Trump supporters' jaw-dropping hypocrisy

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Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio's daily program "The Dean Obeidallah Show" and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @deanofcomedy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)Many Donald Trump supporters are expressing outrage with The Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar" because it features a President Trump-like Caesar.

In fact, one Trump supporter rushed the stage in Central Park on Friday night in an effort to stop the show -- claiming those behind the production have "blood on their hands because it contributes to the overall desensitization of violence." The play depicts the Trump lookalike being stabbed to death.
The protester documented her actions on Periscope.
    After she was arrested, prominent Trump supporters tweeted their defense of this attempt to silence the play. Ironic to see this response, given that many on the right are so often outraged when college students interrupt or try to silence political views they don't agree with.
    In any event, the person who stormed the stage was far from the only one on Team Trump going after this production of Caesar. Trump's cheerleaders-in-chief Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity also railed against the production, claiming it incites political violence.
    But targeting this production of Caesar is the soul of hypocrisy. Where was this outrage in 2012 when a Minneapolis production of "Julius Caesar" starred a Barack Obama-lookalike as Caesar?
    The conservative publication "The American Conservative" reviewed the play at the time, explaining in no uncertain terms that this Caesar was clearly intended to be Obama while praising the production as "riveting."
    And where was the outrage in 2015 when the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence staged the headline-grabbing production of "Julius Caesar" that featured a middle-aged female Caesar wearing a pantsuit who was stabbed to death? Media outlets at the time, from NPR to reviewers, noted that this production was clearly intended to evoke Hillary Clinton.
    We could possibly forgive this lack of consistency if the Trump supporters had at least called out their candidate when he explicitly called for and defended political violence on the campaign trail on various occasions. Some of the most alarming examples include Trump's words after one of his fans beat up a protester, "I thought it was very, very appropriate." Trump shockingly added, "And that's what we need a little bit more of." At another event Trump reminisced about the "old days" where protesters would "be carried out on a stretcher."
    Candidate Trump even offered to provide legal fees if his supporters would attack people in his name, "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?" Trump added, "I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise."
    Let's be blunt: Trump's words inciting his crowd to beat up protesters and then publicly defending their actions was, and remains, far more dangerous than any reinterpretation of a Shakespearean play. And to be clear, Shakespeare's intention with this classic play is not to make light of killing leaders but is actually a cautionary tale about "the costs of political violence." This is truly the opposite of Trump's own words on the campaign trial where he expressly called for political violence.
    Yet can you recall Trump supporters protesting his incitement of political violence and streaming their protest on social media? I can't. But I can recall them cheering and actually attacking people in response to his words.
    In fact, there's a federal lawsuit currently pending against Trump and his campaign by protesters injured by Trump supporters at a Kentucky campaign rally after Trump yelled, "Get 'em out of here." Just two months ago a federal judge ruled the lawsuit could proceed, noting that Trump's words -- "Get 'em out of here" -- "at least implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action."
    And if Trump supporters were sincerely upset by those who employ violent imagery in a political context, they should've been screaming in April when Ted Nugent visited the White House. After all, in 2016, Nugent declared that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton "should be tried for treason & hung."
    Nugent also called Obama "a piece of s***" and declared that the then-President should "suck on my machine gun."
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    But not a word from these Trump supporters about Nugent's despicable violent imagery. At least Nugent belatedly seems to get it; he announced after the horrific shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise earlier this week that he would no longer use such "harsh" terms, saying, "we have got to be civil to each other."
    If Trump supporters are really worried about political violence, they should begin by urging the President to admit that his actions and words on the campaign trail were destructive and wrong. Anything less sends a message that those who support him are more concerned with shutting down a play because they oppose its content than with reducing political violence in America.