Josh Marshall is right. Sooner or later somebody probably will be killed or seriously hurt at a Donald Trump rally.
People act very differently in crowd or mob situations than they do on their own. There are various theories as to just why this is the case – again, there’s a whole social science and group psychology literature about it. But crowd/mob situations are profoundly dis-inhibiting events. People sometimes do things they themselves not only regret but almost literally can’t believe they did. [snip]
In crowd settings, with what can now only be called Trump’s almost nonstop incitement to eject or beat “thug” protestors, jostling and shoving, ramped up emotions, things can escalate very rapidly.
And let’s be honest, it can happen on both sides. A hypothetical: a Trump supporter shoves a black protestor, the protestor punches back, others join in. We don’t need to equate the two sides, which I do not, to see that there is a lot of anger and animus on each side. This kind of atmosphere can unleash it.
What we have seen over the last two weeks isn’t just an escalation of chaos and low level violence but a progressive normalization of unacceptable behavior – more racist verbal attacks, more violence. This is in turn clearly attracting more people who want trouble – on both sides. [snip]
The climate Trump is creating at his events is one that not only dis-inhibits people who normally act within acceptable societal norms. He is drawing in, like moths to a flame, those who most want to act out on their animosities, drives and beliefs. It is the kind of climate where someone will eventually get killed.
I don’t see much likelihood of a riot breaking out at a Trump rally. The more likely scenario is that somebody, maybe somebody with a weak heart, dies while being “roughed up”, and mob violence breaks out elsewhere.
Donald Trump is perfectly within his rights in not tolerating disruptions of his campaign events. Hardly any candidate ever does, and no candidate is obligated to do so. Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ conciliation of Black Lives Matter protesters was highly unusual.
Nor is he the only candidate who suppresses dissent as well as disruption. I remember reading in 2004 about a man who was charged with criminal trespass for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt to a Bush rally. And Hillary Clinton once had a man taken away in handcuffs for turning his back on her at one of her speeches.
What sets Donald Trump apart from all other candidates within my memory—and I once covered speeches by George Wallace—is his incitement to physical violence by the crowd against people in the crowd.
Trump’s supporters include many working people who are justifiably angry at downsizings and pay cuts. But he encourages them to direct their anger not as political action against the corporate and governmental elite who are responsible for their plight, but as mindless violence against powerless minorities who may be even worse off than they are.
He is playing with fire. He is the only major-party candidate to incite violence. The idea that Bernie Sanders is “sending” people to disrupt Trump rallies is nonsense, but it prepares the ground for Trump encouraging supporters to disrupt Sanders rallies.
Someone will die by Joshua Marshall for Talking Points Memo.
Trump: ‘If I Lose at the Convention, “I Think You’d Have Riots’ by Caitlin MacNeal for Talking Points Memo.
This is what happens when a black man goes to a Trump rally by Charles Pulliam-Moore for Fusion.
The Trump Campaign Gives License to Violence by the New York Times editorial boards
Trump Concerned His Riots Are Not Violent Enough by Robert Mackey for The Intercept.
Donald Trump Encourages Violence At His Rallies. His Fans Are Listening by Sam Stein and Dana Liebelson for the Huffington Post.
Afterthought. One thing that hasn’t happened yet is Donald Trump encouraging his followers to bring guns to his rallies. I worry about him joining forces with the type of people who think that the Second Amendment means that armed white men have free rein to do whatever they want.
Photo credits: Ty Wright/Getty Images; Independent UK