Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric, including threats against Muslims for their religious affiliation, has prompted clashes at his rallies and raised freedom of speech issues, writes Nat Parry.
By Nat Parry
Election 2016 has taken a turn into territory unfamiliar and perhaps mildly terrifying to many Americans, potentially heading down a dark road characterized by political violence and what social scientists call “authoritarian aggression,” defined by retired Professor of Psychology Robert Altemeyer as “a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.”
The divisive rhetoric of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who has called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States – not to mention his penchant for calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals” and referring to African-Americans as “the blacks” – is having predictable effects, with protesters growing increasingly vocal in countering this bigotry, culminating last week in the cancellation of a planned rally in Chicago.
Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters gained access to an event scheduled for Friday night at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and rather than face this hostile crowd, Trump decided to “postpone” the event.
“Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago, and after meeting with law enforcement, has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date,” a campaign spokesperson announced half an hour after the rally was slated to begin.
Following this announcement, chaos ensued in the arena, with protesters breaking into cheers and chanting slogans such as “we stopped Trump.” A number of fistfights between protesters and Trump supporters also reportedly broke out.
The protest had been announced in advance on a Facebook page called “Stop Trump – Chicago,” listing several reasons for organizing against the billionaire’s presence at…