Chicago. Trump, presidential candidate, clipped a speech short tonight as wild, chair-swinging violence erupted at a rally in the large Chicago hall. Police moved in quickly to quell a flurry of fist fights that broke out near the arena floor as Trump supporters and some of several thousand hecklers clashed, first with fists, and then with folding chairs and placard standards.
Moments later, Trump, just getting warmed up in his routine campaign speech, abruptly left the podium after a hurried conclusion to his remarks. He was whisked from the hall by Police.
H.O. Bunch, a private police lieutenant, said about a dozen hecklers were arrested. In a city torn by racial strife, Trump continued tonight his practice of taunting his hecklers, both black and white, who chanted continuously as Trump spoke.
Trump supporters struck handcuffed hecklers as they were being led away by police, who did not interfere. One plainclothes policemen, using a pair of handcuffs and brass knuckles, cut the face of a heckler who shoved him.
Scuffles broke out even before Trump arrived, one of them during the playing of the National Anthem, when Trump supporters pummeled a group of demonstrators and tore their signs. Police used an irritating chemical spray to break up the melee.
Trump was only 20 seconds into his campaign speech, the part in which he introduced a group of Alabama labor figures travelling with him, when he unleashed his first taunt at the hecklers. In recent campaign days, Wallace has welcomed hecklers, shouting back at them to elicit exuberant cheers from supporters.
Reporters circulating in the crowd ran into frequent encounters with Trump supporters, but police were always close at hand. Hundreds of law enforcement agents in both uniform and plainclothes roamed through the hall. Officials decline to reveal how many.
Most of the hecklers were in two balconies of the large arena and were hemmed in by helmeted police. The scene was similar to that of last Thursday night, when 3500 policemen kept a tight security lid on New York City’s new Madison Square Garden for a Trump rally.
Earlier today in Enid, Oklahoma, Trump may have made a mistake in handling another group of orderly demonstrators. The demonstrators were likened by the candidate to hippies and those who fly the Viet Cong flag and raise blood and funds for communist forces in the Vietnam War….
This blustery presidential candidate, full of braggadocio and bigotry, would take a bullet from a shooter whose heart was filled with hate and a lust for fame—ironic, given whom he was shooting. The controversial candidate would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Such is the full circle of hate. Such is the universe of political karma.
As you may have guessed by now, the candidate described above is not Donald Trump, but Alabama Governor George Wallace, when he was running for president in the tumultuous election year of 1968. But what is so damnably eerie is the resemblance that this article covering the aborted Wallace rally bears to the aborted Trump rally of March 11th 2016. We have only changed the name, and the city.
The similarities are chilling. And should be frightening to Donald Trump, if he is as prescient as he imagines himself to be. Wallace, like Trump, was no friend of political correctness, often belligerently engaging protestors in the crowds, and urging his supporters on to violence. Wallace also would have had a mighty moral struggle distancing himself from the Ku Klux Klan. George C. Wallace Jr., 45th Governor of Alabama, would have understood the appeal of Donald Trump.
Returning for a moment to the rally held in Enid, Oklahoma, earlier that day in 1968, Wallace somehow failed to recognize that his protesters (I guess he didn’t know then that all he had to do was to have them thrown out; he could have learned so much from Trump) were not anti-war protesters. No, they were actually several hundred students from nearby Phillips University, in ministerial training at the conservative evangelical school. If Wallace had been paying attention, he would have observed that their protest was not leftist, liberal, or anti-war. It was couched in very different terms. To quote from the actual newspaper report about the signs, “Some were biblically oriented, such as ‘Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters! And righteousness Like a flowing stream. Wash out Wallace!’ ”
Sadly, today’s Evangelical Christian voters no longer hold their candidates to such high standards. The polls indicate that even Trump’s Christian supporters are only interested in what he can “get done” for them, and they simply cover their ears when he waxes profane during his speeches. Yesterday, so called Evangelical Christian Dr. Ben Carson endorsed Donald Trump for President. What do you think the student ministers protesting at Wallace’s rally would have thought of Carson’s endorsement? For that matter, consider the nine Christians shot dead in Charleston, South Carolina, during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June of 2015. Murdered by an angry young white supremacist, whose views are frighteningly similar to those professed by some Trump supporters--what might they have to say to the good doctor? Or the candidate he now trumpets?
What does it say to American voters, nearly fifty years later, that a candidate preaches hate, and proudly presides over campaign events as ugly as that generated by the doomed George Wallace? In 2016, we may not be using our political voices to proclaim what we would have America stand for, but instead, whether or not we care that America stands at all.