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Vice Quotes Professor Tabatha Abu El-Haj on Violence in Current Political Season

Tabatha Abu El-Haj

March 21, 2016

Donald Trump’s candidacy is hardly the first in U.S. history to stoke violence, but it raises troubling questions, Professor Tabatha Abu El-Haj said in an article published by Vice Media on March 16.

"His tactics are on a continuum with we've seen some presidents and candidates do before, but they seem much more extreme because they're not even rationalized as safety measures," Abu El-Haj said.

The article cites previous chapters of American history in which violence erupted in politics: from pistol duels between U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton Vice President Aaron Burr to the chaos that followed George Wallace’s presidential candidacy in 1968.

Yet Trump’s disregard for the rights of protesters raises questions about his commitment to the constitution, Abu El-Haj said.

“Right now, he's a private citizen—he's not yet the government acting, so he doesn't need to respect those rights,” she said. “But it does make me wonder what his administration, if that occurred, would do when they were obligated to respect the First Amendment rights of protesters."

Abu El-Haj is a recognized authority on the American political process whose work has appeared in publications including the New York University Law Review, UCLA Law Review and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law.