Trump supporters cry foul over street protests
The strong reaction to President-elect Donald Trump’s victory has led to a backlash of another kind — this one among his supporters.
In the weeks leading up to his stunning win, Trump repeatedly warned the election would be “rigged.”
The real estate mogul urged supporters to monitor polling places in case of voter fraud and wouldn’t say if he would accept the election results in the event of a loss.
But the streets of some American cities have been teeming since Tuesday with thousands protesting Trump’s triumph.
And the reaction from the right is outrage.
Julie Ponzi, senior editor of the conservative Web site American Greatness, wrote this week:
“For these outbursts you can thank 50 years of piss-poor education in American civics, the devolution of our constitutional order in the face of a Progressive onslaught against its institutions, the hyperventilating, lying, unscrupulous press (and their willing accomplices in the NeverTrump right), and a handful of other factors I am probably forgetting right now but all contributing to this result: When significant numbers of people hysterically believe the country just elected Hitler, what do you expect?”
The majority of the anti-Trump demonstrations have been peaceful. But a rally attended by more than 4,000 people in Portland, Oregon, on Thursday night quickly devolved into violence.
After some in the crowd hurled objects at officers, vandalized businesses and damaged cars, the police on Twitter publicly declared the “unlawful” protest a “riot” due to “extensive criminal and dangerous behavior.”
A headline FoxNews.com declared: “‘Professional protesters’ riot over Trump’s election, attacking bystanders and vandalizing cars, property.”
Another on the Infowars website blared: “NON-VIOLENT, PEACEFUL PROTESTERS PUNCH TRUMP SUPPORTER: More evidence of the hypocrisy coming out of the left.”
Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large of Infowars.com, tweeted: “Remember when conservatives rioted, attacked people in the streets & smashed up shops when Obama won in 2008 & 2012? Me neither. #TrumpRiot.”
A tweet from a woman with the handle “Leah the Boss” said: “The people saying Trump scares children and families are smashing cars, setting fires, and blocking traffic. Words vs. Actions. #TrumpRiot.”
Charlie Kirk, founder and executive director of conservative student movement Turning Point USA, wrote: “When Obama was elected, we didn’t cry and burn stuff down, we waited 8 years & protested in the ballot box. #TrumpRiot.”
Kirk may have been referring to Oakland, California, where some protesters among the 1,000 who attended an anti-Trump march this week broke store windows, left graffiti on buildings and threw M-80 firecrackers, Molotov cocktails and bottles at police officers, authorities said.
Eleven people were arrested in Oakland, including someone who had seven Molotov cocktails in his possession, police said. Some of those arrested are accused of assaulting police officers.
Still, Rick Perlstein, a historian of modern conservatism, referred to a popular 1988 hip hop song by Public Enemy to describe the rhetorical line labeling the anti-Trump protests as “riots” — “Don’t Believe the Hype.”
“The protests have been 99% peaceful,” he said via email. “Pro-Trump forces have a profound vested political interest in depicting these events (which, from my own experience witnessing the march in Chicago, were maybe 95 percent anti-Trump and 5 percent pro-Clinton) as harbingers of chaos.”
He added, “What does a riot look like? Well, in Chicago after Martin Luther King was shot, two straight miles of Madison Street were burned out. This is not that.”
In November 2012, however, Trump himself called for public insurrection when major news outlets began calling the race for President Barack Obama after the polls closed in California.
“We can’t let this happen,” he tweeted then. “We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”
On Thursday, still basking in the glory of his victory, the President-elect took to Twitter to address the widespread protests around the country against his presidential victory: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”
Nine hours later, however, Trump abruptly reversed course with praise for those same protesters.
“Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!” he wrote.
The public memory regarding American politics has always been short lived.
In 2010, politicians reported slurs as well as threatening letters and phone calls from Tea Party supporters. Congressmen reported vandalism to their offices. One said he was spit on. Another said his brother’s gas line was cut after a Tea Party member posted his address online.
Tea Party leaders denounced the threats and deny involvement, pointing to fringe elements — not Tea Party members, per se.
The Southern Poverty Law Center at the time loosely lumped in Tea Party organizations with hate groups such as the Patriot movement — which the center defined as “militias and other extremist organizations that see the federal government as their enemy.”
Davarian Baldwin, a history professor at Trinity College in Connecticut, said the rhetorical line maintains that “any and all frustrations and meanness” by Trump supporters are acceptable because they represent the “silent and suppressed white male working class.”
The rhetoric can be traced to the “racist and riotous rallies” of the Tea Party movement, he said.
Baldwin added, “At the same time, in the same way that we have gone to great (lengths) to make sense of these ‘left out’ Americans — and honestly I don’t think it is a reality of marginalization but a fear of the new America and a fear of losing power — I think we also need to make sense, and not caricature, of the fear of deportations, deregulation, corporate callousness, licensed white nationalism that Trump has certainly given a voice [to].”