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Rhetoric, Mobs and Terror

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There is no way to consider the explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats and the CNN offices and not recall that Donald Trump himself has created a toxic environment by openly targeting many of these very people and entities in his overheated, overwrought rhetoric.

This is not to say that there is an explicit link between the president’s rhetoric and the bombs. There is no way to know that at this point. We don’t even know yet who’s responsible for the bombs.

But we can say without equivocation that Trump’s stoking of fear and riling of anger is deeply problematic and indeed dangerous.

Trump doesn’t operate on an intellectual plane, but an emotional one, and the emotions he has learned to manipulate in politics are the darker ones.

He learned that if you tap into people’s anger — if you can articulate it and vent it, repackage it and glamorize it — their gratitude and appreciation will be expressed as loyalty and adulation.

They will forsake their morals and principles.

They will forgive your foibles.

They will defend you to the death.

Trump said to these people that their enemies were his enemies. Everyone they saw as a threat to their cultural heritage, societal dominance and personal privilege — Muslims,........

© The New York Times