The sight of American leftists getting on their moral high horses to attribute blame to conservatives for the growth of political violence in America is exasperating, to say the least. The dispatch of mail bombs to critics of Donald Trump and the shootings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh were like manna from heaven for these leftists as they jockeyed for position in their race to associate these isolated actions by seemingly deranged individuals with the President and his supporters. Writing in The Atlantic, Adam Serwer had no misgivings in insisting that “Trump’s Caravan Hysteria” led the Pittsburg gunman to take matters into his own hands and shoot at worshipers. Over at CNN Alisyn Camerota followed a similar line by trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to entice the rabbi at the synagogue, Jeffrey Myers, to blame President Trump for the shooting, while Aaron Blake’s attempt in the Washington Post to appear objective by arguing “why it’s fair to ask whether Trump is to blame” was as hollow as one’s imagination allows. A similar pattern was seen in the wake of the shootings at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, whereby the perpetrator, a lone gunman with leftist ideological leanings, was suddenly turned by the leftist global media into a paid-up member of Team Trump.
Notwithstanding the absurdity of these and countless other claims, the left would be well-advised to consider which side has created a climate of violence in which intimidation of conservatives by leftist agitators is part of the current political landscape. Yet the sight of senators and presidential spokespeople being driven out of restaurants, conservatives prevented from speaking on university campuses, lawmakers hounded en route to Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, masked Antifa mobs paying visits to the homes of conservative talk-show hosts under cover of darkness—all of these, while alarming, should not surprise. For the left, democracy has always been a matter of political expediency inasmuch as it has bought time for the subversion of Western Civilization. Now that the left has realized that its agenda is under serious threat from the populist surge that has gripped much of the Western world, it is panicking and reacting in the only way it can. And it has by now abandoned any serious attempt to intellectualize its objectives, owing to its hubristic belief in the inevitability of its Cultural Marxist program, popularly known as political correctness. Though conspicuously extreme in the U.S., the left’s malaise is far from confined to American shores.
In the U.K., where Brexit has severely disrupted leftist plans to destroy what remains of Britain’s national identity, mobs regularly harass conservative speakers; shut down hustings; and hound parliamentarians, especially those of Jewish origin, who are forced to run the gauntlet of protestors with warped views of the Middle Eastern conflict. Across Europe leftist mobs violently demand the opening of borders to millions of migrants from the Third World—a scene now replicated with the migrant caravans approaching the U.S. border. The crime waves that follow in the wake of their arrival are dismissed as fake news, with their victims—most often, sexually assaulted women—being treated with indifference in the face of a greater ideological goal.
Such intimidation and violence is, of course, nothing new. When Lenin’s Bolshevik thugs stormed the Russian Constituent Assembly in 1918 after losing the election, they continued an historical trend that began in the French Revolution. Nonetheless, there is something much more menacing about the current leftist warpath. What once was activity confined to anarchists and to other elements of the leftist fringe now has vociferous mainstream cheerleaders who publicly suggest that violence is a legitimate form of political expression. Democratic leaders, journalists, and celebrities whip up Antifa thugs into a frenzy, call for public harassment of Republican officials, and justify violent assaults in the name of some purported moral superiority. Nancy Pelosi’s initial silence in the wake of the Berkley Antifa riots, after she had fomented hysteria over speakers whom she laughably called white supremacists, spoke volumes about her own political prejudices. Similarly, when Democratic representative Maxine Waters or Michelangelo Signorile from the The Huffington Post called for the public harassment of what Signorile termed “elected officials and White House staffers,” did they for a moment consider the implications of their call to arms? Whereas once the hounding of Robert McNamara, by leftist fanatics, even after his leaving office, was universally condemned across the mainstream political spectrum, now such activism has become a de facto policy of the Democratic Party. How far away in this frenzied political climate is the hounding of Sarah Sanders or Mitch McConnell out of restaurants from more acts of potentially deadly violence such as the shooting of the House Republican Whip Steve Scalise? Astonishingly, even this event could not temper the political stance of CNN, whose report on the incident failed to challenge a claim made by an acquaintance of the perpetrator that he “wasn’t evil [but rather] tired of the politics that was going on.” Nastier still was MSNBC contributor, editor-writer for Vanity Fair and regular writer for Newsweek Kurt Eichenwald, who, in the wake of attempts to repeal Obamacare, tweeted, “As one w/ preexisting condition: I hope that every GOPr who voted 4 Trumpcare sees a family member get long term condition, lose insurance, & die.”
