Trump’s Flirtation with Violence
NEW YORK – Some people might have dismissed Donald Trump’s recent tweet of a video clip showing him punching the face of a man with a CNN logo on his head as yet another example of the US president’s vulgar buffoonery – unseemly, perhaps, but par for the course. But others have pointed to something more sinister – and for good reason.
Trump has consistently denigrated press coverage that is critical of his administration as “fake news,” just as he has sought to undermine the authority of the independent judiciary by branding those who disoblige him as “so-called” judges. He is in the habit of tweeting these offensive epithets directly to “the people,” a type of communication he calls “modern day presidential.” In fact, the act of undermining democratic institutions by abusing them in front of braying mobs is not modern at all. It is what aspiring dictators have always done.
This is serious. But there is something potentially even worse. Under normal circumstances, violent behavior is restrained by laws and social norms. These restraints are by no means perfect. Domestic violence often remains hidden, as do many cases of rape. And there will always be violent people who break the laws.