As a legion of Democratic leaders thankfully denounced Donald Trump’s use of a video intercutting imagery of the 9/11 attack with a speech of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN,) Senator Liz Warren put it perfectly with her tweet Saturday that Trump was, “inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman—and an entire group of Americans based on their religion.”
Predictably, “since the President’s tweet Friday, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life—many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video,” Omar confirmed Sunday night. That didn’t stop Trump from encouraging more threats Monday, with a disgusting tweet accusing a lawmaker and a black Muslim woman of making “ungrateful U.S. HATE statements.”
It’s not speculation to say that Trump wants violence. He literally called for it during his 2016 campaign, when he told really supporters, "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?” He doubled down then, too, when asked about the violence his supporters gave him: “The audience hit back. That’s what we need a little bit more of.” As president, he praised the Republican Congressman who’d body slamming a reporter during his campaign: “He’s my guy.”
Combine Trump’s calls for violence with his demonization of Muslims—from declaring “Islam hates us” to retweeting anti-Muslim videos to calling for a total ban on Muslims entering America—and it’s a perfect storm.
For real world proof of this, look what happened the week before Trump attacked Omar, when self-professed MAGA supporter Patrick W. Carlineo was arrested for calling her office and telling the staff person who answered the phone that he was planning to kill the congresswoman: “I’ll put a bullet in her fucking skull." When authorities questioned him, Carlineo told them he “loved” Trump and viewed himself as a “patriot.”
He’s hardly from the first Trump-lover talking, or more, about killing Muslims. In January, a white supremacist Trump fan plotted with three other young angry men to kill Muslim Americans living in Islamberg, New York, a community that is Muslim and primarily African-American. As the police chief explained after the arrest, “If they had carried out this plot, which every indication is that they were going to, people would have died.”
That same month, attorneys representing three white supremacists on trial for plotting to kill Muslims living in Kansas in a primarily Somali community argued that Trump had in essence radicalized their clients with his inflammatory rhetoric. In fact, one of the defendants who was described as an “early and avid supporter” of Trump had been recorded by the FBI speaking of dipping bullets in pig’s blood before shooting the Muslims, parroting the debunked story Trump told on the campaign trail of American general John Pershing. These three white supremacist terrorists were recently sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.
In August of 2017, the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota—which serves the Somali Muslim community—was firebombed by three men. The police noted that the mastermind of the attack was Michael B. Hari, another self-professed Trump supporter and white supremacist. As the criminal complaint detailed, the message of the mosque bombing was to scare Muslims “out of the country” and make it clear: “Hey, you’re not welcome here and get the fuck out.”
And during the time of Trump there has been a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes, ranging from various mosques defaced with the word “Trump” to horrific attacks such as in January 2017 where a young white man who was reportedly obsessed with Trump walked into a mosque in Quebec and killed six Muslims praying. I have even been subject to death threats by self-professed Trump loving white supremacist for daring to criticize him in the media.
Of course, Trump isn’t giving his supporters detailed plans for committing terrorist attacks. He’s just using the bully pulpit to demonize Muslims, knowing that will bring some supporters to the doorstop of violence so his supporters can protest that he didn’t personally open it. Some difference.
No wonder a 2018 study did find a strong correlation between Trump’s tweets demonizing Muslims and anti-Muslim hate crimes that followed. As the U.K. researchers found, “Trump’s tweets themselves contribute to a climate that enables hate crimes.”
Given the mongering we are seeing now from Trump as he shifts into campaign mode for his reelection bid, I fear more Trump supporters will step through the door of violence terribly soon.