"Beyond being almost alarmingly prescient, this theory speaks to an oft-stated concern about Trump: that what's scariest is not the candidate, but rather the extent and fervor of his support."
The Rise of American Authoritariansim
In yet another completely unsurprising turn of events last week, 26-year-old Rakeem Jones, who is black, was being escorted out of a Trump rally in North Carolina along with several other protesters, when he was clocked in the face by a white, 78-year-old named John McGraw. Dude is old enough to be Jones' granddad, and he's acting like a schoolyard bully.
There are at least two videos of the incident, and while disturbing to watch, it makes me grateful once again for the ubiquity of smart phone technology that allows all of us to peep incidents that would—in another era—have been successfully spun to make the victim the perpetrator and the perpetrator the hero. This still happens all the time, of course, but it requires greater contortions by the justice system, and no small amount of magical thinking by the average citizen who continues to be dismissive.
Though taken from different angles, what both videos make clear is that McGraw, a grey-haired, ponytail-wearing thug in a Crocodile Dundee hat and leather vest sidled calmly past his fellow revelers like a football fan with a prostate issue exiting his row to hit the john. But when this geezer reached the stairway, he proceeded to compete for his Ultimate Fighting Championship belt with an unsuspecting opponent.
Now, I know it's difficult, but those of us watching The Trump Show must resist the urge to stereotype the fanatics. While some of the Trump supporters are violent racists with pus-filled gnarls of hate where their hearts ought to be, the others are relatively decent blokes who are simply seeking order out of chaos (or at least, that is the argument some researchers at University of Massachusetts Amherst and Vanderbilt University are making).
These Trumpians are down on their perceived luck compared to where they think they deserve to be, regular people afraid of losing all they're entitled to: They can't afford college for their kids and resent affirmative action; their paychecks aren't growing with the economy; opportunity evades them on myriad levels; it's tough to pay the bills and feed the fam. The American Dream is but a mirage in a scorching oasis. In other words, they are experiencing the America experienced by so many black and brown people.
But that doesn't mean all of them are ready to physically attack black and brown people. Which is why several of these decent types wasted no time in leaping to Mr. Jones' defense when the Cro-Magnon with an inverted penis threw a hard right elbow. Their reaction to such a violent outburst by one of their own was instinctual. They were compassionate toward this young black activist who has a different point of view than their own, and out of sheer humanity and respect for democracy, they made sure Jones was safely removed from danger and given medical attention for his injuries. Meanwhile, an untold number of other attendees subdued Cowboy McGraw and hailed security guards who promptly arrived to detain him and take him away.
Er...wait. Wait just one second. This is a Trump rally. What should have happened is exactly what did not happen.
McGraw landed his punch and then...he returned to his seat where he was congratulated by smiling fellow Trump supporters. Jones, the victim here, was followed by several security guards up the stairs to the landing where he collapsed (or he was shoved?) to the ground and was subsequently held down by no fewer than five security guards before his arms were pulled awkwardly behind him as he was lifted to standing and ushered out. Because video or no video, in Amerikkka 2016 the victim is the perpetrator and the perpetrator is the hero.
Flipping this for a sec, if McGraw were black and Jones were white, the security team would have wrestled the instigator to the ground and assaulted/tased/killed him before five seconds could expire.
"The next time we see him, we might have to kill him," said the toe-fungus McGraw to a reporter for Inside Edition. He was exiting the rally to head home. He was later identified and charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct. But he isn't feeling like he was in the wrong at all. And neither are the other hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who might not be participating in the fights, but who aren't doing anything to speak out against them. These do-nothings can't all be vile scoundrels like McGraw. But their wide-eyed, tight-lipped silence is complicity.
And we don't really need to wonder what can come of good people doing nothing. There is context for that.