Donald Trump’s campaign on Friday postponed a rally in Chicago amid fights between supporters and demonstrators, protests in the streets and concerns that the environment at the event was no longer safe.
The announcement, which came amid large protests both inside and outside the event at the University of Illinois at Chicago, follows heightened concerns about violence in general at the GOP front-runner’s rallies. Illinois holds its Republican primary on Tuesday.
Hundreds of demonstrators packed into an arena, breaking out into protest even before Trump had shown up. At least five sections in the arena were filled with protesters.
“Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago, and after meeting with law enforcement, has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date,” the Trump campaign said in a statement. “Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace.”
Several fistfights between Trump supporters and protesters could be seen after the announcement, as a large contingent of Chicago police officers moved in to restore order.
Supporters of Trump still inside chanted “We want Trump” after the event was canceled. Protesters, meanwhile, shouted “We shut s*** down” and “We stumped Trump.” Others chanted “Bernie” as supporters whipped out Bernie Sanders campaign signs.
A few things to unspool here.
First, I don’t have a lot of respect for the protesters. I understand that they don’t like Trump; I don’t like Trump. But disrupting his campaign and then boasting about how you shut someone up is simple thuggishness. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of thuggishness we’ve come to expect from the Left these days, especially from those in college or recently graduated. It’s not enough to disagree; it’s not enough to speak against; the opposition must be silenced.
I want to be clear: Donald Trump’s First Amendment Rights were not violated. The First Amendment protects us from government censorship, not private condemnation or censorship. But the tendency … no, the need of the Left Wing to silence those they disagree with is appalling. It used to be that the Left was proud of letting the KKK or Nazis speak … actual KKK and Nazi people, not people they were calling Nazi because they couldn’t refute their arguments.
Had the protesters made their point in some way without shutting down a political rally, I’d be fine. The Chicago protests grew out of comments Trump has made about police officers being the most oppressed people in the country. Chicagoans — who recently saw a long-buried video of an officer shooting a suspect who was walking away and found out about a dark site where thousands of suspects were detained and brutalized — don’t exactly agree. But disrupting a rally to the point of cancellation doesn’t make that point; it distracts from it.
Moreover, this plays right into Trump’s hands. So much so that many on Twitter were joking that Trump probably paid the protesters to do this. Trump’s entire schtick is that the voices of the American people are being silenced by a know-it-all politically-correct elite who have decided, without any input from us, that certain speech and certain viewpoints are unacceptable. How does this change that narrative? It doesn’t; it reinforces it. It convinces the American people, more than ever, that the political elite don’t want to hear what we have to say.
(Trump understands this. The decision to cancel the rally was his. The Chicago PD has said they were confident they could have kept the rally under control.)
Now it is true that Trump’s rallies have been the site of pro-Trump violence. It is also true that Trump himself has encouraged violence and made excuses for it. Last week, one Trump supporter sucker-punched a protester. Trump almost defended the punch, claiming (falsely) that the protester was hitting people and flailing around. A few days ago, his Campaign Manager grabbed a reporter hard enough to leave bruises. Trump’s people are still pretending it didn’t happen, despite video, audio and witnesses supporting the reporter’s account. In short, Donald Trump complaining about violence impinging his right to free speech is like Hillary Clinton complaining about dishonesty in politics.
I support Donald Trump's right to speak without fear of violence or being shouted down by thugs.
I wish he felt the same about me.
— Popehat (@Popehat) March 12, 2016
But the response to that is not to “bring more muscle” in the words of a certain recently fired Mizzou professor. The response is not to shout him down and stop him from speaking. The response is to show that you are better: that you will make your point while respecting his right to make his.
Unfortunately, that kind of mutual respect is no longer being taught to our young people. All that matters is “social justice”. Well, they might just “social justice” their way right into a Trump presidency.