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Trump Mass (Media) Shooting Clip

Think about what we are getting used to

What is wrong with this country?

A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.

Several of Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami. Ms. Sanders and a person close Mr. Trump’s son said on Sunday that they did not see the video at the conference.

The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. It appears to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 dark comedy film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

More information here at the NYT, which broke the story.

I wrestled over whether or not to post the video, and decided I should do so if I’m going to comment on it. The Times wrote about the thing without making it possible to see and to judge for yourself. Here it is.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr2X4ty1ZVU]

It’s horrifying. I don’t buy it when liberals roll their eyes when conservatives object to the extreme content of some rock and rap songs, and in the same way, I’m not going to take seriously the Trump supporters who say some version of, “It’s just a joke.”

You don’t joke about mass shootings. Not in a country that has them with some regularity. This has to be a strong taboo. I often write about how biased the US media are, but none of its sins and failings justify this kind of thing. Donald Trump is not directly responsible for this, but he encourages it all the time. Now, some of his supporters, at an event held in support of him, and at one of his properties, aired a humor video in which he commits lethal, gruesome violence on the media and his political opponents, including President Barack Obama.

He could denounce it, say that it’s not funny, that it crosses a line that should not be crossed in public discourse, not even in an attempt to be funny. He won’t do that, though.

There are many mass shooting events, sadly, but here are some recent ones involving houses of worship and, in one case, a newspaper. White supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine black churchgoers a few years back. Then there was the 2017 mass shooting in a Texas church in which 26 people lost their lives; it was motivated not by politics, but by a domestic dispute. Last year we had the anti-Semite kill 11 people in the Pittsburgh synagogue — a shooting that was motivated by his white nationalism and Jew-hatred, but not by Trump, whom he had criticized as insufficiently racist. Also last year, a local lunatic invaded a Maryland newsroom and killed five people before cops took him in. That wasn’t a political act either; the nut had a long-running feud with the paper.

Here’s a link to the website for the Miami event. It looks like a standard #MAGAworld conference. The organizer told the Times that the video was screened as part of a “meme exhibit.” This screenshot from the online festival schedule must be what he was talking about:

Again: these are not things to joke about. When the left-wing comedian Kathy Griffin allowed herself to be photographed with a mock-up of Donald Trump’s severed head, people went nuts — understandably! — and she paid a professional price for it. Some things are beyond the pale. In this clip made by a Trump supporters, the president not only “kills” abstract representations of media organizations, but images of real people — politicians and celebrities — who are critics of Trump.

Do we need to see a “fun” clip in which the President of the United States kills his predecessor?

Here’s what I don’t get. There are some Evangelical leaders — including Jeffress, Graham, Falwell Jr., and others — who have access to the president. Why don’t they ever call him out over things like this? Trump’s campaign didn’t produce this vile video, but the culture his rhetoric creates trafficks in stuff like this.

Now, you might ask, where did the material for this satirical political video that everybody is denouncing come from? Well, it’s a scene from the 2015 Kingsman: The Secret Service movie, in which secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) shoots up a church full of racist congregants. The pastor says from the pulpit:

And I say to you, bear witness! Watch the news. Watch the news. AIDS! Floods! The blood of the innocent, spilled! And yet, there are those who doubt this is the wrath of God. Our filthy government condones sodomy, divorce, abortion! And yet, some still doubt this is the work of the antichrist! You do not have to be a Jew, a ni*ger, a whore or an atheistic, science-loving evolution spouter… Jew, ni*ger, fag lovers, and the devil is burning them for all eternity.

What happens next? Well, you can watch the clip online. Here’s a bit from an analysis of the movie that focuses on how the scene was choreographed:

In a little under four minutes, Harry kills nearly 40 people, some of whom are killed in quick and obvious ways (like shooting them in the head), others of whom are killed in impromptu and gruesome ways (like breaking a wooden rod in half and then stabbing a guy in the chest with it).

The scene is supposed to give the viewer catharsis over bigoted Christers getting what they supposedly deserve. Let me say to you that if you found that cinematic depiction of a church massacre entertaining, because it showed people who believe and say terrible things being shot to death, then you have less grounds than you think for condemning the Trumpkin who used the same scene to create this clip.

I know many of you are going to accuse me of being overly sensitive to this. But it feels like we are getting closer and closer to serious acts of deadly political violence in this country. We should not habituate our imaginations to it. Just a few years ago, the idea that a video depicting the POTUS committing mass murder of media organizations and his political and pop cultural opponents would be played at a conference of his supporters — well, it would have been unthinkable. And there it was this weekend.

Think about how twisted that is. Think about what we are getting used to.

UPDATE: From the White House Press Secretary: