Attending a Donald Trump rally as a protester is taking your life in your hands–perhaps literally. The rallies are now indistinguishable from mob violence, with sucker punches, pepper spray and red-baiting. Trump has long fanned the flames of violence at his campaign events, but since Friday night, the tone has gotten considerably darker. An event in Chicago was canceled, and another Trump rally in Kansas City was marked by police rushing demonstrators on horseback.
Predictably, Trump is turning the exercise of free speech into a not-so-heady brew of paranoia, lies and resentment. That protester who rushed the stage at a Trump event? “Probably ISIS or ISIS-related.” (Except, not.) The demonstrators themselves? “Thugs” who are “very violent” and “really violating all of us.”
The only way that we’re going to stop this craziness is if we press charges,” Trump promised. “Because then their lives are going to be ruined.”
Now protesters at political events are a fact of life and an irritant for politicians. But contrast how President Obama responds to demonstrators to Trump’s call to “knock the crap” out of demonstrators.
There’s an undeniable racial element in the violence unleashed at Trump events that even the mainstream media is willing to call out. And if that doesn’t seem close enough to home, just remember–racism and homophobia are branches of the same tree. Anti-gay violence is the second largest category of hate crimes, after racial attacks.
The way things are going, it’s only a matter of time until a protester gets attacked, assaulted or worse because someone at a Trump rally thinks he or she is LGBTQ. Diversity is the greatest fear of Trump supporters. Anyone who looks or acts differently is a walking target.
And one that Trump will be happy to exploit. If you think presiding over the Nuremberg rallies is how to look presidential, then Donald is your man. But for all the rest of us, any candidate who is willing to supply a spark in a potentially explosive situation is not a laughing stock. He’s a threat.
In this case, he’s also the likely presidential nominee of the Republican party.