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Trump And Political Violence

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Rick Perlstein makes a very important point about the question of Trump and riots:

That’s the score: four elections, two where violence drove the electorate toward the Republicans, and two where violence drove the electorate toward the Democrats. And here is the heart of the pattern. Listen to what Richard Nixon said in that 1968 acceptance speech, after he invited Americans to listen to the sirens in the night, the angry voices, Americans hating each other, fighting each other, killing each other. Later in the speech, he invited them to listen to “another voice. It is the quiet voice in the tumult and the shouting.” That was the voice he promised to embody. He promised calm.

What made his promise credible were the images, three weeks later, at the Democratic convention: the worst violence at any convention in U.S. history. And the way that same chaos seemed to follow the Democratic nominee wherever he went—like the incident on October 31 when a rally for nominee Hubert Humphrey was interrupted by a naked woman who dashed down the aisle carrying the head of a pig on a charger. After she was apprehended, her male companion, also naked, seized the pig’s head, leapt to the stage, and presented it to the speaker, economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

Chaos seemed to follow the Democrats wherever they went. So Nixon, promising quiet, prevailed.

Then, two years later, when chaos seemed to follow the Republicans wherever they went—it was a Democrat, Edmund Muskie, who offered the credible appeal, quoted above, for quiet.

History, really, is not so neat as all this. Still and all, the evidence is suggestive. It’s not that the chaos of political rallies that devolve into mêlées invariably favors the authoritarian party of law and order. Instead, it is the party to whom chaos appears to attach itself that the public tends to reject—especially if the leaders of the opposing party do an effective job of framing themselves as the quiet, calm, and centering alternative.

That is the lesson for Hillary Clinton. What is the lesson for us? It’s most decidedly not to encourage chaos at Donald Trump rallies. This very act of encouragement, after all, clouds the story: it would make it credible to frame the Democrats as authors of chaos.

Trump is a fascist. Trumpism leads to riots. Already, the backlash in ensuing: in the first round of polling since both parties provisionally settled on their candidates, 70 percent of Americans said they viewed Trump unfavorably, 56 percent “strongly” unfavorably. Among independents he lags 38 points behind Hillary Clinton in favorability, 20 points behind among whites; and even among Republicans his favorability rating has plunged from 42 percent in April to 34 percent now. Asked to choose between the three candidates on the ballot, Clinton, Trump, and Libertarian Gary Johnson, polling has Trump 12 points behind. He is the pig on the platter. Let him stew in his own blood. The public recognizes the chaos of which he is author, and they are turning away in disgust.

We needn’t address abstract questions of when political violence might be justified to deal with whether to encourage violence against persons or property at Trump rallies, which is a relatively easy question. It’s a terrible idea. This is not a desperate situation for the left. Facing an already uphill fight in the Electoral College because of the choice they’ve made to use the advantages the less democratic aspects of the American system grant them to maximize ideological purity rather than expanding their coalition, Republicans have selected a candidate who figures to be an anchor on their prospects comparable to McGovern or Goldwater. It would take extraordinary circumstances for Trump to win. Encouraging people to riot (as opposed to peacefully protesting) at Trump rallies is exactly the kind of thing the Trump needs and that anti-Trump forces do not. Let the already massively unpopular Trump own the chaos and then beat him badly at the ballot box.

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  • ThusBloggedAnderson

    My Twitter feed improved immensely after I unfollowed/muted anyone saying that riots in 2016 America are a splendid idea.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Yes, now we only have to hope the anarchists read Perlstein’s article.

      • DrDick

        The folks most likely to use and incite violence are at the other end of the political spectrum (i.e., Trump supporters).

        • so-in-so

          Except there has always been a broad anarchist streak in the American Libertarian right.

    • Hogan
      • N__B

        It’s a bit depressing that I don’t even have to click the link…

    • LosGatosCA

      Much,much shorter Perlstein Napoleon:

      “Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself.”

  • CP

    Trump is a fascist. Trumpism leads to riots. Already, the backlash in ensuing: in the first round of polling since both parties provisionally settled on their candidates, 70 percent of Americans said they viewed Trump unfavorably, 56 percent “strongly” unfavorably. Among independents he lags 38 points behind Hillary Clinton in favorability, 20 points behind among whites; and even among Republicans his favorability rating has plunged from 42 percent in April to 34 percent now. Asked to choose between the three candidates on the ballot, Clinton, Trump, and Libertarian Gary Johnson, polling has Trump 12 points behind. He is the pig on the platter. Let him stew in his own blood. The public recognizes the chaos of which he is author, and they are turning away in disgust.

    Jesus!

    When you’ve lost the white people…

    • Linnaeus

      I suspect Trump’s deficit among white voters is due in large part to white women.

      • CP

        That’s what I figured, but still. Has any Repub had that kind of gap in recent history?

        • Linnaeus

          Not that I recall.

        • LosGatosCA

          Wendell Wilkie? Alf Landon? Benjamin Harrison?

      • N__B

        So…you’re saying that you know where the white women are at?

        • FMguru

          The previous Republican nominee had binders full of ’em.

        • Linnaeus

          Today must be Mel Brooks Day at LGM.

          • advocatethis

            It’s about damn time!

            • Linnaeus

              Harrumph!

          • LosGatosCA

            He’s world famous in Poland!

          • efgoldman

            Today must be Mel Brooks Day at LGM.

            Every day is Mel Brooks day at LGM.

      • xq

        Among whites, there’s a 15 point gender gap in favorability for both Trump and Clinton, in opposite directions.

    • efgoldman

      When you’ve lost the white people…

      I expect some number of them to return. Not enough to elect him, but enough to win the traitor states and some of the big empty states, albeit by lower margins than Grandpa Walnuts or Mittster did.
      But the fact that Utah and Kansas are in play right now…. UTAH AND KANSAS! You kidding me?

      • CP

        Maybe Sam Brownback’s tireless campaign to turn Kansas into a third world nation finally has some people waking up.

