The first annual "DeploraBall," a pro-Trump event named after Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" remark, was held Thursday evening in Washington D.C. As expected, protesters brayed and ball attendees said uncomfortable things.
Highlight: Free Speech Wins
Agree with Donald Trump or not, his supporters should be allowed to hold an event at which they express their opinions, and celebrate his victory. Many Americans find the beliefs of DeploraBall attendees repellent. However, as long as the expression of those beliefs remains within the bounds of the First Amendment, they must be protected.
Conversely, the First Amendment protected those who wanted to peacefully protest the event. Both sides of the political divide were represented, and that's a good thing.
Lowlight: Protester Allegedly Attacks Trump Supporter
According to Fox News, 21-year-old James Allsup, who wasn't even attending the DeploraBall, but was wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, was assaulted:
...he and a friend were simply “grabbing drinks” in the neighborhood and walked through the street where protesters were gathered.
Fox quotes Allsup, who was disturbed by the violence:
"I was wearing my ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, and a white male came up behind me and swung at me with a flagpole – I kind of blacked out for a minute...Before I knew it, my head was gushing blood — there’s blood on my Trump hat.
I’m all for disagreeing, I debate people all the time and I want to engage in these discussions, but they’re throwing bottles...I would be livid if people who supported Trump were doing this to Hillary supporters."
Highlight: Gavin McInnes Touts Tolerance
Progressives and Trump supporters may not agree on the issue of gay marriage, but it's important to show respect for people with whom one disagrees, and that's what writer and commentator Gavin McInnes did at the DeploraBall.
Rolling Stone reports that McInnes said the average Trump supporter isn't a bigot:
"He's a chain-smoking, swearing Staten Islander...You know what he thinks of gays? He doesn't. He doesn't really care...It doesn't come up in our day-to-day. You know what comes up in our day-to-day? A little three-letter acronym that goes like this: U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"
Lowlight: Troubling Things Said at the DeploraBall
Not everyone at the DeploraBall was as tolerant as McInnes. Rolling Stone reports that after alt-right provocateur Mike Cernovich reportedly told the crowd: "I'm not going to rant about Paul Ryan. Some people call him Cuck Ryan, but this is family-friendly so I'm not going to call him Cuck Ryan. You won't hear me say that tonight," the crowd responded with the chant: "Lock Him Up!"
Such a chant is incredibly disturbing. Call it hyperbole--and for some, it may be--but there is certainly a subgroup of Trump supporters who would want Paul Ryan "locked up" for opposing the president. The belief that one's opponents should be silenced has been a fixture of some of the most brutal dictatorships in human history. To hear it coming from the mouths of Americans is chilling.
Highlight: Criminal is Arrested
According to NBC, a man was planning on committing a crime at the DeploraBall:
...police arrested 34-year-old Scott Ryan Charney, of Northwest D.C., and charged him with conspiracy to commit an assault. Police said Charney and two others conspired to commit a crime at the National Press Club building. Police are still searching for the two other suspects involved.
The answer to political differences in a civilized society should never be violence. Ever. The fact that this man, who was allegedly intent on harming someone at the DeploraBall, was arrested is a very good thing.
Lowlight: Protesters Hit with Pepper Spray
This may seem like a highlight, but it's not a laughing matter that protesters became so aggressive that the police had to use a chemical repellent to fight back. As was mentioned above, violence is not the appropriate response to political differences. This isn't circa 1790s France; we aren't barbarians.
Overall, given the extraordinary tension between Trump supporters and protesters, Thursday evening's DeploraBall was a success--though it also showcased the ugliness on both sides of the political divide.