Perspectives: Why I Bought a Gun to Protect Myself From Trump Supporters

DOnald Trump rally, racismAfter the South Carolina primary, I tweeted several missives about the anti-Semitism I saw overwhelm my Twitter account every time I mentioned Donald Trump. As a political journalist with a Jewish last name, especially one who writes about Israel during times of war, I'm no stranger to the most vile forms of anti-Semitism the Internet has to offer. The responses I received to those tweets -- ones like "you deserve the oven" (referring to Nazi death camps) and "you slimy Jewess" (both sexist and anti-Semitic) -- were by far the worst I’ve ever seen. Trump fans, in an effort to scare me (it worked), started researching my family and began tweeting personal details they found about me on Google. They even began harassing me about my now-infamous conversion (my father was Jewish, my mother Catholic) to Orthodox Judaism in 2011. 

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The influx of tweets weren’t from small accounts with a few dozen followers. Accounts with hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands of followers descended. As more personal details filled their messages, I did two things: I blocked hundreds of accounts, and I finally used the gun license I had applied for months prior to purchase a firearm.

Why? Because while Democrats solicited the female vote last election cycle by claiming Republicans were waging a "war on women," this time there may be an actual war on women if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee. As a conservative woman and mother, I'm scared -- and I think you should be, too. 

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What recently transpired between Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Breitbart News reporter and Fox News contributor Michelle Fields is, to me, an indication of how women are treated in that world. Trump's campaign manager, in an effort to stop her from asking the candidate a question on affirmative action, allegedly grabbed the reporter not once, but twice. The Washington Post's Ben Terris witnessed the exchange, Fields has documented bruising in the form of a hand on her arm, and the incident was seemingly caught on video by several outlets.

Inside the Trump campaign there was reportedly discussion that those involved did not know Fields was a Breitbart reporter (a notoriously pro-Trump publication) -- as if that would have exempted her from physical violence. Does that mean that it would have been acceptable to manhandle a reporter from a more unfriendly news agency?

The Trump camp claimed that it had nothing to do with Fields's injury, while participating in what seemed like a coordinated campaign to assassinate her character, publicly calling her an "attention seeker" and worse. The day after the incident took place, Lewandowski tweeted at Fields: 

Even if you choose to believe that Lewandowski was uninvolved, it's undeniable to me that the campaign's response to a woman's being assaulted while working at a campaign event was to malign and participate in the gaslighting of the victim instead of offering support in finding the perpetrator and holding him accountable.

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Immediately following the Fields incident, the self-identified former pro-Trump reporter (who has since resigned from Breitbart) was inundated with harassment from fans who only a day prior admired her work on the campaign trail. And that is a culture of contempt that I find frightening.

Fields told me:

The people who are coming after me have accused me of the most ridiculous things: being part of a Jewish conspiracy, being paid by other campaigns, hating white people, working with the Washington Post to stage the event, faking my bruises, etc. I had to stop reading the messages because they're too hurtful.

Even those who voiced their support for Fields found themselves inundated with vitriol from Trump's followers for having the audacity to support an assault victim instead of ignoring her injuries in order to further Trump's political ambitions. A close friend and columnist at the Washington Examiner, Kristen Soltis Anderson, told me:

I've been critical of Trump many a time and always get pushback on Twitter. Sometimes the pushback is ugly, but that happens a lot on the Internet. When I commented on Michelle Fields on Fox #MediaBuzz, the volume of pushback was much higher than anything else I'd said about Trump, and seemed to live up to all of the worst stereotypes about how the Internet is a tough place for women.

The Fields incident is far from an isolated occurrence. Earlier this year, Trump found himself in hot water with Fox News over the language he used to describe a beloved anchor at the conservative network, Megyn Kelly. According to Trump, Kelly only asked hardball questions of the nominee for the Republican nomination because of where she was in her menstrual cycle. Even Trump's own daughter isn't exempt from creepy, sexist remarks from her father.

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Put bluntly: No woman is safe.

This is why -- despite the dangers of having a gun in a house with children -- we decided it was safer to have a firearm (a .22 magnum revolver secured in a safe) in our home than to chance having to wait for a patrol car to answer a 911 call from our apartment. 

The hateful and sexist language used by his campaign and the candidate himself against his opponents has unleashed an ugliness among his supporters that will not easily be contained, even with a potential Trump loss in the Republican primary or, further down the road, in the November election. It is an ugliness that I have felt. Suddenly, violence against women and criticism of them based on the mere fact that they are women has become commonplace among his supporters.

As Trump becomes more popular, I fear these views will become more widespread, infecting an entire generation growing up and hearing a political leader dismissing, ignoring, and sometimes even stoking violence.

The sexism, intolerance, and violent rhetoric from every part of the Trump universe (the candidate himself, his campaign, and his followers) is chilling to me personally -- as an opinion writer, as a woman, as a Jew, as the mother of a daughter and of a son, and as an American. It’s not too late to save our country, but the eleventh hour is approaching.

 

Bethany Mandel is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother in New Jersey. She writes on politics, culture, and Jewish issues from a politically conservative perspective -- and all opinions here are her own. You can follow her on Twitter @bethanyshondark.


Image via © Cindi Huang/The Photo Access/The World Access/Corbis

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