Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has repeatedly proven that warnings about his potential tyranny are far from hyperbole. From his blatant racial discrimination to assaults on journalists at his rallies and a pledge to eliminate freedom of the press if elected, the threat to freedom Trump poses is clearly frighteningly real. Now, he wants to clamp down on another fundamental democratic liberty: the right of protest.
The Donald’s refusal to act on or even denounce the epidemic of violent attacks on protestors at his rallies has already provided tacit endorsement of the violence by many. At a campaign rally in Michigan today, however, he took his endorsement of violence even further, telling the audience that the violent attacks were “really amazing to watch” and made his rallies “the most fun.” When another protester then spoke up, he screamed “Get him out! Try not to hurt him, but if you do I’ll defend you in court.”
Trump’s sadistic tendencies have long been evident, and he has previously
com/2016/02/trump-enraged-by-smiling-protester-id-like-to-punch-him-in-the-face/” target=”_blank”>expressed a desire to jump in on the action in assaulting protesters, but today’s pronouncement was his most straightforward yet in giving his supporters a free pass to violently assault protesters with his full backing and approval. Trump has previously caught flak for suggesting that one of the numerous racially-tinged beatings at his rallies was justified, saying of the beaten protestor, “maybe he should have been roughed up.”
The presumptive nominee’s endorsement of his fans’ violence is particularly jarring given its coming on the heels of an incident earlier this week at a rally in Louisville in which members of the white supremacist group Traditional Youth Network assaulted several female protesters. Much like Trump’s earlier refusal to disavow the David Duke and the KKK, his recent statements sound like a tacit endorsement of white supremacist violence.
Moreover, the right to protest peacefully is a fundamental cornerstone of the democracy that Trump claims to cherish so dearly, even if his slick and charlatanistic ways allow him to wiggle out of any distinction between reality and the fantasy world he and his supporters inhabit. Thus, in typical fashion, the basic human right of protest was dismissed by Mr. Trump today as yet one more tedious example of “political correctness,” which from its humble beginnings as a euphemism for racial tolerance has come to cover anything The Donald disapproves of. The audience, enthralled by the demagogue like the crowds of the Piazza Venezia, roared its approval.
Perhaps – and at this point this is the best we can hope for – Trump really doesn’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth and is merely a master manipulator playing off the fears and hatreds of the American public. Whether this is true or not, his orgies of xenophobia, hatred, and self-righteousness are taken at face value by the millions of Americans he has duped, and he is no less culpable for the ensuing violence than Anwar al-Awlaqi is for the jihadist attacks he encouraged. It is not a coincidence that the only candidate who so vitriolically inveighs against everyone who doesn’t look like him is the only candidate whose rallies descend into racial and political violence. Rather it is a direct and inevitable consequence of the hate-filled demagoguery of Donald Trump, who is apparently too politically correct to even admit his proto-fascism.