The possibility of Trump-inspired violence against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and other state officials—and perhaps against any of us Michiganders who support her—cannot be ruled out. Trump is attempting to tarnish Whitmer in part because he sees her popularity as a threat to Trump’s prospects for taking the state in November, and in part because he fears she may be Joe Biden’s pick for vice president. He is being aided by astro-turfing paid for by a foundation with ties to the DeVos family fortune.
The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19. His unhinged rantings and calls for people to “liberate” states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.
The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies even while his own administration says the virus is real and is deadly, and that we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted.
But let me underline what Gov. Inslee said: We have seen this before. It did not end well.
There once was a minor journalist who dealt in hate and grievance. Sort of the early twentieth century version of an NBC reality show star. He formed bands of far right-wing dregs called the “Black Shirts.” Richard Gunderman of Indiana University writes:
Lawrence Rosenthal, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, wrote:
There has all along been a danger, which became dramatically apparent at Charlottesville, that Trump’s fascist rhetoric would unleash violence by the far right. With millions out of work and a pandemic threatening us with a second wave of mass infections if we end social distancing too soon, the country is a powder keg. And we have a firebug for president.0