In the past weeks, Republican strategist and political commentator Ana Navarro has emerged as one of President Trump’s most vocal critics, condemning Republican lawmakers for offering only meek criticisms of Trump’s recent string of inflammatory, sexist tweets.
On Sunday, in response to a bizarre video Trump posted to Twitter of himself body-slamming and wrestling CNN, Navarro on ABC’s “This Week” called the video “an incitement of violence” that could “get somebody killed in the media.”
“I think that is unacceptable. I think that is the president of the United States taking things way too far,” Navarro said. “It is an incitement to violence. He is going to get somebody killed in the media.”
Much fuss is justifiably being made over Trump’s behavior lately. After crassly suggesting MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski got a facelift last year, then allegedly blackmailing Brzezinski and her co-host Joe Scarborough, then lobbing more vicious attacks delegitimizing the news media, it seems there’s no telling how far this self-proclaimed “modern day” president will go.
But Navarro’s certainly right about one thing — Trump’s glorification of violence, especially toward media, is going to get people hurt. His words and encouragement for his supporters to attack protesters already have been resulting in violence since Trump first hit the campaign trail, despite deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denying this.
In fact, just as those defending Trump’s latest Twitter scandal are defending the violent video by citing the left’s inability to “take a joke” as well as excessive political correctness, Trump has previously equated criticism of his supporters for violently attacking protestors and those suspected of being from Mexico as “political correctness.”
“All right, get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it,” Trump said of a protester in Michigan last year. “We had four guys, they jumped on him, they were swinging and swinging. The next day, we got killed in the press — that we were ‘too rough.’ Give me a break. You know? Right? We don’t want to be too politically correct anymore. Right, folks?”
At another incident, Trump lamented how “in the good old days, they’d rip him [a protester] out of that seat so fast. But today, everybody’s politically correct. Our country’s going to hell with being politically correct.”
In 2016, in the wake of a violent protest in Chicago in March, Vox documented the nearly a dozen cases of Trump directly encouraging his supporters to get violent, even promising that he would use his wealth to shield them from any consequences.
Trump has made it clear throughout his speeches and rallies, and, most recently, with a video of himself body-slamming CNN, that he believes physical violence is strength. Additionally, considering how “political correctness” in Trump’s eyes is the ultimate weakness, he appears to think not standing up for oneself, either with horrific tweets or outright violence, is weakness.
And his beliefs send a clear message to his supporters. It’s not enough that at this point, he’s already brainwashed his loyal followers to despise and disbelieve all media that points out how little his administration has achieved, or exposes his lies, incompetence, and expensive addiction to golfing at Mar-a-Lago. It’s not enough that he’s stripped media of its effectiveness by using his power as president to delegitimize their work. The video of him assaulting CNN, which comes just a month or so after a Republican politician body-slammed and beat a Guardian reporter for asking him questions, is a call to action for his supporters — maybe even for other Republicans.
Such is the insecurity of the men like Trump who still believe violence and physical fights are what make them men. And such is the insecurity of much of Trump’s base, who feel emasculated by their economic struggles, or by the growing success of women, immigrants, people of color, while they continue to struggle.
Ever since Trump first called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, since he first called for his travel ban in 2015, supporters of Trump and his ideologies have consistently perpetrated violence toward the objects of his political attacks, and toward any who take to the streets to protest him.
In 2015, two of his supporters assaulted and urinated on a homeless Mexican man. Trump responded by applauding their “passion.”
Plenty of other documented cases of Trump supporters physically assaulting Black Lives Matter and other protesters exist; there’s even a case of a young woman allegedly being sexually assaulted at one of his rallies, an act supporters of Trump figured he’d be OK with, considering his support for violence, obvious disrespect for women, and, of course, audio of him joking about grabbing women without their consent. There’s been other, similar allegations of sexual assault by Trump supporters over the years, and of course, his former labor secretary pick Andrew Puzder as well as chief adviser Steve Bannon have both been accused of domestic violence.
Trump’s rhetoric and appeals to his supporters’ insecurities are already getting people hurt — and they’ve been getting people hurt long before he posted the video of himself body-slamming CNN. Trump, over the weekend, defended his controversial tweets by calling his behavior “modern day presidential.” But if anything, his behavior and the actions he seems to be encouraging bring us back to darker times, when use of violence to settle disputes, hate crimes toward the marginalized, and riots were the grisly norm, and when reporters were too afraid of punishment from those in power to do their jobs.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.