What unites all this leftist activity, though it is nuanced by national peculiarities, is a total disdain for the democratic process. In Britain, a well-funded, celebrity-supported campaign is urging a “People’s Vote” to reverse Brexit. In Poland the nationalist-conservative government which was elected by a landslide has confronted demonstrations, backed by the unelected Commission of the European Union, by the deceptively named Committee for the Defence of Democracy. In Hungary, another popular government has faced similar protests, as has the populist strongman Jair Bolsonaro following his victory in the Brazilian presidential race. Around the world, democratic victories, even by significant majority, have no bearing on leftist agitators, who deem street activism, often with violent undertones, as more legitimate than any ballot box.
When progressive politics is stymied, democracy itself becomes the enemy, while those who triumph through it are labelled enemies of the people and vilified, their arguments discounted by ad hominem attacks in scenes reminiscent of Maoist and Stalinist “non-personhood” rituals. When Barack Obama’s former attorney general Eric Holder declared at a Democratic rally that, “when [Republicans] go low, we kick them,” his words resonated strongly with the audience, which was as yet unfamiliar with Holder’s later claim that he meant his statement as a metaphor opposing those who “were undermining our democracy.” His rather unconvincing elucidation, however, merely confirmed his own disdain for democratic values.
Of course, violence and intimidation are not exclusive to the left; they arise from human nature. But political violence is at the core of the left’s ideological DNA, from the dictatorship of the proletariat, a cornerstone of Marxist philosophy, to Antifa thuggery. From abortion to euthanasia, the ultimate solution to social problems for leftists is violence, thinly disguised as a defense of the rights of some oppressed group or another. Revolution is the means to power, while silencing opponents is the means of maintaining it. Leftists are outraged by the Second Amendment not because they are opposed to guns—how can they otherwise fight their anticipated Revolution?—but because it allows their ideological opponents to bear arms with which to defend themselves. The Bolsheviks in Russia were also outraged that the Czar had guns and decried his crimes against social justice. They took the guns away and killed the Czar. Leftists shriek in outrage over plastic straws and soda pop, and are offended by statues of long-dead white men, but they remain silent in the face of the growing persecution of Christians by Islamist states and see no problem in the dismemberment of “fetuses” at birth. The politics of outrage clearly have ideological priorities.
But the leftist star is waning: It is significantly handicapped by its moral and intellectual bankruptcy. This in turn renders its social-justice warriors ill-equipped to return fire against the new populist movements—a situation that they in their hubris failed to foresee, having been indoctrinated in little more than the inevitability of their triumph. Their subsequent contempt for popular demands and their relentless attempts to reverse democratic decisions merely further their own demise. The British leftist novelist Howard Jacobson summed up this attitude in a recent interview with the Irish journalist James O’Brien, when he declared that “we’re coming to the comeuppance of democracy. . . . You can’t trust the people. . . . [Y]ou can be certain that the people will get it wrong. They’d already done it as far as I was concerned in Brexit. And then with Trump again.” Such an outcome, he adds, was the result of “their inability to distinguish true from false.” Abusing opponents was effective when the p.c. establishment had control over the media, but is much less so in the global media age. Foolish political posturing, “safe spaces” for the intellectually and emotionally challenged, violent assaults on political opponents, and the promotion of an identity politics based on an absurd victimhood culture are hardly sufficient to repel the populist surge of real outrage.