Trump and a Clash of Values

Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric, including threats against Muslims for their religious affiliation, has prompted clashes at his rallies and raised freedom of speech issues, writes Nat Parry.

By Nat Parry

Election 2016 has taken a turn into territory unfamiliar and perhaps mildly terrifying to many Americans, potentially heading down a dark road characterized by political violence and what social scientists call “authoritarian aggression,” defined by retired Professor of Psychology Robert Altemeyer as “a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.”

The divisive rhetoric of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who has called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States – not to mention his penchant for calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals” and referring to African-Americans as “the blacks” – is having predictable effects, with protesters growing increasingly vocal in countering this bigotry, culminating last week in the cancellation of a planned rally in Chicago.

Billionaire businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Billionaire businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters gained access to an event scheduled for Friday night at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and rather than face this hostile crowd, Trump decided to “postpone” the event.

“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,” a campaign spokesperson announced half an hour after the rally was slated to begin.

Following this announcement, chaos ensued in the arena, with protesters breaking into cheers and chanting slogans such as “we stopped Trump.” A number of fistfights between protesters and Trump supporters also reportedly broke out.

The protest had been announced in advance on a Facebook page called “Stop Trump – Chicago,” listing several reasons for organizing against the billionaire’s presence at UIC.

“Trump has called for the complete and total shutdown of all Muslims entering the United States,” the organizers pointed out. Further, he has “generalized the entire Mexican immigrant community as criminals and rapists,” and “calls for the mass deportation of 11 million adults and children alike regardless of how long they have lived in the United States.”

The organizers also noted Trump’s public advocacy of war crimes including torture, murdering the families of suspected terrorists, and indiscriminate bombing of countries in the Middle East. Also, according to organizers, Trump’s “nativist, nationalist, and fascist stances parallel the most evil leaders this world has seen such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.”

With these grievances in mind, the protesters wanted “to show Donald Trump that his bigotry and racism is not welcome here,” a message that seemed to be conveyed. Considering the protest’s success in disrupting the event, the tactic was certainly effective in this regard, but the effect that the protest had in allegedly curtailing freedom of speech and assembly is seemingly weighing heavily on some people’s minds.

Following the cancellation of the Chicago event, commentators have claimed that the protesters violated the First Amendment rights of Trump and his supporters.

“Even the most ardent anti-Trump among us should lament that a political speech was canceled due to fears of violence,” bemoaned First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza. “Standing up for the rights of those who would not do it for us is perhaps the noblest expression of a commitment to liberty.”

Similarly, Megyn Kelly – who has publicly sparred with Trump over misogynist comments he has made – regretted that “His First Amendment free speech rights have been shut down.” Trump also weighed in, of course, claiming that “Our First Amendment rights have been violated.”

But the irony of Trump and his sympathizers complaining about First Amendment violations should not be lost on anyone. Trump himself has trampled First Amendment principles, including those protecting freedom of religion and the press, and can hardly be considered a victim here.

Among the real estate mogul’s more controversial comments was one that he made back in September which seemed to indicate that he would be open to looking at ways to get rid of all the 3.3 million Muslims currently living in the United States.

At a town hall event in New Hampshire, a Trump supporter asked the candidate a meandering question about “a problem in this country … called Muslims.” After mentioning something about terrorist training camps that Muslims are allegedly operating in the United States, the man asked, “When can we get rid of them?”

“We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things,” Trump said. “A lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.”

When later asked to explain these remarks, Trump failed to retract them or even to clarify them in any meaningful way, issuing a statement that implied that the real issue is not discrimination against Muslims but an alleged war that is being waged against Christianity.

“The bigger issue is that Obama is waging a war against Christians,” the statement said without any indication of what this war against Christians might entail. (Perhaps it was a reference to the bogus “War on Christmas” controversy? Trump has said, “If I’m president, you’re going to see ‘Merry Christmas’ in department stores, believe me.”) “Christians need support in this country,” the statement continued. “Their religious liberty is at stake.”

So, after just insinuating that he would be looking at ways to purge the United States of millions of practicing Muslims, Trump then flipped the issue on its head and claimed that it is somehow the Christians who are under threat and “need support.”