      • UserGoogol

        It’s plausible Trump will wildly underperform in Utah, although of course he has a very generous starting point. He’s consistently polled poorly with Mormons for a while. He hasn’t gone out of his way to offend their demographic like he has with others, but he is not their kind of Republican at all. Utah is the reddest state, but they’re red in their own unique way.

        • efgoldman

          Utah is the reddest state, but they’re red in their own unique way.

          I expect him to win it, by the narrowest of margins. But just the fact that it’s in play….

        • BiloSagdiyev

          They just may be the one heartland demographic that really cares about politeness and clean livin’ and humility. All of the others apparently will drop their lifetimes’ worth of finger wagging at loud, arrogant, pushy New Yorkers and Yankees as long he hates the right people.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Bah. I take that back. Tney can sense he’s the kinf of bigot that might come screw with them.

  • Cheerful

    Like other political activities, the reviled yard sign for example, being actively violent at Trump rallies (shoving or hitting Trump supporters, breaking their stuff) seems to be as much an expression of emotion as a reasoned part of any larger plan for electoral victory. Rationalizations as to why it’s a good idea to riot seem to be post facto, and center around the idea that expressing righteous anger is, in itself, a good thing.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      I hear that rather than the usual tactic of stealing yard signs for candidates you don’t like, this year people are planting TRUMP signs next to them.

      Anyone has any idea how easy it is to get a TRUMP yard sign printed in water-soluble ink over a (non water soluble) swastika sign? Asking for a fiend.

      • so-in-so

        That idea is good, but not fiendishly good.

      • Bill Murray

        well you can have some stencils made and do it yourself pretty easily

        • Ernest Pikeman

          I would advise Snarki’s friend to make the swastika stencils herself. Could be awkward in a shop.

    • twbb

      “Rationalizations as to why it’s a good idea to riot seem to be post facto, and center around the idea that expressing righteous anger is, in itself, a good thing.”

      That viewpoint is extremely frustrating, and has been expressed by way too many people on LGM who I otherwise agree with on most issues.

    • ThrottleJockey

      The amount of revulsion he generates is shocking, just staggering how many people hate him. In my lifetime I’ve never seen anything even remotely comparable–and Reagan kicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        “I’ve never seen anything even remotely comparable–and Reagan kicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi.”

        Yeah, but those guys threw snowballs at Santa Claus, so they’re pretty surly overall.

        • Hogan

          Fat fuck had it coming.

          • N__B

            We’ve all got it coming.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              some of us got it going

              (not me personally but I’ve heard others do)

          • brewmn

            Wow. There really is a War on Christmas.

      • so-in-so

        That’s called a “dog whistle”, because for many people the significance was lost, except for those to whom it appealed and those meant to be made afraid.

        Reagan was smart enough not to say bad things directly about the minorities as a whole (just about “welfare Queens”, which again, the right people knew what he meant). Trump says it all out loud, including the “I’d like to punch that protester in the face” part, so the more genteel white people are offended.

        Plus, the demographic and social changes have made this all less appealing to the majority even as the stone cold bigots long for it.

        • LosGatosCA

          Looks like the Atwater curve has moved all the way down to, not only can’t you say the n-word (and other ethnic/gender/minority equivalents) you are compelled to publicly condemn those that do.

          Of course that doesn’t mean you have to be sincere, just public, about the condemnation.

          • so-in-so

            And Trump tries to bring it full circle; here’s to hoping he fails miserably.

        • efgoldman

          Reagan was smart enough not to say bad things directly about the minorities as a whole

          While Combover Caligula and Sanctus Ronaldus Magnus are maybe a millimeter apart in ideology (although who can tell with Combover… his only real ideology is “I love me some me”), Ronnie was a very good, experienced politician, with multiple presidential elections, decades of gladhanding and fundraising, and twice elected governor of our largest and most diverse state. He may have been an actor and an amiable dunce, but he knew the script as a national politician, read it, memorized it, internalized it, and played it goddamned well.

          • The Dark God of Time

            Don’t forget he was head of the SGA. My mother, a community theater actress, always maintained he was a lousy actor but a great schmoozer, which helped in his rise in politics later on.

      • witlesschum

        I have to admit I hate Donald Trump, like as a person even though I don’t know him. He’s a frankenstein’s monster of all the worst things about modern society glued together with excrement. Just virulently hate the guy and everything he stands for, the whole package.

        And then I found out we disagree politically.

        • catclub

          It is more confounding when you find you agree with said vile person on something.

          Ted Cruz loves “The Princess Bride”

          William Buckley loves Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

          • so-in-so

            Eh, nobody is a monster to the degree that they hate everything other people like.

            Should I dislike dogs and vegetarians because one of histories greatest monsters like them?

            • DrS

              I dunno…do those vegetarians do Cross Fit?

          • Karen24

            The fact that all of those people breathe oxygen makes me want to explore the benefits of respirating gaseous silicon.

            • Linnaeus

              If “Buckley” refers to William F. Buckley, Jr., you can be reassured somewhat by the fact that he is no longer breathing anything at all.

              • Origami Isopod

                He’s breathing brimstone fumes.

          • efgoldman

            Ted Cruz loves “The Princess Bride”

            You know who loved dogs and children…..

            • Thom

              and was a vegetarian.

              • BiloSagdiyev

                And wore snazzy costumes? Was it Prince?!

                • Warren Terra

                  Prince wasn’t a vegetarian

                  (to be sure, despite the persistent legend, I don’t think the former Austrian corporal was a vegetarian, either)

  • Not mention the fact that the Trumpers are more likely to be heavily armed.

  • Origami Isopod

    This makes me wonder even more whether Emmett Rensin is a secret Trump supporter.

  • NewishLawyer

    This twitter essay is illustrative of a Trump rally:

    https://twitter.com/i/moments/742975954860052481

    While I like that Trump is repellent to most Americans, I suspect that he is letting something dangerous out. There are always going to be bigots and haters. Trump seems to be tapping the rage of people who kept in bottled up for years, maybe decades. I suspect that even if Trump is crushed in November, this anger is not going away.

