Why Trump can’t (and won’t) stop promoting violent rhetoric and images | Maddow Blog

Anjali Jain

Around this time four years ago, Donald Trump used social media to promote a video in which one of his supporters said, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” The then-president’s team claimed at the time that he watched the clip before sharing it with the public.

A month later, Trump promoted a different video in which a man in a golf cart with Trump campaign gear was seen shouting, “White power.” The racist language wasn’t hidden deep within a long video: It was audible roughly 10 seconds into the clip.

The back-to-back incidents left the political world with a couple of straightforward options: Either the then-president was promoting disgusting content he agreed with, or he was peddling videos he hadn’t watched, apparently indifferent to the message he was endorsing.

Four years later, the question lingers. NBC News reported:

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Naturally, it wasn’t long before reporters contacted the Republican’s campaign team for an explanation. As my MSNBC colleague Clarissa-Jan Lim noted, Team Trump thought it’d be a good idea to paint the former president as the real victim.

“Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him,” the Republican’s spokesperson said.

Right off the bat, it’s worth emphasizing that Biden has never called for “despicable violence” against a political rival. While we’re at it, Trump’s ridiculous conspiracy theories about the weaponization of the justice system are both demonstrably wrong and wholly irrelevant to this controversy.

But what arguably matters most about a story like this is not just the former president’s willingness to promote violent imagery about the president who defeated him, it’s also Trump’s routine reliance on violent rhetoric and images as part of his approach to civic engagement.

A couple of weeks ago, at a campaign rally in Ohio, the Republican told a group of followers that there would be a “bloodbath” if he loses in the fall. There was some question as to the context — many argued that Trump was referring to the fate of the automotive industry, though the comments were open to interpretation — but it wasn’t as if the former president had earned the benefit of the doubt.

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In Trump’s first year in the White House, then-spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that he had never “promoted or encouraged violence.” Even at the time, it was a difficult line to take seriously.

The Washington Post noted soon after that the claim was “laughable,” adding, “Even if you don’t believe Trump has technically incited violence (which he has been sued for), he clearly nodded toward violence at his campaign rallies. Sometimes it was veiled; other times it was unmistakable. Sometimes he was talking about self-defense, but it was clear he was advocating for a ‘form of violence.’”

Even Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas explained in 2016 that Trump had “a consistent pattern of inciting violence.”

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In the years that followed, during and after his term, Trump repeatedly offered evidence to bolster the thesis. It’s tempting to publish a comprehensive list of examples, but such a report would run several thousand words.

A Washington Post analysis, published soon after the “bloodbath” controversy, added, “[I]s it really ridiculous to suggest that the guy who warned of ‘riots,’ ‘violence in the streets’ and ‘death & destruction’ if he were wronged might be gesturing in that direction again? Of course not.”

The repetition becomes definitional: This is who Trump is. He’s a man who believes that reliance on violent rhetoric, imagery, and even veiled threats is acceptable as part of our contemporary political discourse.

What’s more, as Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst, explained over the weekend, “We know, and more importantly, he knows, how his followers react when he suggests violence.”

It’s precisely why it’s best not to look away.

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Hello, I'm Anjali Jain, a passionate writer navigating the dynamic realms of entertainment, politics, and technology. My blog serves as a digital canvas where I explore the intricate threads that weave together these diverse spheres, offering readers a comprehensive and engaging perspective. Entertainment Aficionado: As an avid consumer of all things entertainment, I delve into the worlds of movies, television, music, and more. Through my blog, I share insightful analyses, reviews, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the ever-evolving landscape of pop culture. Political Explorer: I'm not one to shy away from the complexities of the political arena. From local issues to global affairs, my writings aim to unravel the intricacies of political events, fostering meaningful conversations about the societal impact of policy decisions. Tech Enthusiast: With an insatiable curiosity for technology, I keep my readers abreast of the latest innovations and trends in the tech world. My articles break down complex concepts, making technology accessible and exploring its profound influence on our daily lives. Narrative Architect: Through my writing, I craft narratives that bridge the gap between entertainment, politics, and technology. Each blog post is a journey, offering readers a thought-provoking exploration of the forces shaping our world. Join me in unraveling the stories that define our culture. Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram and X for real-time updates, discussions, and a shared passion for the fascinating intersection of entertainment, politics, and tech.
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