Reputable figures in the media have normalized radical, violent discourse. Popular television writer/producer David Simon tweeted this week, “If Donald Trump fires Robert Mueller and is allowed to do so, pick up a goddamn brick. That’s all that’s left to you.” Writing in The Nation, Natasha Lennard praised street violence as “kinetic beauty,” and Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, exhorted, “Don’t play footsie with proto-fascism. Fucking smash it.” A protestor at a rally in New York City’s Tompkins Square Park held a sign reading, “Hug a refugee (with permission); Punch a Nazi (with precision.)”
Every policy difference, no matter how trivial, has been cast as a matter of life and death. Proposed changes in federal Medicaid reimbursement practices will consign “tens of thousands of people” to early death, according to Senator Bernie Sanders, while rolling back federal guidelines on transgender bathroom signage will cause more teenagers to kill themselves, according to ThinkProgress. Abandonment of the non-enforceable and voluntary Paris Accord on Climate Change will doom the world to “catastrophe” and imminent mass extinction, according to Jill Stein.
In the last few weeks, the violent rhetoric crossed a fever line.