“Stochastic terrorist” is an obscure, non-legal expression gaining some traction in social media as a direct consequence of the verbal depredations of Donald Trump. Wikipedia defines it as terrorism that employs “the use of mass media to provoke random acts of ideologically motivated violence that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.”
When earlier this week CNN offices were evacuated after having received a bomb threat, Trump’s frequent verbal assaults against the network and its personnel was advanced as a plausible cause. When earlier this year CNN and several high-profile critics, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, were targeted with mail bombs allegedly sent by a Trump supporter, Donald Trump’s rhetoric was similarly cited as a possible provocation.
It has also been noticed that Trump supporters are vastly overrepresented in the population of domestic terrorists and mass gun murderers who have employed lethal violence, occasionally targeted violence, in their exercise of terror in the past two years. It may not be possible to make a conclusive causal connection between Trump’s hate speech and the violence done by his supporters, but it’s difficult to dismiss, and at least alarming enough in its implications to give one pause.
But it has had no effect whatsoever on Donald Trump. Mere minutes before the evacuation of CNN headquarters this week Trump tweeted the words, “FAKE NEWS – THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” On numerous occasions Trump has traduced CNN as “fake news.” Trump has been made aware of the possible connection between the hate speech he routinely uses from the presidential bully pulpit and the potential it may portend for deadly violence. He doesn’t care. After all, the potential victims that may result from Trump’s hate speech are his enemies, and he has already demonstrated his callous disregard for the life, safety and liberty of any who oppose him.
Donald Trump has been recorded numerous times encouraging violence against protesters in his rallies and during his original campaign for the presidency. His proven indifference to the clear and present physical harm his words may cause to others is yet another in a long and disgraceful list of reasons why he is not fit to be president. Whether or not the term “stochastic terrorist” enters the language permanently or fades from usage, its applicability to Donald Trump can not be convincingly disputed.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.