Just when it seemed that Donald Trump would for once not exploit an incident of violence, he has come out with characteristic lies and hatemongering.
The Republican kept mum in the days after five police officers were assassinated in Dallas, Texas while protecting a rally against police violence. He was even praised by some for not inserting himself in the national debate about police brutality against blacks and making the situation worse.
That’s the bigotry of low expectations: when you expect someone to jump on every tragedy to further his political cause, you’re relieved when he doesn’t.
But Trump can’t help himself.
At a campaign event in Westfield, Indiana on Tuesday, the presidential candidate claimed that “some people” were calling for a moment of silence to commemorate the Dallas assassin, a black man who was shot and killed by police.
There is no evidence that anyone has called for such a moment of silence. None. Whatsoever. Trump is making this up, just as he made up a story about Muslim Americans celebrating when the World Trade Center towers were attacked in 2001.
Then he put an even greater scare into his audience.
The other night you had eleven cities potentially in a blow-up stage. Marches all over the United States — and tough marches. Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac! And some people ask for a moment of silence for him. For the killer!
As Josh Mashall points out at his website, Talking Points Memo, the order of Trump’s words is significance here. He suggests that the marches against police violence were started by a maniac. Which is plainly untrue. These marches have been going on for months. Their organizers have uniformly distanced themselves from violence and condemned the assault on police officers in Dallas.
There is a very tense atmosphere in America right now. There are mostly black protests in cities around the country against police brutality and Trump is whipping his almost exclusively white supporters into a frenzy — many of whom, polls suggest, already held fairly racist views before he started exploiting them.
Back in March, I wrote that Trump was playing with fire by inciting violence against demonstrators. Now he’s doing the same on an even larger scale. It’s dangerous.