One of the most disturbing aspects of what has been an exceptionally disturbing and ugly nominating campaign season has been the violent attacks on Trump supporters at rallies in Albuquerque, San Diego, San Jose and elsewhere. A picture is said to be worth a thousand words and the pictures that filled TV screens and graced the front pages of newspapers around the world said it all. They showed attendees emerging from Trump rallies being attacked by thugs, in more than one instance with police watching serenely.
When asked why police failed to intervene forcefully early enough to protect people and property, one San Jose official replied that authorities didn’t want to provoke more violence. That is a disgraceful capitulation to mob violence. When authorities are afraid to act in response to violence for fear of provoking more, we surrender to it and are on our way to losing the battle against the forces of violence on our streets.
The pictures showed Mexican flags being waved and American flags being burned. Reflect on that for a while; a foreign flag being waved at an American political event while Old Glory is disrespected and burned. What is happening in this country? As a matter of fact, that’s one of the questions Donald Trump is asking. Protestors jumped on cars, smashed tail lights, destroyed a police car, threw rocks at police and used such filthy language that most of the sound in the TV coverage had to be bleeped out.
Some pundits and politicians were quick to blame the violence on Trump himself, citing earlier instances of Trump encouraging his supporters to silence hecklers. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders denounced the violence but only after being pressed by journalists and after first blaming Trump for inspiring it by his rhetoric. This sort of response is an example of why ordinary people have a growing dislike of politicians. Instead of categorically condemning violence and criminal behavior, they instinctively seek a way to rationalize it and even spin it to their advantage. As a prominent Democratic advisor once said, “Never let a good riot go to waste.”
As I and others have earlier written, these violent attacks on Trump supporters and the police, the display of the Mexican flag at Trump rallies and the burning of the American flag will surely backfire to Trump’s advantage. They may be all that is necessary to convince people who are undecided, including people who don’t like either candidate, to vote for Trump. Many Americans are horrified by the actions of these thugs and will feel sympathy for the person they are demonstrating against. That will translate into more votes for Trump. These actions will also discourage some peaceful anti-Trump protestors out of a fear of being associated with the violence.
The punks who engage in this kind of violence are generally too ignorant to understand that their actions are actually counter-productive to their cause which is to silence Trump and intimidate his supporters. They lack the intelligence or skill to participate productively in the political process so violence and profanity will always be their method. They cannot, for the most part, be reasoned with so they must be stopped by prompt police action. This happened in San Diego where police moved in promptly and efficiently when the violence began.
As this is written, another terrorist mass shooting by a radicalized Muslim U.S. citizen whose parents migrated from Afghanistan, was taking place, this time in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. The gunman was previously twice questioned by the FBI and reportedly had pledged his allegiance to Islamic State. The 50 dead and 53 wounded at last count made it the largest mass shooting in America so far, raising increased anxiety among Americans regarding the ability of the government to protect them from radical Muslim terrorists, foreign and domestic. It will surely serve to reinforce Mr. Trump’s message that we are not doing nearly enough in this regard.