Inside the Anti-Trump Circus
Here Comes the Summer of Hate
A photo report on Trump Derangement Syndrome at the April 29, 2016 protest in Burlingame
Wherever Donald Trump goes, protests follow.
The media is only interested in these protests when violence or riots erupt — "If it bleeds, it leads" remains the guiding principle of the national press.
But if a protest passes more or less peacefully, as most do, the media tends to ignore it — which is a tragedy, because this dismissiveness hides the sobering reality that 2016's anti-Trump protests, even when nonviolent, have already escalated into kaleidoscopic circuses of unhinged hysteria.
This report reveals what a typical anti-Trump protest is really like, in all its bizarre end-times glory, for once setting aside who punched whom or which window got smashed.
The protest under analysis here took place on April 29 outside the California Republican Convention where Trump was speaking at a Hyatt Regency in the city of Burlingame. Never heard of it? That's unsurprising: This event was largely overshadowed by an anti-Trump riot the previous night in southern California. No riots erupted in Burlingame, so the national press mostly ignored it — although a couple outlets exaggerated the protest's few minor incidents so they could claim it was "violent" nonetheless.
But that doesn't mean the Burlingame protest was any less important than the previous night's riot — nor are any of the nonviolent Trump protests less significant than the violent ones. Each and every protest is a carnival of narratives, incidents, themes and lessons. Yes, violence is one narrative, but it's not the only one, and not necessarily the most important one. As we are about to learn.
Unlike other media outlets, which invariably highlight one aspect of the story and ignore all others, I'm going to report on this protest as it actually was: a wide-ranging panoply of narratives, all happening at the same time, often overlapping and competing against each other.
Want to experience the 2016 political season on a personal, visceral level? Read on. I'll be your guide.
Protest outside Donald Trump's appearance at the California Republican Convention, Burlingame, CA, April 29, 2016
This Trump detractor (on the left) lunged at an unsuspecting young Trump supporter (wearing the backpack on the right) and had to be physically restrained. As far as I witnessed, the Trump supporter had neither said a word nor done anything to provoke such an outburst, other than a few minutes earlier silently declare his support for Trump by standing near a small band of pro-Trump protesters. I guess simply being pro-Trump is justification enough to have your safety threatened.
"If Trump Elected — Hell Toupee!"
Early frontrunner for "Political Pun of the Year."
Most Transparent Attempt to Get Laid:
The Picture That Most Succinctly Sums Up the Entire Election Season:
A silver-haired Cruz supporter (this photo was taken shortly before Cruz dropped out of the race) watches with a combination of pity and bemusement as fellow anti-Trump "Chicano Power" protesters prance about throwing "Fuck you!" gang signs.
Cleverest Anti-Trump Campaign Slogan:
"Yes We Klan," a riff on Obama's 2008 campaign slogan, "Yes We Can." This one's sure to go viral.
Least Controversial Protester:
"Trump = Nazi" Is Already Mandatory
Normally, a debate only descends to "Godwinization" (comparing your opponent to a Nazi) as a final desperate measure when all other arguments have failed and all lesser insults have been exhausted. In contemporary politics, calling someone a Nazi is the most extreme position you can take.
But when it comes to Trump's opponents, their starting point is to call Trump a Nazi; the general election hasn't even yet begun, and the anti-Trump rhetoric is already turned up to 11.
It's kind of hard to imagine where the conversation will go from here. How can you amplify your rhetoric when the very first thing you say is the most extreme put-down you can conjure?
A textbook example of the logical fallacy known as Reductio ad Hitlerum.
Clear enough for you? (Notice that this particular attempt at a swastika has an intriguing extra bend in its lower leg. Is this a tentative experiment at designing a new kind of ultra-swastika which applies only to Trump — or mere sign-making incompetence?)
Sometimes the Trump=Nazi theme was as concise as possible.
While other times it was incorporated into a longer message.
You don't even need to actually spell out the word "Nazi" in your anti-Trump message: a simple swastika will get the same point across.
Some protesters, trying to think outside the Nazi box, got creative and called Trump a mere "Fascist," but on the political insult scale, "Fascist" is actually a slight step down from "Nazi." It's truly quite a conundrum; once you've gone full Nazi, any further elaboration of your argument only softens the insult. So you're stuck saying "Nazi Nazi Nazi" over and over with no variation.
Bingo! Here's a solution: The term "KKK" is the only political insult nearly on a par with "Nazi," so expect to see a lot of this in the upcoming months.
