The Leader attended the Donald Trump rally at University of Illinois Chicago on Mar. 11 to gather interviews and observations about the climate of the canceled event.
Our observations were multi-faceted, and ultimately culminated into a disapproval of not only Trump himself, but also the disposition on both sides of the protest gate.
The best way for us to illustrate and analyze the rally is to share specific experiences. We encourage you to critically engage with these stories and the themes they represent. This isn’t just about Trump, it’s about examples of politics shifting to a darker tone.
Clash of the Children
While standing in the nearly endless entrance line, a woman holds a sign with the popularized painting by artist Ashley Gore that depicts Trump full-frontal nude with one leg propped up.
His very small penis is the focal point of the image, and her sign reads, “Trump puts ketchup on his tiny hot dog.” Clever Chicago reference with a seemingly immature low-blow (pun intended).
Then a young boy approaches, quite literally covered in Trump stickers and memorabilia.
“Are you a Rubio fan?” he shouts at the woman. Who is, presumably, a liberal.
“No, I’m not a Rubio fan,” she says.
“Then what ARE you? A Cruz fan?!” he fires back. Wrong again.
His older sister apologizes profusely, “He’s only 12, I’m sorry.”
The protestor tells her that he needs to “learn how to treat grown-ups”. In a moment of fiery 12-year-old angst, the boy shouts, “You should learn how to stop eating donuts!” and continues to mock the woman’s size.
As the subheading suggests, this is just childish nonsense. An unnecessarily vulgar sign and an unnecessarily angry child.
But then, a man about 40-years-old wearing a camo hoodie turns to one of our editors and loudly says, “Yeah man, she needs to lay off the donuts and cookies and Little Caesar’s pizza!”
Yes, a full grown man stooping to the level of a 12-year-old just to insult a protestor.
The rhetoric at these rallies strays so far from intellectual or politically charged, and instead fosters an environment where 12- year-old fat jokes are acceptable forms of rebuttal.
If you watched any of the GOP debates you witnessed this level of mockery and insult first hand. The discourse of the Republican party has been largely fueled by childish antics, with Trump at the forefront of influence. Violence and aggression
It makes sense why people vehemently disagree with Trump’s rhetoric — he’s perpetuating messages that are dehumanizing and hateful
But while at the rally we noticed extreme aggression from some groups of protestors even when unprovoked. It’s not your typical chanting and sign wielding, but instead an all out verbal assault on any passer-by.
“You are disgusting, fuck off!” They shout at us, presumably because we are not explicitly protesting the rally.
After the cancellation we see a large scuffle between Trump supporters and protestors. Shouting matches are happening on nearly every corner.
Police are barricading streets and news helicopters are hovering overhead to capture the chaos. It’s out of control in every sense.
Media outlets have also exhibited moments of unmerited violence against protestors across the country, including the infamous sucker-elbow on Mar. 9 in Fayetteville, NC. At the UIC rally, a protestor told us she heard supporters chanting, “Go back to your country” when encountered by an angry protestor of color.
This level of aggression is unprecedented at a political rally, let alone a string of political rallies. It’s less surprising when the frontrunner of a major political party is quoted condoning violence.
This includes reminiscing on the days when a protestor would “be carried out of here in a stretcher” and (untruthfully) promising to pay the legal fees of anyone who hits a protestor.
This aggressive demeanor has influenced his supporters and consequently bled into the wider population. A Trump rally is a place for aggressive people to air their grievances, not to engage in political debate or disagreement.
So what? The Primary elections in Illinois have passed and the rally was shut down. Unfortunately, it does not stop here.
Whether you are a proud blue, red, or independent, we encourage you to think about the ways passion can transform into radicalism or zealotry.
Instead of engaging in fierce yelling matches, how can we express our concerns and ideas in a way that people will listen?
What does this rally tell you about Trump, and the people being mobilized by him? More importantly, what does it reveal about the state of American politics?
One protestor, a radio broadcaster named Fernando Navarro, was schocked by the rally overall.
“I don’t feel like I’m at a presidential rally. I could cut the tension with a knife,” he said. “It’s like I’m in the devil’s lair. This is scary, this is not America.”
We hope that our experiences will open your mind to discussion, because it’s desperately needed to break up the overwhelming tone of aggression and violence in America today.