Observers have been worrying about heightened tensions at Donald Trump rallies for a while, and now they're turning violent.
On Wednesday night, a Trump supporter sucker-punched an African-American protester as he was being escorted out of a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Last month, a Secret Service agent choke-slammed a Time Magazine photographer after he left the media pen to photograph a group of protesters.
And at Trump press conference on Tuesday night, a Breitbart News reporter was reportedly yanked by the arm by Trump's campaign manager (though the campaign disputes that account).
And the inevitable lesson of the day of why this man must be stopped:
Such violence, which is unprecedented in the history of modern presidential campaigns, is the inevitable result of the charged anti-protester and anti-media rhetoric coming out of the mouth of the candidate himself, reporters and observers say.
It’s unprecedented and it’s inevitable! (Is that possible? How would they know its inevitable then?)
But I’ll accept CNN’s analysis that it’s true. Charged anti-protester anti-media rhetoric leads to violence. Although such violence itself is not unprecedented. In fact I clearly remember the last time an assault happened at a Presidential rally. From the New York Post, in 2004:
Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean.
The tussle left Franken’s trademark thick-rim glasses broken, but he said he was not injured.
Franken – who seemed in a state of shock and out of breath after the incident – was helped back to his feet by several people who watched the tussle. Police arrived soon after.
“I got down low and took his legs out,” said Franken afterwards.
Franken said he’s not backing Dean but merely wanted to protect the right of people to speak freely. “I would have done it if he was a Dean supporter at a Kerry rally,” he said.
“I’m neutral in this race but I’m for freedom of speech, which means people should be able to assemble and speak without being shouted down.”
Franken emerged from the crowd and charged one male protester, grabbing him with a bear hug from behind and slamming him onto the floor.
“I was a wrestler so I used a wrestling move,” Franken said.
I remember that incident clearly, but was never clear on the cause. Now we know it was the dangerous anti-media and anti-protester rhetoric by that carnival barker Howard Dean! The Democrat establishment and media’s subsequent #NeverDean movement and their pledges to vote for George W Bush to stop him make all the more sense now.
Actually, no, 2004 was a simpler time when assaults at a Presidential rally were no big deal.
And whatever happened to that Franken fellow? I hear he got sent to an asylum a few years later, and we all hope he’s getting the help he needs.