All You Need Is Hate
This one sign, unlikely as it may seem, summed up not only the entire rally but the entire political season, if not all of contemporary society. The left's now-dominant narrative framework is that conservatism = hate, while progressivism = love. This elevates what had been a mere political disagreement to a much higher moral level in which everything left-wing is automatically good and everything non-left-wing is automatically evil. As a result, left-wingers feel free to unleash the most intensely hateful attacks, just so long as they are directed at "hate." From their vantage point, left-wingers are definitionally incapable of hatred, so when they say "Fuck Trump!" and "Suck my dick!", those are actually statements of love, defeating hate.
A close-up reveals that the sign is sprinkled with crudely drawn "fuck you" fingers and erect penises, interspersed with hearts and peace symbols. All of these, in the new moral framework, are equally righteous. It is just as praiseworthy to hate hate as it is to love love. But wait —if you hate hate, then wouldn't you also hate your own hatred of hate? The answer is no, because when you (as a left-winger) hate something, that actually counts as an act of love. By definition.
This is not the first time such circular cognitive dissonance has appeared in various societies, but what distinguishes the self-congratulatory moral preening of 2016 is that now, instead of demonstrating its superiority by being high-minded, it is intentionally and brutishly vulgar and juvenile. This is a moral philosophy in which you can scream at your opponents, "Suck my dick! Love wins! Fuck you! Peace and love!" and feel absolutely consistent in your messaging. In fact, the venom embedded within vulgarity is what gives the message its extra power: expressing your hate/love politely or in grown-up terms would be far less effective.
This manner of thinking and communicating is not limited to this sign, of course, which is the whole point: Such attitudes and behavior have now completely consumed modern politics. In the real world, online, in the media -- vein-popping hatred and violence in the name of universal love is now accepted uncritically. And as the 2016 campaign heats up, it's only going to get more intense.
If 1967 was the Summer of Love, 2016 will be the Summer of Hate.
Rarely is the love/hate paradox so clearly summed up in a single sign as it is in this one: usually it manifests juxtapositionally as the left tag-teams with itself to whiplash back and forth between the two modalities.
So these depressed Bernie voters can hold a prototypical "Love Trumps Hate" sign, while on the ground right next them is....
...a bumper-sticker calling for Trump to be decapitated, and nearby...
...fellow protesters take that suggestion literally, decapitating Trump in effigy.
Feel the love!
Welcome to Aztlan: Rise of the Brown Power Movement
The pushback from left-wing Hispanic activists against Trump's proposal to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border has been swift and intense. A common strategy, as seen here, is to not merely criticize the wall, but to take the most extreme counter-position: To insist that the entire southwestern United States is actually part of Mexico, and that therefore all "white" people need to be deported from what is really Mexican territory. "Aztlan," for those who don't know, is the mythological homeland of the Aztecs, similar to "The Garden of Eden" in Judeo-Christian belief. Setting aside the obvious likelihood that Aztlan is almost certainly fictional — that is, not a physical place, but a myth — even the few spots proposed as possible historical locations for Aztlan are all well within the borders of modern Mexico. It was not scholars but Chicano activists who in recent years latched onto the term "Aztlan" and redefined it as "territory now in the United States which at any point in the past was controlled by Spain or Mexico" — in other words, what we now call "the Southwest," including California and Texas.
So when you see signs at anti-Trump rallies mentioning "Aztlan" -- and there were plenty of them at this one — remember that it's a reference to "the Reconquista," i.e. support for the "reconquering" of lands ceded by Spain and Mexico to the United States during the 19th century, and (to put it in blunt terms) expelling all non-Hispanics from California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas.
Several members of the paramilitary wing of the Aztlan/Reconquista movement, formerly known as "the Brown Berets" but apparently recently rebranded as "La Causa," patrolled the rally.
One of the Brown Beret dudes kept apparently trying to goad white police officers into a physical confrontation by approaching them as closely and as menacingly as possible, but the cops stoically remained stone-faced and did not react to his provocations.
All of this is part of the "Brown Power" movement, as some protesters at the rally called it.
The camera-friendly "Chicanas Against Trump" put a pretty face on the whole situation.
The era of political cosplay has arrived: A guy re-imagined the Captain America outfit as a new kind of superhero — Captain Mexico!
