CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly headlined and listed the date of this Huffington Post story; it was written and posted June 6, 2016, not last week. The story and headline have been updated to reflect that fact.
On June 6, 2016, The Huffington Post ran a story championing violent responses to Donald Trump. In the article, titled, “Sorry Liberals, A Violent Response To Trump Is As Logical As Any,” writer Jesse Benn cited a video put together by The New York Times documenting “Trump inciting violence.”
After noting various incidents in which supposed Trump supporters acted violently, Benn continued, “Trump has not just flagrantly violated the typical boundaries of political discourse, his candidacy is linked to multiple instances of violence. It shouldn’t be a surprise that opposition to him has responded in kind.”
Then Benn got to his point: “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 decried those on the Left who would urge temperance, writing, “As a result, a litany of think-pieces and condemnations from liberal media and politicians are making their rounds to make it clear how unacceptable and counterproductive any violence or rioting is, urging people to ‘listen to the other side,’ and to use ‘legitimate means’ to fight Trump’s rise—ignoring the possibility of fascism in the US rising with it.”
Benn listed three reasons those who urge temperance are wrong: Those who stray from this nonviolent narrative “misplace the blame,” because the divide among Americans is not a typical political disagreement; they “misunderstand the desired outcome from violent resistance and those protesting Trump in general,” and they “ignore the history of successful violent insurrection in the U.S.”
This last point he summed up with this: “Violent resistance matters. Riots can lead to major change.”
Last, I want to briefly note the problematic nature of people with privilege condemning violent resistance to Trump as an absolute moral failing, or denying its logic. Whether you would personally engage in violent conduct matters little to your ability to understand where it comes from. Some people have the privilege to consider the implications of Trump’s rise in the abstract and negotiate which means are necessary. That’s not true for everyone. And when those who hold that privilege dismiss the potential validity or logic of violent resistance, it’s effectively an effort to dictate the rules under which oppressed peoples respond to existential threats, and to silence forms of resistance disagreeable to privileged sensibilities. Don’t be that liberal.