The value of being civil when protesting

On March 11, amid chants of “F-you Trump,” liberal progressives everywhere celebrated the shutting down of political discourse and self-expression.

Neither side is blameless, neither side is innocent, and neither side is a helpless victim. Trump absolutely incites violence through his absurd rhetoric, but Trump’s opponents mobilizing and coordinating to pack the rally and disrupt it from the inside directly contributed to the rioting and violence. Both sides fought, both sides threw punches and both sides antagonized the other.
If the roles were reversed and Trump supporters bought tickets to a Sanders rally with the express purpose of shutting down the rally, the left would have decried the fascist tactics of Trump and lamented their loss of free speech. Instead, the anti-Trump crowd claimed victory. To my knowledge, there have been no large-scale reactions against democratic candidates, no Trump supporters going out of their way en masse to disrupt the goings on of their opponents’ rallies.

What troubles me is the lack of foresight by the protestors. A reaction is inevitable. The pro-Trump crowd has been invigorated by the vitriol thrown their way and like children, telling them they cannot do something only makes them want to do it more. Directly opposing someone only motivates them to pursue their ends harder and harder.

Worse yet, I fear that the actions of the protestors were counter-productive. Instead of mobilizing people against Trump, they are only pushing those on the fence over to Trump. When those who identify as tolerant progressives resort to violence, to ripping up pro-Trump signs, it only shows how much stock they put in their own beliefs.

Just look at how anti-Trump individuals love calling Trump “Drumpf,” referencing Trump’s original family name before immigrating to the United States. Instead of criticizing Trump for his absurd policies and frankly dangerous behavior, they make fun of the name his family used to have. If it wasn’t so mind-numbingly stupid, the irony would be delicious.

The tolerant progressive left, who claims that calling transgender individuals by their given names instead of the names they identify as directly contributes to suicide, is gleefully making fun of “Drumpf.” Of all the possible things to criticize Trump on, they act like children at recess, making fun of someone’s silly name.

Everybody has differing political opinions, it’s almost impossible for people to completely agree with what others believe. The scale of the protests only prove to the Trump supporters that their beliefs have violent opposition and only serve to entrench them deeper in their beliefs.

One of the most disturbing stories to come out of this debacle has to do with the formation of a pro-Trump group to protect rallies against protestors. A Trump supporter set out to coordinate and organize individuals to separate protestors and supporters, to allow protestors to protest and supporters to support. Not long after the group was formed, the organizer was sent an anonymous message with a picture of his son’s elementary school with the text “I’m coming for him.” To actually threaten the children of a Trump supporter is inexcusable. The best way to fight against Trump is to rise above and act better than he is.

Tolerance is not going out of ones way to act like a supporter by paying money to get into the rally simply to undermine the political process. Tolerance is accepting that people have different opinions and allowing them the freedom to express themselves. Protests against the Westboro Baptist Church are more civil than the behavior of those protesting against Trump.

I will not deny that Trump brought this on himself. Trump was asking for it, to be so racially divisive and to hold a rally on a university campus in Chicago. This is undeniable. However, the anti-Trump crowd didn’t have to fall for it. They could have not acted like Trump and been peaceful. Celebrating and taunting their victory in the face of those they oppose is equally asking for violence.