Yesterday I considered posting a Facebook public message that read:
To: Those Setting Fires and Ransacking Businesses in Portland, Seattle, Chicago and Kenosha
From: Donald J. Trump
“Terrific job you’re doing. If you can keep it going into October, we’ll win for sure!”
I didn’t post such a message because it seemed ill-advised, probably just dumb, and might have violated a social media guideline promoting violence. But I’m frustrated as hell.
And yes, I do understand that the Tuesday night shooter in Kenosha, as in Oakland earlier, was a Trump supporter. And that right-wingers are using these protests to fan the flames. But the fact remains that these events, and accompanying images, of civil unrest and mayhem cannot all be blamed on right-wing provocateurs. Not by a long shot.
And that, right or wrong, they are scaring people and shifting those who were leaning toward Biden to support Trump. The New York Times focused on how people are being driven into Trump’s embrace by it all. Here’s an excerpt from that article, “How Chaos in Kenosha Is Already Swaying Some Voters in Wisconsin.”
“Scott Haight, who was boarding up a line of businesses in a Kenosha strip mall on Tuesday, said he blamed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, for what he said was irresponsibly stirring up emotion. (On Monday, Mr. Barnes said the shooting ‘wasn’t an accident.’)
“’It’s like ‘What, are you trying to burn our city down?’’ Mr. Haight said.
“Mr. Haight, 59, said he was a ‘lifelong Democrat’ but had decided not to vote this year.
“’It’s not worth it,’ he said. ‘One’s as bad as the other.’
“Priscella Gazda, a waitress at a pizza restaurant in Kenosha, was having the opposite reaction. She said she had voted only once in her life — for Mr. Obama in 2008. Her son has Type 1 diabetes and was hoping for health insurance.
“’I’m not the one who would ever vote,’ she said. “But after the chaos in her town, this year is different. “’I am going to vote for Trump,’ she said. ‘He seems to be more about the American people and what we need.’”
I am really upset about this. The protesters who are using violence are exactly what Trump wants. I ask again, of protesters, why not have day-time, peaceful demonstrations? It’s not like everyone is at work then.
Here in Wallowa County in northeastern rural Oregon, the “Proud Boys” held a “Back the Blue Rally” last Saturday at the Courthouse in Enterprise. And local businesses that sell guns are reporting gun sales are so hot that they can’t keep product in stock. When one store owner was asked about what is driving business he pointed to the “mayhem in Portland and everywhere.”
If you read the Kenosha article you’ll see that local officials, like the Mayor there, a Democrat, seem to be missing in action. I don’t get it.
In recent months many have quoted Martin Luther King Jr. to the effect that, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Yes, there’s truth in that. But the language of the unheard, if that’s what this is, is being heard loud and clear by many Americans and applauded by Donald Trump as their best hope.
It isn’t only that all this profits Trump politically. With all the guns in America — more than one for every man, woman and child — this is a very, very dangerous situation. Trump will fan the flames when what we need, again, is real leadership.