Shutting down political rallies with the threat of violence and blocking public access to hear a political candidate speak is not behaviour worthy of any citizen of a democracy
People have every right to feel alarmed or even scared about the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. This blog believes that a Trump presidency, were he to secure the Republican nomination and win the general election, would be jarringly populist at best and economically ruinous at worst, though I dismiss any alarmist talk that Trump is in any way equivalent to the Nazis or other genocidal fascists.
Such hyperbole from anti-Trump activists is thoroughly unhelpful at a time when tempers are already flaring on both sides. After all, if you are a supporter of Donald Trump then having an angry college student yell in your face that you are supporting the new incarnation of Hitler will likely make you quite unreceptive to engaging in further debate and potentially being persuaded to change your views.
But the invective (on both sides) and hand-writing hysteria (primarily from the anti-Trump crowd) are nothing compared to the more blatantly anti-democratic methods by which some liberals are now attempting to shut down Donald Trump’s message rather than take it on in the battle of ideas.
The Huffington Post reports that some demonstrators are now attempting to block public access to Donald Trump rallies to prevent his supporters from hearing him speak, under the banner “Shut Down Trump”:
Protesters on Saturday blocked the roads leading to a Donald Trump rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
[..] An ABC 15 anchor reported at least three people had been arrested in connection with the protests. Deputy Joaquin Enriquez, a spokesman for the Maricopa County sheriff’s office, told ABC 15 the arrests were for blocking the road, not protesting.
The roadblock didn’t stop some determined people from getting out of their cars and walking to Trump’s rally.
Tomas Robles, executive director of Living United for Change in Arizona, a workers’ rights organization, told HuffPost that law enforcement was cooperative and treated protesters fairly. He said some Trump supporters “did try to get get aggressive,” but they were not violent.
“It was a peaceful protest, we got our point across, and we showed the nation and our state that just because Arizona at a time has been seen as anti-immigrant and somewhat racist, this is not that state anymore,” he said. “We’re not going to allow people like Trump to spew that rhetoric.”
Note the authoritarian tinge to the words of Tomas Robles, one of the protesters quoted by Huffington Post. Because he and his organisation disagree with Donald Trump, they are “not going to allow” him to air his views in public – at a political rally of all places, that most sacrosanct of venues in terms of the necessity for free speech.
While the rally in question went ahead, the demonstration prevented many Trump supporters from attending and forced others to abandon their cars and walk the rest of the way to the venue:
Hilariously, the Huffington Post – clearly sensing that running a story about liberal activists interfering with a political rally might not sound terribly progressive – felt the need to add the following editor’s note to the end of the article:
Editor‘s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
The obvious implication of this note is that it is perfectly appropriate and justified to stifle and attempt to shut down some forms of speech, and that we shouldn’t think badly of the protesters because they are waging war against a bad person who thinks the wrong things as opposed to a good person, “one of us”, who holds the correct beliefs and whose speech should be protected.
Or in other words: “Don’t worry, Trump and his supporters had it coming. They are bad people”.
The furious liberals outraged at the rise of Donald Trump need to realise that their usual tactic of shouting, screaming and now blockading things that they dislike is actually feeding – not killing – the beast. Maybe they do realise, but simply don’t care. Maybe the opportunity to signal their own moral virtue by ostentatiously raging against Trump is all that they care about.
But until Trump’s most ardent enemies on the Left learn to use their words rather than their fists they will only succeed in undermining free speech and American democracy, making Trump stronger all the while.
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