The gloves are off as two high profile Trump followers threaten civil war and targeted violence against Americans daring to speak truth to power, meaning the president.
Such is the rage against opponents that their incitement is only a hair’s breath away from the unthinkable.
Former Navy Seal Craig Sawyer, trading on his prominence as an elite Navy Seal, unleashed a tirade against his political opposites.
The former sniper promised “a gruesome massacre” against those believed to be plotting “a hostile, illegal coup against our democratically elected president,” whom he identified as “seditious, deep-state subversives.”
The veteran Marine labeled the voices of detractors as “nothing less than an act of war against the American people.”
Sawyer forecast the counter-attack would “only take a few hours…. There will be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no mercy….Why? Because one side in this conflict has 8 trillion bullets and the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.”
Summoning patriots to save the Republic, Sawyer railed against “anti-American subversives involved in any way in an unconstitutional coup against our President,” who would be “run down and executed immediately by the world’s most supreme warriors….Harsh examples will be made.”
Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the politically immune National Rifle Association, fired another chilling broadside against New York Times scribes. In a video delivered in a stern, no-nonsense manner, she suggested imminent harm by warning, “We’re coming for you.”
Her video included familiar denunciations by Trump of the newspaper’s “fake news.”
Intimidating speech by lesser groaners could be taken in stride, but these two are in a different class.
Sawyer is a superbly trained marksman with a badge of honor as a physically adroit former Seal. They are venerated as the very best of America’s fighting force. Their skills and fortitude are hailed by all and sundry.
Therefore, what they say in public demands attention. If they urge the violent overthrow of dissenters in the name of political uniformity then the Constitution’s protections must prevail.
Adoration of these commandos par excellence cannot extend to their political beliefs. To allow such leeway would be the shortest path to deification and despotism.
No better example exists than the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. However ruthless and undemocratic his dictatorship, many Russians swoon over his ninth degree black belt in judo, and staged photographs of the chief hang gliding with cranes, shooting wildlife, or spearfishing while flexing bare-chested muscles.
In short, the autocratic ruler is forgiven by the masses in favor of his much-loved machismo. His favorability ratings are proof.
It is nevertheless shortsighted and disastrous to link ardent beliefs with appearances.
But how to rein in these talkative scaremongers? To turn a blind eye would encourage them to up the ante. To duel in print would needlessly prolong their celebrity. To report them to law officials would give them more reason to grandstand.
The only way to counter their ominous talk is to ignore them personally while continuing to expose the decline in political civility. Fence sitters will eventually see the dangers ahead and come down against the rabble-rousers. Already polls show a slight weakening of support from those duped by Trump’s snake-oil sales talk.
And if the president makes any attempt to get rid of the special counsel burrowing into allegations of Russian interference in the elections, and possible obstruction of justice, Congress will surely have none of it. Senators proved their independence from Trump by making recent sanctions against adversaries untouchable by the president without their approval.
Already some senators have made moves to shield Robert Mueller from being dismissed. In the unlikely event that he is removed, Congress might appoint him as its own special counsel, possibly with a wider brief.
Meanwhile, as Trump’s devotees raise the stakes, the country lamentably shudders in angst.
Anthony S. Pitch is a former journalist in America, England, Israel, and Africa, and author of non-fiction history books, with 17 appearances on national television.