It is one thing to have hateful opinions. While unpleasant and probably unjustified, everyone is still entitled to their right of opinion. The issue, however, changes drastically if and when those opinions are materialized and cause instances of harm. This is exactly what we are seeing in Drumpf’s campaign, a presidential campaign that has quickly dissolved into chaotic mayhem, most notably seen in his now infamous campaign rallies.
To be clear, this is not the result of packaging tens of thousands of people at these political rallies. Nor is this violence the result of sheer political anger. One can easily consider similarly sized events or even more infuriating things than a collapsing economy. Instead, this hatred is initiated by, catalyzed through, and enabled by Donald J. Drumpf, a vulgarian apparently hell-bent on creating the nation’s first fascist authoritarian state.
It all began with divisive rhetoric, a partitioning of “them vs. us,” calling out everyone from Mexicans to Muslims, crediting his seemingly stunning bluntness on his lack of care for political correctness, and apparently, for human decency. This rhetoric became a staple of his stump speech, drawing large waves of boos in response to references regarding terrorism or border security. People began protesting, and Drumpf began to take notice.
Soon enough, Drumpf could not get through a single rally it seemed without a disruption from at least one protestor, nearly all of whom Drumpf would make a point to kick out, to the thunderous cheers and jeers from the crowd. This all changed on January 8 when Drumpf kicked out 56-year-old Rose Hamid, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab who stood up in silent protest during Drumpf’s rally. Following the backlash, Drumpf responded, “There is hatred against us that is unbelievable. It’s their hatred, it’s not our hatred.”
This began to paint the role of protestors as the instigators of tension and the materializers of hate, as opposed to the other way around. However, even as Hamid was removed, she was escorted peacefully and carefully. Was it justified? Not exactly, but in essence, it is a private event and the campaign can admit who they would like. Hamid even commented afterwards and said that “people are mostly decent” and at no point was she concerned about her safety.
Drumpf took another turn in a Vermont rally, choosing to not only kick out disruptive audience members, but adding, “Get him outta there! Don’t give him his coat. Keep his coat. Confiscate his coat. You know it’s about 10 degrees below zero outside. No, you can keep his coat.” This, in my understanding, had to be the clearest indication of Drumpf’s genuine disregard for another’s well-being and his tremendous abuse of power. It was a simple, yet incredibly revealing act.
As protests continued in more rallies, Drumpf quickly began to add increasingly aggressive remarks, including, “These people are bringing us down. They are bringing us down. These people are so bad for our country, you have no idea.”; “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.”; “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”
Drumpf’s message is not the only thing inciting acts of violence. His views on violence seem brutish, at best, given his remarks alongside the kinds of behaviors they have prompted, including a graphic video surfacing of an old white man sucker-punching a black protestor and later saying “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” And this is no lone incident, given that others include the choking of journalists, a black woman surrounded and shoved around by individuals, Drumpf’s campaign manager forcibly grabbing and nearly tossing a reporter to the ground, photographers slammed to the ground, brutal kicking of fallen protestors, as well as rally-goers yelling “Sieg Heil” and “light that m************ on fire” at a fallen black protestor. The general trend is frighteningly apparent, with the rallies now apparently on the lookout, whatever that means, for potential protestors. Exactly how the campaign is going about this is unknown, but one can only imagine the types of characteristics that the campaign may be on the lookout for, particularly given the removal of innocent bystanders who simply “looked” like they may be protestors.
The culmination of this was in Illinois, when the city of Chicago sent a loud message to Drumpf and his supporters, namely, that this kind of hatred is not welcome in their city. Drumpf ended up canceling the rally out of safety concerns, with protestors erupting in cheers.
From what it seems, most of these protestors are individuals who are determined to stand up for what they believe in, that our nation is not one of hate, and we are only weaker when we divide within ourselves. These are not “thugs” planning to “riot,” as Drumpf and supporters claim; rather, these are peaceful protestors trying to make themselves heard.
What is of grave importance is how this protest movement takes shape within Drumpf’s rallies, ensuring that the same sorts of violence never become a part of the arsenal used to defeat hate, but rather a reliance on peaceful and ideally informative means may be a better approach.
In the coming weeks, there will be more primaries and caucuses, and as such, more rallies, and understandably, more protests. While these events unravel, we must remain wary of the instigators of hate, and understand that it is not simply a group of angry people riled up in mob mentality, but a conscious effort by a man running for president to promote and encourage acts of hate and violence.