Just because everyone who has been targeted within the current spate of pipe bombs is someone who has been directly in the cross-hairs of a Donald Trump tweet or rally speech or both doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Donald Trump. At least, that’s the firm belief of Donald Trump. Although Trump took a moment to call for “unity” at his Wednesday night rally, it was just a momentary blip between attacks on both Democrats and the press. In fact, Trump even used a call for civility as another way to attack the press. And, as CNN reports, Trump is “digging in” on resisting the idea that the flurry of bombs has anything to do with the language or hatred stirred up by his rhetoric.
By Thursday morning, the President directly blamed the mainstream news organizations for “the Anger we see today in our society,” falsely accusing news outlets of publishing “purposely false and inaccurate reporting.”
“He believes he’s treated with hostility and unfairly — there’s no talking him out of that,” one Trump confidant said.
Trump has made it clear several times that his personal philosophy requires that if he perceives anything as an attack, he hits back “ten times harder.” That apparently includes hitting back at people who were on the receiving end of pipe bombs, and especially those Trump painted a big red ‘X’ on by calling them “enemies of the people.”
And as Trump insists that the media is being “hostile” to him for pointing out his own words, he’s following another path that opens the door to violence. Trump isn’t just treating the recipients of the bombs as enemies. He’s treating them as un-people.
Trump has neither named the targets — President Barack Obama, his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton and others — in public nor has he reached out privately to offer reassurance or provide updates on the investigation, officials said, a move that has raised the eyebrows of leaders from both parties.
The dehumanization of both Democrats and the media isn’t just frightening, it’s become a central feature of the campaign season for both Trump and his party.
Don’t name them. Don’t sympathize with them. Don’t acknowledge them as people.
This is the same tactic that Republicans used in the Kavanaugh trial by hiring a professional prosecutor to address Christine Blasey Ford. Because of this tactic, there was never a moment when Ted Cruz or Orin Hatch had to be seen acknowledging the trauma of the assault Ford experienced. They didn’t have to greet her, welcome her, say her name, or exchange a word with her. Those experiences were saved for Kavanaugh, with whom they commiserated an shared outrage.
It’s what Republicans and Trump have done in pushing the idea of the Democratic “mob” and at the same time demanding “civility.” A “mob” isn’t owed civility. Only disdain. By painting Democrats as an angry mob, Republicans are simply drawing a box around the party and its supporters and declaring them non-human.
And it’s what Trump is doing with the recipients of the pipe-bombs going out now. These attacks constitute assassination attempts on two former presidents, and that’s just a fraction of the total attack. And yet Trump has not been on the phone to comfort families, insist that he’s personally doing all he can, or offering additional security.
Because that, any of that, would require that Trump recognize that the victims of his hate are humans, with feelings, rights, and lives worth preserving for their own sake.
Trump hasn’t picked up this moment, denounced the people on the other end of the bomb trail, but his arms around his opponents, and attempted to use this moment to genuinely create a moment of national unity. Instead, he’s treating coverage of an attack as a personal affront. And his response to any affront is to … attack again. Even if it means going after people under threat.
Two weeks ago, the President called Democrats who objected to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as “evil,” just the latest way he has demonized and vilified his political foes. And Trump has long labeled the media “the enemy of the people,” making CNN — which received one of the pipe bombs — his foremost target.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.