Of course, the very notion that there are “a lot of different things” that should be “looked at” to “get rid of” Muslims in the U.S. flies in the face of the very first clause of the First Amendment, which clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The open anti-Muslim bigotry espoused by Trump and his supporters is a direct challenge to this core constitutional principle.

Other clauses of the First Amendment, including the protection of a free press, have also been openly challenged by Trump, who has pledged to “open up our libel laws, so when [newspapers] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”

“When The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” he said last month. “We’re going to open up libel laws,” he continued, “and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”

There is also some irony in this threat, since Trump has enjoyed some of the most extensive media coverage of a presidential candidate in recent memory. There isn’t a day that goes by that Trump doesn’t seem to be dominating the headlines and claiming an inordinate amount of airtime on the broadcast news. And this observation is not just a matter of perception – the data backs it up.

Late last year a broadcast analysis by the Tyndall Report found that Trump accounted for 43 percent of all GOP coverage on network news in 2015. Trump dominated the campaign coverage on ABC, NBC and CBS evening news broadcasts, accounting for nearly double the number of minutes as Hillary Clinton, and more than three times as much as Jeb Bush.

Between January and November 2015, according to Tyndall’s data, Trump’s campaign was covered for 234 minutes on the three newscasts, compared to just ten minutes for Bernie Sanders. And this data doesn’t even count all of Trump’s appearances on weekday morning programs and Sunday morning talk shows, which would increase his airtime exponentially.

In short, there is probably no human being alive who currently has greater access to the media and a bigger megaphone than “The Donald” – with the possible exception of President Obama or Pope Francis. And while not all of this coverage might be considered positive, there is good reason to believe that even the “negative” coverage is generally orchestrated by Trump and his surrogates.

Back in 1987, Trump wrote in his book “The Art of the Deal” that he had essentially figured out how to play the media to his advantage by being “a little outrageous.”

“One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better,” he wrote. “If you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.”

This seems to be the same playbook that he is using today, issuing outrageous statements and whipping his crowds up into a hateful frenzy, increasingly leading to physical violence being perpetrated against demonstrators, meanwhile dominating the news cycle day after day. And then of course when people challenge him on it and manage to shut down one of his rallies, he is the first one to claim victimhood and cry out about freedom of speech.

While freedom of speech is of course vital to democracy and should generally be considered sacrosanct in a free and pluralistic society, it also would be fair to say at this point that Trump has had more than his fair share of “free speech” in recent months, and if people continue to challenge his divisive rhetoric through disruptive protests at his rallies, it should hardly be considered a tragedy – especially considering that much of his own speech openly disparages First Amendment principles of freedom of religion and of the press.

Nat Parry is the co-author of Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.

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21 comments for “Trump and a Clash of Values

  1. Brad Owen
    March 15, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    To get a “hit-the-nail-on-the-head” analysis of the Trump Movement, go read the briefing on Tarpley.net, put out by the Tax Wall Street Party (TWSP) and the United Front Against Austerities (UFAA).

  2. brian
    March 15, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Maybe the protestors at the Trump rally were organized by Clinton and her minions. You get to kill two birds Sanders and Trump, with a well executed false flag op.Eric Zuesse at the washington blog.

  3. Lyndon LeLouche
    March 14, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Ignorance and hypocrisy like that should prove once and for all that trump is indeed a conservative.

    • dahoit
      March 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      I think it exposes the protesters as idiots.Trump is the only candidate to call all our idiotic interventions idiotic.His call for better trade deals will help all Americans.His critique of Obombacare is right on it sucks,He said he would strengthen SS,and better relations with Russia would be a sea change from the evil warmongering of the ziomonsters who control US.
      And these kids believe the Zionists calumny.God,what fools.

  4. Evangelista
    March 14, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    The applications of the descriptors “hate”, “hateful”, “hate-speach”, etc. to Donald Trump’s speeches and rallies is inappropriate. Those terms are bombastic propaganda, and they appear to be grossly inaccurate. Abrasive, violent and harsh might be reasonably applied to Trumpian rhetoric, but the violence of his speech is not directed, and therefore is without a ‘hate’ coefficient.

