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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Donald Trump, George Wallace, and Mobs

At The Huffington Post, Sam Stein and Dana Liebelson write:
Racial slurs, nasty rhetoric and violence at Trump rallies have become commonplace against protesters, bystanders, and reporters. Assaults are committed not only by rowdy Trump fans, but by the staff he employs to keep the events safe. But rather than denounce these incidents, Trump is making them part of his brand, and uses them to rev up crowds.

"There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience," Trump warned people at a rally in Iowa last month. "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees."

Trump has even threatened to personally get in on the action. "I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell ya," he said of a protester on Feb. 22.

Threats against reporters have become so pervasive at Trump rallies that many of those who cover the Republican front-runner seem to have a personal story. As Katy Tur, the Trump embed for NBC News, described in a Tweet, "Trump trashes press. Crowd jeers. Guy by press 'pen' looks at us & screams "you're a bitch!" Other gentleman gives cameras the double bird."
In 1968, David Broder wrote of George Wallace:
What strikes you about that message — and I am trying to be as restrained as possible— is its steady and repetitive incitement to violence. Wallace may not be tougher on law and order than Nixon or Humphrey, but he verbalizes the wish to lash out against those who offend in a way that more restrained and responsible leaders would never do in a age of violence such as we live in.

He will "take every one of those Communists in our defense plants and toss him out on the seat of his pants."

If any anarchist (the Wallace word for "demonstrator") lies down in front of a Wallace motorcade, "it will be the last car he ever lies down in front of."

If students fly the Viet Cong flag in a Wallace administration, "I would have me an Attorney General that would drag them in by their long hair and ..."

You rarely hear the last words of Wallace's threats, because they are lost in the roar from his crowd. "Crowd" is perhaps too polite a word. When Wallace has finished his harangue, the emotion is closer to that of a lynch mob -- a pack of angry, frustrated men and women, who see his cause, not just as a chance for victory but as a guarantee of vengeance against all who have affronted them for so long.