts’ “nasty” (uncomfortable?) question, ignoring the fact that white children are yelling “build a wall” and “speak English” at children of Hispanic descent (regardless the fact that the children were born in the same hospitals as many of their taunters). Trump didn’t consider that perhaps there should be a conversation with children in order to put his comments into a perspective they can understand. Nope, he just said that “people are responding positively” to the idea of a wall.
Donald Trump is dangerous. He is either incomparably naive (not bloody likely) or he is incredibly arrogant and narcissistic (probably). He encourages hate and stifles speech, then has the audacity to say, “Hey, it’s not my fault. It wasn’t me; it was them!” He creates animosity and deflects responsibility. He invites his supporters to “knock the crap out of” people opposed to his indoctrination, and then calls it a f#(king “Love Fest.”
Well, nothing says “I love you” like a whomping from a body guard (2015)
Let’s close with this sentiment from “The Daily Show”
Thoughts? Questions? Complaints? Do you agree or disagree?
All respectful comments are welcome.