Earlier this month, Peter Beinart wrote a piece in ‘The Atlantic’. It was headlined “The Violence to Come” and the strapline read as follows: “With Donald Trump on the brink of the GOP nomination, America is hurtling toward a schism unlike anything since the 1960s.”
Beinart said that the US was “headed toward a confrontation, the likes of which it has not seen since 1968, between leftist activists, who believe in physical disruption as a means of drawing attention to injustice, and a candidate eager to forcibly put down that disruption in order to make himself look tough.”
That seems an extraordinarily prescient comment after Friday’s events in Chicago. Mr Trump had to postpone his rally because of “growing safety concerns” created by thousands of protesters inside and outside of an arena at the University of Illinois. Nasty verbal and physical fights erupted between protesters and Trump supporters.
With his customary insouciance, Mr Trump has said that it was the consequence of “so much anger in the country”.
He added, “I don’t think it’s directed at me or anything. It’s just directed at what’s been going on for years…We have a very divided country.”
To which one can only point out the following. At his Orlando rally just days ago, Mr Trump watched a young black female protestor being manhandled and said from the podium: “We have a very divided country. We have a terrible president who just happens to be African-American.”
That is outright racism and Mr Trump’s dog whistles are getting the dogs excited.
And then, as Beinart points out in The Atlantic, there was that rally in Atlanta last November. An African-American man began chanting, “Black Lives Matter” and Trump supporters reportedly punched and kicked him while yelling racial slurs. From the podium, Mr Trump contrasted his strength with the meek inclusiveness of Bernie Sanders. “You see,” Mr Trump declared, “he was politically correct … I promise you, that’s not going to happen with me. I promise you. Never going to happen. Not going to happen. Can’t let that stuff happen.” Later on Fox News, Trump declared that, “Maybe he (the African-American protestor) should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”