As Trump Calls Adam Schiff “Traitor”, His Followers Call For Schiff's Execution
In the era of President Donald Trump, much debate is had concerning the effects of increasingly extreme political rhetoric — and with good reason.
As the president continues to rail against his critics, Trump supporters continue taking his words a step further, responding with increasingly violent rhetoric of their own.
The Washington Post noted that lately Trump has targeted Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat who has become the new face of Trump’s potential impeachment.
Just hours after the president made a social media post saying Schiff should be “arrested for treason,” one of his supporters kicked it up a notch, tweeting, “SHIFTY SHIFF NEEDS TO BE HUNG.”
“As you can see, my tweets are pretty passionate,” Jean Spanbauer told The Post, noting that she uses a different name online. “It hits very close to home for me. What the Democrats are doing to our president, to the office and to the people of this country is disgusting.”
Spanbauer also admitted her tweet was hyperbolic and said she does not truly wish anyone harm.
But her tweet was just one of many calling for Schiff’s death or other such harm — hyperbolically or not.
In response to a tweet from the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, which argued that Schiff should be suspended, one Trump supporter wrote about the lawmaker being hung in a football stadium for all the country to see.
Another social media user retweeted Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who had said Schiff was a “proven liar” and should be “held accountable”, and wrote with longing for the “good old days when traitors like Schiff would be hanged by the neck until dead.”
All across social media, including Twitter, Facebook and 4Chan, Schiff is being targeted in posts that call for physical harm to befall him.
The situation again raises the question of just how accountable the president and others in his circle of influence should be held as their rhetoric appears to incite violence among his supporters.
“Whole online communities are forming around these sentiments, like MAGA,” Amarnath Amarasingam, an expert on political violence and an assistant professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, told the post. “The online social movement of Trump supporters is very real, and a cohort of that movement has come out and said they’re ready to take up arms when needed. This is something a few of us have been worried about for some time.”
Amarasingam said Trump’s tweets “are received uncritically...giving Trump enormous power over his followers and ‘setting the stage for violence.’”
As for Spanbauer, who tweeted that Schiff should be hanged for treason, Trump’s use of social media is “wonderful.”
“It’s wonderful, really, what Trump does on Twitter,” she said, because he speaks directly to his supporters and channels their anger toward Washington.
But The Post noted that “Trump’s ability to craft an alternate universe for his supporters, in which he is the victim of lawless Democrats, rests on an unregulated online ecosystem, where fake news travels faster than the truth.”
Spanbauer is neck-deep in that alternate universe, saying most of her news comes from Twitter and YouTube and pointing to Fox News host Sean Hannity and Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton as voices she trusts.
Both Hannity and Fitton are known to promote conspiracy theories and twist reality for their audiences as they blindly support the president.
The impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine and former Vice President Joe Biden is a “supreme insult to our country,” she said, doing a good job of parroting Hannity. She added that those leading it “should be held accountable to the length of the law” because they are committing “treason.”