In my old days at Northeast High School, fights were common. Most of the time, they resulted in a bloody nose, a shiner or a cut lip. Rarely did they escalate into a brawl with faces slammed into curbs, teeth knocked out and torsos black and blue from body slams.
Inflamed speech then was something along the lines of “I’ll knock your ass off,” followed by the retort “You and who else!” A few punches, the shirt pulled up over the other guy’s head as they wrestled to the ground, a choke hold and then someone would break it up.
Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric dehumanizes his opponent and everyone who disagrees with him. If he loses, don’t bet that all his angry, hate-filled, xenophobic supporters will take the loss without trying to “knock someone’s ass off.”
But it is scarier than that. Back in my high school days, there were no guns. These Trump loyalists flash their weapons with bravado and arrogance. They can inflict more than a bloody nose.
Trump’s base is filled with angry, mostly white folks, who’ve been hungry for emancipation from the supposed scourges of political correctness and diversity. Many are men frustrated by the sense that they are losing their hold on the country with people of color and women taking more leadership roles. Quite frankly, Trump’s campaign rallies offer unfettered bigotry.
At the third and final debate last Wednesday, he offered a stunning declaration that he might not accept the results of next month’s election. At a subsequent rally, he said, “I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win.”
If I win.
What if he doesn’t? Will those menacing men with guns strapped to their bodies show those liberal elitists how the Gatling Gun took care of the Indians?
Is this paranoia? Is this over-reaction? Do words really trigger an American to load his gun and come out shooting? Who would be the targets? You? Me? Hillary?
Trump is playing a dangerous game and he could very well incite a riot where people are killed. A demagogue, he should go back to his tower and screw up more business deals.
Trump’s claiming that the election is rigged certainly fans the flame of those already over-heated by various sources of rabble-rousing rhetoric.
He sought to compare this situation to the 2000 election, when a recount in several counties in Florida was sought after a tight election.
“If Al Gore or George Bush had agreed three weeks before the election to concede results and waived their right to a legal challenge or a recount then there would be no Supreme Court case,” Trump said of the ensuing legal process following the contested result.
But neither Bush nor Gore raised concerns about the legitimacy of the electoral process, neither before nor after Election Day. And a day after the Supreme Court ruled, Gore called Bush to concede. The state of Florida raised the issue because of the hanging chad, not Gore.
Trump won’t shut up with his inflammatory speech. During a rally last March in Kansas City, he mouthed the words “I’ll beat the crap out of you,” when describing what he would have done to a protester who charged him in Dayton, Ohio, earlier in the day. “Boom, boom, boom,” he said, mimicking a schoolyard beat down with his fists. “Part of the problem is … nobody wants to hurt each other anymore,” he yelled at protesters in St. Louis who were being physically ejected from his event. “The audience hit back,” he said earlier at a news conference in Florida, “that’s what we need a little bit more of.”
And his loyalists cheered.
His actions are alarming. But they certainly fit in this bizarre and unpredictable campaign. To hear a candidate in a presidential election stir up violence in this manner is startling.
During a campaign stop in Wilmington, North Carolina, Trump told the crowd that his Democratic foe, Hillary Clinton, wanted to essentially abolish the Second Amendment. Then he said, “By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Trump’s ambiguous comments alarmed many political observers as to whether he was threatening her life or calling for increased political activity. Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, issued a statement: “This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
The list of his verbal victims is long. He’s an equal opportunity denigrator, from a grieving parent of a military veteran to a hard campaigning First Lady.
From Less Than Human: The Psychology of Cruelty by David Livingstone Smith: “Thinking sets the agenda for action, and thinking of humans as less than human paves the way for atrocity. The Nazis were explicit about the status of their victims. They were untermenschen — subhumans — and as such were excluded from the system of moral rights and obligations that bind humankind together. It’s wrong to kill a person, but permissible to exterminate a rat. To the Nazis, all the Jews, Gypsies and others were rats: dangerous, disease-carrying rats.”
That may be hyperbole at this stage of Trump’s denigration campaign. But his insidious speech is becoming more and more blatant.
While white supremacists have long been active in America, Trump’s statements against various racial groups seem to be further stoking their fires.
“Hate speech and the organizing of white supremacists behind this [Trump] campaign has been astounding,” Heidi Beirich, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project Director, said in an internet story. “That organizing has led to more hate speech on the web.”
So little has been said nationally of the three men indicted by a federal grand jury for planning to detonate car bombs at an apartment house and mosque in Garden City, Kansas. Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein were charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The FBI says the men specifically targeted Somalis and Muslims. If convicted, they face up to life in prison.
Just wondering, if they had been Muslims or black, would the story have gained more traction? After all, you need to ask the question: What motivated these men to plan such an attack?
Could this all lead to a Constitution crisis? How will those Republicans who chide Trump but continue to back him react if Trump loses? What will the Trump loyalists do if a down ballot landslide gives the Democrats control of Congress, too? Will this fear affect what happens on November 8 at the voting booths? Will rioters fill the streets?
Patriots strong of heart say America will survive whatever the result may be. Good for them. Yet you gotta wonder.