We’re at a moment in American history, all right, but I think some of Trump’s enemies are romantically deluded about the nature of it. On the Occupy Democrats page on Facebook I found a video taken at the UIC Pavilion a couple weekends ago, with the headline “Bernie Sanders Fans Shut Down Trump Rally.” And under the video I found this comment: “YES!!! Trump’s rhetoric is so dangerous that civil disobedience is FULLY warranted.”
The Nation’s Bruce Shapiro conceded Trump his right to a microphone. But he went on: “When the microphone is employed to incite fistfights and pogroms, the First Amendment leaves ample room for interruption, shouting back, and nonviolent civil disobedience.”
Back on Facebook, I came across an exchange of views on the wisdom of blocking traffic outside last weekend’s Trump rally in Phoenix. Here are some excerpts:
“This is NOT the way to protest Donald Trump. Protest bad speech with better speech.”
“Protest is speech. It’s how they are heard. Whining on Facebook won’t get TV news helicopters flying over their houses.”
“I disagree with the tactic as well, but if I were running it, I would have shut down ALL roads leading into the rally.”
“Perhaps there are other, newer, more direct ways to do civil disobedience. . . “
“If we don’t stand up to bullies, we allow an atrocity to continue. But, preventing speeches—any speech—is abhorrent.”
Then I butted in. “Why,” I asked, “is civil disobedience even on the table?”
Talking that kind of grandiose talk puts you in heady historical company, I guess. But holding up traffic at a Trump rally isn’t even a weak equivalent to riding a Freedom Riders bus into Mississippi. It’s no equivalent at all.
Today’s enemy isn’t 100 years of Jim Crow that can’t be confronted legally because the laws don’t apply to you. Donald Trump isn’t “the Man.” He’s simply a blowhard who wants to be president. A lot of people like what he’s saying, and if you don’t, you’ve got a political problem that calls for a political response. Try to round up more voters than he’s going to get, and while you’re at it, peel away as much of his support as you can.
Good luck with that. Those honking drivers are trying to tell you that you got off to a slow start.