The increasingly violent response to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is not surprising. We have seen case after case of black men beaten or killed by police for trifling, non-threatening actions. What is surprising is that it took so long.
For over three years President Trump has stoked and encouraged his base supporters. His single fundamental attraction to his base is hatred of other Americans: virulent hatred of blacks, minorities, women, intellectuals, and anyone who does not grovel at his royal feet. He has always appealed to the very worst of human emotions.
He loves his rallies, where he openly encourages his fans to beat anyone who opposes him, to assault news reporters. His tweets are a constant barrage of vicious attacks on whomever he is annoyed with at the moment. His supporters love him because he does not pretend to be a loving, tolerant, magnanimous, civilized leader. They love him because he is proud to be vulgar and nasty, to be openly racist, and to advocate violence against his enemies, most of whom are fellow Americans.
By his example, he makes it OK to be a racist, homophobic, xenophobic woman-abuser. He not only supports police violence against minorities, he encourages it.
Some of Trump’s “enemies” are selected just for grandstanding, but his racism runs deep. In 1973 the U.S. Justice Department prosecuted Trump for violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968[i]. Applications of prospective tenants for Trump apartments were coded with “C” for colored. Trump counter-sued and eventually the case was settled out of court, with Trump promising to do better.
If Trump remains president, we can expect a full-out race war. Trump has no interest in solving problems — he exploits them to stir up his base. This is his modus operandi. His immediate response to the demonstrations was to provoke and encourage a deadly response by police: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Now we see the result.