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VOL. XIV, Issue 5

Donald Trump: Aggressive Rhetoric and Political Violence

During Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and presidency political discourse in the United States became more hateful and divisive. Threats and actual violence against groups and individuals singled out and demonized by Trump increased. The targets of his verbal attacks were most of all racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, the news media collectively and individual journalists, and well-known politicians, mostly Democrats. There was a rise in bullying incidents in schools against minority students. Assuming that aggressive rhetoric by influential political leaders affect their supporters’ words and deeds, we examined Trump’s online and offline hate speech, the rhetorical reactions of his followers, and the violent consequences suffered by their declared enemies. We found that contrary to an old children’s rhyme (“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”) Trump’s aggressive, divisive, and dehumanizing language was seconded by his followers and inflicted directly or indirectly psychological and physical harm to Trump’s declared enemies.

About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…