Politics in a free society always has, always will, feature disagreement. There’s only the real Camelot of human frailty, and not the imagined round table of perpetual bonhomie. You want to purge disagreement from politics? Someone has to shut up, and someone else has to do the shutting up – via ostracism, career punishment, intimidation, and sometimes, tragically, violence.
Charles C.W. Cooke says it perfectly: Words don’t pull triggers – people do. But it’s still not a good idea to personalize disagreements, demonize opponents as less than honorable fellow citizens, or brand the “other’s” motivation as sinister.
To those of you aware of what you’re doing: I’m sure you make Mr.Alinksy very proud. By any means necessary. Your goals are that pure and your intelligence that flawless. No need to suffer fools.
To those for whom these are not merely tactics, who believe your political opponents are worth hating, who think there is no good reason any decent person could ever disagree with you: do some homework. Even the most popular presidents enjoy the disapproval of 40-45% of the nation’s citizens. Issues that divide the country 50-50 or 60-40 don’t mean half your fellow citizens are monsters, it just means they’re tough issues. Maybe in 100 years with the benefit of hindsight it’ll all be obvious, but in the meantime, this side of heaven, please try to remember it was ever thus.
At least in free societies.
An exercise in tit-for-tat would be tempting here, but conservatives for the most part know better. Given the routinely violent, anti-Semitic, racist, and misogynist rhetoric associated with the Left — as seen at any Occupy encampment or protest directed at Israel, Clarence Thomas, or Sarah Palin — it is worth remarking upon the hypocrisy of the Left’s trying to blame talk radio or tea-party protests for acts of violence. (And never mind that rhetoric was replaced by actual acts of violence at Occupy events, not at tea-party rallies.) There is in fact remarkably little political violence in the United States, a fact for which we should be grateful.
What is remarkable here is the intellectual dishonesty: The Left seeks to discredit conservative criticism as “hate speech,” while at the same time engaging in the wildest sort of excess. One example of left-wing rhetorical excess is of course the attempt to brand the FRC a hate group when its employees are the targets of political violence, not the perpetrators of it. Life is full of little ironies.
Politics is generational. Consider the thuggery practiced by the Democrats recently in Wisconsin. Force, intimidation, and openly partisan, unprofessional conduct on the part of judges, civil servants, physicians, and policemen became on the part of left-liberals the order of the day, and no one on the left stood up to denounce this conduct. Now, thanks to our President’s admiration for the tactics of Saul Alinsky, others in other states are imitating the deportment of the Wisconsin left-liberals – not only heckling Republican candidates but attempting to storm the platforms on which they speak.
I remember when left-liberals insisted on civility. I remember when they condemned the tactics of intimidation championed by the New Left. I remember when progressives insisted on impartiality on the part of judges, civil servants, policemen, and those who purported to be reporting the news (as opposed to espousing opinion). There were always exceptions to the rule. Dan Rather was playing tricks as early as 1963. But, when caught and exposed, these exceptions took it on the chin. Today they rarely even apologize.
I remember when liberals sported on their automobiles bumper stickers reading, “Hatred is not a Family Value.” Then, back in 2003, in The New Republic, Jonathan Chait wrote an essay explaining why it was legitimate to hate George W. Bush, and the dam burst. Civility is no longer a liberal ideal. And now – as yesterday’s armed attack on the Family Research Council in Washington, the five-hour delay in President Obama’s condemnation of the act as he calculated whether it was in his interest to comment or not, and the mainstream media’s initial reluctance to report on the event, much less highlight the activist LGBT connections of the shooter suggest – left liberals are willing to wink at violence. It may be regrettable, they think, but, like stealing elections, it is all in a good cause – and before figuring out how to respond to an outbreak of violence on the part of their allies, they pause to calculate the political consequences. You will not hear liberals arguing for a crackdown on the use of force by animal-rights activists, environmental activists, union thugs, and the Occupy movement. Instead, you will find in them a desperate hankering to pin on the Tea Party responsibility for conduct the Tea-Partiers abhor and a willingness to engage in race-baiting and talk of class warfare on a stunning scale.
The editors at IBD point out the deafening silence from the usual sources in Crickets Chirp When Leftist Hate Inspires Violence:
Notice how those who hate apply the word so frequently to those who don’t.
It took CNN two hours and 45 minutes before mentioning the shooting at the advocacy group’s office 1.1 miles from the CNN D.C. bureau. On the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams gave the story just 17 seconds, identifying FRC as a “conservative group” but not mentioning the affiliations and motive of the shooter.
…Media coverage no doubt would have been more intense had a gunman walked into the the offices of a gay rights organization carrying, say, a Ben & Jerry’s bag, shouting that he didn’t like that organization’s policies.
But then this is the media that scoured Tea Party rallies for racist signs while ignoring the rapes, murders, assaults and vandalism that were all too typical of the Occupy Wall Street protests they embraced.
…When liberals say we must civilize our discourse and watch what we say, they mean conservatives should shut up. Liberals can spout all the hate they want.
David French thinks the source of left hate is lack of diversity:
The entire cities of New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. are less politically diverse than your average Evangelical megachurch.
Don’t believe me? In 2008, McCain/Palin won 73 percent of the Evangelical/born-again vote. By contrast, San Francisco gave Obama/Biden 84 percent of its votes. All the boroughs of New York City (except Staten Island) went for Obama by wider margins than 73 percent, with Manhattan giving Obama 85 percent of its votes. There were similar numbers for Philadelphia and Washington D.C. In other words, these major American cultural centers are less diverse than churches entirely filled with self-selecting populations of Bible-believing Christians. Leftists have greater group solidarity than Christians…
It is a truism of American life that unless a conservative turns off all technology, grabs a gun and a dog, and heads for the hills, he will be exposed to an avalanche of liberal thought and ideas — in education, television, movies, and the Internet. Liberals, by contrast, can and often do live lives isolated from conservative thought, and their ignorance of our ideas is starting to show.