Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: The Second Amendment Storm Continues

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The storm continues, and the sun hasn't even gone down here in California.

Echoing the warning by Senator Chris Murphy (quoted in previous post) New York Times conservative columnist Thomas Friedman adds a real historical case as he argues that loose talk like Trump's demonization of Hillary (and Obama) plus the dog whistle about the Second Amendment, is similar to the situation in Israel leading up to the assassination of its prime minister: And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got assassinated...They weren’t actually telling anyone to assassinate Rabin. That would be horrible. But there are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats. They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation..."

A BBC story made a similar point: "In a political environment where Trump supporters chant "lock her up", say Mrs Clinton should face a firing squad or worse, the Republican candidate's open-to-interpretation remarks likely throw gasoline onto a smouldering fire."

Again, a Guardian column quotes Gabby Giffords today: Gabby Giffords drove home that point and the pernicious effect those words could have on the unstable, in a statement released Tuesday. “We must draw a bright red line between political speech and suggestions of violence,” she said, adding. “Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy. They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed.” Those words have special meaning coming from Giffords, whose time in political office was cut short by an assassination attempt that left six dead; she survived but with a critical gunshot wound to the head."

In its editorial denouncing Trump's statement, the New York Times noted something that everyone could see.  Just after Trump mentioned the Second Amendment people as a solution: Directly behind him, a supporter’s jaw dropped.  Suggesting that Trump's statement warranted attention from the Secret Service, the Times concluded: Seldom, if ever, have Americans been exposed to a candidate so willing to descend to the depths of biogotry and intolerance as Mr. Trump. That he would make Tuesday’s comment amid sinking poll numbers and a wave of Republican defections suggests that when bathed in the adulation of a crowd, Mr. Trump is unable to control himself.

The Washington Post editorial focused on what some supporters might hear, regardless of Trump's actual intent (if any): What did people hear? Many no doubt assumed Mr. Trump to be recycling ugly tea party rhetoric that contemplates “Second Amendment remedies,” a term former Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle used in her 2010 campaign to suggest armed resistance to government “tyranny.” The voters rightly rejected Ms. Angle at the ballot box, and she receded from public view. But Mr. Trump’s flirtation with such rhetoric poses a greater threat. By seeming to encourage armed insurrection against a Hillary Clinton administration, Mr. Trump has recklessly magnified the danger of his previous claim that the election is being “rigged” against him. And encouraging armed resistance against the federal government is not the most worrisome of possible meanings. Other listeners assumed that Mr. Trump was encouraging supporters to train their weapons on Ms. Clinton herself."

Rolling Stone called it: In other words, what Trump just did is engage in so-called stochastic terrorism. This is an obscure and non-legal term that has been occasionally discussed in the academic world for the past decade and a half, and it applies with precision here. Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication "to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable."  This describes (it seems to me) not only what Friedman was talking about, but what ISIL does.

Evan Osnos at the New Yorker suggests that those who repudiate the implications of these remarks should include gun owners: We do not know if Trump’s remark actually endangered Clinton—or if the legal system will hold him responsible for flirting with that prospect. But it is already clear that, by impugning the character of Second Amendment believers, he is harming their cause."

It's night in California, which means that East Coast media is revving up for its morning editions.  Speaking of morning, the WPost carries an oped (posted after 11 p.m.) by Morning Joe himself, once a Trump supporter and now a dedicated opponent, who says that this was the last straw.  All GOPer party leaders must repudiate Trump.  He ends his oped with a four point plan:

We are in unchartered waters but that does not mean that the way forward is not clear. It is.

The Secret Service should interview Donald Trump and ask him to explain his threatening comments.

Paul Ryan and every Republican leader should denounce in the strongest terms their GOP nominee suggesting conservatives could find the Supreme Court more favorable to their desires if his political rival was assassinated.

Paul Ryan and every Republican leader should revoke their endorsement of Donald Trump. At this point, what else could Trump do that would be worse than implying the positive impact of a political assassination?

The Republican Party needs to start examining quickly their options for removing the Republican nominee.

A bloody line has been crossed that cannot be ignored. At long last, Donald Trump has left the Republican Party few options but to act decisively and get this political train wreck off the tracks before something terrible happens.

My guess is that this will be a big topic on Morning Joe in a few hours.  This storm is not passing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to have a word to describe this dangerous craziness: stochastic.