2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump has built a following of die-hard Trump fans. Though politics often encourages passionate positions, a startling trend has emerged within the “Trump Club” where supporters of Trump will support all-things-Trump, even if that means condoning violence at events.
On Wednesday, news broke concerning the alleged assault of Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski at an event on Tuesday. Fields alleges that she went to ask Trump a question and was quickly and violently yanked-back, almost to the ground. She alleges it was Lewandowski who did it and has posted pictures of the bruises.
The response by the Trump campaign was a simple denial and an assertion that they didn’t know she was with Breitbart, but was a part of the “adversarial mainstream media”- an odd position as it seems to suggest that violence would be acceptable if Fields were from ABC News or other mainstream media outlets.
Trump’s supporters, however, have been vicious in the speculation, accusing Fields of being a liar- a standard practice employed by Trump whenever he has been accused of wrongdoing or unethical behavior.
This isn’t the first time a member of the free press has been roughed-up at a rally. Earlier this month, veteran TIME Magazine photographer Christopher Morris was choked and body-slammed by Trump’s protection detail for merely leaving the confines of a pen that Trump keeps the media in so that he may point at them and ridicule during his speeches.
During a roundtable discussion on CNN, Andy Dean, a vehement Trump supporter, was shown video of an altercation that took place in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
The video showed a 78-year-old Trump supporter sucker-punching a black protester who reportedly came to disrupt the rally.
“Should Mr. Trump denounce the violence at his rallies?” Host Brooke Baldwin asked.
“Well, first, that guy’s 78 and throwing a punch like that … At his age, we must say that is very, very interesting,” Dean retorted.
“I’m not giving him credit for throwing a punch,” Baldwin said.
Dean defended the man who has been charged with assault and also maintained that Trump cannot control everyone at his rallies and that the acts of the protester indicate an inappropriate level of disrespect that is indicative of the left.
“He can’t control a 78-year-old man who, at that age, that looks like good exercise,” Dean said. ‘He’s 78. It’s somewhat impressive.”
The panel seemed disgusted by Dean’s “that’s awesome” response to physical violence at a campaign event.
Tim Miller, seated next to Dean, claimed that this kind of ludicrous defense of the indefensible is precisely the kind of thinking that has become prevalent in the cultish camp of Trump supporters.
When Miller brought up Fields’ assault, reported-on by several news sources, Dean went-off. “That’s not accurate. That is a lie,” he accused.
“That is an outright lie,” he said. “That is dangerous … That is outlandish and downright defamation.”
Though we should all be welcomed to argue passionately about the issues of the day, it’s astonishing that such blatant dogmatism is being cultivated to a point where the followers of Trump are willing to commit and defend acts of violence against those with whom they disagree- even members of the free press.
To be clear, Dean is correct in the assertion that the disruptive intent of the protester is unacceptable. Such efforts to disrupt freedom of expression and assembly are very-much condoned by the left and it’s a shame. Further, Dean is correct in that Trump cannot control everyone at his rallies.
He can, however, make it clear that violence in the name of political expression is unacceptable and something he does not condone.
We must reject pure, unadulterated pacifism. There are times and places for violence – a campaign rally just isn’t one of them.