So Trump shows up at the Rolling Thunder biker rally yesterday, tells the assembled crowd (which wasn’t all that big) how much he prefers riding in a limo to riding a bike, makes the CBS Evening News, and off he goes. But before leaving the stage, he tried to bolster his ‘tough guy’ image by stating that the reason he ‘loved’ the bikers was because they come to all his rallies to ‘protect’ him.
That’s right. Trump is now surrounded by the Secret Service but he’d like everyone to think that he’s under a constant state of siege and needs protection from a bunch of older guys tooling around on their Hogs. And I can see it now; he’ll send out a message sooner or later to all bikers to show up in Cleveland to help make sure that the protestors don’t swarm the barricades and disrupt his coronation. And of course Trump will expect this two-wheeled security force to be armed, because the very first thing he said at Rolling Thunder, the very first promise he made to the audience was that he would ‘protect every little inch’ of the 2nd Amendment. Funny thing, however, was that Trump’s promise to protect gun ‘rights’ didn’t get much applause. He got a much bigger reaction from the crowd when he said that he was going to build a wall.
Trump is really enthralled with the idea that nobody has ever previously received an endorsement from the NRA in the middle of May. The NRA routinely endorses the Republican candidate, but it usually happens a few weeks before the vote. This year it happened in May, so Trump assumes that whatever audience he’s addressing will respond positively to his message about guns.
But let me tell you something about bikers. They might love to project their own kind of tough guy image, they might see themselves as Kings of the Road, they might want to ride out to Sturgis each year to eat bar-b-que and go shopping in the shadow of the Black Hills, but they’re not all that crazy about guns. And the reason for this ambivalence goes all the way back to an event that took place in California on December 6, 1969.
Four months after the great concert at Woodstock, another mega-rock concert took place at the Altamont Race Track in Northern California. And while the Rolling Stones were performing their set, a band of Hells Angels were beating up people (including killing one of the victims) right in front of the stage. This brutal act of gang savagery created a link between violence and motorcycles that continues to the present day, thanks to a not-so-infrequent outbreak of violence, in particular gun violence, at places where bikers show up.
Back in January the Colorado Motorcycle Expo was closed down because of multiple shootings which left at least one biker dead. In Waco, TX on May, 16, 2015 a brawl erupted between bikers inside or maybe outside a restaurant which left 9 bikers dead. A week later, three people were killed and seven were wounded at a biker rally at Myrtle Beach. And Donald Trump claims (who knows if anything he says is actually true?) that the bikers are coming to his rallies to protect him? These bozos can’t even protect themselves from themselves.
But what they can do is project the image that Trump has now made the centerpiece of his entire Presidential campaign, and that’s an image of violence and the threat of using violence to promote his aims. Think I’m making this up? Here’s the video which has Trump telling people to “knock the crap” out of protestors, to “punch him in the face” and a few other choice comments along the same lines.
Trump starts every speech by bellowing that he ‘loves’ the 2nd Amendment. And if you love the 2nd Amendment you love guns. And we still haven’t figured out how to separate violence from guns.