It is by now a familiar pattern. The left begins targeting a conservative figure for promoting "hate." Soon, organized protests pop up, designed to prevent the promoter of "hate" from speaking in public and to prevent the public from hearing him. Any opposition to the concerted attempt to silence the conservative figure is then cited as further evidence of "hate," since the left treats the very existence of people with differing views as a provocation. The same pattern is now being played out with Donald Trump, with this difference: Most of the "mainstream right" is joining with the left.
The facts are these: Supporters of Donald Trump have not disrupted a single appearance of any other candidate, but Trump's events have been repeatedly targeted by protesters intending to infiltrate those events and disrupt them. In Chicago on Friday, a large and organized leftist mob intended to infiltrate and disrupt the event, and perhaps planned to rush the stage en masse. In Dayton on the following day, a man did rush the stage when Trump was speaking, forcing the Secret Service to form a protective shield around Trump. People hoping to hear Trump speak were subjected to profanity and other forms of verbal abuse, both in Chicago and in Kansas City.
The response to these facts: Widespread denunciations of Trump. All the other candidates for President have suggested, to varying degrees, that Trump is to blame for the fact that his rallies have been targeted for disruption by leftists who believe, as did Marcuse, that those to their right have no right to free speech. None of these candidates has offered any forceful denunciation of the hatred and violence directed against Trump and his supporters, even after the Secret Service was forced to take action to protect Trump. National Review, which has published comparisons of Trump to Hitler and Mussolini, has seen fit to lecture Trump about incitement to violence, without pausing to consider what effect comparing Trump with reviled dictators might have. National Review editor Rich Lowry, speaking for members of the Schoolmarm Right everywhere, scolded Trump for being a "toxic bomb-thrower" and warned that "left-wing protesters will keep at it, and this will get even uglier and more intense as the campaign progresses." In other words, National Review believes that the proper response to aggression by cultural Marxists is appeasement. (NR took a different, one might even say Trumpian, approach to student demonstrators in the 60’s, and Republican politicians, including Ronald Reagan, used that approach to win elections, but National Review in the 60’s was still recognizably conservative).
The thin reed on which National Review bases its denunciation of Trump is the fact that, at one rally in January, Trump confessed to wanting to "punch [a protester] in the face," at another rally in January Trump told attendees "to knock the crap out of" anyone about to hurl a tomato, and at one rally in March a 78-year-old attendee punched a protester who was being removed from the event. Throughout the campaign, of course, Trump has held dozens of rallies attended by hundreds of thousands of people. These rallies have overwhelmingly been peaceful. But National Review treats as a matter of national crisis one comment of Trump's that urged attendees to defend him from anyone who sought to hurl an object at him, another comment that reveals Trump to be a normal man with normal emotions, and an action that, while excessive, was a response to a genuine provocation. After all, the provocateurs here are not the people who come to hear Trump speak; they are the ones who hope to prevent anyone, including 78-year-old men, from hearing what Trump has to say. One hopes that even Rich Lowry would begin to sound a bit like Donald Trump if he could not hold a meeting with people who wanted to listen to him without having his meetings repeatedly disrupted by people who don't want anyone to hear what he has to say.
One doubts that the respectable voices of the left and the right now uniting to denounce Trump would be doing so if Trump's political message were more to their liking. The left, of course, treats as a respectable figure Al Sharpton, a man who, unlike Trump, actually did incite murderous violence. National Review's favorite figures tend to be more presentable than Sharpton, but the magazine's favorites have advocated (and implemented) policies responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians in the Mideast, including the sanctions that preceded the invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Iraq and its predictable aftermath, and the drone strikes, renditions, waterboardings, and all that followed.
Finally, there is little doubt that those respectable voices of the left and right now denouncing Trump are as eager to silence him as the members of the leftist rent-a-mob who have taken to crashing his rallies. Perhaps all the bleating about Trump and violence is best understood in that light.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.