As many on this blog know, I have been highly critical of Donald Trump. However, there has been a campaign of violence against Trump supporters that is highly unnerving and dangerous. While there were a few incidents of Trump supporters acting violently, there has not been the same level of outrage at the widespread violence against Trump supporters and police at these events. Now, a liberal Huffington Post columnist Jesse Benn has defended the “violent response” to Trump — a reckless and provocative column that seeks to legitimate mob justice. What Benn is describing is not democracy but ochlocracy — a sad statement of the state of affairs in our country. While I recently wrote about liberals finding “their inner Nixon,” this seems to be a case of finding Benn’s inner Mao. Benn insists “Violent resistance matters. Riots can led to major change.” Perhaps but what is certain is that violent resistance always leads to violence.
Benn’s column “Sorry Liberals, A Violent Response To Trump Is As Logical As Any,” embraces the value and even beauty of mob violence. He calls it “logical” in the face of what he views as Trump’s extremism.
Yet, a lot of people seem shocked and appalled at this perfectly logical reaction. In the face of media, politicians, and GOP primary voters normalizing Trump as a presidential candidate—whatever your personal beliefs regarding violent resistance—there’s an inherent value in forestalling Trump’s normalization. Violent resistance accomplishes this
Benn praises violent mobs in Europe and suggests that it should be a model for the United States: “Understanding European anti-fascists use of violent tactics to shut down large rallies from White Supremacists can be illustrative here. Because while Trump isn’t leading full bore White Supremacist rallies, there is value in making it clear that even his fascism-lite has no place in civilized society.”
It is a view that rejects not only the rule of law but the lessons of Martin Luther King. Faced with opposing views on issues like immigration, Benn wants to answer with violence and even make such mob rule a noble act.
Benn has doubled down on Twitter, relishing the response and the prospect for more violence:
Benn is a familiar voice from history. The man in an angry mob calling for violence to silence those with opposing views. With a rising number of his countrymen embracing Trump, his answer is to beat them and intimidate them. His is the voice that Martin Luther King and Gandhi defiantly stood against at the risk of their own lives. Now some liberals have come to embrace the tactics of segregationists and anarchists who reject the political system as the means for change in a democracy. If Benn were simply some crank writing for HuffPost, it would be of little concern. However, the images from the streets across America show that he has a growing following of people who are claiming the right to silence those who disagree with their views and will not yield to their demands. Make no mistake about it. This is not a movement. It is a mob.