    If you listen to Trump, even when he is name-calling he is not directing aggression or antagonism. He is merely throwing words. You do not hear direction of aggression, you do not hear demand for agreement, you do not her call to action, or for aggression. You hear only Trump’s expression.

    If you look at the crowds at Trump rallies, and after, in the rallies you see them expressing enthusiasm, including angry enthusiasm, but not directed anger, or hatred. After the rallies the crowds continue enthusiastic and aroused, but not aroused to overt aggression or aggressive behavior. You do not see hate or hatred or anger directed at anyone. You may hear angry or aggressive expressions, but if you hear hate or hatefulness in the expressions the hate is your interpretive addition.

    If Trump engaged in “hate-speech”, “hateful speech”, “hate-filled rhetoric” and the hate-rousing and hate-mongering he is accused of you would see overt expressions of violence and aggression, in gestures and verbal and facial expressions after Trump rallies, and, if in proximity, would feel a tension of violence in the atmosphere.

    What is seen instead is a political form of revival fervor and camp-meeting exhilaration, a revivalist euphoria. Trump is telling his Believers what they want, and expect, to hear. He is not arousing them to Crusade, to attack non-believers or drive out witches.

    The intolerance appears to be on the part of the establishment, the poor downtrodden wretches whose Saviors ain’t savin’ them, whose frustrations are driving them to rages and ragings, even to violences and violent assaults against Trump Rallies.

    I’ve even seen a couple of pacifists seeing red, ready to put ‘love’ in hiatus for a couple of hours, or as long as it takes to lay in a couple of licks…

  5. jpteschke
    March 14, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    While Trump does use dog whistle statements to collar his share of low-information supporters, this may actually be a way of compensating for the fact the actual middle east policies he is advocating are less warlike than those of other GOP candidates and Hillary Clinton. Much of the brouhaha to me seems to be a way of deflecting attention from the deplorable foreign policy views of these other candidates. We do know that Sanders is the one civilized voice among major party candidates.

    • Chet Roman
      March 14, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      Exactly right and it’s not only his positions on the Middle East. The media make no real effort to ask why Trump is popular; it’s easier to label him a fascist and his supporters as racist. It takes foreign newspaper to publish a more nuanced analysis of the economic reasons:

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/donald-trump-why-americans-support

      While there is no doubt that Trump is a clown and opportunist, the real concern of both parties is that they have lost control of the approved campaign narratives: Trump for the republicans and Sanders for the democrats. The “establishment” doesn’t want to focus on the decades of war, high unemployment rate (few believe the 4.9% lie), loss of jobs to “free trade” agreements and our open borders. He’s the only one that refuses to demonize Putin, believes that trillions of dollars were misspent in the ME, actually called Pres. G. Bush a liar and his wars stupid, clearly stated that the 9/11 attack occurred on Bush’s watch, says the TPP is terrible for the general population, doesn’t want to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran and terrifies Wall Street.

      It’s humorous to hear complaints about Trump’s rhetoric of violence, which hasn’t seriously hurt anyone, while we passively accept polite politically correct rhetoric from “peace loving” politicians like Obama or Hillary who have thousands of civilian deaths on their hands. If Trump damages the Republican party and presents the democrats with a serious threat, this creative destruction of the one-party corporate system is well worth it.

      • dahoit
        March 15, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        Clown? Opportunist?Well the latter,but is it being a clown that motivates one to run for POTUS,being a billionaire with a track record of successful businesses,maybe not all,but a hell of a better success rate than the pols in charge?
        The opportunity to jump in the race ,with the clowns he saw in it,was a smart move.
        And the egomaniac charge;I would imagine one needs a large ego to even think of running for POTUS.
        But yes, indeed ,to your main thesis,that his policies are much more progressive for Americans than any other candidate,BS included.

