The Only Thing We Have to Fear

It was well into Thursday’s GOP debate in Miami when Republican presidential frontrunner and Nazi literature authority Donald Trump was finally asked to answer for the numerous instances of racial violence that’ve gone down at his rallies across the country.

This was going to be good.

The audience seemed to take one long, monolithic inhale and hold it as Trump listened to the question being presented to him, one ever-so-slight crack wrinkling across a fresh coat of orange forehead foundation. And then the billionaire said what he had to say. Discussion over. The debate marched onward, as promised, with minimal beat skippage. The crowd breathed easily again, and Trump pursed his lips flatulently. Business as usual.

And not long after that the whole thing was over. I left my laptop lid open and scratched my head and chewed on the end of a pen for awhile. Then I stood up and walked outside my apartment to watch a few cars go by, popped into the corner store, bought a glass bottle of Orangina, and then returned to my room and attempted to fold a couple of t-shirts the store way. I did not know if any of it was real anymore. I (almost) didn’t even care.

Because on the scale of Things Morally Backward, I once just assumed that the nadir of American television programming integrity could be no lower than, say, a live sport in which two men pound each other to near-death amid 30 second commercial spots for Sour Skittles and Cascade 2-in-1 Action Pacs Dishwasher Detergent. But I was wrong. Trump’s response was more depraved than anything I’d ever seen on live television. Before I feel right talking about it, we need to put the entire situation into quick context. So let’s go back.

On Wednesday at a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, 78-year-old John McGraw caught a nonviolent black protester across the chin with a right hook, snapping his head backward as he was being escorted out of the building by security guards. Multiple videos have been uploaded from the scene of the attack since, clearly showing McGraw sucker punching the young man in the face. The protester was pinned to the floor by three guards while McGraw was allowed to sit back down, grinning ear to ear with fewer teeth than are recommended, praise from his neighboring patriots coming in droves.

For Trump, the former reality television star/sexual assault enthusiast, this flavor of dickless brutality has not exactly been out of the ordinary over the course of his Presidential crusade. Last week, at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, supporters of the Howling Dorito physically assaulted peaceful protester Shia Nwanguma, calling her “leftist scum” as grown men shoved her around. On Monday, 30 black students were forcefully removed from a rally at Valdosta State University in Georgia upon Trump’s personal request, simply for being black.

Hatred and bigotry have served as the ideological nucleus of Donald Trump’s campaign. He came out guns hot in his announcement speech last summer, calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers” for having the audacity to seek refuge in the Home of the Brave. In no time he was making fun of the disabled, he was telling Fox reporter Megyn Kelly that her asking him tough questions was a result of her menstrual cycle, and he was openly reminiscing over the days when brutal violence against dissenters was legal. So it’s not as if these racist attacks from his supporters are surprising to anybody inclined to focus on American politics… if that’s what we’re going to agree to call this.

Donald Trump has endorsed violence in many other capacities besides this, almost always to thunderous waves of support. During the debate, he doubled down on his advocacy for the intentional killing of “terrorist families” in the Middle East. Considering how the Geneva Convention is both a two-word polysyllabic term and something one would learn about in a book, there is very little chance that the diehard Trump fans are losing sleep over the international legality of murdering children.

Trump’s violent tactics have caused a media firestorm among liberals and conservatives alike. Generally, most preferable members of the human race are opposed to racist beatings and war crimes. So on Friday, I knew it was only a matter of time until Jake Tapper, CNN’s no-nonsense debate moderator and resident handsome guy, asked Donald Trump the question I’d been waiting for. Here I will pull directly from the transcript. 

[Fayetteville] is hardly the first incident of violence breaking out at one of your rallies. Do you believe that you’ve done anything to create a tone where this kind of violence would be encouraged?

Here we go, I thought. The fear-mongering shitbird is forced to answer this question. His options are twofold. Either he lies through his teeth and denies responsibility, or he owns up. He admits that his role as the Republican Outlaw has sparked a little blue pilot light beneath that portion of the American population whose carnal desire for wrath knows no upward boundary.

