It's not easy being a young conservative these days. You can tease out all kinds of rationales for Trump's behavior and violent rhetoric, or you can try to find reasons why political violence isn't his fault. That's what happened on Morning Joe this morning, when Republican writer and pollster Kristen Solis Anderson tried to nuance the story of the Coast Guard terrorist without ever acknowledging stochastic terrorism:
"There's a huge leap there. There are always crazy individuals out there," Anderson said.
"We had the newsroom shooting that tragically took the lives of some journalists in Annapolis not too long ago. That was inspired by local issues. The shooting of Gabby Gifford wasn't inspired by politics but by a man with severe mental issues who thought the money was being manipulated. But the problem is -- "
"Hold on. What do you think this is being inspired by?"
"This Coast Guard guy is 100% inspired by rhetoric from the president."
"What about the pipe bomber? What was he inspired by?"
"Yep, that was inspired by the president. My point is, even in the absence of President Trump, you have individuals who are unstable and adding existing comments into that existing recipe is a recipe for bad."
"Who is the synagogue shooting inspired by as well, talking about caravans?"
"Joe, you've put words in my mouth. I'm not saying this is not because of the president. I'm saying you already have existing layers of crazy but when you have additional rhetoric added into it --
"No, you've got a president tapping into it," Mika exclaimed.
"I 100% think President Trump views this like pro wrestling and nobody is going to get hurt," Anderson said.
"These are already dangerous professions, the media, politics and viewing it like pro wrestling like it doesn't matter is a dangerous thing for the president to be doing and I wish he would stop."
"I don't know if he doesn't know what's going to happen here, especially when he's being boosted by people who are praising him for telling it like it is, for lifting the veil on political correctness," said Vann Newkirk, who writes for The Atlantic.
"Everybody knows behind that veil is the threat of real violence. I'm a Southerner. if I talk to old journalists who were around during Jim Crow and and if I talk to people who were alive during that era, one of the biggest components of that regime was threats against journalists for coming down and covering those things. This was kind of like, we don't like political correctness, we want you to go out and tell it like it is. This was what candidates in the Jim Crow South ran on, built their platforms on. They implicitly encouraged attacks on the journalists who questioned them. This is what everybody in power knows, the reason for being a strong proponent of the First Amendment is not just to protect the right to go out and say things in public, it's to protect the real safety of journalists and people who are asking questions.
"And people who are going against that, who are calling journalists enemies of the people -- I think they know what they're doing."
I agree. In fact, let's refresh our memories:
Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.
When you point people toward a target, are you really an innocent because you didn't actually pull the trigger?
Trump is a stochastic terrorist. Don't mince words.