On Friday evening, as the staged riot at the UIC Trump event was in full swing, Ted Cruz came out to make a statement, that was carried live in several media outlets. That statement began by briefly blaming the protesters, but then shifted immediately into blaming Donald Trump for the violence, asserting that he had created an environment ripe for violence, by effectively inciting it. First, let’s listen to Senator Cruz’s statement Friday evening:
I can’t describe how disappointed I am at this “blame the victim” meme being advanced in this video by Ted Cruz. Naturally, both Rubio and Kasich made similar remarks to media, and it frankly disgusts me that they reverted purely to opportunists seizing on a chance to attack Donald Trump. While it is true that it would seem at least superficially factual that Trump may have encouraged some violence with the “punch him in the face” remark during one of his rallies, the truth is that the statement “punch him in the face” is being considered here out of context. What do I mean by “out of context?”
Consider that you’re throwing a party, or hosting an event, and ne’er-do-wells invade your event with the express purpose of causing trouble, or of creating mayhem. As they’re being escorted out, or frequently as they’re being apprehended, they become a whirligig of flailing fists to either combat their removal, or to slow their removal or otherwise cause harm to others. In this sort of context, some of these people would deserve, and would have earned a “punch in the face.” It’s not an aggressive use of force that Trump seems to have been advocating, but something of a response or defense against some of these very nasty folk who are stirring up trouble, intentionally, and by design of their attendance at the event of a person they obviously do not support.
If I support a cause, for instance, the Tea Party, and I attend the rally of a Tea Party group, I’m there to honestly support the cause and otherwise participate honestly in an event. If I go to a rally of Planned Parenthood supporters, knowing I truly detest everything for which Planned Parenthood stands, secreting myself by disguise of clothing or signage, but then interrupt the program, and become violent as I am forcibly removed from the premises, I’m not a “peaceful protester” nor am I anything but what Trump has termed “disrupters.” I have used deception to gain entrance, and then by force of my active presence and demonstration against the purpose of the rally, I have placed the other rally attendees, security teams, and the host(s) of the rally in the position of having to use physical force or its implicit threat to remove me in order to continue the event for which they have every right to carry out as scheduled.
The people actually creating the “atmosphere” or “environment” of violence are not, in such a scenario, the host(s) of the event, the security staff, nor even other attendees who may wish to confront me or assist in my removal. In such a scenario, the sole responsibility for violence lies with the person who instigated the incident, in my example above. This is not really a logical controversy, and Ted Cruz is a smart enough fellow to have known better. So are Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Instead, they leaped opportunistically into the situation without regard for the truth. In Chicago, at the scheduled UIC Trump rally that was ultimately canceled on Friday night, the responsibility for all of it, every bit of any violence, the rampage, and the canceling of the event, every stitch of it, lies solely with those who organized and participated in the riot for the purposes of interrupting, interfering, or otherwise diminishing the event for all those who were attending in good faith.
Ted Cruz had the opportunity to say that. He had the chance to step in front of the cameras and microphones and be a champion of free speech, and to absolutely castigate the parties who were involved in this mob-oriented treachery. Instead, what Senator Cruz did was to attack the victim(s). Instead, what Senator Cruz did was to lend cover and excuse culpability of all these ne’er-do-wells who intentionally attended the event, using disguise and deception, for the explicit purpose of stifling the free speech of Mr. Trump, along with any other speakers scheduled, and naturally the crowd that was gathering to listen to him. It excuses the damage done to attendees’ vehicles by the rampaging hordes of ne’er-do-wells and provides them with an out for their actions.
This is extremely disappointing to me. Senator Cruz is an attorney, a man who proclaims his thorough-going support of the US Constitution, and yet I am to believe that he does not see this distinction? It’s not as though Trump supporters were or are parading through the streets of Chicago looking for a fight, or that Trump himself were leading such a parade, aggressively seeking out protesters to confront and attack as a matter of aggression. These supposed “incitements” to violence that Ted Cruz and the others have been citing all occurred within the confines of venues reserved by the host of the event in question, and solely for the participation of the invited, sincere participants.
This is no different from the very nasty habit of current public schools and their widespread “zero-tolerance” policy on violence, in which they make no moral or logical distinction whatsoever between the attacker and the victim who defends his or her person from the attack. Trump never said “go out in the streets, find those protesters, beat the hell out of them, and punch them in the face.” That would be an actual incitement to violence. That would be an aggressive appeal for an “atmosphere” or “environment” of violence, and that would be disclaimed by every sane and rational person. I am fairly certain that if Mr. Trump ever exhorted his crowds to such behavior, he would in short order find his crowds dwindling in size, but that’s not what he’s done, and Ted Cruz knows it, and so do all the other people who’ve been attacking him on this front over the last week or more.
Good and decent people know that they should not go into somebody’s birthday party, wedding reception, public meeting, church service, or any other sort of event and create disturbances of any sort. They also know that if they would undertake to do such things, they risk making of themselves targets for a highly emotional and direct response that may become physical in the attempt to remove them. This is not rocket science. This is common decency, and I think it speaks volumes about the character of candidates Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich, all who made similar statements on Friday evening, that the opportunity to attack their party’s front-runner “trumped” all other considerations in the formulation of their statements. It’s utterly despicable, and I can’t support people who displace blame onto the victims while letting the perpetrators off the hook in any way. Period.