Stop Blaming Trump Supporters for Campaign ViolenceYes, stop blaming the people actually throwing the punches for the fact that punches are thrown!
In recent days, Donald Trump supporters have been demonized as some sort of racist mob spun up by Trump’s racially tinged rhetoric. Former Environmental Protection Agency head and New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman declared: “If you were told that Mexicans are rapists and criminals . . . and you are walking down the street and see them in your community, people are going to do things.”Thiessen's memory apparently doesn't stretch back to August:
Except for one problem: Trump supporters are not targeting Mexicans walking down the street with violence. They are not even showing up and disrupting Bernie Sanders when he spews socialist claptrap.
According to police, a 58-year-old Mexican immigrant sleeping outside the JFK/UMass MBTA station was attacked by two South Boston brothers who were on their way home from a Red Sox game. State Police say Steven and Scott Leader both urinated on the man and beat him with a metal pole.Thiessen continues:
After they were arrested, one of them admiringly quoted his political hero. “Donald Trump was right; all these illegals need to be deported,” Scott Leader said.
The clashes we have seen so far have almost exclusively been at Trump events.Which is basically Trump's message -- sure, violence is a terrible thing, but of course a normal person is going to want to kick the crap out of these hippie scum!
Why is that? Because organized groups of left-wing agitators intentionally come to Trump rallies to provoke his supporters. According to the New York Times, the protesters “fling themselves to the ground, forcing law enforcement officers -- often outmanned and overwhelmed -- to drag them away. They also shout and curse, making obscene gestures.” They should not be surprised when they get a reaction. Walk into a blue-collar bar and start taunting people that way, and you are likely to leave without some of your teeth.
The fact is, if the protesters were holding peaceful protests outside his venues, there would be no violence.I'm not so sure about that. As Charlie Pierce writes:
What happened in Chicago is best seen as an escalation of what has been business-as-usual at Trump rallies throughout the campaign. I went to my first one in Lowell, Massachusetts months ago. There were protesters there who did nothing but stand up. There were protesters there who did nothing but stand up and hold signs. There were protesters there who chanted, but never left their seats. These people were presenting the polite free-speech alternative to the poison that was coming from the podium. It didn't matter. They were set upon by law enforcement -- and by Trump's thuggish campaign security people -- anyway, and dragged out through steaming mobs.Thiessen continues:
What we are witnessing is the latest example of the American left’s totalitarian instinct to shut down speech that it finds abhorrent. Trump is not the only speaker to be driven off a college campus in recent years....I'll spare you the usual laundry list of high-profile victims of "silencing" who have multiple venues around the world where their words gat a more than fair hearing. I'm of two minds about this tactic -- On the one hand, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Condi Rice and the rest will always find a book publisher or a major op-ed page for whatever they want to write, and will always find a think tank to sponsor their speeches. Therefore, if you make them feel unwelcome on campus, they're not being silenced. On the other hand, it's a good idea to come to terms with the notion that your speech is also unpopular in some parts of the society once you step off campus, and so a respect for unpopular speech is good for you, too. Also, when you block these speeches, you're giving pundits the opportunity to denounce you as fascists -- an argument with backing across the political spectrum. So maybe you should think twice.
But we were talking about Trump. On the subject of violence at Trump rallies, Thiessen -- clearly with reluctance -- acknowledges that, yeah, Trump is, if you must put it that way, part of the problem:
This is not to suggest that Trump is blameless in the ugliness that is unfolding. Far from it. A responsible leader tries to calm a volatile situation. Trump has been doing the opposite for months -- egging on his supporters to clash with the protesters. In August, Trump warned that if protesters tried to disrupt his rallies, “I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself, or if other people will.” In November, he said a protester who disrupted one of his events “should have been roughed up,” and in February, he declared of another, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Also in February, he told a rally, “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. . . . I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”Hey, Trump may be a demagogic thug -- but he's running for president, for Pete's sake! This stuff is working for him! You can't expect him to stop just because someone might be injured or killed! He could lose votes!
That is highly irresponsible. But Trump understands that it is also why his supporters love him. Unlike Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) -- who let Black Lives Matter protesters take away his microphone -- Trump does not back down when people try to stop him from speaking. His supporters see a man who stands up for himself and believe he won’t let the United States get pushed around either.
Plus, he's not a big sissy girl like that love-bead-wearing Bernie Sanders!
... Yes, Trump’s call for a Muslim ban, his spewing of conspiracies theories about 9/11 and Iraq, his embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Middle East dictators, and his calls for protesters to be “roughed up” are all repulsive. But for many Americans, the left’s smash-mouth tactics are repulsive as well.Moral equivalence, amirite?
Trump understands this, which is why he is milking the protests to his advantage. He is using them to rally blue-collar America by saying we’re not going to take this anymore — we are not going to bow to the Alinskyite tactics of the radical left.Right, because that's what's really upsetting blue-collar America in 2016: the fact that Ayaan Hirsi Ali had to back out of a campus speech.
I say all this even though I agree with Charlie Pierce that the demonstrations, at least as many of them are being conducted right now, are doing no good:
Having watched almost every second of the appalling events of the weekend just passed, I have a modest suggestion for all the groups working in rough alliance to keep the Republic out of the hands of a vulgar talking yam.We're already seeing signs that Trump's "campaign gains strength from" this:
Stay out of the buildings.
Stop being played for such suckers. Stop enlisting yourself in his bloody vaudeville. Stop giving him stuff to lie about at all the rallies that actually do end up happening. Stop making yourselves part of the show, because it's not working. It doesn't affect him at all. In fact, his campaign gains strength from it, like some science-fiction monster that absorbs the energy of whatever attacks it and then uses it to destroy. It doesn't gain you any allies; as should be clear by most of the meeping responses from the elite political press, the best it can get you is lectures about how Both Sides in our politics should settle down and let cooler heads ponder impotently about How We Got To This Point.
By 2-to-1, the Fla voters who say Trump's Chicago rally affected their vote say it made them more likely to back him https://t.co/PYzEtbSLac— Rebecca Sinderbrand (@sinderbrand) March 14, 2016
From that Monmouth poll of Florida:
My suggestion? Create a wave of non-violent protest outside the arenas. Close the streets. Fill the jails, if you must. Force the media coverage, which shouldn't be all that hard at this point. But stay out of the buildings because you can do no good in there. It gives aid and comfort to the forces you are trying to defeat....Yes. Noise isn't everything.
Stay out of the buildings. Decline to audition for a part in the freak show. Silent witness can be the most powerful kind there is.