  6. J'hon Doe II
    March 14, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Nat Parry wrote: “Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters gained access to an event scheduled for Friday night at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and rather than face this hostile crowd, Trump decided to “postpone” the event.”
    :: – and
    “While freedom of speech is of course vital to democracy and should generally be considered sacrosanct in a free and pluralistic society, it also would be fair to say at this point that Trump has had more than his fair share of “free speech” in recent months, and if people continue to challenge his divisive rhetoric through disruptive protests at his rallies, it should hardly be considered a tragedy – especially considering that much of his own speech openly disparages First Amendment principles of freedom of religion and of the press”
    .

    Nowhere does this piece mention that various U I STUDENT GROUPS Individually Organized the Trump protest before collectively meeting in agreement as a CAMPUS Protest against his Divisiveness.

    The “protest” originated from the students at the university and not from violent/provocative – politically motivated Trump haters.

    see Please below transcript /video:
    http://www.democracynow.org/2016/3/14/saying_no_to_hate_meet_the

  7. Christene
    March 14, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Wow. Always nice to read a nice, balanced article from an unbiased journalist. (Eye roll)
    First of all, before one more person in this country has another discussion about Islam, radical Islam, or opinions and beliefs held by Muslims, I would suggest they sit down and watch By the Numbers by the Clarion Project with Sunni Muslim Raheel Raza. It is thought-provoking, eye opening, and sobering……to say the least. We have a BIG problem in the way we vet people coming into this country. Devout Muslims who love their faith will tell you they have a BIG problem within their faith with political Islamism and it is not relegated to a few thousand head chopping jihadists in the Middle East. They will tell you that there are hundreds of MILLIONS of Muslims worldwide who adhere to radical beliefs such as the stoning of adulteress spouses, killing those who leave the faith, killing girls and women who “dishonor” the family, which could be something as innocuous as talking to a boy, the slaughter of “infidels”, the establishment of a worldwide caliphate and a host of other beliefs that those not stuck in a seventh century time warp would find repugnant. Mr. Trump may not be PC in his approach to the problem, but he is dead on in identifying that we HAVE a problem. Running away like our hair is on fire screaming “HITLER!!” every time the subject is broached is not conducive to this country having a rational, adult conversation.

    Secondly, those “peaceful, law abiding” protesters who are starting to show up en masse at Trump rallies of late. Just give it a rest. These are paid provocateurs and social media anarchists who are being sent out by MoveOn.org and other left wing groups to shut down the political process and strangle free speech. Sorry kiddies, but you do not have the right to make the entire country your personal “safe space”.

    The fact of the matter is, there is a veritable ocean of disenfranchised voters across America and in Trump, they have found a voice. Trump did not create them……….the corrupt, greedy, duplicitous, self-serving Elite Washington Establishment did. They, and their toadies in the MSM, are responsible for this chaos the country is now descending into.
    I have a newsflash for the Establishment; the American people have abandoned BOTH parties. In 2015, approximately 22% of voters identified as Republicans. Democrats don’t fare much better at approximately 26%. By far, the largest percentage of the American electorate identify as Independents at 45%. The American people have figured out that the ONLY things EITHER of you do well is wage insanely stupid wars, drive the national debt into the stratosphere, and turn large swaths of the world into apocalyptic hellholes (Middle East anyone?). The American people are done.

    This election is not about Trump (or his counterpart Bernie). This election has become the Establishment vs. the American people. It will be interesting to see who and what is left standing come Nov. 9th.

    • Chet Roman
      March 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Clarion Project is a zionist propaganda tool to continue zionist efforts to spread anti-Muslim propaganda media. It’s founded and supported by Raphael & Ephraim Shore, two rabid haters of everything Muslim and Israeli firsters. Their brother David is the producer of the TV series House. Only the weak minded or bigoted believe anything produced by Clarion.

      • Christene
        March 14, 2016 at 10:47 pm

        Oh, well OF COURSE……. it’s a massive Zionist/NWO/Bilderburg/Illuminati/Bohemian Grove/Rothchild propaganda tool!! How could I not have recognized the telltale signs??!! Especially when they started spewing out numbers gathered from that well known Zionist shill organization Pew Research! Whew!! That was a close one! I was ALMOST taken in by their dangerous similarity to the truth!

        • Chet Roman
          March 14, 2016 at 11:37 pm

          Can lead a horse to water…………….

