UIC Trump Rally Conflict, Who’s to Blame, and a Better Example
Disclaimer: Christian Apologetics Training does not officially endorse political candidates and respects the freedom of Christians and all people to respectfully disagree in light of their own reasons and consciences. At the same time we feel that there are many reasons for thinking that Trump should not be President, especially including his tendency to use harmful and divisive rhetoric.
A day after we see Trump’s rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago cancelled due to escalating conflict between protesters and others attending the rally, we see those in professional and social media debating who’s to blame: Trump himself or the protesters?
I submit that this is a false dichotomy: no one involved with the conflict is blameless; all involved share some responsibility.
Trump is Responsible
Trump is well-known by now for using divisive speech and inciting violence on the part of some of his supporters. As their political and moral leader, he has significant influence over the kind of behavior and discourse that they think is acceptable. As a social leader, he is in a position to foster the kind of social environment that may take place at one of his events. In addition to using these positions to make various comments of support for expressing one’s disagreement in violent ways, he has said things that many minorities and others understandably take to be personally offensive and hateful.
So he surely is largely responsible for the conflict’s escalation to this point.
The Violent Protesters are Responsible
While peaceful protest is well within the moral and political rights of all members of this country, intentionally threatening or causing violence in order to express such disagreement is not. While it seems that many involved in the protest meant only to protest peacefully, some resorted to these more violent means. Those resorting to violence should therefore be considered responsible for their actions as well. Certainly they partook in an environment brought about largely by Trump – who himself shares a significant degree of blame – but this does not absolve someone of responsibility for threatening or harming the safety of others.
Even in the midst of divisive circumstances, we all retain responsibility for the ways in which we choose to conduct ourselves with others.
Why This Matters
Recognizing the responsibility of the violent protesters matters, for if we condone such uses of violence by ignoring the protesters’ responsibility for their own actions, then we may remove one tyrant only to replace him with another. And this second tyrant is deadly and collective in nature, a tyrant made of those who operate under the belief that its okay either to threaten or harm others so long as the others are on the wrong side of the social-political issues.
Do not be deceived: many people from all sides of the political divide have implicitly or explicitly supported this tyrant, either in word or deed, and that includes some Trump supporters, some protesters, as well as Trump himself. Let us not also support it as well by condoning its actions.
How Christ Gives Us a Better Example
So what is the proper way to respond to such a thing? By fostering an environment not of antagonism but of respectful and peaceful disagreement. It seems here that the example of Jesus and the Apostles give us some direction.
Rather than encouraging others to cause trouble in order to overcome their enemies, we may encourage them to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:44).
Rather than rushing to blame those on the other side while ignoring the responsibility of others, we may first humble ourselves and rush to admit our own faults and wrongdoings as well (Matthew 7:1-5).
Rather than supporting divisiveness and harm, we may follow Paul and Peter’s ideal of the Christian apologist who corrects her opponents with gentleness and respect (2 Timothy 2:24-5; 1 Peter 3:15-16).
Rather than approving of those who promote strife or violent discord, we may recognize wrongdoing wherever it is and express our disapproval of it in the hope that it may be stopped (Romans 1:29-32).
What do you think about the conflict at the rally and how we should respond to it? Please respectfully share your thoughts in the comments below!