    • John not McCain

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a certain amount of violence after the election of Clinton. As long as it’s dealt with swiftly and surely, I bet it dies out before the inauguration. After that, we’re in for a long period of the whimper of whipped dogs.*

      *Stolen shamelessly from H. Ellison.

      • CP

        Or after the election of Trump. They won’t be any better as winners than losers.

        • gmack

          Right. I would personally be more afraid of vigilante violence after his election than after his defeat. There is the distinct possibility that some of his supporters would feel like their violence is now authorized by the state.

      • So, you’re saying that Reagan brought us dog whistles, while Trump will bring us dog whimpers?

        • bender

          And the next iteration will bring us dog collars.

      • efgoldman

        After that, we’re in for a long period of the whimper of whipped dogs.

        And also the misogyny equivalent of the Obama bone-in-the-nose-eating-watermelon cartoons. Sorry, women of all ages, you are going to spend the next 4-8 years totally pissed off all the time, and I won’t blame you a bit.

        • so-in-so

          Some of them can take that out on the numbnuts hubby/boyfriend who voted Trump!

    • What he is doing is a continuation of what the Republican Party in general has been doing for a long time, but particularly during the Obama years, which is to legitimize this kind of hate. He’s just taking it to the next level. And I don’t think he really cares about what happens after the election. It’s all about him. I think he would be quite pleased if the Trumpers came out after the election and started burning things down.

      • Pat

        I agree. I don’t think Trump’s saying anything that talk radio hasn’t been explicitly spouting for years.

        • Pseudonym

          Exactly. Remember when the freshman Republican Congressional class of 1994 named Rush Limbaugh an honorary member of their caucus?

      • DrDick

        Very much so, as I have said before.

    • Wapiti

      Echoing C.V. Danes, it’s a continuation of a theme. I mean, we have (white) assholes taking over wildlife preserves. We have (predominately white) assholes thinking it’s a good idea/great fun to posture with their weaponry in places they think are full of liberals. We have Republican state governments giving permission to (white) haters to “stand your ground”. I say this all as a white guy – it’s a nasty downward spiral the Republicans have embarked upon.

    • CD

      Descriptions of George Wallace’s rallies in 1968 – including in the NE and Midwest – are similar.

      My only quibble is with the metaphor. It’s possible campaigns like this, and especially rallies, create anger as much as they unbottle it. They’re an invitation to think and feel in a particular way.

      It’s also weird, from the twitter account, to see how much these rallies have built the protesters in to the event — it’s like they need them, and their ceremonial expulsion is part of the event.

      • nixnutz

        their ceremonial expulsion is part of the event.

        His hairstyle isn’t the only thing he borrowed from Wally George.

      • so-in-so

        Fascism needs enemies to function.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          I’ve always looked at the American right and thought that these people wouldn’t even know who they were without an enemy! Remember how lost they were in the 90’s? (Of course, the goofier among them just pretended that Russia was still Commanist, and they’re still in that mode every other day now.)

      • Wapiti

        I wouldn’t doubt that he has planted protesters in case no real protesters show up.

        eta: while the Trump campaign is about as fucked up as a soup sandwich, Roger Stone is quite capable of inserting a few protesters; that’s what he does.

    • DrDick

      This is certainly a real threat. I do not think it is going to be easy to put this particular genie back in the bottle and I do not think they will take the loss peacefully. I look forward to a lot more Bundys, Randolphs, and McVeighs going forward. The groups that feed that kind of activity have been growing markedly for the last 8 years.

      • efgoldman

        The groups that feed that kind of activity have been growing markedly for the last 8 years.

        Gee, I wonder why that is.

      • Origami Isopod

        ….and spent the ’90s and early ’00s laying the groundwork for their growth.

        • DrDick

          Indeed. These people have always been the biggest terrorist threat in this country since the late 70s.

  • I like to listen to FOX News Radio just to get a flavor of what the wingnuts are being fed, and their news coverage of violence at Trump rallies is always 100% about the protesters. If riot police are there, so much the better. In their world, all the violence is coming from the left. So while it’s always edifying when Perlstein chimes in, and as much as I agree that the overall public is becoming increasingly disgusted with Trump as the nominee of a major political party, a lot of people are never going to get that message.

    • MyNameIsZweig

      In their world, all the violence is coming from the left.

      This is exactly true. Yesterday I posted a link to that Storify thing of Tweets on the Greensboro, NC Trump rally on my FB. I was treated to one of my few remaining Republican friends earnestly arguing that the Left was actually worse when it comes to violence, and cited as an example the fact that someone put a sign reading “Decapitate Trump” on a dead body or something.

      The point is, they really do believe it, and you will never ever convince them they’re wrong. It’s a complete waste of time engaging with these people because we aren’t even speaking the same language – they live in a very different, very ugly universe of their own making, and somehow they seem quite happy there.

      • so-in-so

        See also the recent troll postings about all political violence in the U.S. being leftist, including Civil War era Democrats, etc.

        Also the “Nazi’s are leftist, their name includes ‘Socialist’, dur-hur” stupidity.

      • efgoldman

        cited as an example the fact that someone put a sign reading “Decapitate Trump” on a dead body or something.

        Loomis has become a meme! And of course we all know he sets the whole political/propaganda agenda for all leftists/Democrats, etc

  • EliHawk

    While we’re talking about Perlstein, I just finished reading Before the Storm, and found it…disappointing. It’s supposed to be very good, but I’m ever more clear that when it comes to his “History of the rise of Conservativism” he has a few specific theses that he just keeps beating into the ground. The regular folks are angry and racist. The backlash is ever coming. Goldwater is principled, his guys are all canny guys on the make, Nixon is conniving, liberals are smug and out of touch with the real America. When he’s spending all of his discussion of the 1964 election talking about a seemingly omnipresent backlash and terror, it’s something that’s not actually backed up in a Johnson landslide. It feels like the classic political reporter finding the 5 little anecdotes that fit the story he wants to tell, even when the facts aren’t there. And as great as he is at finding all these little cultural footnotes and stories and stuff and they’re really interesting, the narrowness of the broader narrative is tiring.

