During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump periodically encouraged violence against his critics. About the prospect of a delegate rebellion at the Republican National Convention, Trump said: “I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous many, many millions of people.” In Iowa, he told a crowd: "So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of ’em, would you? I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” And in response to a heckler at a February 2016 rally, Trump said: “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

It was bad enough when candidate Trump glorified violence, but his false bravado continued well into his presidency. Trump told a crowd of police officers in July 2017, "When you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. Don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?” His party generally shrugged in response to the chief executive encouraging police brutality, despite his oath to faithfully execute the laws.

Now in the midst of violent protests in response to the horrifying, unjustified police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Trump is at it again. The Post reports, “President Trump called the protesters ‘THUGS,’ while suggesting military intervention and warning in a tweet that there could be additional violence if the chaos continued. ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ the president wrote.” Just a day after a plainly unconstitutional executive order seeking to punish Twitter for not censoring users to his liking, Trump’s tweet was tagged by Twitter (“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence”), which limited access. The White House then republished the violence-glorification on its official website.

Former vice president Joe Biden reacted with appropriate disgust:

Trump is intentionally fomenting racial violence as a means of whipping up his base, a segment of which has always been motivated by white grievance. Whenever Trump is in trouble, he has resorted to xenophobia (e.g., hollering about the caravans ahead of the midterms) and racism (e.g., responding to a question about covid-19 from an Asian American reporter with “Go ask China”).

Trump’s narcissism and callousness are beyond simple personality defects. He is entirely indifferent to the racial animus he stirs. Likewise, he is unconcerned with the potential dangers of packing a convention center with tens of thousands of unmasked supporters during a pandemic. Whether this meets the definition of a personality disorder is a matter for medical professionals, but for average Americans the evidence is indisputable: He is willing to let deaths increase to serve his own interests.

The Republican Party as a whole is entirely responsible for his conduct and the harm that ensues. Republicans’ failure to convict him at his Senate impeachment trial and willingness to line up behind him as their nominee make them morally culpable for his conduct.

The admonition from Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) during the impeachment trial, brilliantly captured by the Portland, Ore.-based media company Eleven Films, is more apt today than when it was first released:

Yes, Republicans “will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history” — and the death and destruction this causes will be on their heads as well.

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This rendition of the poem ‘Black 101’ memorializes the innocent lives poet Frank X Walker says are terrorized by white rage, including jogger Ahmaud Arbery. (Frank X Walker/The Washington Post)

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