Sunday, March 13, 2016
In the 1960's, mass-murderer Charles Manson believed that The Beatles were speaking to him through their song "Helter Skelter," whose message he interpreted as a warning of an impending race war.
In the 1970's, Travis Bickle, the fictional character in director Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver," attempted to assassinate a politician in a psychotic, delusional haze motivated by political disenchantment and racism.
Also in the 70's, New York City serial killer David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam, claimed that a demon in the form of his neighbor's dog ordered him to kill innocent people.
Given the current, unprecedentedly volatile political landscape, it would be incredibly naive and irresponsible to believe that there's not one psycho out there right now who, in similar fashion to Manson, Bickle and Berkowitz, believes Donald Trump is speaking directly to him. That Trump's mantra to "make America great again," coupled with his incendiary, race-baiting rhetoric, is a direct call to take up arms, fight Trump's war, and be a 'hero.' Just one. That's all it will take to cause a horrific, bloody tragedy.
To be sure, there's a palpable level of toxicity and hatred that permeates Trump's events. And it's the direct result of the candidate himself. Of one protester in Las Vegas, he boasted that "I'd like to punch him right in the face." Of other protesters in Iowa, he urged the crowd to "Knock the crap out of them." He's also defended some of his "fans" for punching and kicking a #BlackLivesMatter protester saying, "Maybe he should have been roughed up."
As CNN's Michael Smerconish said Saturday, "Donald Trump has shouted 'fire' in a political theater."
At Trump's North Carolina rally last week one angry old white dude sucker-punched a black protester in the face as he was being removed by security. Afterwards, he chillingly threatened that"Next time we see him, we might have to kill him." Can someone, anyone, tell me how this sort of hate-speak is making America great?
There was more violence Friday at a Trump rally in St. Louis, and later that night his massive rally in Chicago was cancelled after violence erupted in the arena.
And over the weekend a protester charged the stage at Trump's rally in Ohio and was taken down by Secret Service before he reached Trump, who looked terrified as three agents bear-hugged him to prevent an attack.
So what happens next? Will Trump himself become more of a target? Will he ultimately get the message that he's the one inciting the violence and start to bring down the temperature in the room? Or will he continue to ratchet up the toxic rhetoric until it leads to an awful tragedy? Unfortunately, it appears Trump, in some very twisted way, is getting off on it all.
"Honestly can I be honest with you?" he said after the cancelled Chicago rally. "It adds to the flavor, it really does, makes it more exciting."
I bet it won't be so "exciting" if and when someone gets killed.