I was dismayed today at seeing live cams of protester antics erupting around Donald Trump’s campaign event in Chicago. My dismay prompted in me a question: “Why is there not a powerful and trustworthy leader in America to calm things down, to speak sense to boiling anarchy?”
Then, after reading some tweets that claimed this was a successful protest in that it actually shut down Donald Trump’s event (particularly one tweet, “They are using their 1st amendment rights”) another question popped into my head: “Can the protesters in Chicago, who shut down Donald Trump’s campaign event, be lauded for their use of free speech to which they have a right?”
1. Trump Rally Forced to Cancel
It took me a nanosecond to conclude, “Nope.”
Freedom to speak and express your opinion is a cherished right in America. The protesters have every right to do that, to speak out their political angst or disenchantment with another candidate or party. However, one of the uncomfortable difficulties of freedom is that others are given that same equal right. By using bully-tactics to disrupt another’s freedom to speak undermines freedom itself. Mob rule must never replace freedom of speech.
I will protect your right to gather and to protest, as long as you respect my right to do the same. Let us argue with passion in the marketplace of ideas, not with fist-shouts in the marketplace of instigation.
Now back to my first question, or a derivative of it, “Who in America can educate these protesters on peaceful methods?” Do we have any modern day Ghandis or Martin Luther Kings among us? Both were champions of non-violent protest.
This is the question I would like to pin on our own President, would that he stand as a beacon of composure at such a time. He who had received the Nobel Peace prize early on in his presidency, now it would be time to prove he deserved it. He could be a voice of reason to shame the protesters – who are from his hometown by the way – into using peaceful means.
Instead, he blows on the flames of discontent, by laying into the Republican presidential front-runner, saying he has devolved into using “fantasy and schoolyard taunts.”
What leader (it should be a Democrat, one of their own) can speak to these protesters, to convey wisdom and calm, to be one whom these protesters would respect enough to abide?
Though the media has not labeled these protesters as Democrats, many shouted for Bernie Sanders. They are Democrats. They are certainly not anti-Trump Republicans.
Unfortunately, a Democratic leader would probably have just as hard a time as any Republican leader to urge these protesters to respect equality of free speech for all Americans, even for those with whom you disagree, because respect is lost already, both for people and for the rules.
When disruption like this – by Democrats – is not reined in by its own leadership, it makes the path to educate Americans about what liberty really means that much more difficult. When bullying becomes an acceptable tactic of freedom, the unavoidable loss of freedom of speech becomes copacetic.
This is why I’m dismayed. And this why I wish we had some true leaders who could say to these protesters, “Stop this.” And that they would listen.
~ Eugene Harnett
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