President Donald Trump issued a thinly-veiled threat of fascistic violence this week in an interview with the far right wing website Breitbart. While largely ignored on the right, Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale’s tweet on Thursday highlighting a disturbing quote by the President went viral.
Trump to Breitbart on how the left plays tough: “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 14, 2019
Several experts on authoritarianism and others who closely follow President Trump’s moves and remarks reminded followers on social media Trump’s words are another example of “stochastic terrorism.”
Trump’s rhetoric has already been associated with spikes in hate crimes and extremist violence. The comment below is a prime example of stochastic terrorism, and none of us should be surprised when it leads to political violence. https://t.co/hBdT1sBH9a
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) March 14, 2019
This, too, must be read as part of Trump’s campaign of stochastic terrorism. He is inviting average people to commit violence on his behalf, but distancing himself from it with the pretense that he’s just stating a “truth” about “the way it is.” https://t.co/0vyV9gIg90
— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) March 14, 2019
Stochastic terrorism. Incitement. Call it whatever you want, but this alone is a grave abuse of his office.
I repeat: Waffling on #impeachment is a terrible message about whether Dems will defend the Constitution.
This is just another example of how emboldened Trump is. https://t.co/vVotysLPaH
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) March 14, 2019
If you’re like most people, the term “stochastic terrorism” is confusing at best. (So is pronouncing it.)
Clearly, many folks looked it up, because Thursday evening the people at Dictionary.com revealed that searches for the term are trending today on their site:
Trending on https://t.co/OeJELgy3YL: Stochastic terrorism.
It means the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act.https://t.co/2xI3HNIjXh
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) March 14, 2019
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent explains how Trump’s thinly-veiled threats of violence work:
It’s important to unpack how Trump’s veiled incitement really works.
He isn’t *calling* on his supporters to be violent. He’s just saying, hey, they *might* get violent under certain circumstances, and by golly, you’d better hope it doesn’t!https://t.co/K34XltBT2Y
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) March 14, 2019
Back in January Wired took a look at “stochastic terrorism,” which they define as, “Acts of violence by random extremists, triggered by political demagoguery.”
Bottom line: The President of the United States is engaging in fascistic behavior. Or, if you’d rather, he’s play around with fascism, trying it on seeing how it fits. And it’s becoming clearer and clearer that he thinks it fits just fine.