A steady stream of alarmingly suggestive remarks aimed at the US president bespeaks of a nation fracturing along political lines, forcing one to ask where the boundary exists between ‘free speech’ and actual felonies.
In a democracy, when one talks about ‘removing’ a government official from power, it has traditionally meant waiting for the next election cycle to cast a vote at the ballot box. Today, however, it looks like the rule book has been tossed out the window.
Indeed, judging by some incendiary remarks of late, it would seem that some individuals have no desire to wait until 2020 to remove Donald Trump and his administration from the White House.
Like California Governor Jerry Brown. In a recent interview, Brown seemed to walk a very fine line between free speech and an Alex Jones rant when expressing his anger with Trump and his controversial stance on climate change.
“We never had a president who was engaged in this kind of behavior,” Brown said. “It’s unprecedented, it’s dangerous, and hopefully this election is going to send a strong message to the country; the Democrats will win…”
“Trump, well, something’s got to happen to this guy, because if we don’t get rid of him, he’s going to undermine America and even the world.”
It is possible that Brown may have simply been implying when he said “something’s got to happen to this guy” that Trump needs to be forced out of office by democratic procedure, possibly by impeachment proceedings, the ultimate Democrat wet dream.
However, semantically speaking, people do not tend to use phrases like “something’s got to happen to this guy” when discussing democratic due process. In fact, it sounds more like a line you’d hear uttered in The Sopranos – ‘Hey Tony, something needs to happen to this wise guy’ – than in the more mundane world of politics. Thus, it seems Brown crossed the invisible, but no less real, red line that separates common sense from reckless stupidity.
After all, less reliable minds may interpret Governor Brown’s remark as a call to action, a not-so-subtle hint that something dramatic – even violent – must be done to save the world from the maverick of Manhattan. There is absolutely no shortage of lunatics in America to take the California governor up on his misguided invitation and play ‘hero.’
In any case, it was a regrettable choice of words by Brown when we consider the volatile political climate now in the United States, where talk of another civil war is a trending theme among pundits.
Unfortunately, this was not the first time a stark raving Democrat lobbed a rhetorical flash grenade when discussing their favorite politician and members of his administration.
In June, Congresswoman Maxine Waters advised her constituents to harass members of the Trump administration just days after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders were denied service in restaurants.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up,” Waters commanded at a rally. “And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
To reiterate, Maxine Waters is encouraging her supporters to “create a crowd” anytime they see a member of the Trump administration, in order to “push back on them” to let them know “they are not welcome anywhere.” That’s about as close to creating all of the necessary conditions for violent behavior that I can think of.
Trump – rightly in my opinion – warned Waters to “be careful.”
Now just try and imagine where US political discourse is heading when you have high-ranking politicians encouraging chaos whenever a member of Team Trump is spotted in its natural habitat.
As creepy as Waters’ off-the-wall comment was, it didn’t come close to what Senator Chuck Schumer told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in an interview early last year.
After Trump called into question the legitimacy of the intelligence community’s investigation of so-called ‘Russian collusion’ in the 2016 presidential election, Schumer made a startling revelation.
“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you. So, even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he is being really dumb to do this.”
When Maddow inquired exactly what Schumer was suggesting the intelligence community would do, the leading Democratic Senator replied cagily: “I don’t know, but from what I am told, they are very upset with how he has treated them and talked about them.”
Needless to say, that is a deeply disturbing comment, and, at the very least, serves to foment well-known conspiracy theories, along the lines of the Kennedy assassination, that the intelligence community could somehow be involved in such activities. But since Schumer was speaking about Donald Trump, and not Barack Obama, for example, the comment was allowed to slide without much acrimony.
What is really disturbing about these loaded comments by high-ranking officials is that it sets the stage for other individuals, some very high profile, to feel they can also utter reckless comments against the president, who will not always be Donald Trump.
Today, Hollywood has become ground zero for anti-Trump tirades, as was the case with Johnny Depp’s unfortunate outburst where he compared himself to John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.
“When was the last time an actor assassinated a president,” Depp asked a large group of concertgoers.
The US actor later apologized for the comment. And then there was the time ‘comedian’ Kathy Griffin did a photo shoot that showed her holding aloft a severed-head effigy of the American leader. After Griffin suffered a backlash and lost her CNN job, Griffin howled through tears, “Trump broke me!”
And not to be outdone, Robert De Niro, appearing on stage at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, declared: “I’m gonna say one thing. F*ck Trump.”
As the audience rose to their feet in applause, De Niro let loose again: “It’s no longer down with Trump. It’s f*ck Trump.”
On an earlier occasion, De Niro remarked that he’d like to “punch [Trump] in the face.”
What these dauntless politicians and celebrities fail to understand is that they are creating the conditions where inciting violence against the US leader is considered to be somehow normal. The fact is it’s not. Depending on the comment, it could be a felony punishable by multiple years in prison, and simply by virtue of being a celebrity or government official does not put these people above the law.