Not a shining day for Boston, but not as horrible as I thought it might be. Here I'm going by Boston.com's coverage
. Timing notes follow the article. They're the times of the posts, not necessarily when things happened.( Reported events from Saturday )
Conclusions? The number of people trying to intimidate or harm people must have been relatively small, considering the size of the crowd, or there would have been far worse. Nonetheless, it's significant that every act of aggression, or nearly so, came from people masquerading as "anti-Nazis" or "anti-racists." (They're neither, but just bullies.) They're the kind people who shout down speakers or block access whenever they can. The kind who think their throwing rocks and urine is "kinetic beauty." They usually confine their actions to college campuses, where they think they won't be punished.
It's very disturbing when the police commissioner says it's a "good thing" that people can't get to hear a message he doesn't want them to hear. That's the voice of the police state.
Also disturbing is the lack of any intellectual content to the protest. It was, as far as I can see, basically an exercise in name-calling. Or at least that's all that we get to hear through the usual news reporting. When they use "nazi" to insult anyone whose message they don't like, it accomplishes two things:
(1) It trivializes actual Nazis. In Charlottesville, there were actual, swastika-wearing Nazis chanting "blood and soil." Nazism supports many of the worst forms of brutality ever devised, including the murder of millions.
(2) It mainstreams Nazism. If everyone you dislike is a Nazi, then maybe Nazis aren't so bad. At least some people will think that way.
Is this the new normal in America? Mobs forming to intimidate every speaker they don't like? Then we might as well give up on America.Update:
Based on this Eagle-Tribune article
, people were prevented from hearing the speakers. According to one account, "They spoke for about 40 minutes. Whenever they got loud enough for anyone over here to hear them, people booed them and drowned them out."
On the other hand, the rally itself sounds strange: "The group had gathered to share members' views on free speech, but did not allow any members of the press inside the barricades. They had no public address system and could not be heard by the thousands that had gathered to protest the rally." Nor by those who gathered to hear it, it seems. That would explain the lack of coverage of content. If they wanted to be heard, why did they not bring sound equipment or let any press in?
The Eagle-Tribune article notes that Antifa people were present, and it's reasonable to suspect they were behind the worst acts. The article notes that in one case of bullying, some protesters "shouted for them to not engage physically, and others still helped police escort him to safety." I think the overwhelming majority of the crowd was good people, but the danger is letting the pro-violence, anti-free speech people become their public face.Update 2:
A bike ride later, what remains disturbing to me is that thousands of people were so upset that someone they didn't like was speaking in public that they had to denounce it in exaggerated terms. These people had just a Facebook page rather than a real Web presence, were confused about how to get a permit, and didn't have a PA system. The event would have gone by without any notice, but that would have been horribly unforgivable.