As Donald Trump closes in on the presidential nomination, his rallies have become increasingly beleaguered by thousands of protesters. A rally in Chicago was canceled due to safety concerns from protesters. One weekend in Ohio, a man “yelling, screaming and flailing his arms” jumped the barrier surrounding the stage, but was tackled by Secret Service before he could reach Trump.
The ideological fissure yawns ever wider …
Public figures across the board — John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Bill de Blasio, Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama — have condemned Trump for dividing the American people and for inciting violence, hate and fear.
So then what do you call shutting down a peaceful rally — be it loud, obnoxious and quasi-fascist — but nonetheless peaceful?
“Remember the #TrumpRally wasn’t just luck. It took organizers from dozens of organizations and thousands of people to pull off. Great work,” tweeted People for Bernie, a large but unofficial pro-Sanders organization.
Run a quick Google search, and you will find that most of the reported incidents of violence at Trump rallies appear to be perpetrated by his supporters: a Trump campaign manager takes down a cursing conservative reporter; an immigration activist has his face spat upon; a black man is punched in the face. It convincingly portrays the Trump team on the same moral level as the hordes of Attila the Hun.
But who are the ones interrupting the rallies? Who are the ones ripping up signs, chanting, who are so unruly and intrusive that they interrupt them more than ten times, or drive them away altogether?
It reminds me of the childhood game of moral “gotcha” my brother played against me. He started fights by calling me names and made me believe horrid things about myself that, deep down, I knew weren’t true, but somehow became true the more he said them. Though he was larger and stronger, he did not hit me — he wanted me to strike first. Because he knew that, if I did, it was me who wound up grounded in our bedroom.
Likewise, Trump’s opponents might be aware that there is bound to be one supporter who cannot keep his cool. So long as they can target that supporter, the incident of violence will make headlines and paint a sweeping picture of the entire group. It is subtle, brilliant manipulation.
Aren’t these the same people who use the old saying, “You cannot judge the actions of a group by one individual,” as the concrete for their movements? Double standards for everyone!
Doubtless there are fringe groups of true Aryan supremacists and chauvinists rallying around Trump. But now that protesters have become increasingly responsible for acting violently at Trump rallies, it has revealed that the left, reputed to advocate tolerance, peace and equality, also has its dark side. These battalions of moral bigots, of “regressive leftists” have had their righteous rage ignited to heights inchoate and irrational as the oppressors they decry.
CNN recently published a damning article concerning a 31-year-old BlackLivesMatter activist Mercutio Southall who was allegedly tackled, choked and racially insulted by two Trump supporters at a rally, when his protesters chanted “Dump the Trump.” “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Trump said, and CNN ran away with it.
However, the slurs cannot be heard on the video recording, neither could the network independently confirm them.
Southall is an impassioned yet contradicted revolutionary. “I’m about black people. I’m not racist, but I am about my people,” he once said. Had similar words come from the mouth of a white male, CNN would have published an article soiling his reputation.
In July 2014, Southall was involved in a two-hour standoff with police. He was armed with a rifle, another gun in his holster and proclaiming his second amendment rights to the neighborhood. He has also been arrested for misdemeanors, which include blocking traffic with banners and criminal trespassing.
So should Southall have been roughed up? We’d first have to learn what he was really doing.
What will happen if these left wing protesters lose their fight and Donald Trump is elected into office? Might the moral outrage of liberal factions spill over? Will they forget about their support for gun bans in their greater zeal to defeat racists, sexists and classists? Could a thousand Southalls be capable of stirring a rebellion that might literally come down to a conflict akin to the Ukranian Civil War, a secession to establish an independent socialist state?
Or could Trump’s supporters, if they can’t keep their wits about them if he loses this election, not take their defeat lightly, either?
Simply, these incidents demonstrate that, when one side in an argument has run out of words, they will resort to their fists — or, in the case of regressive liberals, raising their voices over and over until all dissent is drowned. They are the sounds of the pillars of democracy as they crack and crumble over our heads. Whatever is about to happen, let’s hope we outsiders are not caught in the crossfire.
Figurative, or not.