Some anti-Trump protesters in San Jose eventually started to follow Donald Trump supporters back to their cars after a rally, attacking at least one young man, destroying property, and also attacking a police officer, as CBS San Francisco reports. The link includes footage of the riot from KCBW. It's shameful stuff that says a lot more about the caliber of anti-Trump rhetoric from the mainstream left than anything about the rhetoric that supposedly triggered it. Violence against political speech arises from a milieu were all kinds of unfavored speech are treated as trauma or violence.
In this age of perpetual grievances, showing up to protest at the Trump rally has become a chic social signaling thing to do. Acting out at Trump rallies, including by threatening, harassing, and even physically assaulting Trump supporters, is a natural continuation of the culture of safe spaces and triggering speech being nurtured in college campuses around the country. It reveals the total flim-flam that academics and professional left-wing protesters have too often wrapped up in high-minded ideas about fighting the power structures or whatever else. Donald Trump today holds no political power. If he wins the presidency, he will pick up where President Obama left off. The same kind of people cheering anti-Trump protesters would recoil at anti-Obama protests. (Think: the type of people who called anti-war sentiment "sexist" when directed against female politicians who voted to bomb Syria.)
The Obama administration, for example, has conducted more deportations than any predecessor has. Obama has also expanded George W. Bush's war on terror while dropping the terminology—the U.S. now kills military-aged Muslim males as a matter of routine with little in the ways of accountability measures or checks and balances. An authorization for the use of military force against the perpetrators of 9/11 and their "associated forces" is being used to justify the targeting of individuals who were far too young on 9/11 to have anything to do with it except sharing the same religion as the perpetrators.
Donald Trump displays a stunning disregard for constitutional limits on the presidency, but he's not the only one. Hillary Clinton also regularly promises to work without Congress—just as Obama has done repeatedly during his presidency. She's even insisted that she'll curb Americans' Second Amendment, dismissing the co-equal branches of government that are Congress and the Supreme Court.
And that gets to the heart of the matter. The definitions of safe spaces, triggering speech, "political correctness," hate speech, and all kinds of related concepts dependsentirely on the perspective of the person wielding the definition. It's about the rule of men genderbeings not the rule of law. "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less," Humpty Dumpty explained to Alice in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. All that mattered, Dumpty explained, is who was the "master" of the words.
That explains the way so many American leftists branded Charlie Hebdo as "punching down" in the wake of an Islamist massacre at their offices. That Hebdo consistently targeted nexuses of power, be they religious or secular, didn't matter to American leftists, who were interpreting the event not based on its context but their own.
Reading about the Trump riots I'm reminded of an incident at the University of Oregon where a pro-life activist preacher was attacked by pro-choice students who insisted they were triggered. What if the pro-lifer said he, too, was triggered, by the millions of unborn babies that have been killed in the U.S. and around the world? It gives him no more right to attack the person or property of pro-choice activists than pro-choice activists have a right to physically attack those they disagree with.
Donald Trump could be one of the worst presidential candidates in history. Hillary Clinton is not much better. And as a former secretary of state and a U.S. senator who voted for war, she actually has blood on her hands already. If Donald Trump won, he could end up being a fascist. But the imperial presidency that makes that possible has been a decades-long project, made possible by both mainstream parties and their supporters, who worry about the centralization of power in the presidency and the abuses government can commit right up until the point when the president and the government start doing things of which they approve.
The U.S. war machine hasn't gone anywhere in the last eight years, even if the left-wing anti-war movement largely has. Attacking Trump's supporters because of the danger Trump poses as an imperial president is an exercise in blame-shifting. Those so concerned about what Trump might do to the country that they feel called to stalk and attack Trump supporters should take a long look in the mirror instead. It'll have the added benefit of not building more support for Trump, as violence against his supporters certainly will.
Also see Jesse Walker's late night Twitter rant for much needed context. As Walker, who has reported from Trump rallies, notes, Trump's real world supporters aren't the same as the online trolls that have come to represent him in an Internet-driven election cycle.