Over the past weeks and days, we have seen all kind of images of confrontations, provocation and aggression at Trump rallies (including the one last week cancelled to avert a free-for-all in Chicago.)
Amidst the various episodes, the protester attempting to rush the stage in Dayton on Saturday has received less attention. That’s because nobody taunted anybody and it lacked the drama of citizens coming to blows. In many ways, though, that footage — or the potential of that imagery — was far more serious. I would propose that the visuals, in terms of aggression, yielded a different and a more serious class of imagery than the rest.
Why? The incident had the look of a lethal attack. Because nothing happened and the sweaty Trump treated it so lightly and jocularly (“I was ready for him, but it’s much easier if the cops do it”), it’s simple just to blink and let it disappear into the 24/7 ether. The impact of an attempt on the life of a president, a major political figure or a presidential front runner, however, is a profound threat to the country’s emotional equilibrium. Hate mongering and violence at political rallies is egregious. The targeting of a candidate, on the other hand, risks the profound traumatization of the country. Trump is tempting that scenario with his relentless hate-mongering, and subjecting all of us to that risk.
Flirting with martyrdom does not excuse the potentially grave damage to the national psyche. Not even close. And in a rational universe, caution and conciliation would rule.
But sadly — and ominously, going forward — no sooner was the citizen pinned to the ground then Trump turned smug, and carried on in triumph.
(screenshots via: Storyful.com/ YouTube)