A collection of intolerant leftist groups and individuals, including Moveon.org, Black Lives Matter, and even former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, succeeded in shutting down a Trump for President rally in Chicago on Friday. Trump’s rally was scheduled at the University of Chicago Pavilion, and over 5,000 people were already inside, with thousands more standing in a line outside that stretched for several miles, when the event was suddenly cancelled.
Chicago police insist that they had the situation well in hand, and they did not advise Trump to cancel the event, despite the many anti-Trump protesters who were both inside and outside the pavillion. Following the announcement that the event was not going to happen, fist fights broke out throughout the Pavilion, which led to five arrests and injuries to two officers. One officer suffered a bloody gash after being struck by a bottle.
Trump said he “postponed” the event because he did not “want to see people hurt or worse,” adding, “I think we did the right thing.”
Trump rallies have experienced increasing violence over the past several weeks, but this is the first time that an event had to be cancelled. Evidently, that was the goal of many of the protesters. When the announcement was made that the rally had been called off, many protesters were joyous, shouting “We did it!”
“My focus was set on shutting it down,” Jedediah Brown, a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, said after being dragged from the stage by security after destroying a Trump poster. He compared his actions to the civil rights movement. “Trump’s message, Trump’s campaign is not welcome in Chicago.”
The leftist group Moveon.org circulated a petition in the days before the event, insisting that officials terminate the rally. In a statement rich with irony, the petition said they wanted to shut the rally down because Trump is guilty of “hate,” and “dangerous intolerance.” Moveon.org argued that a Trump rally “has no place in Chicago.”
Among those demonstrating outside the arena was domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, a Chicago resident. Ayers was once a leader in the Weather Underground, and participated in bombing police headquarters in New York City in 1970. President Barack Obama literally launched his political career in the home of Ayers, with a fundraising event. When he ran for president in 2008, Obama was asked about beginning his first political campaign with the support of a terrorist, who had bombed buildings. Obama claimed that Ayers was “just a guy in the neighborhood.”
After Trump's Chicago rally was cancelled, Ayers sent out the following tweet:
“It’s a shame,” said Trump supporter Bill Tail, a resident of the Chicago suburb of Oaklawn. “They scream about tolerance, but are being intolerant themselves.”
This was not the first time that the Trump campaign has had to deal with hecklers and protesters at his public rallies. Trump has personally engaged the protesters in calling for their ouster from his events. Recently, Trump told protesters at his St. Louis rally that they needed to go home to mommy, and that they needed to “get a job,” because “they contribute nothing.”
He has told supporters at his rallies to slug protesters, even saying he would like to do so himself, and expressing his liking of the old days when such protesters would be “carried out on a stretcher.” At a recent event, a protester was “sucker punched” by a Trump backer, as police carried him out. Trump has even described his supporters punching protesters as “a beautiful thing.”
Not surprisingly, Trump’s Republican primary opponents have been asked what they think of such violence at Trump rallies. All condemned the intolerant attitude of the protesters, but placed some of the blame for this turn of events on Trump himself. Carly Fiorina, who has dropped out of the race and endorsed Senator Ted Cruz, said the groups were “organized” for the purpose of disrupting the rally, but that Trump should take some responsibility. “Tone is set at the top,” she said.
Senator Marco Rubio offered examples of incendiary Trump language, and said, “It shouldn’t surprise us that you see a growing amount of violence at some of these events.”
Cruz laid the responsibility for violence on those actually exchanging blows, but he added that “any candidate is responsible for the culture of his campaign.”
For those who think that shutting down Trump rallies is the beginning — or the end — of the efforts of the Radical Left to shut down political speech, they have not been paying attention. Ilya Sheyman, executive director of the left-wing MoveOn.org Political Action, was blunt in explaining what the intentions are. “Our country is better than the shameful, dangerous, and bigoted rhetoric that has been the hallmark of the Trump campaign. To all of those who took to the streets of Chicago, we say thank you for standing up and saying enough is enough. To Donald Trump, and the GOP, we say, welcome to the general election.” (Emphasis added.)
In other words, this type of reaction is not limited to Donald Trump’s campaign. Just whom do these radicals oppose? Sheyman said, “Trump and those who peddle hate and incite violence have no place in our politics.”
The question is, who is going to define “hate?” Considering that the Left regards anyone who is an evangelical Christian or a political conservative as peddling hate, the targets for these extremists should be quite clear.
That they can generate such large numbers of protesters to censor an American political candidate should be alarming, whether one favors Trump or another candidate. One Chicago police officer estimated that 10 percent of Trump’s crowd were protesters “here to shut it down.”
Kamran Siddiqui, a self-identified supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist, confirmed the police officer’s observation that many were at the rally simply to suppress speech they did not agree with. “We came in here and we wanted to shut this down,” said Siddiqui. He was joyous for having stopped Trump from speaking at his own really, describing it as “amazing.”
Activist Quo Vadis agreed the goal was to “completely interrupt” Trump and “shut Donald Trump all the way down.”
This authoritarian mind-set has gone on mostly unchecked on America’s college campuses for years. On far too many college campuses, any expression of conservative or libertarian thought is punished by firing professors who are not progressive Left — or, as more likely not even hiring them to begin with. Those of a more conservative bent are denied degrees, or the opportunity to publish in left-controlled academic publications — all in the name of fighting intolerance.
Kirsten Powers, in her book, The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, cited the grim statistics. According to Powers, in the six years from 2009 to 2014, “the number of protests resulting in speech cancellations equals those from the previous twenty-two year period at 62 instances each.”
Powers quoted a student at one university who told the school newspaper that she was really bothered with “the whole idea ... that at a liberal arts college we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.”
Conservatives are generally not even invited to speak at the vast majority of America’s colleges and universities, and often, when they are, they are often heckled, booed, and even physically assaulted. When Congressman Tom Tancredo attempted to speak at the Michigan State University Law School, his talk was interrupted by false fire alarms. At Columbia, students actually stormed the stage and attacked Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project, which opposes illegal immigration.
One can certainly disagree with Trump’s political views and question his judgment in regard to some of the bombastic things he says from the stage, but Republicans who think they are immune from these extreme tactics will probably think differently very soon.
It must be noted that Obama got his start as a community organizer — in Chicago — a position designed to stir up discontent in the community, then channel that discontent to advance certain leftist goals. Obama’s political career began in Bill Ayers’ living room, and Ayers was among those protesting in the streets of Chicago, not for the purpose of expressing a contrary view so much as “shutting down” the opportunity of a top Republican presidential candidate to even get up at his own rally and express a view.
After more than seven years of Barack Obama treating the United States of America as a larger extension of his Chicago-style community organizing — or as detractors call it, community agitating — we should not be surprised that violent leftist tactics have expanded beyond the illiberal college campuses and spilled out to suppress free speech in the general public.
Photo of anti-Trump protesters chanting "Bernie" and "We stopped Trump": AP Images
Steve Byas is a professor of history at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Moore, Oklahoma. His book History’s Greatest Libels is a challenge to the lies told about such persons as Warren Harding, Clarence Thomas, and Marie Antoinette.