Stochastic Terror: Trump Is Weaponizing Unstable People, Aiming Them At Critics

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour / Public Domain


President Trump says he is not to blame for others' violent actions. In reality, he is engaging in stochastic terrorism.

President Trump has insisted that he is not to blame for acts of violence committed by individuals who claim his rhetoric as inspiration for their actions.

But in reality, he is weaponizing unstable people and aiming them at his political enemies.

Trump has, knowingly or not, embraced the idea of stochastic terrorism: “the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.”

“Stochastic terrorism lets bullies operate in the open with full deniability, since the random element erases any provable causation," Wired wrote last year.

  • Wired noted that in 2016, Trump “joked” that the “Second Amendment people” might “do” something if Hillary Clinton won the election. He later said he meant perhaps they would “vote,” but the implication was clear.
  • Trump has spent years demonizing the press and calling them the “enemy of the people.” In 2017, he tweeted a video of himself body-slamming the CNN logo.
  • In 2018, Cesar Sayoc mailed a pipe bomb to CNN, among other perceived enemies of the president.
  • Trump’s campaign ads depict a bleak America if Joe Biden wins the presidency, suggesting there will be no police and his (largely white) supporters will have to fend for themselves or become victims of brutal crimes.
  • The president has routinely demonized Americans protesting police brutality, lumping them together with violent rioters and threatening use of force against them.
  • Last month, a group of his supporters drove to Portland, armed with mace and paintball guns, to confront Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist protesters.
  • Trump has defended a self-described militia member who attended protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is now accused of killing two protesters.
  • During the first presidential debate, Trump was asked to condemn white supremacy and instead told the far-right group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” He later said the group should “stand down,” but the bell cannot be unrung.
  • The Washington Post noted that far-right groups celebrated Trump's statement at the debate: "One prominent Proud Boys supporter on Parler said Trump appeared to give permission for attacks on protesters, adding that 'this makes me so happy.'”

Ben Decker, the founder of Memetica, a digital investigations firm focused on disinformation and extremism, said this month that thanks to social media, “That stochastic threat is now becoming something that’s increasingly organized.”

Read more about stochastic terrorism here.


U.S. & Global News