Earlier this week, something crazy happened at a pro-Trump rally in New York. It was a confrontation between conservative rally-goers and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists. We know how this goes, right?
Not so fast.
The event did not result in violence – neither did it devolve into a senseless shouting match. Instead, everyone present was treated to a profound example of how American political discourse should progress.
A pro-Trump organization held “The Mother Of All Rallies” in New York. The event was designed to promote free speech and support President Donald Trump. A video from Now This News covered the event.
As conservative speakers gave their speeches, members of BLM approached, chanting their slogans. In response to the activists, the participants in the rally shouted their own catchphrases. The tense environment was certainly ripe for a violent altercation.
But what happened next was shocking.
Black Lives Matter Speaks
One of the speakers at the rally announced that he wanted to give Black Lives Matter a chance to address the audience. When members of the group came onto the stage, the speaker said, “What we are going to do is something you’re not used to.” He continued, “We’re going to give you two minutes of our platform to put your message out.”
After receiving the microphone, Hank Newsome, the leader of Black Lives Matter New York, began to speak. He started by saying, “I’m an American,” to which the audience cheered. “The beauty of America is that when you see something broke in your country, you can mobilize to fix it.”
He went on to give the rest of his message. Some of his statements were met with jeers, while others were applauded by the audience. “We are not anti-cop, we are anti-bad cop,” Newsome said. “We say if a cop is bad, he needs to get fired, like a bad plumber, like a bad lawyer, like a bad [expletive] politician.” The leader of the group received the biggest cheers when he concluded his speech, “If we really want to make America great, we do it together.”
What happened on that stage was powerful. However, the most poignant moments took place afterward.
Speaking with a reporter, Newsome discussed the event:
“It kind of restored my faith in some of those people. Because when I spoke truths, they agreed. I feel like we made progress. I feel like two sides that never listen to each other actually made progress today.”
He also talked about the rallygoers who approached him afterward. He told the reporter that the leader of a 4,000-member militia group shook his hand and said, “I always knew I identified with you, but today solidified it.”
In a genuinely touching display, one of the leaders of Bikers for Trump asked Newsome to take a picture with his son. He said “One of the heads of Bikers for Trump came up and shook my hand, asked me to take a picture with his son, a little blonde-haired kid named Jacob. That’s special.” He continued, “Here I went from being their enemy, to someone they want to take pictures with their children.
How BLM Found Common Ground with Conservatives
This video should serve as a prototype for how Americans should interact when they are expressing opposing views. When you watch the clip, it’s easy to focus on the areas where the two groups disagree. However, we would be wise to focus on areas where they found common ground.
When Newsome talked about the values of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the audience responded with applause. They did the same when he proclaimed that “bad cops” should be fired. While there were several areas of disagreement, both groups found commonality – even a sense of camaraderie – on the more important issues.
This event shows that not only are productive political conversations possible – they can help us recognize that as Americans, we have a bond that transcends our political differences. If more of us engaged in this type of discourse, we could make a significant impact on society.
When Hank Newsome led his group of BLM activists into the Mother of All Rallies, he had no idea that he would be addressing Trump supporters on the stage. According to the leader, he expected to “exchange some insults, maybe some dirty looks.” Instead, Newsome ended up shaking hands with his “enemies” and holding one of their kids as he posed for a picture with their family.
Newsome said that the outcome of this event was due to the “power of communication” – I would say that it was the power of free speech and open minds. Let’s face it – conservatives and liberals have differing values. As long as the United States remains a sovereign nation, these two sides will continue to oppose each other.
The problem is that many on both sides are more concerned with winning the argument than finding ways to bridge the divide – we have all been guilty of this. However, while we are arguing the merits of our ideas, we should also be open to finding common ground.
While it may not seem like it, what happened at the Mother of All Rallies carries even greater significance than the rhetorical successes won by the left and the right in our battle for our culture. The winners of this exchange were not Republicans or Democrats – they were Americans who understood the importance of mutual understanding.
There will always be a time for vigorous polemics – but there are also times when we should come together and reason with one another. If conservatives can find common ground with a leftist group like BLM at a pro-Trump rally, the rest of us can do the same with others who espouse differing views. Let us argue for our ideas against those who oppose us – but let us also be willing to engage with those who will reach out in good faith.