Exactly Where and How Did Trump Incite the Mob?

Exactly Where and How Did Trump Incite the Mob?


My latest in PJ Media:

Less than a week has passed since the Capitol riot, and the Democratic Party, the establishment media, and Big Tech now present it as axiomatic that President Donald Trump incited the mob for the purpose of preventing the electoral vote certification and, presumably, grabbing dictatorial powers. Republican Senators Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski have joined the calls for Trump either to resign or face a second impeachment, and even Ted Cruz has said that Trump’s rhetoric “certainly contributed to the violence that occurred.” But before the lynch mob gets the noose ready and hangs the president from the nearest tree, it would be useful to step back and make sure that he really did what everyone seems to be sure he was guilty of doing: incite the crowd at the Capitol to violence for the purpose of staging a coup.

Trump’s speech that supposedly incited the mob is here. At the end of it, he said:

So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give… The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to thank you all. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you all for being here, this is incredible. Thank you very much. Thank you.

The attentive reader may have noticed that there is nothing there, or in any other part of the speech, calling upon the crowd to storm the Capitol, or to overthrow the government, or to do anything but walk down Pennsylvania Avenue and encourage lawmakers to support the president. The case for the claim that Trump incited the mob rests on the proposition that he didn’t have to spell out what he wanted them to do; when he detailed his reasons for believing that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, that was enough to inflame them sufficiently to storm the Capitol.

However, assuming that the crowd would have remained peaceful were it not for Trump’s criticism of the election is to embark upon an extremely dangerous path. To take for granted, as so many do today, that Trump incited violence by criticizing the election, is to commit the classic logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, after this, therefore caused by this. It opens the door for criticism of anyone or anything to be labeled dangerous and inciting of violence, and silenced accordingly. Tyrants and would-be tyrants can silence criticism of their rule by claiming that their opponents, by engaging in that criticism, are inciting and inviting violence.

There is more. Read the rest here.



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