On September 22, 2023, Donald Trump called for the execution of outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley. The venue, Truth Social.
Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told CNN Monday that there is “a legitimate fear” that if Trump were reelected as commander-in-chief, those who he has taken issue with, like Milley, could be retaliated against in some form.
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) not only labeled Milley a “traitor,” he suggested that Milley deserved to be executed because he had “work[ed] with Democrats to hurt Trump.” U.S. Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) refused to condemn Trump’s remarks while being interviewed on CNN.
On Friday, Trump spoke to Republicans in California as part of his campaign for president. In a broken record part of his speech, Trump continued to “[lie] about widespread election fraud.”
“We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft. Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store.” …His comments drew applause from members of his party inside the Anaheim convention and he loudly said “shot” again for emphasis…
“The word that they shoot you will get out within minutes and our nation, in one day, will be an entirely different place,” Trump said Friday of shooting shoplifters. “There must be retribution for theft and destruction and the ruination of our country.”
This weekend Brian Klaas noted that “few voters recognize just how deranged, delusional, and dangerous Donald Trump is…because the press rarely reports on his routine insanity.” He dubbed Trump’s rhetoric the “Banality of Crazy.”
In discussing that Friday night speech, Klaas pointed out:
[Trump] joked about Paul Pelosi, the elderly husband of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who was nearly beaten to death by a MAGA conspiracist who bludgeoned Pelosi’s skull with a hammer. (The baying crowd found Trump’s joke hilarious, laughing with glee at the prospect of an innocent elderly man nearly being assassinated).
Then, showing his intellectual acumen and flashing his firm grip on reality, Trump told the California crowd that he had an ingenious plan for fighting forest fires which involved…watering the forests so that the ground would be damp. (This is an additional strategy beyond his plan to “rake the forests,” which he previously suggested; American forests cover 800 million acres of land)…
Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous, not just because it is the exact sort that incites violence against public officials but also because it shows just how numb the country has grown toward threats more typical of broken, authoritarian regimes. The United States is not just careening toward a significant risk of political violence around the 2024 presidential election. It’s also mostly oblivious to where it’s headed…
I looked at the New York Times for mention of Trump calling to execute shoplifters, or water the forests, or how he thinks an 82 year-old man getting his skull smashed in his own home by a lunatic with a hammer is hilarious. Nothing. I couldn’t find it.
Earlier in the week, Trump had visited the Palmetto State Armory in Summerville, S.C. The brother of the state’s GOP attorney general is a co-owner of the armory. It sold “an AR-15 to a racist gunman who etched a swastika onto the handle and used it to hunt down Black people in a Dollar General store, killing three of them.”
Trump’s violence-saturated rhetoric is not new. Axios compiled a list where he condoned or encouraged violence (that needs updating) from July 2017 to January 2021. It has, however, become more personal and more specific.
Also on Friday, Trump posted a fundraising video to Truth Social seeking donations before a deadline for reporting campaign contributions. Not only did he “[repeat] false, baseless, or misleading attacks on Biden and the migrants, [he] predicted a Biden victory would mean “This country will die!”
MAGA supporter shoots protester
In New Mexico on Thursday, a 23-year-old MAGA follower shot a Native American activist at a peaceful protest. Protestors objected to city council plans to reinstall a statue of a controversial (“war criminal“) Spanish conquerer.
Martinez is the third Trump supporter in New Mexico to be charged with a politically-motivated shooting in as many years, following a 2020 shooting at an Oñate statue in Albuquerque (charges related to the shooting were dropped in that case) and a series of shootings at Democrat officials’ homes allegedly carried out by failed Republican candidate Solomon Peña.
Threats against Democrats in New Mexico, some encouraged by Republican elected officials, have proliferated in recent weeks following governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s controversial emergency order banning public carrying of firearms in Bernalillo County.
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch summarized Trump’s week thusly:
He is becoming the Wolfman Jack of political violence and strongman fascism in America, blasting his hate-filled rants at the 21st-century equivalent of 150,000 watts, on a frequency that clears the mighty Mississippi and hurdles the Rocky Mountains and lands in small towns and far-flung cities — his ugly riffs on executing U.S. generals or threatening judges or shutting down news outlets cheered and shared by an audience that’s counted in the millions…
As captured vividly by an Albuquerque photojournalist, the young man [in New Mexico] pulled out a handgun and began shooting, striking and wounding an out-of-state environmental activist and member of the Hopi tribe named Jacob Johns. Police who arrested Martinez said he laughed and smirked through an interview…
The New Mexico shooting marked the end of a week in which Donald Trump repeatedly celebrated violence, making it clear that death, injury and intimidation isn’t a side effect of his authoritarian push to return to the White House, but the primary disease.
Almost a year ago, Bryan Nelson outlined dangers of “ideologically driven hate speech” in an essay in Scientific American. Known as stochastic terrorism, speech of this nature “increases the likelihood that people will violently and unpredictably attack the targets of vicious claims.”
Known for gnawing at complex questions like a terrier with a bone. Digital evangelist, writer, teacher. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles. @kegill (Twitter and Mastodon.social); wiredpen.com