Trump, Snoop Dogg & the language of violence
Donald Trump has lived a charmed existence. He was born to an extraordinarily wealthy family and inherited a hefty fortune along with his father’s successful real estate company. That is a pretty fantastic way to start off in life.
Trump’s string of good luck has continued in the political realm as well, for he has been blessed with the best (meaning the least effective) enemies any candidate, or now president, could ever hope for.
In the cacophony of liberal anti-Trump voices shouting their disapproval this week, a few have risen above the din, most notably Snoop Dogg’s controversial video. The music video for the song ‘Lavender (Nightfall Remix)’ shows the iconic, old school rapper pointing a pistol at a Trump stand-in in full clown makeup, President Ronald Klump, and then pulling the trigger, followed by a cartoonish bang.
A music video from an attention-starved rapper two decades removed from the peak of his cultural relevance would not garner very much attention under ordinary circumstances, but this time the President of the United States took the time to comment on it, which means a lot of people took notice.
In response to the video, Trump tweeted, “Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!”
Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
While the idea of “jail time” for artistic expression is legally a bit absurd considering the First Amendment, the essence of the tweet is accurate. Liberals and the media would go bananas if someone had done a similar thing to an Obama look-a-like. They rightfully went berserk when right wing boor Ted Nugent ranted that Obama should “suck on his machine gun” during a live concert. Hell, liberals even went crazy when a rodeo clown mocked President Obama by wearing an Obama mask. In the case of attacks on Trump though, the media response has been considerably more muted.
The reactions to the Snoop-Trump feud from fellow entertainers have been quite illuminating, however. Actor and fellow rapper Ice-T commented on the controversy to TMZ, “I think it’d be terrible (if someone made a video where Obama gets shot), but Obama wasn’t the same kind of guy as Trump. It was very hard to make an Obama joke because of his race, and Obama was such a smooth character. I think Trump brings a lot of these jokes onto himself.” So, Snoop Dogg made a video of him shooting Trump because the President is White? Thanks for the insight, Ice.
Not to be outdone, actor and rapper Shad “Bow Wow” Moss chimed in with his own unique brilliance. Bow Wow tweeted, “Ayo @realDonaldTrump shut your punk ass up talking s**t [asterisks inserted] about my uncle @SnoopDogg before we pimp your wife and make her work for us.” Way to stay classy, Bow Wow.
Ice-T’s and Bow Wow’s tweets reveal the philosophical rot at the core of the opposition to Trump. Trump’s enemies routinely label him as a vulgar, misogynistic bully, and his “get tough” talk against protesters at his rallies and the Access Hollywood video are solid evidence that proves their point. But with Snoop Dogg’s mock assassination, Ice-T’s explanatory tweet saying Trump brings these attacks on himself, in part by being White, and Bow Wow threatening sexual violence against Trump’s wife, charges of Trump being a vulgar bully and misogynist by his opponents ring pretty hollow, if not downright hypocritical. You cannot intimidate someone with violence, blame the victim because of his race, and then sexually menace their wife, and maintain any moral high ground whatsoever.
The reality though, is that this is just how Trump wants things to be. That is why he jumped at the chance to engage Snoop in a pop culture/Twitter war, instead of being “presidential” and ignoring Snoop’s video, like George H.W. Bush did when rapper Paris released a very menacing song titled ‘Bush Killa’ back in 1992.
Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow, and even Madonna, with her “I’ve thought about blowing up the White House” comment at the Women’s March inauguration weekend, may think they are taking Trump down a notch with their blustery attacks, but the exact opposite is true. These public spats greatly empower Trump and weaken his enemies, first by allowing Trump to play the victim, and second by lowering the discourse to Trump’s level, where he excels.
Trump’s voters, even the marginal ones in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, who voted for Obama twice but put Trump over the top this time around, only get pushed further into Trump’s corner with these blatantly hypocritical attacks from entertainment elites. These marginal Trump voters see the double standard liberals apply to Trump, but not Democrats, which reinforces their decision to vote for him.
Napoleon once said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake,” which would be wise words for liberals to take to heart with regards to Trump.
This week, Trump has been stuck in the muck and mire of his healthcare initiative. As Trump flounders with the tedious monotony of governing, he hungers for these celebrity feuds, as they are like oxygen to him and red meat to his base.
Trump desperately wanted to change the subject from his struggles governing to anything else, and Snoop’s clown video gave him a frivolous, but more entertaining, subject to divert people’s attention.
Trump is a master at manipulation and pushing liberal’s buttons. After all, he won the election by irritating the right people, like the mainstream media and Hollywood. He has only continued that strategic needling as president. Trump thrives on keeping liberals in a constant state of hysterical irritation, forcing them to react to him out of emotion and not thoughtfully respond to him with reason. Democrats and liberals need to get a grip and stop getting sucked onto the playing field of emotion by Trump, and keep things calm, cool, and rational, if they want to come in from the political wilderness they currently inhabit.
By ratcheting up the invectives, however, both Trump and his foes may be playing a dangerous game. As Marco Rubio said in response to the Snoop video, “Snoop shouldn’t have done that… the wrong person sees that, he gets the wrong idea, and you can have a real problem.” Little Marco, for once in his life, is entirely correct.
Here is an anecdotal piece of evidence to ponder, I was recently listening to a private conversation out here in Hollywood where a bunch of liberal acquaintances were talking about alt-right firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos and how much they truly despised him. More than one of them said that they “literally wanted to kill him,” which was shocking to me. If these thoughtful, intelligent, and successful people were so flustered by an obvious and shameless provocateur like Milo as to hyperbolically speak of murdering him, I can only imagine how less grounded individuals will react when a top-notch master troll like Trump sets out to push their buttons.
Those other, less stable individuals are the ones who will not understand the subtleties and nuance of artistic expression or hyperbole. They will only know that Trump makes them feel an inordinate amount of rage and will want to assuage that discomfiting anger by any means necessary.
Recent events have shown that intense emotions, mixed with fervent political beliefs, can lead to chaotic and violent actions. For example, the liberal protests against Milo at Berkeley that turned into a riot, or at Middlebury College, where students got violent while opposing right wing author Charles Murray, or even when a masked man punched alt-right leader Richard Spencer in the face in broad daylight during the Woman’s March. Violence can never be permitted to encroach upon political debate or discussion. If you can’t win an argument and change minds with your ideas, you certainly won’t do it through intimidation and violence.
This is a perilous time, fraught with volatile emotions across the political spectrum. With this powder keg of fury just below the surface of our public square, it would be wise for all of us to be more measured and thoughtful in our speech and artistic expression. The language of political violence, while tempting and at times invigorating, can often lead to actual violence, and ultimately ruin.
Michael McCaffrey, for RT
Michael McCaffrey is a freelance writer, film critic and cultural commentator. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he runs his acting coaching and media consulting business. mpmacting.com/blog/
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.