According to Chip Berlet, an expert on the populist right, the phenomenon we’re watching unfold is known to sociologists as “scripted violence.” “If a very popular leader who is high up — it doesn’t matter if it’s political or a political or a movement leader — basically alleges that some group of people is conspiring against the common good, and they harp on that for a long time, it’s only a matter of time before people get killed,” he recently explained.
There’s a long history of this kind of violence, dating from well before the Holocaust and continuing well into recent decades and even the present. In 1990s Rwanda, for example, thousands were massacred when radio talkers targeted communities for lethal violence as part of a tribal/ethnic cleansing campaign. In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte’s state-condoned death squads follow his cues to target alleged “drug users” for execution, leading to thousands of deaths. Trump has tacitly endorsed the tactic.
His rhetoric at home is part of the same violence for which he is writing the scripts.