A man who in his quest to become the most powerful man in the world has so brilliantly proven all our conventional wisdom wrong, just canceled a rally in Chicago in response to the crowds of protesters who infiltrated the rally. His stated reason, "credible threat" from protesters. He said that he "didn't want people to get hurt." And he added, "Our First Amendment rights have been violated." News reports all point out the "violent clashes" between the protesters and Trump supporters and state that "arrests" were made. Now, while MoveOn.org and other civil rights and student organizations cheer and take credit for the event's cancelation, one might ask whether their game-theory skills are any match for Trump's.
The biggest news bite from the last Trump rally in Fayetteville, N.C. was about a peaceful protester, Rakeem Jones, who, while being escorted out in the custody of security, was punched in the face by a Trump supporter, John McGraw. Immediately, police officers tackled Jones (the victim of the assault) to the ground. A video later emerged of the incident. McGraw, who was later arrested, said the next time he sees Jones he may kill him because he "might be with a terrorist organization" and he was "not acting" like an American. Pundits, leaders, civil rights activists, and pretty much everyone else under the sun (except Trump supporters) pointed to the culture of hate and intolerance Trump himself promotes when he laments about the "good old days" when demonstrators were "carried out in stretchers," asks his supporters to "clock" any would-be tomato-tossers (promising to pay their legal fees if they do), or says he'd like to punch protesters "in the face." While Trump still has tremendous momentum, the video and publicity of this latest incident, right after he was slow to disavow himself from white supremacists, isn't helping him as he inches closer to the nomination.
Well, it just so happens that Trump's next big rally (more than 25,000 supporters expected) was in Chicago - Obama's home town. The location? In the city's heart, and in the midst of a progressive student campus. When an organized counter-movement manages to place thousands of protesters at the scene, a handful of clashes appear inevitable.
But a "credible threat"?
The anti-Trump protests at the University of Illinois' Chicago campus did not resemble, in any shape or form, dangerous riots. There were no shattered windows, looted merchandise or burning police cars. There are more arrests during a Wrigleyville Black Hawks celebration, 23, than this one, 5. Indeed, even the five arrests last night were apparently all misdemeanors and made after the rally was cancelled (angering Trump supporters). The Chicago police issued a statement yesterday that no threats were issued from the protesters at the Trump rally, they were "not consulted" until after the rally was canceled, and they had sufficient security in place to ensure a peaceful event.
Nevertheless, the event was canceled, so Trump says, because of his concern for the safety of others. He points the finger squarely at the demonstrators:
"The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!" -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
His supporters take to the airways to express their sympathies for Trump the Victim and stand up for their leader's rights to speak! And, immediately moving forward, Trump tweets to address the crowds at his next event:
"The rally in Cincinnati is ON. Media put out false reports that it was cancelled. Will be great - love you Ohio!" -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
A peaceful demonstration of the American public using the powers of their constitutional right to free speech and assembly to fight those who stand against such rights; or thugs violating The Donald's constitutional rights?
The answer may be obvious to some. First Amendment rights can only be violated by the government which, here, not only did not suppress but provided sufficient protection to the very man who's made it clear when he's in charge of the government, only his speech will be tolerated. But the fact that there is a debate at all demonstrates the game theory prowess of @realDonalTrump.
So I ask you, America, who was the real winner on March 11th?
By Shermin Kruse
Author of Butterfly Stitching
Many thanks for your "likes", "shares," "tweets", and thoughtful commentary. Dynamic and respectful conversation is welcomed and appreciated. Yours, Shermin