(New York) The scene takes place in a large American amphitheater. Several white supporters of a controversial presidential candidate surround a group of black protesters. Some jostle, others chanted “Kill them! Kill them! “
At the forum, the candidate seems to encourage his most aggressive supporters, recalling how would put down a riot in his state. “The first who would pick up a brick would get a bullet in the head, that’s all. And we would walk to the next, saying: “OK, pick up a brick We just want to see you now pick up a brick. ‘” Said the speaker before the police do intervene to protect protesters and escort them to the exit.
This candidate not named Donald Trump but that of George Wallace. In 1968, the segregationist governor of Alabama had ran for president as an independent candidate. His campaign was characterized by rallies punctuated with often violent clashes like those that occurred at Madison Square Garden a few days before the presidential election.
Forty-eight years later, the campaign of Donald Trump is also distinguished by the violence of his rallies. And clashes that pushed the Republican candidate Friday to cancel a meeting in Chicago looked very much like the chaotic scene of the October 24, 1968 at Madison Square Garden. The resemblance is not due to chance. In many ways, Trump now leads the same campaign that Wallace in 1968, exploiting the fears and anger of whites who feel cheated.
charismatic and demagogic orator, the governor of Alabama did not target illegal immigrants or Muslims, but the “thugs” who participated in the riots of the era and contributed to the rise in crime. He did not need to specify the color of the skin of these thugs (a word often used by Trump) to his supporters seized the racial burden of his speech.
“If we were president, you would not be stabbed or raped in the shadow of the White House, even if we were mobilized 30,000 soldiers, providing them with bayonets both feet and place them a few feet apart. If you leave here tonight and someone will knock you down, he will leave prison before you receive your discharge from hospital, and Monday morning they inculperont the police rather than the criminal, “Wallace protested in his speech.
The Alabama Governor never failed to address the media before his supporters. “The New York Times calls me a racist. Well, it’s a sad thing when you can not defend the law and order without someone asks you if you are racist, “he protested.
And he took pleasure in ridiculing the protesters present at its gatherings. “We have a few people who know more four-letter words. But there are two unfamiliar. WORK [work] and SOAP [soap], “mocked it by spelling each word.
“George Wallace tells it like it is”, repeated at the time his followers, a refrain taken up today by supporters of Donald Trump. Opposed to Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, the governor of Alabama was eventually won five southern states and collect nearly 10 million votes in the presidential election won narrowly by Nixon.
Donald Trump dismisses these days all responsibility for the climate of violence surrounding its gatherings. But he spends so much time attacking the protesters (and the media) that Wallace did in 1968. And despite its denials, it encourages violence, as did the governor of Alabama in 1968.
“It was very, very appropriate,” said the developer last week, referring to the punch firmly told to face a protest by one of his supporters from North Carolina.
“If you see someone about to throw a tomato-beat up it,” he also said on February 1. “Seriously. Beat up them. I promise you that I will pay your legal fees. I promise.”
“I would put my fist in the face,” he said again a few weeks later when speaking of a protester.
During his third presidential campaign in 1972, George Wallace was the victim of an assassination attempt at the output of an election rally in a Maryland mall. Forever nailed to a wheelchair, he was later publicly repented of his segregationist positions and had apologized to his State of blacks.
In the feverish atmosphere of the presidential campaign of 2016, it is still difficult to imagine Donald Trump one day follow George Wallace on the path of repentance.