“It was a sad day in America on Friday, as the national epidemic of loud, disruptive protests finally infected the normally bucolic, peaceful, orderly city of Chicago. Stunned residents awoke this morning wondering what has happened to to their bastion of comity, lawfulness and love.”
– Some article which should probably appear in The Onion
Since I generally have Fridays off, I was fortunate enough to miss most of the media eruption surrounding the cancellation of a Trump rally in Chicago last night. Sadly, I had Twitter open on my laptop and quickly found myself awash in reports that Chicago was breaking down into mayhem. The way some of my regular, conservative colleagues on social media were describing it, Trump was leading a band of armed mercenaries through the streets of the Windy City, gunning down the opposition like Sherman marching to the sea.
After apologizing to my wife for needing to shut off the latest episode of Mysteries at the Museum on the History Channel, I switched to CNN to find that the actual story was at least somewhat less dramatic than that. (CBS Chicago)
The Donald Trump rally at the UIC Pavilion was abruptly “postponed” Friday evening, amid security concerns, as protesters massed outside the University of Illinois-Chicago campus venue and even infiltrated the campaign event.
The announcement came around 6:30 p.m., after thousands of Trump supporters filed into the hall at Racine and Harrison, in anticipation of a speech by the controversial Republican presidential candidate. Protesters had marched across the University of Illinois-Chicago campus toward the site of the campaign rally.
There was one thing which all of the coverage on cable news and social media had in common immediately last night and it was still carrying on when I grabbed some coffee and flipped on CNN this morning. This must all be Trump’s fault. (The fact that he never even showed up at the rally seems to be irrelevant to our sage observers.) The basis for this conclusion was that it was his previous rhetoric that led to the massive violence in the campus hall and out on the streets.
So how violent was it and what started this whole mess? And perhaps more to the point, who were these protesters? As some MSM outlets almost reluctantly reported, it was a mixed bag of Black Lives Matter activists and Bernie Sanders supporters. (NPR)
Indeed, throngs of protesters had filled the arena, some wearing Black Lives Matter shirts and others chanting support for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, according to reporters on the scene. Trump supporters chanted back “USA! USA! USA!”
And when you need to organize this many marchers, you can’t do it without MoveOn.org taking credit and rounding up the troops. This was staged well in advance by a group of protesters who organized it via Facebook. Do note that they were quick to say that while they didn’t approve of violence, people should get tickets, get inside, and what they did then was up to them. (Some emphasis added)
**Buying tickets and then not showing up WILL NOT BE EFFECTIVE. The Pavilion will be filled with overflow crowd if people with tickets do not show up. Make sure to spread this as well.**
For those of you able to get tickets to the event, we are not responsible for the actions you take with your ticket. If you would like assistance from us in order to uphold our message and protect your safety, please feel free to message us and we will be making the proper connections as needed in the near future. If you got a ticket and would like to attend the actual Trump Rally, get there early! His website says doors open at 3PM and we’re sure others will be there even earlier than that.
Given the hysteria I saw on Twitter I was expecting a recreation of Chicago in 1968, with blood and bodies in the streets. In reality there were a handful of arrests and the injuries reported were to two police officers. One was hit by a thrown bottle, blocks from the site of the rally. The fact that the media is being very indirect as to who might have thrown the bottle gives me a fairly good indication where it came from. This isn’t exactly the first time we’ve seen violence in ostensibly “peaceful protests” in Chi-Town.
The bottom line on this would be clear, particularly to people on the Right, if we were talking about an event involving anyone other than Trump. A political rally was scheduled and a large number of supporters showed up with tickets and mostly filled a hall. They were infiltrated by a significant number of opposition activists who were not there to participate in any sort of discussion or exchange of ideas, but to shut the event down. Things spiraled out of control and the event was cancelled. This led to a loud brouhaha out in the streets… the same streets which are regularly filled with demonstrators from BLM and other movements, shutting down traffic, damaging property and interrupting the normal flow of commerce. The actual violence on display was minor at best inside the hall with some pushing and shoving, and the only real injuries took place outside between the police and the mob clogging the streets.
As to the coverage, I’m sorry to say that it’s no surprise at all. I expect to see this sort of exercise in gamesmanship from the cable networks. We should blame everything on “the rhetoric” coming from Trump and his surrogates. But it’s not just the cable news spokesmodels. We once again have conservatives who are leaping out in front with the same message. I’m old enough to remember when one of the core tenets of conservatism was the idea of personal responsibility for one’s actions, including starting riots. Free thinking adults are free to ignore or condemn rhetoric they disagree with. When they decide to gather up tens of thousands of people to take to the streets and bust the joint up, that’s not something which was traditionally blamed on a speech given days or weeks before. But the truly dismaying part of last nights social media onslaught was the sight of #tcot conservative thought leaders gleefully joining ranks with the supporters of MoveOn, Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders’ operatives for the sake of blaming Donald Trump for a protest march and the cancellation of a what was undeniably an exercise in free speech.
At this point the entire media circus – including conservative media – over this campaign has me so sick of covering it that I’m considering shifting my column space here to gardening tips and video game reviews. I still believe that Donald Trump is far from the best choice for our nominee and that Ted Cruz offers us the best chance for victory with a solid conservative. But the more I see these over the top reactions to everything related to Donald Trump I’m almost tempted to cast a primary vote for the real estate mogul just out of spite.