#1154 – Dick Bernard: The Danger of Dog Whistle Politics.

Yesterday, Donald Trump made a statement about the Second Amendment and Hillary Clinton. Just Above Sunset summarizes reporting on the event here.
This morning my friend, Joyce, sent the link to a New York Times column by Thomas Friedman remembering the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin Nov. 4, 1995, and drawing parallels to the Trump comment. You can read that column here. Her note was succinct: “I had forgotten about the role Netanyahu played in the Rabin assassination” by a right-wing Israeli, Yigal Amir.
Here is my response to Joyce:
I have two memories.
Nov. 4, 1995, – it was a Saturday afternoon – I was heading to Mass at St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, and heard on Minnesota Public Radio that Rabin had just been assassinated (there is an eight hour time difference between St. Paul and Jerusalem). When I got to Church I went to the front and told the Pastor the news right before Mass began. He was shocked, of course, and made the announcement to those in the Church, none of whom had heard the same news. They, too, were shocked. It was unbelievable.
Two months later, I was with a group on a trip to Israel – a trip planned long before Nov. 4. When we got to Jerusalem, one of our first stops was at the still fresh grave of Rabin. I will never forget that visit.

I was thinking in the car this morning about the awful reality of statements like Trump made yesterday, however flip they seem to be or however they are spun, later.
We seem to yawn at them. They matter, a lot.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that there are people who will answer any dog whistle. Let’s say, there’s just one nutcase in a million who takes on his or her mission to rid the world of the evildoer*. In the United States, that would be 325 people (among our 325,000,000) who might be tempted to answer the call, and sacrifice themselves to take out Hillary Clinton.
About 6 of these are in Minnesota….
(The ratio would hold the same for ISIS call for their own idiot fringe to sacrifice themselves taking out infidels….)
This is not an abstract thing.
Of course, the Republican power structure, which has aided and abetted Trump’s behavior, and this year chose willingly to ride the wild horse which is the Trump base, are now running like rats jumping off a sinking ship. But even now they cannot shed their main basic anti-Clinton talking points about how Hillary is a “liar” and “corrupt”, while offering no proof whatsoever of any charge.
Of course, no proof for charges such as “liar” or “corrupt” are ever required. The charge alone is a great plenty.
The devil-dance now being witnessed would be humorous, were it not so tragic. Donald J. Trump and his followers was a deliberate creation…those who paved his path just thought they could control the end game, and they can’t.
(Unfortunately, even some of my left-wing friends fall for the same, on their own issues. I see their e-mails too. Their arguments are simply on different issues.)
Yesterday it was the Second Amendment enforcers; today and tomorrow it will be something else.
Caveat emptor, voters. Buyer beware.
* – Of course, my ratio is just a guesstimate. But I’m guessing I’m not far off. Whatever the more accurate number, as we know so very well, there are crazy people out and about who are obsessed about this or that. Give them an excuse, and access to a weapon and the target, and there is almost 100% assurance of trouble.
from Joe, August 10: Excellent essay. Thanks.
from Louise: Thanks, Dick. That is a powerful column by Thomas Friedman.
from Flo: Can I plagiarize your outsidethewalls? Just kidding, but it’s so tempting to get a letter like yours in our local paper!
from Jeff August 11: Lest we forget 5000 copies of this were passed out in Dallas in November 1963 in the days before JFK’s assassination:
The Warren report concluded Oswald had planned the assassination and there was no involvement from
The John Birchers responsible for the flyers. Still. Dangerous waters. Or as someone I was listening to on radio said, you have talking like this, emotional responses and the next thing you know you get “Pinochet”.
from SAK:Thanks for #1154 – I happen to have been thinking along the same lines. The problem of incitement is amplified by the internet & social media I suppose. Assassinations can change the course of history – usually for the worse – President Lincoln, President Kennedy, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Prime Minister Rabin . . .
You might be interested in this BBC programme on the US’ fourteenth amendment?
For what it’s worth, not much, I think Donald Trump is finished but I am not even sure the race will be solely between the 2 obvious candidates.
Dick August 11: This mornings Just Above Sunset continues yesterdays story here. I included my own comment at the end of the post, as follows: The Trump movement is and has always been dangerous. The only thing I muse about, however, is exactly how such a ‘revolution’ would look if it actually began? Who’d be the ‘General’? What I think would happen is, really, already happening: occasional unhinged psychopaths out and about to take down as many people as they can, in some obscure place: a bar in Orlando, a boulevard in Nice, Roseburg…. Trump has taken it to a new level with the implication that someone should take out the President, if it happens to be other than Trump. It is a scary time. Ironically, the world is basically safer at this moment than it has been in a very long time; while all of us feel terrorized, since we think we could be in the target for the next random act of terror. Yes, the Republicans did bring all of this upon themselves, and thus on all of us.

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