Conservative activist Milo Yiannopoulos, an avid supporter of President Donald Trump, was slated to speak Feb. 1 at the University of California, Berkeley, at the request of a campus Republican group.
It never happened.
Campus officials jettisoned the event after a contingent of demonstrators rioted. The instigators smashed windows, hurled Molotov cocktails, shot fireworks and tossed rocks at police, set fires, assaulted some Trump supporters. To their credit, college officials denounced the mob, a small segment of roughly 150 hooligans who disrupted an otherwise peaceful demonstration by 1,500 people.
Unfortunately, the anti-Trump movement may increasingly become identified with a dark, intolerant undercurrent that seeks to use violence to defy the president and silence his supporters.
The Berkeley fracas echoed what happened during Trump’s inauguration.
A similar scene also played out on Feb. 2. Gavin McInnes, a pro-Trump comedian and actor, was invited by a GOP group to speak at New York University. He was met by dozens of protesters, and according to local news reports, fights broke out between McInnes’ fans and the demonstrators, one Trump supporter’s hat was ripped off and set on fire, McInnes was reportedly pepper-sprayed as he arrived, and the heckling continued during his appearance. Eleven people were arrested.
During the interim between Trump’s election as president and his inauguration, the nation’s political climate crackled with warnings about “normalizing” Trump. The fears expressed by those who don’t want Trump in the White House are familiar: his tapping into strains of racism, sexism and xenophobia. Then, there are the malicious tweets, the insults, the condoning of aggression and a general sense Trump remains unfit for the job.
We respect the rights of the protesters to peacefully express their opposition and have their voices heard.
Yet the president’s critics must be aware that they will win few converts with a perpetual vigil of angry resistance that is underpinned by the idea that Trump or his surrogates and supporters must be silenced and censored — with violence, if necessary. As chaos becomes more prevalent, the president’s allies will eventually see the demonstrations as advocacy for mob rule.
Additionally, as anti-Trumpers wrap themselves in their own moral indignation, they themselves are beginning to lose sight of what America is all about. This sort of cluelessness was evident at the McInnes event.
“There’s a neo-Nazi speaking, so we’re here to protest. That’s it,” one demonstrator told a TV reporter. When the reporter asked him about McInnes’ right to free speech, the protester replied, “There’s a neo-Nazi speaking, this is freedom of speech. We’re practicing freedom of speech.”
Thus, by such logic, Trump’s backers have forfeited their First Amendment rights because of their support for him. We are fast becoming two nations divided by one man. If we cannot find ways to constructively and respectfully talk to each other, we may soon prove John Adams’ observation that democracies disappear by ultimately committing suicide.
REPRINTED FROM THE NORTHWEST FLORIDA DAILY NEWS, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM