Will Trump Supporters Grow More Violent?
There is a new crisis percolating in America, stoked by the sitting president of the United States. This is something that has been unimaginable in my lifetime. While the most vocal Trump supporters have been fierce defenders of Trump, they now find themselves testing lines to see how far they can go. While four years ago it was alarming to see crowds chanting “lock her up,” we now see words moving into actions on many disturbing levels, and across many states.
A few days ago in Texas, a caravan of Trump trucks flying Trump flags attempted to drive a Biden campaign bus off the road. Surely the sitting president expressed outrage at his supporters targeting his opponent’s campaign in a way that could have led to a serious accident or death? Nope. He tweeted “in my opinion these patriots did nothing wrong.” This serves as an invitation. If there is nothing wrong with driving your opponent’s bus off the road, what else could those same supporters try? Is there “something wrong” with standing by the side of the road and shooting at cars with Biden bumper stickers? Is Trump’s idea of patriotism anything and everything that hurts his opponents? Where and when will he draw the line?
Law and Order, But Only on One Side
While Trump talks about “law and order,” and violence in the streets, what does he actually advocate for his supporters? When members of a right wing Trump-supporting militia plotted to kidnap and kill Governor Gretchen Whitmer, surely he condemned those acts strongly and encouraged his supporters in Michigan to condemn, rather than condone, these overt acts? Nope. Trump blasted Whitmer during remarks to his supporters in Lansing, blaming her for her attempt to slow Covid from spreading in the state. Trump — who rarely smiles — eerily smiled as the crowd broke into a chant of “lock her up!” Trump truly seems to enjoy the moments when his crowd whips into hateful chants — as if their hatred fuels his very existence. Now, even infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is on the receiving end; his family receiving death threats because he has been honest with the country about the dangers of Covid.
Just Having Fun!
Many other Trump voters will tell you that Trump is just having “fun,” but they are either not paying attention or they are missing red flags that “fun” has been turning into real danger for quite awhile. Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest undercover movie “Subsequent Movie Film,” records Trump supporters in many compromising positions; one frightening clip shows Cohen on stage impersonating a Trump supporter, leading a crowd into singing “Wuhan Flu” (a song in which he calls Covid a liberal hoax, while criticizing doctors ), “what we gonna do? Chop ’em up like the Saudis do!” The crowd gets more excited by the minute — CHOP EM UP LIKE THE SAUDIS DO!” When Cohen finally gets identified as a fake Trump supporter, he runs to a waiting ambulance to escape the crowd. A man in the crowd scrambles behind him, ready to shoot. “One of the guys who stormed the stage went for his pistol,” Cohen told Stephen Colbert. “Luckily enough, there was a very brave guard who grabbed his hand and said, ‘It’s not worth it buddy.’ So much for just having fun . . .
Called to Action
Even children and teens have heard the clarion call from Trump world to take to the streets with their weapons. During protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse drove in from Illinois, shooting and killing two protesters. The only signs that this teen might turn into a killer? His attraction to right wing extremist groups and Trump supporters on Facebook, encouraging others to take up arms and take to the streets. While Trump blames Antifa for everything, an “Antifa” Twitter account that advocated violence was actually run by Identity Evropa — a white nationalist group, according to an NBC report. Trump never disavowed Rittenhouse, but instead made statements that it looked like Rittenhouse was in “big trouble” and that the incident was “under investigation.” Any other president would have begged Americans to stop the violence, but Trump fueled more anger, running commercials that showed suburban women scared in their homes, appearing to be afraid of Black Lives Matter Protests. (Ironically, many suburban women had been out in the streets in support of BLM, but were fearful to have to pass armed “Trump” militia members as they headed home to their neighborhoods).
Many people filed complaints to Facebook before the violence broke out, and violent comments were highlighted ahead of time, such as:
“Do not let these protestors get close to you. Just keep them in line if they’re protesting, but if they are rioting … pew pew pew time.” Another agreed, “start laying lead down, they will get the point eventually,” “There is only one punishment by law for treason,” wrote still another.
And yet Trump never called for all violence to stop. Instead, he fueled it.
These are not isolated incidents; many of these same groups have propagated violence against Jewish Americans as well. According to The 2019 ADL Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, the total number of antisemitic incidents in 2019 increased 12 percent over the previous year, with a disturbing 56 percent increase in assaults. The audit found there were, on average, as many as six antisemitic incidents in the U.S. for each day in the calendar year — the highest level of antisemitic activity ever recorded by ADL.
Although violence is something that won’t go away regardless of who is elected President, we know one thing is certain if Trump is re-elected: he will be there, encouraging us to hate each other for another four years, while his supporters keep crossing that line. America has only one chance to get this right.