In recent weeks we’ve seen several writers on the fringes of the mainstream media advocating violence against supporters of political candidates they don’t like. Vox editor Emmett Rensin advocated for violence against Trump supporters a week ago. He was suspended by Vox publisher Matthew Yglesias, but not fired.
Two days ago, a writer for the Huffington Post named Jesse Benn wrote a post entitled Sorry Liberals, A Violent Response To Trump Is As Logical As Any.
In the article, Benn attempts to use Trump’s bombastic rhetoric as an excuse to use violence against supporters of Donald Trump.
Fox News cited the worst of his calls for violence.
Jesse Benn wrote in the op-ed titled “Sorry Liberals, A Violent Response To Trump Is As Logical As Any,” posted on Monday, “[T]here’s an inherent value in forestalling Trump’s normalization. Violent resistance accomplishes this.”
“These denunciations of violence from anti-Trump protestors rest on the misguided view that the divide Trump’s exposed is a typical political disagreement between partisans, and should be handled as such.,” he wrote. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. Trump might not be a fascist in the 20th century European sense of the term—though many of his supporters are—but he might represent its 21st century US version.”
“Violent resistance matters. Riots can lead to major change,” Benn wrote. “It’s not liberal politicians or masses that historians identify as the spark underlying the modern movement for LGBTQ equality. Nor was it a think piece from some smarmy liberal writer. It was the people who took to the streets during the Stonewall Uprising.”
“Assuming anti-Trump protests should be strictly focused on electoral politics and not these broader goals would be a detrimental oversight,” he wrote. “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.”
I took to Twitter a short while ago to ask Benn precisely what kind of violence he was advocating.
Tellingly, Benn refuses to provide a direct answer.
Fortunately, there is a legal term for the kind of politically-motivated violence Huffington Post contributor Benn and and Vox editor Rensin are calling for, and that term, as defined by the FBI, is domestic terrorism:
18 U.S.C. § 2331 defines “international terrorism” and “domestic terrorism” for purposes of Chapter 113B of the Code, entitled “Terrorism”:
“International terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
- Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
- Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
- Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.*
“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
- Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
- Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
- Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
As a law-abiding American citizen, I find these calls for domestic terrorism by contributors and editors of mainstream liberal publications read by at least a few dozen people to be revolting, and borderline criminal.
Rensin and Benn have become worse that what they claim to hate. I hope they’re capable of understanding that they are in every meaningful regard, worse than Donald Trump has ever been, or is likely to ever be.
I hope that Rensin, Benn, and their fellow violence-promoting liberals also realizing that the political violence they are so blatantly advocating may result in a legitimate and legal deadly force response.
There are more than 12 million concealed carriers in the United States, and if they are attacked by violent mobs like we saw in San Jose last week, these concealed carriers would be legally justified to use deadly force in defense of themselves, or in most jurisdictions, a third party under attack.
As an American citizen, I value the battle of ideas in the public square. Benn and Rensin and their fellow “safe space” progressives would meet differing ideas and speech with political violence.
I don’t think the American people will stand for it, and they will meet unprovoked political violence—domestic terrorism—with justified deadly force.