Protest as Rashomon
Rashomon is a classic Japanese film in which every character has his or her own individual perceptions of a single incident, resulting in a plethora of conflicting eyewitness accounts, each as valid as the others, even though they contradict each other. Protests are invariably like the plot of Rashomon — each participant has his or her own experience, unlike everyone else's. So much is happening that it's impossible for one person to take it all in, yet there is never any single overarching event which everyone shares.
Most protests, and this one in particular, are little more than an incoherent jumble of wild goose chases, false alarms and fleeting micro-dramas. People are running every which way for hours and hours . As a result, the media invariably anoints some otherwise unimportant moment as the incident of significance, and the public internalizes this constructed narrative as the truth of "what happened" that day.
This photo, for example, shows one of these random moments as protesters hot-footed it toward the hotel in knee-jerk response to a distant hue and cry.
We got there to witness a small band of protesters making a brief and ultimately futile attempt to enter through the hotel's locked front doors.
A couple minutes later, the cops (as nonviolently as possible) pushed them back, and everything returned to its starting point.
In frustration, many protesters swarmed over to a different locked door, with identical non-results. A couple eggs were thrown.
When that didn't work, someone yelled "To the side door!!!", and like sheep the crowd herded itself over that way, yet again to utterly no avail.
Even so, this short-lived and pathetic series of failed door-rushes, despite lasting for only a few minutes and achieving nothing, was exaggerated by many media outlets into a dramatic "siege" of the hotel, "forcing" Trump to enter through the back door. Wrong. Many many hours earlier, perhaps even the night before, the Highway Patrol had opened a gap in the freeway barrier behind the hotel to allow Trump to enter unseen, as is standard operating procedure for most high-profile politicians and celebrities. Obama, for example, hasn't entered a building through the front door in full view of protesters since 2008.
But this incident was no more significant than dozens of other incidents that occurred throughout the day. The media's version of "what happened" is just one of many possible interpretations.
Protest as Three-RIng Circus
The real truth is that protests are literally like three-ring circuses, with sideshows erupting all over the place every few minutes.
Every now and then, that particular moment's self-appointed field sergeant would yell, "Hey, everyone: run that way!" and point in some random direction. And to my amazement, it would always work: Everybody in earshot inevitably would run that way. Sometimes the announced justification for the mob rush was factual -- "A Republican is trying to enter the hotel! Stop him!"; but more often it was just some bozo sending us all on a wild goose chase based on erroneous rumors: "Trump's motorcade is trying to crash through our barricade!", or "The side door of the hotel is unlocked!" Nope, and nope. This cycle repeated about every 15 or 20 minutes all day long.
And now, in the second ring, for your entertainment: Several professional protesters, after days of training and preparation, "chained" (not really but let's pretend for the sake of argument, shall we?) themselves together to "stop Trump" from entering the hotel, because Black and "Brwn" Lives Matter.
But of course Trump entered through the back door as planned, never coming anywhere near this human Maginot Line, rendering the whole charade irrelevant.
So, comically, the chained-together protesters stood up and trooped over to the police line to yell at the cops. "Pay attention to us! We are pretending to be chained together and this makes us really brave 'n' stuff!" A total embarrassment.
Wild Goose Chase #173: Stand over here in an abandoned parking lot and wave your signs frantically for 15 minutes because Something Big is about to happen! (15 minutes later, drift away aimlessly when nothing happens).
The Great Battle of Nowhere
Oooh, this looks like a scary important standoff!
Nah. It was nothing. Repeatedly throughout the day the cops would intentionally choose some random spot in the road and line up — even though there was nothing behind them to defend — and the protesters would dutifully start lining up in front of them, resulting in an artificially constructed and completely purposeless "confrontation."
Sometimes the reverse would happen: The protesters would line up to "make a stand" in the middle of nowhere...
...and then the cops would wearily put on their riot gear and dutifully troop out to stand in front of the protesters.
This completely absurd kabuki kept happening over and over because it served a useful purpose for each side: The cops wanted to lure the protesters away from the hotel (and did so successfully most of the time) by establishing scrimmage lines in the boondocks, while the protesters wanted to be perceived as brave revolutionaries "confronting the power structure." So each side got exactly what it wanted out of these almost comical pseudo-battles.
Normal, Average Voters
The media goes out of its way to portray anti-Trump activists as completely normal, middle-of-the-road average Americans.
So middle-of-the-road that they...
...reject Bernie Sanders as being too right-wing...
...scream "Capitalism Kills!"...
...and support rioters, communist insurgents, Hamas and ISIS.
