Was it Wrong to Disrupt the Trump Murder Fantasy Play?
The Stream’s Al Perrotta wrote cogently about it last week: The repulsive production that New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park had mounted. It was Julius Caesar, with the burgeoning tyrant played by a Donald Trump impersonator. Crowds of frustrated liberals savored it. They turned out for the thrill of watching the president get stabbed to death on stage. This in the context of 15 different instances of celebrities inciting violence against the president or his administration. Kathy Griffin’s ISIS photo shoot was only the worst.
All this incitement finally had the predictable effect: An enraged liberal Democrat attempted to wipe out the House GOP leadership. Rep. Steve Scalise still fights for his life. So a few lonely Trump supporters in New York City decided they’d had enough. They got tickets to the Shakespeare play, and one of them leaped up during it to register their protest. As Daniel Greenfield recounts it:
A New York production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” with a Trump-like character who is assassinated had a boisterous new scene this weekend: an activist who stormed the stage, yelling, “Do you want Trump to be assassinated?”
Police said Laura Loomer was arrested Friday evening during the play presented in Central Park by the city’s Public Theater. She was arrested, charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct and released. She must appear in court at a later date to respond to the charges.
“I’m out of jail, but I’m not apologetic,” the 24-year-old conservative activist wrote on Twitter. “Thanks to everyone who is supporting me & condemning political violence.”
As she rushed to the stage, Loomer reportedly shouted, “Stop leftist violence!”
Here’s a longish video that includes footage of her protest:
Some conservatives, such as Ben Shapiro and David French, treated this protest as the same sort of poison served up almost daily on the left. They used words like “tribalism” and “hooliganism.” I had a different reaction: I thought it was great. I wished I had been in NYC to join it.
Not Poison But Pepper
Tribalism isn’t poison. It’s more like pepper. Too much of it, and a dish is inedible, even dangerous. Too little and it’s insipid, as bland and unattractive as … well, a long list of GOP 2016 presidential hopefuls.
Ben Shapiro suggested that a lone protestor briefly taking the stage was “no different” than massed crowds of hooded, threatening Antifa rioters. You know, the folks who assaulted a faculty member at Middlebury. Who intimidated police with fires and cudgels at Berkeley. Does he really believe that? I hate to be pedantic. But here are a few key differences I could spot:
- Laura Loomer had no weapons. Antifa protestors used metal rods and other weapons to menace their opponents.
- Loomer peacefully left the stage when security guards escorted her off, and the performance continued. Campus leftists come in vast numbers, and typically administrators refuse to have them removed — so conservative speeches end, abruptly.
- Loomer will face charges, just as civil rights demonstrators faced charges for desegregating “Whites-Only” lunch counters. Almost no leftist campus protestors have faced legal or even school punishment, anywhere.
But the two types of protest are for Shapiro “no different.” In fact, it’s hard to see what they have in common. They share exactly one element: In each case, hecklers violate the social contract that says that public events should be allowed to proceed without interruption.
Where Politeness Becomes Pusillanimous
Is that social contract absolute? Is it part of the natural law, so that if we violate it we are lowering ourselves to the same level as the worst, most intolerant leftists in America? Let’s pose a few hypotheticals and see how that thesis fares. Imagine each of the following public performances:
- A live-action performance in spring 2008 of The Birth of a Nation, the infamous pro-Klan epic. In that production, a look-alike of newly elected President Barack Obama is killed by “heroic” Klansmen.
- A version of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, with a ringer for Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) playing the venal usurer Shylock — who at the play’s end is utterly humiliated and forced to convert to Christianity, at the point of a sword.
- A theatrical adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, in which characters played by actresses who look like Cecile Richards, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Michelle Obama are beaten and raped.
Would we expect liberal intellectuals to savagely condemn as “tribalists” or “juvenile hooligans” black, Jewish, or female audience members who heckled such productions? Especially if their communities had recently been victims of real-world violence comparable to the attempt to murder the GOP House leadership?
The half of America that voted for Donald Trump doesn’t need leftists’ pity, or deserve their contempt. The protest against the Trump murder fantasy play made that clear.
Would we even condemn such hecklers ourselves?
Them’s Fighting Words
Of course not. We would realize that such productions were the equivalent of “fighting words.” That they were blatant provocations, which deserved some vocal, non-violent pushback. The protest against the Trump murder fantasy play made that clear. It’s a point we should be ready to make again and again.
Again, we must do it while eschewing violence, obeying police, and paying the relevant fines. Because, unlike the radical left, we aren’t barbarians. But neither are we passive, hapless piñatas. Spirited conservatives should be able to tell the difference. Or, as I wrote on Twitter in response to French and Shapiro: “This is how you get Jeb!”