Trump’s Supporters Think They’re Being Patriotic. And That’s The ProblemRoundup
tags: far right, Rioting, Donald Trump, 2020 Election
Christine Adams is professor of history at St. Mary's College of Maryland and author of a book on "The Creation of the Official French Royal Mistress," with Tracy Adams.
Almost from the moment Donald Trump declared his candidacy in 2015, people have debated whether his intemperate rhetoric was responsible for the increasing number of violent attacks on immigrants, Muslims, Jews and, his favorite target, the news media.
After Wednesday, however, there can be no doubt that the incendiary rhetoric of President Trump and his surrogates convinced the thousands who flooded Washington that it was not only acceptable, but righteous, to take direct action to stop the certification of Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris’s victory. After Trump called for those at a rally to “walk down to the Capitol,” mobs of his followers did just that, triggering the violence that threatened the safety of members of Congress and others. And although most Americans reject Trump’s false claims about the election, these Make America Great Again believers consider themselves true patriots — the defenders of our country against pernicious efforts to rig the election even as they unlawfully participate in an attack on our democratic institutions.
This should not surprise us, because history provides many examples of inflammatory words that spurred people to bloody behavior that they justified in the name of national defense. The 1792 September Massacres in France provide a searing example.
In August 1792, the people of Paris stormed the Tuileries Palace and overthrew King Louis XVI, who seemed insufficiently supportive of the constitutional government that the Revolution of 1789 had instituted. The Legislative Assembly acquiesced to the demands of the insurrectionary Paris Commune and suspended the king’s authority. This presaged the end of the monarchy and would lead to the creation of the new French Republic on Sept. 21, 1792.
However, tensions continued to mount: The French were at war with Austria and Prussia, and the duke of Brunswick, leading the Prussian troops, had promised to visit severe retribution on the people of Paris if any harm befell members of the royal family, who were relatives of the Austrian emperor. French revolutionaries were convinced that counterrevolutionaries in the country were in league with emigres and foreign armies and intensified efforts to root out any traitors, spurring numerous isolated killings of suspected conspirators during August. Suspicion focused on priests and former members of the nobility, who were assumed to lack loyalty to the new revolutionary government.
The prisons of Paris rapidly filled with suspects arrested on often flimsy grounds as the Prussian army bore down on the city. On Aug. 31, Parisians learned that the Prussian army had taken the key French fortress of Verdun two days earlier and that the path to Paris lay open. Citizens were urged to prepare to defend their nation, which included rounding up enemies within.
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