The New York Times has done a careful and detailed video analysis of the ugly melee that occurred during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Washington May 16. It appears to show that the fight started immediately after an exchange between Erdoğan himself and his security guards, three of whom then headed into the crowd of peaceful protesters across the street. Twenty-four men, including members of Erdoğan’s security detail and outnumbering the demonstrators two to one, punched and kicked them on the ground and put a chokehold on a woman, while Erdoğan watched from his car.
Senator John McCain said the next day that the Turkish ambassador should be sent home. House speaker Paul Ryan finally roused himself yesterday to call the Turkish detail’s behavior “indefensible.” But the president of the United States, who had praised Erdoğan in the White House earlier the day of the fight and telephoned him in April to congratulate him on the consolidation of his power in a referendum, has said nothing publicly about this attack on American citizens in the streets of Washington.
When he might have spoken out to condemn the attack he telephoned the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to congratulate him on the results of his war against drug dealers which has resulted in thousands of extra-judicial executions.
Trump’s encouragement of crude political violence during his campaign, his affinity for dangerous killers of their own people like Duterte and autocrats like Erdoğan are a warning to all Americans of our own president’s insecurities and resulting instincts.
His failure to condemn the Turkish violence in Washington contributes to a sense among his supporters that actions like yesterday’s assault on a reporter in Montana by the Republican House candidate Greg Gianforte are acceptable, perhaps even desirable given the praise Gianforte’s supporters offered him.
Now is a good time to remember that Hitler’s private political army, the SA, provoked fights comparable to this in the streets of Munich in the 1930s.