I know a lot has happened in the days since the confrontation in Chicago between protesters and supporters at the cancelled Trump rally. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and come to a conclusion that, while I’ve seen it hinted at here and there, I haven’t seen anyone explicitly say.
The whole thing was a conscious ploy by Trump, and the progressive left fell for it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I found it as uplifting and heartening as any two-fisted, red-blooded American progressive to see pushback against the animus and incitement to hatred and violence that is Mr. Trump’s stock in trade. But the triumphalist notes that have been sounded are, to my mind, misguided, because Mr. Trump laid a trap and we walked right into it.
Here are the dots I’m trying to connect:
Trump plans a rally, not only in Chicago, which is as strong a Democratic stronghold as there is, but he also does it at a large, diverse public university, where he can be guaranteed a large number of protesters. Keep in mind that Chicago is also undergoing some pretty major race-based conflict lately.
Protesters show up in large numbers, many of whom manage to get inside the venue.
Fights break out inside, as rightly incensed protesters, many of them POCs, are put in close proximity to Trump supporters, who’ve been fed a steady diet of racist hatemongering and calls to beat up protesters. Footage is captured.
Trump cancels the rally, claiming the Chicago Police Department has advised him to do so (a claim later proved false).
It seems like a defeat, but it’s anything but. Because now Trump can claim, however falsely, that it’s the protesters who are causing the violence at his rallies, and he has footage that can be spun to support the assertion. Not only that, but it plays into his narrative of white victimhood, because here’s all these white folks just trying to peaceably assemble for a political rally, but they can’t because these violent protesters came and shut them down and started fights and just generally disrupted the rally, denying Trump his right to free speech and his supporters their right to peaceably assemble. He gets to look like the good guy for calling off the rally so as to prevent violence, and it only bolsters his support among his followers, whose narrative of white victimization, however misguided, has been reaffirmed. Polling confirms that it worked.
Then Trump gets to go on TV and make the narrative about how violent protesters are disrupting his otherwise peaceful events, derailing the more general (and true) narrative about his stoking of racial resentments and his proponence of violence as a solution to it. And now he’s got the footage to prove it, or at least he’s got footage that reaffirms his narrative of white victimization.
Fuckery that it is, you have to admire the slickness of it.