If a mob of conservatives attempted to shut down a major Hillary Clinton event, as rioters did the other day during a Donald Trump event, America would be thrust into an insufferable national dialogue about the growing violent tendencies of the Right to crush debate. There would be a flood of anxious op-ed pieces and cable news roundtables featuring chin-stroking pundits contemplating the future of discourse in America. No one would be spared.
And you better believe every conservative politician in the country would be asked to comment on this bloodcurdling development.
Do you, sir, feel that your own rhetoric about immigration and guns has somehow contributed to this ugly trend we’re seeing?
Does the GOP need to soften its tone on abortion to stop this kind of violence from happening in the future?
You might remember that, during the 2009-2010 Obamacare debates, every false and exaggerated claim about Tea Party violence induced a thousand wringing hands to grapple over the fascistic tendencies and ugly underbelly of conservatism. You might remember the Democratic leadership in Congress decrying “acts of violence” against House members in concerted effort to create the perception that bloodshed was imminent. You will no doubt remember the fake bravery of Nancy Pelosi and friends carrying a gavel across big crowds of wholly peaceful people protesting leftist health care policy as if they were facing down Orval Faubus.
The media was happy to portray the peaceful Tea Party as a movement surreptitiously driven by racism without a shred of proof outside its opposition to Barack Obama. You will remember Paul Krugman blaming peaceful assembly and free speech for an insane person’s “assassination” attempt against Kathleen Gifford, and Ezra Klein lamenting how scary things get when conservatives oppose liberal doctrine. Every shooting in America necessitates a thorough investigation into political proclivities of the perpetrator. Is he angry at the president? Did he ever register as a Republican? Is he fond of the Confederate flag? But only when the facts mesh with the helpful narrative do we hear about it.
When a single incoherent nutjob shoots up a Planned Parenthood, the National Rifle Association and every pro-life organization—nay, every pro-lifer in the country—is called to do some soul-searching about their positions. All of it an attempt to chill speech.
But I don’t remember any riots during the heyday of the Tea Party. I do remember citizens making their case known in town hall meetings, often loudly. (When the Left is yelling, it’s activism. When the Right yells, we all are forced to ask ourselves, “What ever happened to civility?”) This week, the media informs us that “protesters took to the streets” at a Donald Trump campaign event in California.
One Trump supporter had his face bloodied in a scuffle as he tried to drive out of the arena. One man jumped on a police car, leaving its front and rear windows smashed and the top dented and other protesters sprayed graffiti on a police car and the Pacific Amphitheatre’s marquee.
Dozens of cars — including those of Trump supporters trying to leave — were stuck in the street as several hundred demonstrators blocked the road, waved Mexican flags and posed for selfies. Some protesters badgered Trump’s fans as they walked to their cars in the parking lot.
This is called a riot. And it isn’t the first time. In Chicago, anti-Trump protestors acted similarly violently in an effort to shut down another speech—making them no better than ugly Trump fans who threaten protestors and the media. It makes them no better than the bikers, truckers, and other pro-Trump groups who are going to descend on Cleveland to physically intimidate Republicans during the convention.
Of course people are angry about Donald Trump. Of course people are livid about “globalization.” Of course people are infuriated about all the money in politics. Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t excuse the liberal attacks on speech we saw in California and Chicago, or the illiberal “protests” we’ve seen on college campuses for decades now. A protest is a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something. What campus lefties engage in are efforts to stop free expression. For that matter, it’s doesn’t excuse the Democratic Party’s constant assaults on the First Amendment. The Left has a free speech problem.
When are we going to treat ourselves to a national conversation about the Left’s propensity to undermine free speech? Why aren’t we talking about leftist violence? We treat these events as isolated incidents that have nothing to do with the politics of the contemporary liberalism. We afford no other political movement the same leeway.