    I found Nixonland a good read (even with the same problems, but they made more sense when tied to stuff that was actually happening; plus as a beach read it was easier to get more immersive in it), but really struggled to finish this one. Would any of you recommend The Invisible Bridge? I recall when it came out people had the same criticism of his reductionism, this time directed at his portrait of Reagan. Thoughts?

    • EliHawk

      Also: Attributing Nixon’s mildly bad 1970 midterms (gained 4 seats in the senate,lost 12 House seats; got whooped in Governorships though, D+11, picking up FL/OH/PA ) to a Nixon protest and a Muskie Speech and not underlying Vietnam fatigue and usual midterm grumbling against the incumbent is very Perlstein.

      • Yes. This.

      • njorl

        Also, McGovern wasn’t much of an anchor when he got trounced. The Ds picked up 2 senate seats and lost 13 house seats. The latter is not that significant considering they gained 12 house seats in 1970.
        Compared to 1974 (D+49, R-48), 1966 (D-47, R+47) and 1964 (D+37,R-37), ’68, ’70 and ’72 were pretty mundane congressional elections. The lesson to take from that is that violence isn’t significant compared to the candidate being a dangerous man (1964), daring to give black people their rights (1966), or being a historically huge national disgrace (1974).

    • Captain Splendid

      Yeah, I’m finding Nixonland more enjoyable, but for me it had more to do with he fact that BTS, being what it is, has a lot of the same problems most origin stories do.

      Which is made worse by the fact that most of the people you have to get up to speed on are all so horribly repulsive, as 50s and 60s conservatives were.

      It’s also not helped by the fact that Goldwater’s nowhere near as interesting a character as Nixon.

      • so-in-so

        Conservatives of the 50s and 60s are horribly repulsive?

        Have you seen modern conservatives?

      • brugroffil

        See, I’m having the opposite problem. I read BTS a couple of years ago, and I’m halfway through Nixonland right now (hard to devote too much time to it right now given the ongoing political circus). Reading BTS, I at least knew that, in the end, Goldwater would be trounced. Reading Nixonland, I know that he’s going to win, and, after Carter, we get eight years of Reagan. Ugh.

    • howard

      i’m not down on perlstein – i like the accumulated hidden-in-plain-sight detail – but i will say at the precise moment of the pig people, humphrey was rallying in the polls to close the gap as potential wallace voters peeled back off to vote for him.

      • EliHawk

        Exactly. It’s the same in Before the Storm. All through the period from the RNC to November, Perlstein assures us the signs of white backlash, and terror, and doom are just around the corner….while Johnson is burying Goldwater by ~30 points the entire time.

        • so-in-so

          Interesting, it sounds as if Pearlstein didn’t know how things ended? Odd for a political history.

          • EliHawk

            He does, but he’s trying to set the table for everything that comes later in the 60s/70s for 1964 and it doesn’t just fit the times. He’s overwhelmed by the need for smug omniscient narrator irony.

          • howard

            well, i’d say he has a big-picture thesis, which is, broadly speaking, accurate: building on anti-new deal precedents, a rich, well-organized, ideologically coherent group of people set out to push american politics to the right, destroy the new deal, and restore laissez faire, and they did this all in pretty plain sight over a multi-decade period.

            but it does leave out a lot of nuance, and so the critique of perlstein is that he get so caught up in the many trees he wants to show us that he sorta loses track of the whole forest itself.

            • Linnaeus

              Perlstein’s work is good, but it’s also worth reading work by Kevin Boyle, Lisa McGirr, Kevin Kruse, Jefferson Cowie, etc. to provide what Perlstein doesn’t.

              Yes, I know that’s a lot of reading.

        • burritoboy

          You’re trying to talk about a different magnitude of issue than Perlstein is. Perlstein is ultimately trying to explore why the New Deal Coalition fell apart. It’s far secondary to his goal that it fell apart in 1968 or the early 1970s rather than 1964. There were all sorts of reasons why Goldwater 1964 was not the precise ideal to be that moment. But that precise moment was rapidly approaching within 24 or 36 or 48 months.

          • brugroffil

            Yeah, and that’s the message I got from the book. Hell, the title makes that pretty obvious. BTS isn’t about how all of this “hidden in plain sight” stuff means Goldwater had a legitimate chance in 1964–it’s about how the foundations for future conservative victories against the post-war Consensus was being laid. The end result was always going to be a 3-part story ending in Reagan.

            • so-in-so

              Now you are making me worry; if Trump is the next gen Goldwater, who or what would be the Nixon and Reagan?

              • howard

                i believe his peers would nominate ted cruz for the newest nixon and i certainly believe that paul ryan nominates himself as the new reagan.

                • so-in-so

                  My fear is that if Trump ~= Goldwater, how much worse must the next Nixon and Reagan be to maintain scale!

              • efgoldman

                if Trump is the next gen Goldwater, who or what would be the Nixon and Reagan?

                As we’ve pointed out before, talking about Combover Caligula’s non-existent “tack to the center”, it’s a totally different media environment. There won’t be a “New [name RWNJ TeaHadi not Nixon]” because no-one can bury their past statements/videos/positions anymore. I suppose it’s possible that another Republiklown with Sanctus Ronaldus’ acting lying skills and Tailgunner Teddie’s ideology could show up, but I don’t see such a person. They can’t help being evil, lying, cruel, empathy-less bastards. It’s in their political DNA.
                For that matter, someone with Ronnie’s smoothness, even with the right ideology, might not fulfill the bloodthirstiness of the mouth breathers who actually vote in the primaries.

  • witlesschum

    I’m not quite ready to tell people they’re wrong for rioting when a fascist racism carnival comes to town, but Clinton should certainly figure out the smartest way to play it.

    • CaptainBringdown

      I’m not quite ready to tell people they’re wrong for rioting when a fascist racism carnival comes to town,

      I am. There’s really no upside and there’s plenty of downside.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        “Just stay inside and sharpen your long knives”

      • LosGatosCA

        Rioting is never good unless it sparks a full scale revolution – like it did in France.

        If you aim for the king’s head you better not miss.

        Every other riot is simply an excuse for the other side to crack down and for the apathetic to side with the status quo.

        Think of Casey Stengels mgmt advice – 5 guys love you, 5 guys hate you, 15 haven’t made up their minds. As the manager your job is to keep those 15 away from the 5 guys who hate you.

        Rioting shoves those 15 folks right over to the 5 folks who hate you.

        • efgoldman

          Rioting is never good unless it sparks a full scale revolution – like it did in France.

          For a certain subset of young males, emboldened by numbers and ingested chemicals of one sort or another, rioting/chaos/destruction is the endgame and it’s own reward. Most of them can’t even spell “ideology.”
          See: soccer hooligans.

        • bender

          The closest thing to a benign riot in my experience was the gay riot in San Francisco on the night after the jury acquitted Dan White of murder for assassinating Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk.

          I know this event only from news coverage, not as an eyewitness. My recollection is that a lot of enraged men came down to Civic Center, set some police cars on fire and did minor property damage, not much mayhem. Someone (probably Dianne Feinstein) seems to have told the city police not to engage them.

          The next day the mess was cleaned up and life went on. I don’t recall much public outrage over either the riot or how it was handled.

          Locals feel free to correct me if I have anything wrong.

    • Karen24

      I will always tell people to they’re wrong for rioting. Assault and destruction of property accomplishes exactly nothing and helps the other side. Stop. We’re the adults at this party.

      • witlesschum

        Moderation in all things, including moderation.

        And what rioting and violence that lefties have started at Trump rallies doesn’t appear to be helping him. It might be a bad idea, politically, but morally? I can’t condemn it.

        • random

          It’s two wrongs not making a right. Though I agree that the greater evil is clearly being perpetrated by the people attending the white supremacist rally.

          I have no idea how this sort of thing helps him politically. He’s notorious for calling for violence at his rallies. His rallies are notorious for having violence at them. I don’t think it matters so much who ‘started it’, it just accrues to an existing general perception of chaos. Not many people want to vote for chaos.

          • burritoboy

            I think you underestimate the attractiveness of chaos –

            1. if you can create chaos and convince enough people that your opponents are actually starting it, you reap the benefits of playing the law and order while simultaneously undermining your opponents.

            2. some people will support the people causing the chaos just to get them to stop.

            3. there’s some number of people who either don’t care or simply aren’t smart enough to understand who’s causing the chaos, but view it as “just there” and they want to get their slice of the potential loot from the chaos.

          • Pseudonym

            I have no idea how this sort of thing helps him politically.

            1. Trump says Mexicans and Muslims are violent thugs who are endangering America.
            2. Members of the groups Trump is targeting are involved in riots in response.
            3. “See, I told you so.”

        • CD

          morally? I can’t condemn it.

          I can, easily. Violence against other human beings should be reserved for occasions when there is the most dire and direct necessity. People who do it just to make a political point are dangerous assholes.

          • so-in-so

            I suspect “nothing else works” is where it comes into consideration. As in, when facing an entrenched dictatorship or strong social discrimination. Watts or Stonewall come to mind, as well as the Arab Spring (such as it is).

            • CD

              Yep. When the fascisti are losing is not when you need to be throwing things at them.

              • rea

                Watts or Stonewall come to mind

                Both Watts and Stonewall were responses to violence initiated by the oppressors

          • Linnaeus

            Violence against other human beings should be reserved for occasions when there is the most dire and direct necessity.

            Aye, there’s the rub.

        • Patick Spens

          Physically assaulting people (even bad people) and breaking things (even bad people’s things) is wrong. It might be justified, but then you have to do the work to justify it. If your best justification for violence is, “It doesn’t appear to be helping our political opponents” then the violence is wrong.

          • witlesschum

            I’m not interested in justifying it, but I’m not gonna do any work to condemn it. Reasonable people can disagree on this topic, is what I’m saying.

      • Linnaeus

        Wait a couple hundred years. Then riots become a step on the road to freedom.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Tomorrow you’re homeless… tonight it’s a blast?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF7e2rgzsrU

        RIOT! Playing right into their hands!

    • jam

      Protesting is good, rioting is counterproductive. I understand the feeling and the desire, but it’s self-destructive to act on it.

    • gmack

      I think some of the reasoning about the ethics of international interventions is of use here. For most theorists of international intervention, there is a distinction between whether an intervention is morally justified and whether is a good idea. Determining whether an intervention or violence is justified is only the first step of the reasoning process. I take it as a given that, if we really think that Trump is a fascist who will destroy the republic, kill innocent people, and place others in detention camps (for example), then exercising violence to stop him pretty clearly is justified in some moral sense. However, before we all run out to get our bricks, we have to pass other hurdles. We have to be assured that the violence will actually work to prevent Trump’s election or the bad things his election will likely produce. We have to be sure that there are no alternatives to this violence that would be equally effective (like, say, just organizing the opposition to Trump to actually vote). We have to be assured that those exercising the violence will do so in the right way and to the right degree. We have to be assured that those exercising the violence aren’t driven by other concerns (e.g., a desire for their own power; the problem here is not so much that their intentions are bad, but that if they are driven by other concerns, the violence they exercise will tend to be done in such a way as to produce bad effects). And so on.

      I think it’s pretty clear, anyway, that even if in the abstract it’s justifiable to exercise violence to prevent fascism, that abstract principle probably does not apply in the present context. I should also add that I think there is a significant difference between what, for instance, the protesters in Chicago did (basically, they organized attendance at a Trump rally to heckle him, causing him to postpone the rally) and what protesters in California did (throwing eggs at Trump supporters, etc.). In my view, the former activity is laudable, whereas the latter is not.

  • Gregor Sansa

    A couple of weeks ago, there was a guy a half block north of Harvard Square with a sign: “Hillary is filthy dirt. Make America great again.” He could not have done more to help Clinton if he’d been on the payroll.

