In a clip from an upcoming longer interview with Fox News's Harris Faulkner, Donald Trump explained that his recent Twitter threat "When the looting starts, the shooting starts" was not a threat at all, but simply a dispassionate description of what happens during riots. He also misattributed the quote to a politician he clearly admires, the late Frank Rizzo, who as police commissioner and later as mayor of Philadelphia advocated white supremacy and police brutality. Astonishingly, Faulkner got a few facts into the interview, too, so look for Trumpers to start demanding she be fired.

Trump spoke to Faulkner while visiting Dallas, where he worked real hard to heal America's racial divisions by saying you can't talk about systemic racism because it's so unfair to the nice not-racist people in police departments, you monster. He also said that racial tensions in the US will be resolved "quickly and easily," because Americans are "good and virtuous people," and all we have to do is come together under his wise leadership. Which is very tough, like Frank Rizzo, maybe.


Here's Faulkner, suggesting Trump isn't exactly a shining star at the whole "consoler in chief" thing that less perfect presidents have tried to do.

Faulkner: You look at me, and I'm Harris on TV, but I'm a Black woman. I'm a mom. You've talked about it, but we haven't seen you come out and be that consoler in this instance. And the tweets, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." Why those words?

Trump: So, that's an expression I've heard over the years —

Faulkner: Do you know where it comes from?

Trump: I think Philadelphia. The mayor of Philadelphia.

Faulkner: It comes from 1967. I was about 18 months old at the time[.]

Then Faulkner explained the quote's real origins, from Walter E. Headley, the Miami police chief, who accused "young hoodlums" from "Negro districts" of taking "advantage of the civil rights campaign" to do crimes. He also said the great thing about lethal force against people committing property crimes is that "Felons are going to learn that they can't be bonded out from the morgue." Faulkner told Trump,

He was cracking down, and he meant what he said. And he said, "don't even care if it makes it look like brutality, I'm going to crack down. When the looting starts, the shooting starts." That frightened a lot of people when you tweeted that.

Trump didn't register a bit of that, because he wanted the Black lady to know the phrase also came from a very great person, Frank Rizzo (who never actually used the phrase, but honestly, he might as well have).

Well, it also comes from a very tough mayor, who might have been police commissioner at the time, but I think mayor of Philadelphia named Frank Rizzo. And he had an expression like that, but I've heard it many times from – I think it's been used many times.

In fact, it's been used so many times it's probably part of our cultural heritage, so why are you trying to censor Trump and destroy history by correctly putting the phrase in its actual context as a promise of police brutality? Trump went on to parse the phrase in the sort of nonsensical way only a habitual liar could: It's no threat at all, just a thing that happens!

It means two things – very different things. One is, if there's looting, there's probably going to be shooting, and that's not as a threat, that's really just a fact, because that's what happens. And the other is, if there's looting, there's going to be shooting. They're very different meanings.

Then Trump offered some thoughts on the dialogic nature of meaning, as explored by Mikhail Bakhtin, and noted that the multivalent nature of any utterance can be a carnivalesque expression of jouissance, not merely a threat to murder protesters in cold blood.

And if you want to get all picky about it, the quote, in the midst of tweets promising to send in the military to "get the job done right" and end rioting in Minneapolis, didn't exactly come off as a quiet observation on the nature of public disorder. One of the other people who liked saying "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" was noted reconciliation-and-racial-healing fan George Wallace, who regularly trotted it out during his 1968 run for president.

Frank Rizzo, the guy Trump spoke of so admiringly, was himself a real peach of a person who acted like Francisco Franco as police commissioner and later mayor of Philadelphia. In those beautiful days before political correctness, he regularly tossed around the n-word, set police dogs on Black student protesters, and sent cops to raid gay clubs just so he wouldn't be remembered solely as a racist. Needless to say, the proto-Trump voters of Philadelphia in the '60s and '70s loved Rizzo's casual racism and fascist style, because as we keep reminding you, Donald Trump didn't invent a goddamn bit of this.

Rizzo was elected Philadelphia mayor in 1968, on promises that he would unleash the cops on the city's black citizenry and clean up crime. While running for his final term in 1978, Rizzo called on supporters to "Vote White." The US Department of Justice sued Rizzo and other city officials in 1979, accusing them of abusive policing that "shocks the conscience."

Paul Wolff Mitchell, a University of Pennsylvania lecturer in History and Sociology of Science, told the Daily Pennsylvanian, "It's not just that he was a racist; it's that he was representative of the kind of police brutality that the murder of George Floyd has galvanized this response to."

As it happens, during the protests over the killing of George Floyd, current Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney ordered last week that the city's frequently (and justly) vandalized 10-foot statue of the former mayor be removed from a plaza near City Hall. It was carted away on a flatbed truck like the scrap metal it should become. Here's hoping Trump doesn't read the Washington Post piece on the removal of the statue, lest Trump adopt one of Rizzo's favorite fashion statements. Rizzo was such a big fan of police billy clubs that he

famously stuffed one down his tuxedo cummerbund to suggest that, while he could hobnob with swells, this avatar of brute force was never off-duty from the streets he ruled.

We should probably also keep Trump away from mirrored sunglasses, too.

Also, while we were writing, another clip made it to Twitter, in which Trump explains he's the best president ever for The Blacks, other than Lincoln, but only just maybe:

Other that emancipation, though, he's easily the best.

[CNN / Joe. My. God. / Business Insider / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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