With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, March 18, 2016

Trib's Grossman calls for an 'end to protests'. But winds of change keep blowing.

The Tribune's Ron Grossman is imploring Chicago's emergent freedom movement to "halt the protests." He's terrified that even by protesting peacefully, the movement will attract the wrath of Donald Trump who, he argues, "profited" from the UIC protest last week. 

He claims to be a life-long protester himself who...
 "...was thrilled by the sight of long lines of protesters marching on Donald Trump's recent rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The crowd's rainbow of colors and creeds was a moving tribute to America at its best — a diversity that Trump attacks whenever he steps before a microphone or television camera to rail against Muslims and Mexicans. 
But, says Grossman, "the time has come to halt the demonstrations."
They became counterproductive once the confrontation between Trump's followers and opponents at the UIC Pavilion turned violent. It doesn't matter who started it. Trump profited from it.
He offers no evidence that the peaceful protests outside, or even the scattered clashes instigated by Trump supporters inside the UIC Pavilion on March 11, benefited Trump in any way. Since then Trump's been forced to cancel nearly all of his campaign rallies and back out of scheduled debates. He's increasingly becoming a political pariah and his violent, racist, anti-immigrant message has failed to gain traction beyond his narrow base of support. 

Trump may well have met his Waterloo at the UIC Pavilion last week.

Should he win the nomination, it's doubtful that he will be able to campaign in any big city in America. Even though he's still winning most of his primaries over a pathetic field of Republican (using the term loosely) competitors, his vote totals are becoming anemic and losing elections to Cruz and Kasich that he should have won. Even his victories have been hollow with more Republicans turning out to vote against him than for. 

On Tuesday, Kim Foxx, our state's attorney candidate in IL, got more votes in Cook County than Trump won in the entire state. 

In the media and in the court of public opinion, Trump and a handful of his most virulent supporters are clearly seen as the instigators of violence. Anti-Trump protesters have shown their committment to non-violence. 

His campaign has shattered what was left of the fractured Republican Party and he has the party leadership scrambling for someone -- anyone -- to replace Trump/Cruz as the party's candidate. 

Trump is even facing criminal investigations in North Carolina and other states, for inciting to riot and now is openly threatening riots against his own party's leaders if they try and oust him in Cleveland. If they can't, polls show him losing badly in November to either Clinton or Sanders. 

Trump is a paper tiger whose violent outbursts are a sign of his weakness, not his strength. His nomination will be a gift to the Democrats.

Since Grossman can offer no evidence of how the Black Lives Matter movement or student-led anti-Trump protests in Chicago helped Trump, he tries to draw some historic parallels while making some absurd claims. He blames protesters for everything from violating "human nature" to causing Nixon's election in '68, to rise of Hitler in Germany. 
A nation is bitterly divided between advocates of change and partisans of traditionalism. The former come to power, or are close to achieving it, and violence ensues. Then a strongman seizes power, blaming the disorders on the party of change for having severed the moorings of older values. That scenario is as old as the French Revolution, as new as 1968.
 Still, the analogy that keeps me up at night is between this election season and Germany in the 1930s. Street violence between the left and the right was the steppingstone that brought Hitler to power.
He even tries to invoke the names of Gandhi and Dr. King to make the case for halting all protests, confusing their commitment to non-violence with passive acceptance of oppression. Both were advocates of protest and direct action against injustice throughout their lives, even in the face of severe repression.

I doubt that Grossman's call to end the protests will resonate with many young activists. I hope not and doubt seriously that many people under the age of 30 even read the Trib or give a damn about what Grossman thinks. If he's truly worried about the promulgation of fascist ideology, he might well look inward at his own paper's editorial board which last May, called for a man with "Mussolini-like powers" to take over Chicago's public school system.

Let's keep marching people. It won't fall by itself.

1 comment:

  1. Good piece. There have always been and there will always be scolds who warn against militancy. MLK was always being offered such "friendly advice".


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