Best way to treat Saturday's 'free speech' spectacle? Ignore it

Neighbors gathered for a spontaneous vigil on the plaza next to Ashmont station on Sunday in response to last Saturday’s violence sparked by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. Meg Campbell photo.

How should Bostonians confront Saturday’s planned assembly of “free speech” protestors on Boston Common?

Don’t. Ignore them.

Let the Boston Police— who must bear the burden of having to cordon off a protest pen and search anyone who shows up for weapons— do their job.

Those who feel compelled to “counter” demonstrate should do so away from the area where the permitted protest is staged on the Common. There is no purpose served in a direct confrontation with these fringe lunatics— other than to magnify whatever whack-job agenda they’ve conjured up in their basement lairs.

There is no need for a repeat of what happened in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend. We don’t allow people to walk around openly with automatic weapons or batons to menace other citizens. We have a large, well-trained police force — aided by State Police resources— that is experienced in controlling public assemblies and protests on the Common. They’ll make sure the haters are contained and— if needed— arrested and charged.

Rep. Byron Rushing, who represents Roxbury and the South End, was right on target this week when he told reporters: “It’s a very, very difficult time when the right wing, especially the violent right wing, gets so much publicity and does such dastardly things. So we have to have a reaction to that, but we have to be calm about that reaction. We don’t want to act like they do.”

Exactly. The small band of provocateurs will go back under whatever rock they emerged from. Saturday will come and go. Our city will resume its normal business.

What’s far more troubling than sun-deprived millennial misfits kvetching on the Common? Let’s start with the ramblings of the simpleton who now occupies the White House. His ignorance, it seems, is boundless and the danger presented by his erratic behavior is profoundly disturbing. Apparently, his top aides cannot steer him clear of his own worst instincts for more than a day.

There is no hope of moderating Trump’s tone. He is a disgrace.

But thankfully, our federal system does afford us a modicum of stability in these trying times. We have faith in our city and state leadership that they will provide steady, sensible leadership on the home front.

There is, however, a greater menace presented by this president’s madness.

Amid the tumult of the last week’s domestic strife, it is easy to forget that a nuclear confrontation with North Korea remains a very real danger.

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey this week led a delegation to South Korea, China and Japan to seek a new path to diplomacy on the peninsula.

“No president should have the power to launch a nuclear-first strike without Congressional approval,” Markey told reporters before departing. “As long as President Trump has a Twitter account, we need a nuclear no-first-use policy.”

That was never clearer than this week as Trump careened schizophrenically from pillar to post on the Charlottesville crisis. Republican leaders who control Congress need to put the good of the nation before party and fast-track Markey’s proposal to check the president’s use of nuclear arms.

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