In the category of “Who didn’t see this coming?” Donald Trump has canceled a rally in Chicago Friday night because, he says, he doesn’t want to see “people get hurt.”
Which, coming from Trump and the recent history of his rallies – in which people, including allegedly a Breitbart reporter, are regularly roughed up with his approval – seems a strange motivation.
As you’re about to see, Trump the businessman saw profit in being a martyr Friday night.
What happened was that Trump was due to speak at the University of Chicago UIC Pavilion, but protesters gathered as well as supporters, and fighting broke out amid flag waving and chanting in a scene reminiscent of 1920s Munich, where Nazi Brownshirts and opponents exchanged political views in very forceful ways.
According to reports, some were chanting for Trump, others for Bernie Sanders. Some had signs protesting Trump’s portrayal of “Mexicans” as rapists.
Watch scenes inside the arena the video from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Trump met with police and surrendered to the inevitable at 6:30 p.m., issuing this statement in explanation of his decision:
“Mr Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date.
“Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace.”
He found an unlikely defender in Megyn Kelly, who, in last night’s Kelly File, said, Trump’s “First Amendment free speech rights have been shut down.”
Transcript courtesy of Media Matters for America:
You can bet we’ll hear from Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who may have a thing or two to say. They’ve already — President Obama has already gone after Donald Trump. In fact, just tonight he went after Donald Trump and unleashed on him. Pretty feisty remarks about him tonight. And so, all eyes for the moment are on Donald Trump and how he handles this situation in Chicago, where his First Amendment free speech rights have been shut down. The right of those to listen to him, and as that one gentleman put it so well, “I just wanted to hear him for myself. I just want to hear him for myself.”
That was shut down, by folks who have an agenda, and that’s fine. You can depose Donald Trump, go for it. But is this the way? Is this the way to shut down the ability of Chicagoans and those who have traveled in some cases for miles and miles and waited for hours and hours to get in, to have their say and hear him for themselves? For all these people know, they weren’t Trump supporters. Maybe that gentleman would have walked away saying “You know what? He’s not for me.” We’ll never know now, because they shut down their right to listen.
This is just repeating what Trump himself told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. He claimed 25,000 people were trying to get into an arena that holds 7,000 (police said it was 3/4 full). Trump told Van Sustern, “I didn’t want to see people get hurt (so) I decided to postpone the rally…
“What we did was intelligent,” Trump said with a pat on his own back. “A very good decision…a wise decision.”
Yet, according to Trump, “Our First Amendment rights have been violated.”
The consequence of this Trump-as-victim narrative is that the protesters are denied their own First Amendment rights. As John McCormack of The Weekly Standard said when he appeared on On The Record with Greta Van Susteren last night,
“[I]t’s a total disgrace to the principles of the First Amendment to try and shut down somebody else’s free speech, which some of these protesters have been celebrating.”
According to the First Amendment, Trump has a right to have his say, but others have a right to disagree and to publicly express that disagreement. To deny them that right is a total disgrace.
When he met with Sean Hannity, Trump continued to push his victim narrative, elaborating on the imagined abridgment of his rights – hilariously given how many rights he wants to deprive other people of – saying,
“I have the right to speak and they (his supporters) have a right to listen.”
God’s messiah on earth, Ted Cruz, the man chosen by God if not the voters to be our next president, actually correctly identified the problem in this case: Trump.
Cruz said Friday night that Trump has created “an environment that encourages this sort of nasty discourse.”
“When the candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence, to punch people in the face, the predictable consequence of that is that is escalates. Today is unlikely to be the last such incidence.”
Marco Rubio said, also making a valid point,
“I would point out there isn’t violence at my events, there isn’t violence at Ted’s events, there isn’t violence at a Kasich event, there isn’t violence at a Sanders event, there isn’t violence at a Clinton event. There’s only one presidential candidate who has violence at their events.”
Yet Trump, ignoring those facts, preferred to play the victim card, complaining on MSNBC that,
“You can’t even have a rally in a major city in this country, without violence or potential violence. What happened to freedom of speech? It’s sad to see this. It’s a lot sad to see this.”
This from the man who regularly deprives protesters of their rights to gather with First Amendment protection, defending those who commit violence in his name by saying they’re “angry.” Well, the protesters were angry too, at being called rapists and other slurs by Donald Trump.
As Cruz said, this was inevitable. And is unlikely to be an isolated event as the Trump campaign of “thugocracy” takes America on a colorful tour of the gutter of conservative politics.