Pro-Trumpers in the Anti-Trump Lion's Den
This took some nerve: A handful of Trump supporters showed up in the middle of the protest. One could tell from their signs ("If you're a socialist, go to Cuba!!") that they were there specifically to oppose the leftist narrative rather than merely to support Trump as a candidate.
Almost immediately they drew a swarm of enraged detractors.
Any remnant of social decorum or polite debate was long gone — some of the leftists almost immediately snatched the signs away from the young men (notice the woman in the green bandana on the left)...
...and either tore them to shreds...
...or hurled them onto the ground.
Before long the now-signless eight or so anti-communists had retreated to a nearby defensive position, where the screaming match continued unabated.
Things started to get violent when one of the leftists (the woman with the ponytail) cocked her arm back and took a swing at one of the young men standing silently with the Trump contingent. I heard a "Smack!" but didn't manage to capture the moment of impact. The youth himself just stood there dazed afterwards, remaining silent, but the guy with the beard was outraged: "What the hell is the matter with you?" he yelled at the grinning woman. She was completely unapologetic, and seemed sincerely mystified as to how anyone could criticize her behavior. I couldn't make out her exact words over the hubbub, but the gist of her defense was, "That guy looked smug; he has white privilege; he's a fascist; so naturally I slapped the smug off his face. What's the problem?"
Just as things were about to erupt into a full-scale brawl, a peacemaker emerged (the guy wearing a pink neckerchief), who was able through the sheer force of his personality to shoo away the riot-minded mob.
Even though the situation had been apparently defused there was a nearly disastrous flare-up (as seen in the "Scariest Moment" photo above) when a hotheaded protester (the guy in the dashiki) lunged aggressively at the same youth who had been earlier slapped. The peacemaker (with mouth agape) along with various bystanders managed to grab the attacker's arms and stave off what might have turned into a headline-making melée.
The Banner That Changed the World...for Five Minutes
If you had asked some of the activists in Burlingame that day which Rashomon-like incident was the most significant, they would scream in gleeful unison, "The banner!"
Y'see, a squadron of leftist agents had gone undercover for weeks ahead of time, pretending to be Republicans, registering to attend the convention, then visiting the hotel repeatedly prior to the event to scope it out, then constructing a massive four-story high banner, somehow smuggling it into the hotel at an earlier time, then climactically posing as Republicans and showing up the day of Trump's speech and shortly before he went on stage they (as carefully planned) tied the banner to beams and unfurled it down the glass front of the hotel. Success! An ecstatic cheer went up from those who witnessed it. Pictures were snapped. High-fives were slapped. Tears of joy.
And then, about five minutes later, the cops took it down.
As the brave champions were escorted outside by the police, they raised their fists in righteous victory!!!!
Our triumphant heroes!
But seriously, they had somewhat mis-timed their banner-drop to happen too early, before most of the protesters had even arrived; furthermore, a substantial portion of the protesters on hand were at that moment preoccupied with this or that other wild goose chase and didn't even notice the banner. End result: This massive subversive operation provided a few minutes of giggly snark for a handful of fellow activists. But that's all.
Topless Against Trump
Here's a secret: Protesters are constantly competing against each other in an unending skirmish for who can seize the bystanders' attention. "Look at me!" "No — look at me!" "Look over here!" It's a Drama Queen Battle Royale: who has the most outrageous sign, the biggest banner, the loudest megaphone, the craziest antics?
And then someone unleashes a secret weapon and crushes the opposition in the War for Eyeballs. And by "weapon," I mean "boobs."
A bevy of college-age skinnies stripped off their shirts and began to march around topless (except for strategically placed stickers) chanting something something something which no one bothered even listening to because everyone was looking at boobs instead.
Necks craned. Cameras clicked. Success! Attention seized.
But the problem with setting off on a "march" at a stationary protest is that there's nowhere to "go," so after trooping up and down the block a few times they had nothing better to do than settle in at one of the many meaningless "standoff lines" in front of the cops.
They did their best to act confrontational, yelling and pumping their fists in the air and sticking their boobs out to smash the patriarchy and so forth.
It wasn't entirely clear what they wanted, other than to be the center of attention. Their stickers and bodypaint demanded "Free the Nipple!", which I suppose was part of a larger demand that society desexualize the female body; i.e. allow people to walk around naked without anyone caring or getting aroused or upset.
But there's a fatal flaw in their entire performance: They were using the shock value and sexual appeal of their naked female bodies to grab everyone's attention and then demand that no one should pay any attention to naked female bodies. Which is both hypocritical and self-defeating.