    I agree that anti-Trump violence is about as productive towards its stated goals as that guy was towards his.

  • rea

    My biggest fear a few weeks ago was that we’d have a major terrorism incident, which Trump would be able to exploit to discredit Clinton (& Obama). Well, we had one, and the general reaction is that Trump has managed to discredit himself. I am reassured.

    • NeonTrotsky

      If you let Trump talk for long enough about just about anything he will inevitably discredit himself

      • brugroffil

        Take the Paul “five minute rule,” but shorten it down to five seconds, and you have Trump.

      • CP

        Maybe he could start talking long enough about Star Wars and Star Trek, and then my hate for him would grow impossibly more hateful.

        I bet his favorite movies are the J. J. Abrams ones. I bet his favorite Star Wars character was Jar Jar Binks and his favorite Star Trek show was Voyager. I bet his favorite Star Trek villain was Shinzon. I bet he laughed when the entire Star Wars expanded universe was declared non-canon. That fucking possum-haired son of a bitch.

        • MyNameIsZweig

          I bet his favorite movies are the J. J. Abrams ones.

          Were he to ever actually be elected, that right there would be grounds for impeachment.

        • burritoboy

          Dude, he’s never seen any of it and would probably say he likes Charles Bronson or Dirty Harry movies.

        • Woodrowfan

          I think he’s more of a Sybok fan myself.

    • Pseudonym

      This is one of the advantages of Clinton’s hawkish views and rhetoric; she’s seen as more credible in dealing with terrorism.

  • Karen24

    Have I missed some incident where Clinton or any Democrat encouraged violence at a Trump rally? Or sneered or failed to condemn it?

    • jam

      There is no need for incidents when we all know that Both Sides do it (for any and all values of it).

  • libarbarian

    Counter Point: As a privileged white person who won’t really have to bear the costs of any potential violence, I find that advocating violent opposition is an amazing low-cost way for me to improve my own radical street cred.

    Your response Mr Lemieux?

    • Karen24

      And, as a privileged white person, nothing I own that I can’t replace will be damaged and no one I care about will be injured but I do get to cosplay the Weathermen.

      • njorl

        Cosplaying the Weathermen should be a briefly popular alt-rock song.

        • Karen24

          You heard it here first, guys.

          I note in my own favor that I once suggested “Degenerate Earrings” as a band name here.

  • Dr. Waffle

    OT: Is there anyone on the left dumber than Connor Kilpatrick?

    https://twitter.com/ckilpatrick/status/743499520550535168

    • The fact that he is #2 at Jacobin is the most embarrassing thing about that publication. Kilpatrick offers a perfectly useless version “leftism through personal feuds and unhinged anger.”

      • Lasker

        I was talking about this just the other night with a friend who knows some of the people in the Jacobin circle and he was in total agreement. Really bums me out. Such a potentially valuable project. I mean it still is a valuable project, but when a co-founder of the magazine is so toxic I do worry about how far they can go.

        Another thing we talked about was how interesting it was to see Jacobin pivot to full-on Bernie war-footing over the last 6-9 months. I took the position that it was kind of a bummer to see them so easily go into propaganda mode, but he felt that it was admirable that they laid aside their more esoteric concerns for real political engagement and in the end I kind of came around to his point of view.

        I do really admire Jacobin and Bhaskar Sunkara. Their attempt to grow out of their nerdy marxist beginnings into a forum for the left more broadly has been a bumpy one but in many ways they have done astonishingly well. Which again, is why the persistence of their worst facets is so frustrating . . .

        • Yeah, Kilpatrick’s Twitter wars and online bullying are not sustainable if Jacobin wants to be taken seriously. And the thing about the guy is that I don’t even know what he offers. Is he a great editor? He certainly doesn’t seem to be doing the work to advance a policy agenda.

          I thought it was pretty interesting how Jacobin was all-in for Bernie even though he’s really just a good liberal. But I don’t have a problem with it. He did a lot to bring the term “socialism” back to respectability and being engaged in political action as it currently stands is a good thing. It does make me wonder what socialism actually means for the Jacobin folks, but that’s a relatively minor concern.

          • Lasker

            With the caveat that I have no inside info, I suspect he is there because he was there at the beginning and is probably a big part of the reason they exist at all.

            Which kind of makes sense. I mean, how badly and how repeatedly would you, or Lemieux, or Campos, or djw or SEK have to mess up before your blog mates threw you out? Would they ever do so?

            w/r/t Jacobin’s Bernie enthusiasm, I think they know perfectly well that he’s a populist social democrat, and the fact that for all their posturing they would recognize that as something worth supporting is to their credit.

          • Phil Perspective

            Yeah, Kilpatrick’s Twitter wars and online bullying are not sustainable if Jacobin wants to be taken seriously.

            Joan Walsh, Neera Tanden and others are taken seriously despite their Twitter bullying. So even if we accept your premise …

            • Nick056

              Counterpoint: nobody takes Joan Walsh seriously. She’s kind of like a mirror image of Sally Quinn.

            • sharculese

              They bullied Bruenig into hurling invective at them? How does that work?

              • Cassiodorus

                They didn’t just fall over like they were supposed to

          • Jean-Michel

            It does make me wonder what socialism actually means for the Jacobin folks…

            The Brooklyn Rail did an article on the subject recently and made a pretty compelling case that, for the core Jacobin team, it just means social democracy or maybe even liberalism with full employment.

          • Matty

            Jacobin’s all-in-for-Bernie-ness struck me as being much the same as the Revolutionary Communist Party’s insistence on putting up flyers at the vigil for Orlando in my neighborhood this week. Early in the campaign, I remember them having a handful of articles about how he wasn’t really a socialist, but it was good that people were interested, but those got replaced by increasingly breathless articles about how Bernie’s supporters were the way of the future and people pointing out, e.g., how electorally they’re whiter than average were ignoring the futureness of it all.