So in other words he’s fucked up a tree. There is no way he dodges this question. And now we turn back again to the transcript. This time, the cheese puff:

[My supporters] love this country… There is some anger. There’s also great love for the country. It’s a beautiful thing in many respects. We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things. They are swinging, they are really dangerous and they get in there and they start hitting people. And we had a couple big, strong, powerful guys doing damage to people, not only the loudness, the loudness I don’t mind. But doing serious damage. And they’ve got to be taken out…

And it’s not me. It’s usually the municipal government, the police, because I don’t have guards all over these stadiums. I mean, we fill up stadiums. It’s usually the police — and, by the way, speaking of the police, we should pay our respects to the police because they are taking tremendous abuse in this country and they do a phenomenal job.


Donald Trump endorses the violence that is happening at his rallies, and it’s no longer journalistic speculation. He knows that all it takes is a little implicit condemnation of racist violence as well as some strawman praise for the police to sufficiently distract his voter base into mindless, red-faced applause. (It’s important to remember that he’s not pitching to the top of the lineup in terms of national intellect.) It takes very few mental gymnastics to imagine Trump voters – not exactly renowned as colossal titans of sociopolitical insight – to hear his words during Thursday’s debate as a sterling endorsement for their racial hatred. There is real danger in that.

Because there’s precedent here. Perhaps you remember the story from several months ago in Boston, when a pair of Southie brothers (and avid Trump supporters) pissed on and beat to near death a 58-year-old homeless Hispanic man. One of the brothers was quoted by the Boston Globe as saying, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

Trump has struck a nerve in the violent subset of the American citizenry who craves anything that provides a socially acceptable outlet for their loin-deep appetite for ferocity. Trump’s defense of this violence goes beyond implicit implication, too. At a rally in Las Vegas in February, he said of a protester being escorted out of the building: “The guards are being very gentle with him. I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you that.”

This is no longer a joke. How long is it until someone gets killed at a Trump rally? Would his supporters back down then? Do you think there are any Donald fans out there who don’t stand for this? Is anyone slamming a gator-skinned cowboy boot to the ground and wagging a finger at callous racial beatings in North Carolina, a state where fifty years ago African Americans were lynched and hung from trees? Obviously I hope so. But if they’re out there, they have not been very vocal in their distaste. Rather the contrary.

Here’s a disturbing quote from Andy Dean, a vocal Trump supporter who has appeared multiple times on CNN, responding to the Fayetteville assault.

Well, first off, [McGraw is] 78, and throwing a punch like that? At his age, I must say that this is very, very interesting… Why is it that at Trump rallies liberals come and create chaos? … At that age, that looks like good exercise…. At 78, it’s somewhat impressive.

But after hearing his callous response to a peaceful protester being beaten at one of his rallies, and knowing full well what the real energy is behind his entire campaign, it is becoming less and less clear how safe any minority is in the presence of Donald Trump supporters.

And with his 13 state victories to Rafael Edward Cruz’s six, his campaign isn’t losing any of its momentum heading into the convention… and eventually, because let’s be honest, into the general. And as this freight train barrels onward, it’s not Trump that you need to worry about, it’s his supporters. Their leader is herding them, blindfolded and ass-first, into America 2.0. It is a phenomenon that the rest of us better be extremely wary of. Because this is only the beginning.

Aren Robinson LeBrun is a student journalist and award winning filmmaker in pursuit of semi-adulthood in New York City. An incurable sucker for politics and storytelling, he currently works as a full time editorial intern at Rolling Stone magazine in Manhattan. He’s produced several short films for Homicide Watch Boston that focus on inner city violence and social injustice. In his free time, Aren enjoys bitterly arguing with people about NBA basketball, writing short stories, watching Bruce Willis films, and drinking what amounts to probably too much black coffee. He dreams of one day tricking somebody into paying him for this. You can follow him on Twitter @arenlebrun_, against your better judgment.

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