So, even though one of the topless ladies bore an uncanny resemblance to Natalie Portman...
...before long the shock value wore off, so that by the time they decided to go on a second desperate attention-seeking march up and down the block, everyone had already become bored with them and hardly anyone even bothered to glance in their direction.
And so the topless protesters squandered their fifteen minutes of fame with a muddled message and hypocritical strategy. They got what they wanted: Everyone rapidly ceased being uptight about or interested in the girls' semi-nudity. But as a consequence, there was therefore no reason to pay any further attention to them or their message.
The Trump Economic Boom Has Already Begun
Incredibly, by his mere looming presence, Donald Trump is already stimulating the economy, as entrepreneurs rush to capitalize on the intense Trump-hatred sweeping the nation.
These inspirational young businessmen made HUUUGE profits with their "Throw an Egg at Trump" booth. Notice how they instinctively followed Trump's capitalist philosophy by offering a discount ($5) for large-volume purchases (three eggs).
Within minutes, cardboard Trump was saturated with yolk.
Will someone set up "Throw an Egg at Trump" franchises at other protests?
This man was a walking billboard for another Trump-inspired small business, selling "Trump Troll Souvenirs," which (according to the Trump Troll Web site) come in three styles:
Signed Edition — Hand-cast, painted & signed by the artist
Mass-Produced — Light-weight copies in full color
Blank's — Cast, primed, white Trump Trolls ready for your customization
(The site's e-commerce checkout system seems to be on the fritz at the moment, but you can contact the artist directly to order a Trump Troll of your own.)
Scattered throughout the event were clever capitalists raking in piles of cash by selling communist literature to all the useful idiots. Pure genius!
At this rate, the nation's economy — humming with anti-Trump startups — will be back on its feet before he even gets elected. The Midas touch!
The Most Unlikely Heroes: A Flag-Burning Gone Wrong
While I was snapping photos of the pro-Trump contingent, an anarchist snatched one of their American flags and ran quickly back to the main protest where he lit it on fire, to the delight of the media in the vicinity. Thinking that the Flag Burning Times had arrived, a different protester thought that he too could wow the crowd by burning his own American flag, which he had brought along for this very purpose. But he misread the mood of the mob: As he futilely flicked his lighter against the flag's stubbornly flame-retardant corner, people began to gather around him yelling "Stop that! You're gonna made us all look bad!" It's not that they loved America — it's that they thought the political optics of a flag being burned would sully the otherwise wholesome reputation of the overall protest.
But the the guy turned out to be some kind of creepy deviant psychopath who seemed to become aroused at the very thought of fire, and he simply would not stop flicking his lighter.
It was only then that two most unexpected and unlikely American heroes stepped in to physically stop him and save the flag. Can you guess who? You've already met both of them earlier in this report.
Captain Mexico to the rescue! Yes, incredibly, it was Captain Mexico who took the greatest offense at the American flag being burned, and like a true superhero reached in and tried to physically stop the pyromaniac.
But the supervillain did not give up so easily. He wrenched the flag back from Captain Mexico, escaped from his clutches, ran a short distance away and continued his attempts at ignition.
And it was then that a second hero emerged, even more unlikely than the first. Yes, it was Pent-Up Violence Man, whom we met in the very first picture above trying to attack a Trump supporter, this time turning what seemed a barely suppressed urge to punch someone, anyone, on the suddenly deflated and terrified pyro, who released his grip on the flag after a brief one-sided struggle, during which the hero said something like, "Don't give me an excuse, man; I would love to smash your face in."
After his flag had been wrenched away from him to safety, the lunatic began to harangue the crowd with toxic condemnations of the United States that were so ludicrous and over-the-top, even for this crowd, that they only elicited mocking laughter.
This whole incident clearly serves to illustrate how the "narrative" you see presented by the media about any event is almost always distorted and one-sided. Sure, one guy earlier succeeded in burning a flag. That got reported. But what didn't get reported is that the burning incident only pissed off most of the protesters in the vicinity, so much so that they physically prevented the next flag from being burned. Layers within layers. Rashomon.
The Courageous Conservative and the Passing Freak Parade
As we saw in "The Picture That Most Succinctly Sums Up the Entire Election Season" above, a Cruz supporter in a "Courageous Conservatives" shirt by chance found himself at one point perfectly positioned to observe up close a parade of prototypical left-wing protesters rushing up to what they (mistakenly) imagined was an unlocked door on the side of the hotel.
