June 5, 2016

Condemning Violence at Political Rallies

I could probably be accused of virtue signaling for sending this particular tweet. Perhaps it would even be a fair accusation. At the same time, I can tell you that my intent in sending it was not to indicate my value to others. I sent this tweet in an attempt to provide an example of what avoiding hypocrisy might look like and to make sure that I was being consistent.

I have seen many people on the left taking to social media to condemn the episodes of violence that have broken out at some of Donald Trump's political rallies. I think they have been right to do this. While I have not heard Trump explicitly inciting violence at his rallies, he has made a number of statements that come awfully close. And while I do not support those who have disrupted his rallies, I also do not support the use of violence against them by the pro-Trump crowd. Violence has no place in our politics, and people should be able to freely attend political rallies without having to fear for their safety. It should be made clear to all that the presence of violence is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, some on the left have not been content to engage in peaceful protest outside of Trump's rallies; they have sought to prohibit people from being able to attend the rallies (e.g., blocking traffic), disrupt the rallies from within to deprive those in attendance of the opportunity to hear the candidate, and even commit violent assaults against Trump supporters. I condemn all of these efforts and suspect that they are merely strengthening Trump. But it is the violence in particular that must be addressed.

After San Jose, I think observers could be forgiven for asking, "Wait, so who are the fascists again?" As I have tried to make clear, I do not believe that Trump or the majority of his supporters are fascists. Like most words, "fascist" is a word with meaning. The fact that you or I do not like someone's politics does not somehow make them a fascist (or Hitler). But that really isn't the point here; the point is that some on the left are now doing exactly the sort of thing they have been criticizing some Trump supporters for doing (i.e., violence). They cannot keep calling Trump supporters "brownshirts" while ignoring what happened in San Jose, at least not if they want to evade accusations of hypocrisy.

When I wrote the tweet above, my thought process was simple. I can't very well condemn violence on the part of the pro-Trump crowd and then ignore it when the anti-Trump crowd does it. The principle is not that violence is wrong when pro-Trump people do it; it is wrong no matter who does it. Violence is not somehow "okay when we do it." And so, I readily condemn violence at or around political rallies regardless of which candidate the perpetrators are there to support.
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