            I get the distinct impression that no one who writes for Jacobin is really prepared for/interested in electoral politics.

            edited to add: which is fine! But reading horse-racey essays on the election by people who clearly did not think much of electoral politics as a tactic was a little odd.

        • Linnaeus

          On the whole, I’d say that I welcome Jacobin‘s entry into the realm of leftist analysis and commentary. They’ve had their misses as well as their hits, but I think they’ve added some vigor to the American leftist press, to the extent that there is one.

      • DilbertSucks

        I’m really glad to see this place has the same list of “left-wing numbnuts” as me. For a long time, I believed I was the only person who thought Connor Kilpatrick is an obnoxious personality who uses left-wing politics as a shield to excuse his bullying and abrasiveness.

    • wjts

      Is there any way to parse that argument so that it makes even a little bit of sense?

      • elm

        I was about to make a similar comment. I don’t even understand his point. If people weren’t told to tighten their belts during bad economic times, they would be willing to give up their guns? That seems to be what he’s saying, but I do not see anything resembling a sequiter between the two clauses of the sentence.

        • Nick056

          I guess a generous reading is that if we had the socialism, then people would trust government to solve problems, but ongoing capitalism & inequality make people cynical toward government’s ability to solve problems? Maybe?

          It’s dumb, is what I’m saying.

        • djw

          Yeah, it’s in “not even wrong” territory.

      • Linnaeus

        My interpretation is that Kilpatrick is saying that if people were more economically secure, they’d be less anxious and less vulnerable to fear mongering and more open to gun control measures.

        Seen that way, it’s not far off from Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” line several years back, although Obama wasn’t talking about economic issues in that context.

        • djw

          In that case it’s weird to focus on the alleged “messaging” of the political parties rather than on underlying economic conditions. (Isn’t this guy supposed to be some kind of Marxist?)

          • Linnaeus

            Hey, I didn’t say that he expressed it well, although it’s hard to do that on Twitter anyway.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Kilpatrick’s analysis of legislative and electoral politics has always owed rather more to Broder and Fournier than Marx and Engels.

      • Alex.S

        Here’s the three tweets–

        Tho I 100% support, when people see the state do *nothing* for them then announce intense gun control will always be politics of austerity

        If both parties hadn’t spent decades telling regular Americans to “do more with less” probably be a helluva lost easier to pass gun control

        Instead of just taking away right to bear arms let’s replace it w/ right to good housing, healthcare, living wage job & ability to unionize

        From what I can tell, his argument is that his priorities should be the only things that matter. And if the government is trying to work on other priorities but struggling, it’s because they should have done his priorities first.

        • so-in-so

          Really? I get from that he feels if people felt more secure economically they would not fear the government nor feel the need for guns so strongly. Not really an unusual argument, about guns or racism for that matter.

          • Linnaeus

            That’s the way I look at it. He’s talking about what he thinks is the underlying problem. Which is certainly debatable, but not anything I haven’t heard or read before.

          • Pseudonym

            Guns are expensive. The people building up their own arsenals aren’t the ones struggling economically.

        • IS

          Also, and inevitably, that the Republican and Democrat (you know he’s thinking it) Parties are identical.

  • Nigel Tufnel

    This. Exactly this.

    One of Drumpf’s main “arguments” is his (and his fans’) sense of victimhood. “I refuse to be politically correct!”, he says, which of course means “I get to talk and act like an asshole without consequence, and if I’m elected, you can too! It’ll be yooooge and classy! The best assholiness, believe me!”

    Then, when he gets called out for acting like a piece of shit, he can cry oppression and claim he’s being censored. The exact same thing happens when people riot at his rallies, only more so because riots cause physical harm.

  • Spiny

    A perfunctory link to the research of Chenoweth and Stephan on civil resistance and the efficacy of non-violence. Non-violence isn’t a capitulation. It’s a hard-nosed strategy.

    • Karen24

      And to do it right takes a genuinely superhuman amount of courage. “I”m going to let the goons hit me with clubs and teargas but I’m not going to hit back” is not a strategy for wimps.

      • Linnaeus

        True, although I sometimes wonder how many of those who counsel nonviolent resistance would be willing to do that.

        • LosGatosCA

          Selma marchers as on example.

          When folks thank the troops for our freedom, I’m just as inclined to thank folks like MLK, John Lewis.

          • Karen24

            John Lewis et alia are definitely more the authors and protectors of our freedom than the troops are or ever have been.

            • Wapiti

              Amen. As a military retiree, and technically a veteran of the Panama Invasion, I’ve long believed the main freedom the Army won was the freedom to kill brown foreigners with impunity.

          • Linnaeus

            Yes, that’s a good example. But people like King and Lewis are relatively rare.

          • nixnutz

            I will accept that answer. Among the many online commenters telling oppressed people that they need to sit down and shut up and be more polite to Trump the proportion that would be willing to risk a hair on their heads is roughly equal to the number of them who marched in Selma. That sounds about right.

            • Karen24

              Part of “doing it right” is being willing to expose yourself to the clubs and teargas. Only the people actually getting beaten are really doing non-violent resistance.

    • DrS

      Bayard Rustin being beaten with a stick at a Korean War protest, picking up a stick and asking his attacker if he’d like to hit him with that one too.

      bad ass

    • BiloSagdiyev

      I’m not sure we live in an era where using non-violence would work. To shock the conscience of a nation… the nation needs a conscience.

  • Rob in CT

    Well said.

  • Lasker

    I think this is a good, evenhanded, historically informed contribution as far as it goes. But I think it is worth being very clear about the difference between the people encouraging violence on twitter, and the people actually there at Trump rallies.