Did I say "freak parade"? Yeah.
For the most part they ignored him, probably unaware of who "Ted Cruz" even was, until one young masked rogue remembered his "How to incite a riot" training and started intentionally violating the Cruz supporter's personal space, accidentally-on-purpose bumping his chest up against him in the hope of eliciting an outraged response, which then could be expertly manipulated into escalating violence.
But the Cruz supporter lived up to his implacable Clint Eastwood resemblance by remaining utterly unresponsive to any attempts at incitation, and kept an avuncular grin on his face throughout the entire ordeal, no matter what insanity swirled around him.
The Drumpf Card
For reasons I simply can't fathom, the left now thinks it is devastatingly clever to refer to Trump as "Drumpf," which is how the family name of his distant ancestors was spelled centuries ago in the Middle Ages, before the spelling evolved to "Trump" sometime around the 1600s. Why is this considered noteworthy? The only two explanations I can imagine are that either, a. "Drumpf" is a more obviously German spelling, and duh German=Nazi, so calling him "Drumpf" is just an insider-joke way of once again repeating the "Nazi" accusation; or, b. By pointing out (via the foreign-seeming name) that Trump's ancestors were immigrants to the United States, the protesters are trying to argue that Trump is therefore a hypocrite for opposing illegal immigration now. Unless I'm missing something. Could "Drumpf" simply be a childish playground taunt, based on nothing more than the name's perceived ugliness? Is it really that simple? Whatever the explanation, it's a spectacularly ineffective put-down.
Most Strategically Over-Sophisticated Political Meme
"Demented Fascist Drumpf Runs Left of Sanders," claims this anti-Trump protester at the Burlingame rally. This requires some untangling. I think the goal of the sign is to inform conservative Republicans that Trump is actually liberal, and thereby cause those voters to recoil in horror from him, draining his main base of support. But the sign-maker has gotten all tangled up in the wording. Firstly, Trump may actually be a secret liberal, but he's running (i.e. presenting himself publicly to the voters) as a conservative. But if he's a secret leftist, and if it's also the case that (as the sign claims) he's a "fascist," then that means that fascism must be a leftist ideology. Which is actually true, and one of the dirty secrets of history — that both fascism and Nazism (note the swastika) self-identified as the nationalist variants of socialism, as opposed to the internationalist variant practiced by the Soviet Union and championed by the many communist groups sprouting up in Europe during that era. Yet whether nationalist or internationalist, they're all still different types of collectivist socialism. But I think the sign-maker would be mortified to realize that her message unwittingly condemns leftism as a totalitarian movement. That wasn't her intent — she's just trying to do a double-reverse head-fake on what she imagines are Republican rubes. But instead she tripped over her own message and ended up condemning her own ideology. Way, way too much strategery.
Queers for Palestine, etc. etc.
My all-time least favorite protest group, "Queers for Palestine," made their first appearance in quite a while.
Except they (as is their wont) had changed their name for the umpteenth time, now to "QUAGMIRE." (I have no idea what that stands for.)
But in perfect keeping with their out-of-control name-change addiction, they had also changed their name to QuATWDS — Queers Against The Whole Damn System!
Another trend you're sure to see more of as the campaign goes national is to insult Trump in Spanish. At the Burlingame event, protesters called Trump...
Pendejo (which literally means "pubic hair," but is a slang term meaning "moron" or "asshole").
Puto (literally "male prostitute," but a closer slang translation would be "fag" or "coward").
And even El Maligno (literally "The Evil One," a religious term referring to Satan).
Any one of the sections above could have been — and would have been by most media outlets — selected as the narrative of "what happened" outside Trump's speech in Burlingame. But no matter which thesis was chosen, it not only would have been incomplete and thus inaccurate, but it also would have been intentionally misconstrued in order to support a clickbaity and/or Trump-smearing headline: "Swastikas Displayed at Trump Rally!"; or "Protesters Get Naked to Stop Trump"; or (as was actually done by various outlets) "Hotel Siege Forces Trump to Hide!"; and so on.
Even my seemingly comprehensive overview here is admittedly incomplete: no single eyewitness can be present everywhere at all times. But at least I try to be thorough; the same can't be said for the rest of the media. The best defense against a biased and dishonest press is an audience aware of the deceit. Consider yourself educated.
(To comment on this essay, visit the zomblog post about the rally.)
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