Politics & Policy

Anti-Trump Protesters, Not Trump, Were the Biggest Disgrace at His California Rally Last Night

Protesters and riot police outside a Trump rally in Costa Mesa, Calif., April 28, 2016 (Reuters/Mike Blake)

What happened at the Trump rallies in Orange County, Calif., last night was a disgrace, but for once, it was not primarily a disgrace of Donald Trump’s.

Protesters, some holding Mexican flags, tried to block people from attending the speech of an American candidate for president. Insults were hurled, roads were blocked, and property was damaged. Trump voters, and frankly many Republicans who hate Trump, understand intuitively the insult to this country when someone brings the flag of a foreign country to protest at a U.S. presidential candidate’s rally.

It should be completely unacceptable in America to attempt to stifle anyone’s free speech, or to attempt to block people from attending a political speech, much less the speech of a candidate for president – and you can be sure the protesters out there against Trump will eventually take to the streets against Ted Cruz, or any other GOP nominee, using their same poisonous tactics and rhetoric. That the riotous behavior by hundreds of protesters after the speech reinforced Trump’s roughest and crudest points is not the fault of Donald Trump.

Many protesters were (appropriately) arrested. A police car was destroyed, and you can be sure that it wasn’t Trump supporters that destroyed it. 

Inside the rally, Trump engaged in his typically irresponsible rhetoric on torture and engaged in his typically demagogic attacks on Ted Cruz (whom I have endorsed). But Trump also stood with the families of several who have been killed by illegal immigrants, and promised to build a border wall, to the delight of his supporters. While the California Democrats have actively “stood in the schoolhouse door” and refused to enforce American law, and the establishment GOP has done little or nothing or sided with pro-amnesty forces. When “responsible” people won’t do the right thing, irresponsible people can seize the moment.

RELATED: Dear Mainstream Media: Don’t You Dare Whitewash Anti-Trump Violence

On policy, of course, Ted Cruz’s immigration stance is far superior to Trump’s and would do far more to actually deter illegal immigration. But Trump hits a raw nerve with California GOP voters who have been abandoned by their party and whose communities and states have paid the price. (California has the highest sales and income taxes in the nation, along with the highest poverty rate in the nation – and no small part of that is due to the state’s reckless welcome of unskilled and low-skilled illegal immigrants.)

#share#Thuggish protesters, of course, were happy to justify their behavior. “I knew this was going to happen,” one young protester told the Los Angeles Times. “It was going to be a riot. He deserves what he gets.” Another protester told CNN that the extensive property damage caused by anti-Trump protesters was “A symptom of hate speech.” Yet another protester told the Times, “We could be peaceful and do things different, but if we did, we wouldn’t get our voice heard.” Unfortunately, the GOP electorate hears their actions loud and clear.

Trump, despite his demagogy, has attracted such loyal fans because he has such perfect enemies.

It is notable that this was a rally held in Costa Mesa, Calif., in Orange County, a California GOP stronghold. It’s also important to note that Orange County has become a rare minority bastion of GOP support, with an Asian-American GOP majority county council and having in 2014 elected three conservative Republican Asian-American immigrant women to the California state legislature. It’s one more reason that while a strong anti-amnesty and pro-border-security immigration policy should be at the core of the GOP platform, Trump’s blanket rhetoric on immigrants is so counter-productive.

Trump, despite his demagogy, has attracted such loyal fans because he has such perfect enemies: people who proudly wave a foreign flag on America’s soil; those who stop people from going about their everyday business; those who disrupt political speeches; those who destroy police cars and block roads.

#related#My Hoover colleague Victor Davis Hanson, who is, like me, a Trump opponent, and also a fifth-generation grape farmer in California’s Central Valley, has written movingly many times, in National Review and elsewhere, of what California’s disastrous immigration policy looks like from his home region. Living in California, the damage caused by unchecked low-skill illegal immigration is more obvious (and, it should be said, living as I do in Silicon Valley, the importance of welcoming immigration of highly skilled workers is equally obvious). 

Immigration, for many reasons, is a sensitive issue, and it should ideally be talked about with sensitivity. But displaying sensitivity, especially according to the dictates of today’s political correctness, should not be a requirement of having a platform to speak. The anti-Trump protesters don’t seem to understand that. Let’s hope the GOP does.

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