          • Christene
            March 15, 2016 at 7:26 am

            Well here is a little piece of friendly advice; when trying to convince a person of the veracity of your argument, implying they are a “weak minded bigot” if they disagree is generally NOT helpful. In case you haven’t caught a whiff of the prevailing winds of public consciousness, we “low informed peasants” have come to the consensus that the self-anointed “smartest people in the room” are generally the biggest morons.
            As a side note; if you are going to convincingly paint the documentary By the Numbers as “Zionist propaganda” you will have to throw Pew Research under the bus, too. Good luck with that.

        • Jeremy
          March 15, 2016 at 11:39 am

          As a 37 year old white male in America, all my life we have been bombing, illegally imprisoning, sanctioning, and changing the regimes to our liking, in countries in the Middle East all the while I have been told how very righteous I am and how very evil Muslims in the Middle East are. As those on the receiving end of all these decades of US imperialism, many having lost their entire families to US intervention, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, I have to wonder how would I feel about the US if I were a 37 year old Muslim male in the Middle East? How would I feel today after everything, then hearing Trump talk about my people the way he does? How would you feel? Are Trump supporters able to consider this question? Or are they just as narcissistic as he is?

          I agree when you say we are done with the establishment. But how can you believe based on Trump’s rhetoric that he would not lead us to more of these “insanely stupid” wars as you put it? Hell he may wage war on Mexico if they refuse to build his “insanely stupid” wall.

          Sanders is the only sane choice as I see it.

          • Evangelista
            March 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm

            Jeremy,

            ” Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
            That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
            And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
            And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
            The work of hunters is another thing:
            I have come after them and made repair
            Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
            But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
            To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
            No one has seen them made or heard them made,
            But at spring mending-time we find them there.
            I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
            And on a day we meet to walk the line
            And set the wall between us once again.
            We keep the wall between us as we go.
            To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
            And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
            We have to use a spell to make them balance:
            ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
            We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
            Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
            One on a side. It comes to little more:
            There where it is we do not need the wall:
            He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
            My apple trees will never get across
            And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
            He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
            Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
            If I could put a notion in his head:
            ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
            Where there are cows?
            But here there are no cows.
            Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
            What I was walling in or walling out,
            And to whom I was like to give offence.
            Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
            That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
            But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
            He said it for himself. I see him there
            Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
            In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
            He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
            Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
            He will not go behind his father’s saying,
            And he likes having thought of it so well
            He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.” ”

            “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

            [Robert Frost appears, from the poem, likely a Sanders supporter (if the voting-machines have his name still on the rolls), while his neighbor appears likely a Trump man (again if still on the rolls). Both, however, however opposite, if still on the rolls, will likely be voting for Hillary, thanks to the machines…]

            Instead of an “I Robot” world we appear to have come to a “We Robots” one, different from the fictional ones for we human robots being the low ‘bots on the electronic totem-pole. We’re even lower than the ‘net-’bots’, who can screw up our internet connections whenever they, or those controlling them, want to.

            [I don’t know why I am having so much fun with this election. I think I may have a circuit or two hay-wired (‘hay-wire’, an ancient or early mechanical farm term meaning ‘operating despite needing re-programming’)].

        • dahoit
          March 15, 2016 at 12:42 pm

          Who runs Pew research?(I have no idea)Trust no one,verify.

    • Brad Owen
      March 15, 2016 at 9:25 am

      You might want to check out a Thom Hartman piece on Alternet, adapted from a review he did on Martin Meyer’s book; “They thought they were free”. The article’s called “What would a Trump Presidency look like…” it is alarming how “IT” can happen literally anywhere, just like it happened to post-WWI Germany. If you’re not interested, I invite others who are reading this to check it out.

      • Christene
        March 15, 2016 at 10:40 am

        Well, unless Mr. Hartman is equipped with a time machine that teleported him into the future or has gotten his hands on a very good Chrystal ball, any conjecture about what a Trump presidency would look like is nothing but a product of his own fevered imagination. I think I will save myself the irritation.

        • Brad Owen
          March 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

          I thought you would. It’s actually written for other eyes.

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