One of today’s major news stories tells of an “ambush” of a Biden-Harris campaign bus on a Texas highway by members of the “MAGA Cavalry,” a fleet of truck-driving Trump supporters. Whether what they actually did was illegal, it was undeniably stupid, although not as stupid as allowing armed vigilantes to police demonstrations that could possibly explode into riots. And whatever the legality of certain actions, those which stupidly and needlessly endanger public safety must be condemned.
Over the years I’ve grown more and more wary of preliminary reports on basically anything and everything. Thorough, impartial, and frequently time-consuming investigations are needed before some approximation of the truth can be determined. One never knows what facts may be unearthed or otherwise concealed.
Keeping that in mind, a one of the earliest stories of the “ambush” says that a Biden staffer reported “that Trump supporters surrounded the bus on the highway and slowed down in front of it, attempting to stop it or run it off the road. The official sent a picture taken on the bus, showing Trump trucks surrounding the front of the vehicle. Staffers on the bus called police, who helped the bus reach its destination.” The bus had been going to Austin for a Biden campaign event which was cancelled following this incident. The story can be read here: https://www.thedailybeast.com/biden-camp-cancels-austin-texas-event-after-pro-trump-ambush-on-campaign-bus.
What laws, if any, were broken cannot be determined without further investigation. And there can be no question that should some be charged with criminal activity, they must be considered innocent until proven guilty and provided with all constitutionally-mandated legal protections. But one only needs experience on highways to know how dangerous this stunt was, inasmuch as it involved trucks at high rates of speed harassing a bus. The stupidity of the stunt’s perpetrators is as breathtaking as it’s obvious.
At least nobody was killed—this time. The same cannot be said for recent incidents involving armed vigilantes who decide to take the law into their own hands. The most recent case is that of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot 3 people at a demonstration degenerating into a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin last August following the police shooting of a Black man. Rittenhouse, likewise entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, is claiming self-defense, and videos of the shootings may back him up. The case against him is by no means a slam dunk. But as my favorite opinion journal, the conservative National Review, puts it: “There can be no question that Rittenhouse and whatever adults were in charge of him made idiotic decisions. Minors should not stand guard at riots play-acting at being cops.” Besides, asked the National Review, “Where the f*** were this kid’s parents?” One could also ask, “Where the f*** were the Kenosha authorities,” and write volumes on their idiocy in failing to provide for adequate security and therefore make armed vigilantes unnecessary. Check out the full National Review article, which also includes supportive speculation on Rittenhouse’s probably innocence here: https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/08/does-kyle-rittenhouse-have-a-self-defense-claim/.
No doubt this column will alienate and offend many with whose political views I otherwise sympathize. After all, my first column on Rittenhouse provoked widespread condemnation not only from those who consider him a hero, but from those who falsely said I oppose the use of firearms for legitimate self defense, such as in cases of home or office invasion. But by obeying the rules of the road without trying to score political points, and by demanding and receiving protection from armed and experienced police rather than armed but inexperienced adolescents, you’ll stand a much better chance of remaining safe enough—and alive enough—to exercise your right to tell me how awful my thoughts on safety vs. stupidity may be.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.