- - Monday, March 14, 2016


Everyone recognizes the First Amendment as the cornerstone of the republic, but sometimes it’s difficult to honor what the Founding Fathers had in mind in Philadelphia. It’s easy to defend the speech of someone you agree with; defending the speech of your enemy, not so much. When disagreement turns violent, as it did at a Trump rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the principle of free speech takes a beating. The demonstrators set out to shut down Donald Trump, and succeeded. It may be difficult to think of the Donald as a victim, but everyone lost in this exercise.

The riot — and riot is precisely what it was — was organized by a small group funded in part by George Soros, the billionaire friend and enabler of everything on the left. Ilya Sheyman, the Illinois director of MoveOn, a campaign creature of the Soros billions, quickly took credit for the riot and promised more. “To all of those who took to the streets of Chicago,” he said, “we say ‘thank you’ for standing up and saying enough is enough. To Donald Trump, and the GOP, we say, welcome to the general election.”

The mainstream media, so called, rushed to put the blame for the riot on Mr. Trump himself, saying that his rhetoric and his views were responsible for creating an “atmosphere” that encourages violence. Such reasoning parallels the “reasoning” of those who blamed the riots in Baltimore on the presence of the police at the rally where the trouble began. This parallels the “reasoning” of those who attempt to justify violence against speakers on college campuses because someone in the audience finds the speakers’ words disturbing and “distasteful.”

Sadly, certain conservative candidates for president, as well as others on the right who should know better, have joined in the hysteria against Donald Trump. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have tempered their rebuke of the rioters by asserting that Mr. Trump brought it on himself with his own bad-tempered speech. Mr. Cruz’s remarks were particularly egregious. He made the ritual rebuke of violence, and then added: “When you have a campaign that disrespects the voters, when you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, when you have a campaign that is facing allegations of physical violence against members of the press, you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discourse.”

This, as one critic of the mob and its enablers put it, is similar to blaming the woman instead of the rapist; if she hadn’t worn such a low-cut blouse or such a short skirt, she wouldn’t have invited the crime. Mr. Trump’s remarks are often abusive, exaggerated, and well over the top. Over-the-top rhetoric is his signature, and deserves rebuke. That does not give those who disagree with him, and millions do, the right to answer him with violence and intimidation. He has First Amendment rights, too. Other choices are available to his many critics. They can tune him out, contribute money to his opponents, denounce him with as much heat as they can muster, vote against him and persuade others to do likewise. That’s what a free society is all about.

Violence and promises of more is not. MoveOn has served notice that violence and intimidation will continue. Messrs. Rubio, Cruz and Kasich, being experienced in politics, should know that if one of them becomes the Republican nominee the violence and intimidation will be directed at him. The left wants blood, and it’s the blood of whomever stands in the way of remaking the republic to their design. Once the lion is let loose in the streets, no one and no one’s speech will be safe.

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