Inside the Anti-Trump Circus: Here Comes the Summer of Hate
A Photo Report on Trump Derangement Syndrome
Wherever Donald Trump goes, protests follow.
The media is only interested in these protests when violence or riots erupt — "If it bleeds, it leads" remains the guiding principle of the national press.
But if a protest passes more or less peacefully, as most do, the media tends to ignore it — which is a tragedy, because this dismissiveness hides the sobering reality that 2016's anti-Trump protests, even when nonviolent, have already escalated into kaleidoscopic circuses of unhinged hysteria.
This report reveals what a typical anti-Trump protest is really like, in all its bizarre end-times glory, for once setting aside who punched whom or which window got smashed.
The protest under analysis here took place on April 29 outside the California Republican Convention where Trump was speaking at a Hyatt Regency in the city of Burlingame. Never heard of it? That's unsurprising: This event was largely overshadowed by an anti-Trump riot the previous night in southern California. No riots erupted in Burlingame, so the national press mostly ignored it — although a couple outlets exaggerated the protest's few minor incidents so they could claim it was "violent" nonetheless.
But that doesn't mean the Burlingame protest was any less important than the previous night's riot — nor are any of the nonviolent Trump protests less significant than the violent ones. Each and every protest is a carnival of narratives, incidents, themes and lessons. Yes, violence is one narrative, but it's not the only one, and not necessarily the most important one. As we are about to learn.
Unlike other media outlets, which invariably highlight one aspect of the story and ignore all others, I'm going to report on this protest as it actually was: a wide-ranging panoply of narratives, all happening at the same time, often overlapping and competing against each other.
Want to experience the 2016 political season on a personal, visceral level? Read on. I'll be your guide.
Protest Outside Donald Trump's Appearance at the California Republican Convention, April 29, 2016
This Trump detractor (on the left) lunged at an unsuspecting young Trump supporter (wearing the backpack on the right) and had to be physically restrained. As far as I witnessed, the Trump supporter had neither said a word nor done anything to provoke such an outburst, other than a few minutes earlier silently declare his support for Trump by standing near a small band of pro-Trump protesters. I guess simply being pro-Trump is justification enough to have your safety threatened.
"If Trump Elected — Hell Toupee!"
Early frontrunner for "Political Pun of the Year."
Most Transparent Attempt to Get Laid:
The Picture That Most Succinctly Sums Up the Entire Election Season:
A silver-haired Cruz supporter (this photo was taken shortly before Cruz dropped out of the race) watches with a combination of pity and bemusement as fellow anti-Trump "Chicano Power" protesters prance about throwing "Fuck you!" gang signs.
Cleverest Anti-Trump Campaign Slogan:
"Yes We Klan," a riff on Obama's 2008 campaign slogan, "Yes We Can." This one's sure to go viral.
Least Controversial Protester:
"Trump = Nazi" Is Already Mandatory
Normally, a debate only descends to "Godwinization" (comparing your opponent to a Nazi) as a final desperate measure when all other arguments have failed and all lesser insults have been exhausted. In contemporary politics, calling someone a Nazi is the most extreme position you can take.
But when it comes to Trump's opponents, their starting point is to call Trump a Nazi; the general election hasn't even yet begun, and the anti-Trump rhetoric is already turned up to 11.
It's kind of hard to imagine where the conversation will go from here. How can you amplify your rhetoric when the very first thing you say is the most extreme put-down you can conjure?
A textbook example of the logical fallacy known as Reductio ad Hitlerum.
Clear enough for you? (Notice that this particular attempt at a swastika has an intriguing extra bend in its lower leg. Is this a tentative experiment at designing a new kind of ultra-swastika which applies only to Trump — or mere sign-making incompetence?)
Sometimes the Trump=Nazi theme was as concise as possible.
While other times it was incorporated into a longer message.
You don't even need to actually spell out the word "Nazi" in your anti-Trump message: a simple swastika will get the same point across.
Some protesters, trying to think outside the Nazi box, got creative and called Trump a mere "Fascist," but on the political insult scale, "Fascist" is actually a slight step down from "Nazi." It's truly quite a conundrum; once you're gone full Nazi, any further elaboration of your argument only softens the insult. So you're stuck saying "Nazi Nazi Nazi" over and over with no variation.
Bingo! Here's a solution: The term "KKK" is the only political insult nearly on a par with "Nazi," so expect to see a lot of this in the upcoming months.