    Of course the Democratic party and “The Left” are not in a desperate situation because of Trump.
    But from what I have seen, the people protesting, including violently, are largely young POC not there as “Democrats” or “Leftists” but as people directly threatened not only by Trump’s policies should he potentially be elected but by the climate of hatred he is encouraging and promoting. When people are shouting Trump’s name as a term of racist abuse at high school sporting events, I’m not ready to say “Chill out, he won’t get elected”. (To be clear, I didn’t read you to say this either)

    The morning after Trump’s Chicago rally was cancelled due to massive protests, one of my piano students, a middle aged black woman with whose only political words to me previously had been an aside about how it irritated her that people assumed she was more liberal than she was because of her race, came into her lesson and said “before we start – did you see what happened in Chicago last night?” She just wanted to share her joy over it that much. And this is someone who I doubt would ever personally attend a street protest much less the kind that have been following Trump. Of course that is pure anecdotal evidence, and she is not someone who was ever going to be on the fence about Trump. But after following events on Twitter and waffling back and forth between jubilation and fear of backlash it was a huge relief to me.

    I would also argue street protests can have value even if they aren’t politically useful. The Iraq war protests had no political effect and I would even be amenable to the idea that their effect could have been negative. But they had huge emotional value for many who attended (not me, but I have heard this from many other including people here) – and given that the war was happening anyway, that was a valuable thing.

    I hope we have already seen the peak of violence at Trump rallies. But I also hope that visible and vigorous protest continues to follow him. Seeing people stand up to hate has value.

    • djw

      The last two paragraphs are non-responsive, as you pivot to “street protests” with no mention of violence. No one is saying don’t protest, they’re saying it’ll be more effective, or at least have less of a chance of being counterproductive, if it’s peaceful.

      Other than that, I don’t see any contradiction here. Violence at Trump rallies, particularly committed by frustrated and scared young people terrified of what Trump’s movement means for them, can simultaneously be:

      1. An entirely understandable and predictable response, sociologically and psychologically,

      2. Emotionally satisfying in the short term,

      3. Counterproductive in the medium to long term, and

      4. Morally wrong

      Scott’s focusing on (3) and punting on (4), but there’s no reason it can’t be the first three of these things, or all these things, simultaneously.

      • Phil Perspective

        Violence at Trump rallies, particularly committed by frustrated and scared young people terrified of what Trump’s movement means for them, can simultaneously be: ….

        Do you really think young people went there with the intention of committing violence? Hell, no!! But when they get attacked by the Trump Brownshirts, they’re not going to sit there and take it.

        • Patick Spens

          Young person defending themselves after being attacked by the Trump Brownshirts Other people not just sitting there and taking it

          Seriously, it’s okay to admit anti-Trump people are in the wrong sometimes. It doesn’t mean you have to vote for him.

          Edit: If you are inclined to respond “but Trump/Trump supporters are worse.” Stop, and think about what you are doing.

          • BoredJD

            My reaction from reading the coverage is that “Trump rally” to some young people is an excuse to show up and potentially get into fights and throw bottles at the police if the opportunity presents itself. These are different than the protesters who are showing up actually intending to send a political message. Either way, calls for self-control are not going to affect that latter group of people because they are not well organized.

        • Pseudonym

          The Trump “Brownshirts” may be inspired by the same emotions as the original Sturmabteilung, but they’re not part of an organized group or party. There’s no person in charge of the Trump Brownshirts giving out orders. They’re motivated by Trump’s rhetoric, but Trump isn’t providing organizational support for violence (yet). There’s a moral distinction to be made there when it comes to responding with violence to Trump supporters who aren’t violent themselves.

      • Lasker

        My intention was to share some of my own, orthogonal thoughts rather than to disagree with the OP.

        The last two paragraphs were an attempt to suggest just because a protest doesn’t change the poll numbers doesn’t mean it isn’t potentially valuable. If you leave out the moral question (which you shouldn’t, of course) that could apply equally well to violent protests.

        Other than that I agree with your post and think the logical framework you lay out is useful.

        I guess that sounds cold, but actually I just have to get to work. Your urbanism posts are a highlight of the blog for me, BTW.

        • djw

          The last two paragraphs were an attempt to suggest just because a protest doesn’t change the poll numbers doesn’t mean it isn’t potentially valuable.

          Ah, gotcha. For me your example of the Iraq war protests rings true. I’m really, really not a protest person and almost always feel alienated and annoyed at them, even when I’m fully on board with the cause. But the day of the big protests everywhere at the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003, I attended one not out of a sense of obligation but out of a felt necessity. I needed to be there, to be counted, among the people saying how utterly, horribly wrong this all is. All the things that usually annoy me about being at protests didn’t that day. It’s the only moment in my life I’ve felt that way about a protest.

          Your urbanism posts are a highlight of the blog for me, BTW.

          Thanks!

    • Phil Perspective

      I would also argue street protests can have value even if they aren’t politically useful. The Iraq war protests had no political effect and I would even be amenable to the idea that their effect could have been negative.

      Negative? Really? Protesting an illegal and unjust war is negative?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        the word you seem to have missed was “effect”. if you put on a protest that drives people *away* from your cause, what the hell good is *that*?

        • sharculese

          The only effect Phil is interested in re: protesting is his precious fee-fees.

      • Lasker

        Their effect was not in fact negative since we were going to war with or without them.

        What I was trying to say was that I do think there are people who hate street protests and their idea of the sort of people who participate in them so much that seeing them may have made them more likely to support the war than they would otherwise have been. It could shift poll numbers, that sort of thing.

        But leave that out if you don’t agree – I’m not that attached to the idea. I myself did attend several Iraq war protests and hated every second of it because it felt so futile. But we had a thread about them here not that long ago and I was surprised by how many people remembered them as healing, emotionally important experiences. My point was that made the protests valuable even though they may not have had led to any political results.

  • Owlbear1

    Good intentions or not Trump is turning the protests into his own version of ‘Westboro Baptist Church’ style harassment.

    Maybe if we remind people that protesting at a Trump rally about bigotry is about as effective as protesting a ‘Rap Concert’ for bad language?

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Wot, is nobody here going to sniff that The Clash’s second album was weak and the producer was a poor match for the band?

    I disagree! So there!

    • Scott Lemieux

      I also agree that it’s an underrated record. YOU CANNOT OUT-CONTRARIAN ME.

    • Yeah, they better leave Sandy Pearlman alone!

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