His Call for Hillary’s Assassination

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TAKE THEIR GUNS AWAY

This essay was originally published on 20 September 2016, in a previous incarnation of No Package Deals. I am republishing it on the current incarnation as of June 29th, 2017. I hope it helps people remember how we got where we are.

On September 16th, 2016, Donald J. Trump made a clear specific call for his followers to attack and disarm Hillary Clinton’s Secret Service detail. He warned them that it would be very dangerous. This is the plain meaning of the words he said in the order he said them. He did not literally call on them to kill Secretary Clinton, he just said that after they disarmed her guards we would see what would happen. He did literally say to them twice, in separate pronouncements, “Take their guns.”

Donald J. Trump said, in public in front of recording devices and a human audience, in part:

“Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take their, let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It’ll be very dangerous.”

Although this speech was widely reported on television and in newspapers, few if any reported his exact words. Such reporting as there was mostly focused on his first paragraph, where he said he thought her guard detail should disarm.  I have not seen any acknowledgement that in his second paragraph the clear meaning of his words was that listeners, presumably his followers, should disarm her Secret Service detail.  But that is exactly what he said, in no uncertain terms.

Following is the text of his speech, as transcribed by me from a video available on YouTube. There is a break in the video, a jump as typically occurs when something is cut out of a video clip during editing. I have not been able to find a copy of the video which appears to continue in unbroken stream without an editing break. This is the full text of the video clip.

“While my opponent slanders you (pause) as deplorable and irredeemable (shakes head while audience boos) boy that second word is tough, you don’t hear that as much, but that means you’re never gonna come back, folks (arms out, pitying) and I know you’re gonna come back, we’re gonna come back so strong (points out into audience) we’re gonna be so strong…

“Now you know she’s very much against the Second Amendment, she wants to destroy your Second Amendment; guns, guns, guns, right. I think what we should do is she goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons, they should disarm, right, right? I think they should disarm. Immediately, what do you think? (points toward audience) Yes, yeah.

“Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take their, let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It’ll be very dangerous.”

I invite you to observe exactly what Trump has done here. In two paragraphs he has given two different messages. That’s why we have paragraphs. So we can continue in the same topic but change concept.

In the first paragraph he says he thinks “they” (presumably her guards) should disarm. But that’s not all he says, even in that paragraph. He says, “…she wants to destroy your Second Amendment…” Hillary has never said or implied she wanted to “destroy” the Second Amendment, and no President has that power anyway.  It’s all in the Constitution, how amendments are made. Hillary calls for universal background checks; she calls for keeping people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns. Most people pass backgound checks already, why not everybody else? People who can’t pass background checks are the ones we don’t want running around with guns.  A “good guy with a gun” can pass a background check. Many gun owners agree with her. Trump, though, has a standard lie he tells about Hillary and the Second Amendment. So he tells that lie.  His crowd knows it like when a band plays their hit, and they boo. Then just sort of out of the clear blue sky he says, “Guns! Guns. Guns.” Or maybe he doesn’t punch it quite this hard, maybe he just says, “Guns, guns, guns.” As he says it he waves his right arm, starting with it upright at mid body, then dropping it to the horizontal, no not like drawing a gun, not exactly, a time or two.   He leans pretty hard on those words in his speech; their inclusion in the sentence right there is very strange. Their meaning is for the emotions, not for the mind. Get the boys thinking, “guns, guns, guns,” and after that comes, “…what we should do…” Not, what they should do, although he goes on to say exactly what “they” (her guard detail) should do. So in that paragraph it is fuzzy whether he is talking about what “we” (his followers) should do, or what “they” (her guard detail) should do. Whomever he thinks should do it, the recommended action is that her guards should disarm immediately. “…her bodyguards should drop all weapons, they should disarm, right? Right?”

OK, say I’m carrying a gun in my pocket. I’ve been taking a few million bucks to the bank, or maybe guarding a presidential candidate.  When I get home from work, do I “drop all weapons?” Doesn’t that strike you as a bit extreme?  When I disarmed before coming home from Vietnam I handed somebody my rifle.  Heck, I don’t even remember who.  That is to disarm.  “Drop all weapons”?

Then he delivers this instruction:

“Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take their, let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It’ll be very dangerous.”

Public speaking is performance art, and few dispute that Donald Trump is a master.  He has accomplished a great deal through his skill as a public speaker and performer. People like myself tend to sneer and jeer at his mangled sentences and his blithe disregard for internal contradictions, but I’m an obscure hick in the sticks and he is the presidential nominee of what was and still might be one of the world’s most powerful political parties. I’ve got a few bucks in the bank and he is, if not a billionaire, at least broke at the very highest level. So he is doing something right. And that thing he is doing right is talking, in arenas and on television. Donald Trump is the Rolling Stones of public speaking: 70 years old and still at the top of his game. He has a large number of heavily armed people who are proud to proclaim their loyalty to and belief in him, and he just told them to take away the guns from Hillary’s Secret Service detail.

I read the text of his words for two or three days before I ever watched the video. I was horrified by reading it.  As far as I could tell the electronic media weren’t too concerned.  Donald “joked”, they told us. Donald “hinted”.  Donald, we were told, said her guards should disarm.  The usual authoritative voices told us he said her Secret Service guards should lay their guns down. That is not what he said.  

He didn’t “joke” and he didn’t “hint.” And he emphatically did not say the Secret Service should “lay their weapons down.” He said, “Drop all weapons.” He spoke simple sentences, simple words in the imperative voice.  If I was in combat and my commanding officer pointed at somebody and said to me, “Take their guns away,” I would either take their guns away or die trying.

Yes, he did say they should disarm, but not in an orderly, lay aside your guns way. They should drop all guns. He mixed “we” with “they” in his listeners’ ears. After he said that part he did not stop talking or change the subject.  “Drop all weapons” was near the beginning, not at the end. He started there, and then he said, “Take their guns away.  It will be very dangerous.”  Of course it’s dangerous. Taking guns away from people is inherently dangerous. That is why I said “…or die trying.”  I meant that literally. In war you do something or die trying. Donald said, Do this. He didn’t quite say, Or die trying. But he warned them it will be very dangerous.

I don’t routinely watch videos of things; I don’t own a television.  In this case it appeared to me that I had drawn significantly different conclusions from reading a transcript than people who watched the speech had, so I watched the video to see if I could understand the difference. It is widely accepted that people speaking can communicate more powerfully than the written word, and that television is more powerful than radio. Maybe he had somehow hidden his meaning in his delivery.

Watching it was worse. The performance was more horrifying than the transcribed text.  He didn’t disguise his meaning at all. This speech was given, during a presidential campaign, in my home country. Nobody went to jail. I invite you to watch it again above. The part I highlight above starts at about 55 seconds.

Notice his delivery. Watch his head, how he turns it to the side, lowers his voice, then points at them… speaks another few words… looks at them… raises his voice, projects into the microphone as he says, “Take their guns away.” Then he fades, “she doesn’t want guns.” Then he looks Right At Them, he turns on that Donald Trump Magic Thing, and he raises his voice higher. “Take their guns away, okay.” Long blink, eyes closed, turns his head. More softly now. “It’ll be very dangerous.” And that’s the end of the speech.

Could any other person make this speech in public right now in the United States of America without immediate legal repercussions?

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One thought on “His Call for Hillary’s Assassination”

  1. No. No other person could or would unless they weren’t in their right mind. I won’t go there. Nor would any other person say “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

    But he did.

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