Others’ opinion: Violent parody video is a new low in today’s political environment

Published 5:48 am Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Star Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The violent parody video recently shown at the Trump Doral Miami resort, at a conference led by Trump supporters, is a disgusting display that depicts President Donald Trump appearing to engage in a mass slaughter of his critics and perceived enemies, including political rivals and, of course, members of the media.

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The video is an extreme product of what is becoming an increasingly coarse, vulgar political culture with seemingly no bounds. It portrays a graphic mass murder scene in a church. An image of Trump’s head is superimposed on a body that goes on to kill bodies with superimposed images of mass media outlets and, not incidentally, Black Lives Matter.

Other images show the actual faces of Trump critics and rivals: Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is stabbed in the neck. U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, whom Trump has regularly disparaged, is seen repeatedly punched by the Trump figure and then shoved through a church window. Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is set aflame by the Trump figure, while the late Sen. John McCain is stabbed.

The Trump figure rams former President Barack Obama into a podium, appearing to break his neck. In one sickening image after another, the Trump figure is shown laying waste to his critics, emerging in the final frame smiling. We are not linking to this garbage because we refuse to add to its viewership.

In response, the White House issued a bland statement saying the president had not seen the video (!), but condemned it. Trump himself was uncharacteristically silent on the matter. Generally, there is no mystery as to what irritates this president. He jumps on Twitter at a moment’s notice, night or day, to alert the world to whatever has incurred his displeasure. Not so with this video, which plays upon themes he has been laying since his candidate days — including undermining the media’s ability to hold him accountable by labeling them fake and “enemies of the people.” He has gone after rivals in the same low fashion. Most recently in Minneapolis, Trump said of former Vice President Joe Biden that he was considered good in that role only because he “understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

Given how watchful Trump is of anything concerning his image, does anyone really believe that he has not somehow seen this video? It strains credulity. At the very least, why would he not watch it before his staff issued the White House reaction? Would he not be better positioned to send the strongest possible rejection of such tactics?

It’s not as if the president was absent from his favorite social media outlet on Monday. He found time to tweet out his personal support for former press secretary Sean Spicer, due to appear on “Dancing With the Stars.” He managed to tweet another attack on reporters, accusing “the Fake News” of wrapping “their greasy and very protective arms around” Hunter Biden. In fact, he found time to publish 15 tweets on Monday, but not one on the video.

Turning a blind eye means allowing this kind of attack to somehow become normalized, to inure people to that which should outrage them. It does our discourse no good, and further hurts our democracy. Trump’s supporters need to hear from his own lips that this is wrong. No nod and wink this time.

To do otherwise is to invite violent acts in real life that cannot be undone.