Massachusetts conservatives say the feverish piling-on that the MAGA hat-wearing teenagers in Washington, D.C. experienced is what they routinely face whenever they dare to show President Trump garb or bumper stickers in public — their right to political free speech is shouted down with taunts, foul language and even threats here in the Bay State.
“The hostility has intensified. The hostility is really unrelenting — and it is going to get worse as the presidential race starts up,” said Tom Mountain of Newton, a Republican Party committee member who weighs whether to wear his Trump jacket and opts not to sport a bumper sticker. “It’s too risky. The costs outweigh the benefits of making a political statement — it’s really a very sad state of affairs.”
On Friday, a video of a confrontation between teenagers wearing Make America Great Again hats and a Native American protester lit up social media, with many in the media, as well as commentators and pols on both sides jumping to conclusions and quickly excoriating the teens. Then more video emerged showing the Native American activist and other protesters had confronted the teens, rather than the other way around.
“We’re so used to it,” said Mountain, who said he wouldn’t give one of his elderly relatives a MAGA hat because he’d worry about angry liberals getting in the older man’s face.
Jay Dwyer, an organizer for the Greater Waltham Tea Party, said he and other members often get snide remarks for their Trump gear.
“It’s an amazing transformation because the left used to be all for freedom of speech,” Dwyer said. “Now they celebrate diversity of everything except thought.”
Dwyer added, “We’re happy warriors, we’re behind enemy lines — it’s all good.”
It is a free speech problem, said Harvey Silverglate, a Boston civil rights attorney.
“I find the combination of intolerance and jumping to conclusions to be very disturbing,” said Silverglate, a liberal who is no fan of the president.
Harvard Law professor emeritus and civil rights attorney Alan Dershowitz has taken flak for the stances he’s taken against the investigations into Trump. He doesn’t support Trump either, but said efforts to bully Trump supporters are very troubling.
“Anybody in America is entitled to wear any hat they want — you should feel safe to share you political views,” Dershowitz said. “Look, If you wear a hat for one candidate or another, you can expect people will argue with you. That’s part of America. But threatening you or shouting you down — that’s not in the tradition of the First Amendment.”
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Maura Healey — a Democrat who has been a vocal critic of Trump — said, “Harassment of any kind is unacceptable. We encourage anyone who has experienced bias-motivated harassment, threats or violence to call our office.”
Newton resident Sandra Young said people have stolen eight Trump signs from her lawn. She is wary about wearing Trump apparel around town, as doing so often draws “a nasty remark or a nasty look.”
“It’s too bad it has to be like that, but we live in liberal Massachusetts,” Young said.
(c)2019 the Boston Herald
Visit the Boston Herald at www.bostonherald.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.