New York Times (Editorial)
March 14, 2016
After a weekend of violence at his rallies, Donald Trump arrived in Florida for a rally in Boca Raton on Sunday night, crowing at “how well we handled” those confrontations, because “nobody got hurt,” apparently meaning nobody got killed. Standing in an open-air amphitheater filled with thousands of supporters and surrounded by scores of police officers, this season’s version of George Wallace coyly asked, “Do we have a protester, anyone?” and “Is there a disrupter in the house?”
This is the new measure of Mr. Trump’s vile presidential campaign: stand behind a security cordon, stir up racially charged viciousness and attacks, then talk about how it symbolizes “love” from people who “want to see America be made great again.”
After violence erupted at his rallies in North Carolina, Chicago and Ohio in recent days, Mr. Trump has offered only defiance and further incitement. “I love you,” he said over and over on Sunday in Florida. “We have a massive situation going on.”
Earlier on Sunday, in the same wink-wink manner with which he had “disavowed” the Ku Klux Klan, Mr. Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he doesn’t condone violence, even as he justified and encouraged it. He defended the supporter who punched a young protester in the face in North Carolina last week and who said afterward that maybe he’d have to “kill him” next time, saying, “He obviously loves this country and maybe he doesn’t like seeing what’s happening to the country.”
Here’s a medley of Mr. Trump’s comments condoning violence over the past few weeks:
“I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”
“In the good old days this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough.”
“I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would ya? Seriously. Just knock the hell out of them.”
Trump’s History of Encouraging Violence
It’s instructive to watch the video of Mr. Trump cowering as a protester stormed the stage in Ohio, then returning to the lectern to turn up the heat. He demonizes protesters at his rallies as “vicious,” and on Sunday several times he repeated the lie that the man who stormed the stage in Ohio was linked to ISIS.
Protesting in front of the Boca Raton rally on Sunday, Kate Newton and Elizabeth Versalie, both in their 50s, said they had to speak out. They turned up at the amphitheater two hours before the rally and were denied entry when security guards saw their signs, which said “Stop the Hate.”
“It’s all about standing up for freedom of speech for us,” Ms. Versalie said. “Nobody should be running a campaign on fear and bigotry.”
Sunday’s rally was peaceful. But it is surreal to be in a political gathering of several thousand people and not see one banner nor hear one uninterrupted voice of dissent. Why should there be, when Mr. Trump has declared open season on all who disagree with him?
The other striking aspect of these rallies is how affable the crowd is — until the Trump campaign cranks up the intolerance. Waiting hours for their candidate to arrive, supporters snapped photos of one another, chatted and cooed at babies in their parents’ arms. But when Mr. Trump and his warm-up crew, led Sunday by an aide, Stephen Miller, had the stage, a different undercurrent could be felt. There was an onstage tribute to people “murdered by illegal immigrants.” As a few protesters were ejected, Mr. Miller ranted into the mike: “You just heard a mother whose child was murdered and you want to sow chaos? What kind of person are you?”
Mr. Trump’s calls to violence are the sickest part of the con that is his presidential campaign. Yes, some people who attend his rallies are bigots; others are simply upset with a nation, or a life, that’s dealt them a bad hand.
But Mr. Trump, who blathered on about “winning” on Sunday, has not a single solid, truthful idea about how to address the roots of this seething anger. He is basking in the energy created by turning one American against another, hoping hatred will propel him to the Republican nomination.
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