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Trump and violence

Clarence Page | 9/6/2018, 6 a.m.
Is he serious? Does President Trump really think there will be “violence” from the left if Republicans lose control of ...

Is he serious? Does President Trump really think there will be “violence” from the left if Republicans lose control of Congress in the November midterm elections? Isn’t the whole point of winning an election to get what you want without turning to violence?

Yet, “violence” was in President Trump’s forecast in a recent closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders at the White House, according to audio obtained by NBC and The New York Times.

“They will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently,” President Trump said. “There’s violence. When you look at antifa, and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”

Sometimes. But antifa, a loosely knit, far-left movement, tends to live up to its name, which is short for “anti-fascist,” by showing up at far-right-wing events, such as the infamous rally by torch-bearing white supremacists in Charlottesville last year.

After one of the neo-Nazis drove his car into a peaceful crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, President Trump put “blame on both sides,” then shamelessly added that there also were some “very fine people on both sides,” including the side that included the neo-Nazis.

Is he serious? Or is President Trump just describing a movie that’s playing in his own head?

After all, President Trump has hardly been a peacenik when it comes to cheerleading for violence. After a protester interrupted a Las Vegas rally in February 2016, he growled, “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”

“Get him out!,” he said as a protester was escorted out of another rally in Warren, Mich., in March 2016. “Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court.”

At a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he told supporters to “knock the crap out of” would-be hecklers. At another rally, less than a month after President Trump said he wanted to punch a protester in the face, one of his supporters actually did.

Yet President Trump told the religious leaders on Aug. 27, “The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable” on the left, as if his own habit of rooting for violence was not well known.

But talking about the ragtag antifa group helped President Trump avoid other awkward issues, such as his own rather unchaste Ten Commandments violations alleged by stripper Stormy Daniels.

Expressing a willingness to look the other way so long as President Trump delivers with his appointment of conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council famously said of the Daniels case that the president should “get a mulligan ... get a do-over.”

President Trump may well get another mulligan for urging the Christian leaders in the White House meeting to break federal law by openly supporting him from the pulpit.

Among other achievements that he said they must preserve, he claimed to have overturned the provision in federal tax law known as the Johnson Amendment that bars churches from endorsing political candidates. He not only cannot overturn a law without congressional approval, but the executive order he signed is worded in a way that leaves the Johnson Amendment untouched.

It’s not nice to spread falsehoods, especially to religious leaders. But as they are encouraged by today’s culture wars to feel like an oppressed minority, it’s not shocking to see evangelicals view him as a secular “savior,” the label some Trump conservatives have used to mock President Obama’s supporters.

But his words apparently do have an impact. Robert Chain, 68, of Encino, Calif., was arrested and charged Aug. 30 with making “credible” threats of violence to Boston Globe employees, calling the newspaper the “enemy of the people.”

Yes, that’s the Stalinesque label President Trump gives to media who deliver news that President Trump doesn’t like. We media workers are not enemies of the people. We’re just people whom President Trump wants to call his enemy.