When you've convinced yourself that you're fighting neo-fascism, or whatever, you can justify an awful lot of fascistic behavior. By now, you've heard about Rep. Joaquin Castro's appalling tweet, in which he named and shamed Trump donors from his home city of San Antonio. He accused them of "fueling a campaign of hate," listing their full names and places of businesses. These were not mega-donors. These were people -- including some retirees -- who cut checks for less than three grand apiece, the maximum direct annual contribution to any single federal campaign. Castro even tagged a few small businesses and named a realtor in the text of his tweet, which also included a graphic listing 44 individuals:
This was tweeted for one reason, and one reason only: Retaliatory intimidation. This was not a friendly civic 'heads up.' Castro wants anti-Trump partisans to find and punish these people for the crime of donating to the opposition party -- a thuggish tactic of which certain other people named Castro would certainly be very proud. I don't think Joaquin, who is a top official in his brother's pro-open borders presidential campaign, wants to see violence, per se; I'm sure he'd be satisfied with lower-level boycotts and harassment. But considering what just happened over the weekend, and the overall environment in the country right now, this is a deeply irresponsible action -- especially from someone whose party now routinely conflates mere criticism of elected officials with "incitement." I don't believe that any fair-minded person can disagree with this counter-factual:
But some on the Left (including the selectively "incitement"-obsessed Squad), in the media, and among the more deranged precincts of Never Trumpism are excusing and defending Castro's disgraceful tweet. Perhaps most vociferous on this front has been this guy:
Over to you, Allahpundit:
Others in the media were downright excited about [Trump]. It’s common knowledge that “Morning Joe” cheerled for Trump for months after he entered the race in 2015, giving him tons of encouraging coverage as a breath of populist fresh air in a stale GOP field...[Scarborough said he wouldn't rule out being Trump's running mate in] late January 2016 — around six weeks *after* Trump had proposed banning Muslims globally from entering the U.S. This wasn’t Morning Joe saying the day after Trump announced his candidacy that he’d do anything to undo Obama’s legacy. (Which would have been notable anyway, since Trump talked about rapists from Mexico in his announcement speech, setting the tone for everything to come.) This was Joe in “anything to stop the Democrats” mode with the Muslim ban already a matter of record. This guy, who used arguably the most influential political chat show on American television to mainstream Trump in 2015-16, is telling you that random San Antonians need to pay a price for enabling Trump. But of course he doesn’t.
Trump appeared on Morning Joe 41 times during the GOP nominating process. When Scarborough publicly entertained joining Trump's ticket (!) in January 2016, Trump had already riffed on 'Mexican rapists,' and proposed the 'Muslim ban.' We knew exactly who and what Trump was by that point. But, as AP notes, now that same person -- who makes tons of money and can afford security when nutters menace his family -- thinks that that the owner of some BBQ joint in San Antonio must be held responsible for 'enabling' Trump. Got it. As for the weak, desperate spin that all of the donor information Castro tweeted is publicly searchable, so this is really no big deal, Allahpundit slices that to pieces, too:
That’s true, but it’s of no consequence morally...if a friend asked you to find out for him where his ex lives because he intends to stalk her, it’d be no defense to say “it’s public information” if you used a people-finder database to locate her for him. You had every reason to know how the information would be abused and you provided it anyway. Same goes for Castro. (Castro’s actually worse since he’s supplying the information unbidden, essentially inviting the stalking.) Nor is it a defense to say that Castro merely wants to see boycotts of pro-Trump business owners, not personal harassment. That’s not true. If it were, the list he published wouldn’t have included retirees, who were listed as such. He wants people targeted at home.
Precisely. The purpose of donor disclosure is to keep politicians honest and to guard against public corruption. These rules are not intended to be weaponized by politicians against average citizens, furnishing their own tribal mobs with targeted harassment 'hit lists,' in order to discourage future manifestations of Bad Thoughts via contributions to the opposite party. As Noah Rothman says, this creepy episode serves as Exhibit A in the case in favor of "dark money" in politics. Here's Castro himself blathering about how he didn't technically create the infographic that listed donors' names:
As the Trump campaign team points out in the tweet above, Castro literally embedded the list in his tweet, then published it. To try to duck responsibility on that narrow point, while simultaneously defending his overall action, is both profoundly stupid and pathetic. Also, why stop with just maxed-out donors? Aren't less affluent people who donate more (as a portion of their income) to Trump actually responsible for greater "complicity," proportionally speaking? Why should they or their businesses suffer any less? If this is all fair game, why not expand the hit lists? And hell, if anyone ends up getting hurt or killed, that would merely manufacture another golden opportunity to attack Trump's rhetoric and call for gun control. Win-win. If nothing else, this grotesque new low -- which calls to mind the this is not normal mantra, yes? -- presents a useful and instructive opportunity to differentiate between fair-minded actors and complete hacks. Feel free to take mental notes for future assessments of credibility. I'll leave you with this, which again reminds me why I need to swing by for a meal at Bill Miller BBQ next time I'm in San Antonio: