Any valid point President Donald Trump might have raised regarding the violence emanating from “both sides” or the complexities of the confederate statue debate was lost in his incoherent bumbling word salad the other day. It reeked of prevarication. The idea that the president was waiting to around to gather facts in the cause of “fairness” simply doesn’t mesh with his oeuvre, I’m afraid. I’m not going to bore into his soul to ferret out his true intentions, but politically speaking, responding to the attack in Charlottesville should have been easy. And he failed.
None of the president’s shortcomings, however, change reality. If you believe his comments emboldened white supremacists, your insistence that leftist violence doesn’t exist does the same for other groups — who, while perhaps not always as ugly, are far more prevalent. As Guy Benson recently pointed out, talking about leftist violence isn’t whataboutism, it’s aboutism.
I have a number of personal, ideological, ethnic, religious, and common sense* reasons to condemn goose-stepping losers attempting to resurrect the Third Reich with their Nazi flags and blut und boden chants. But let’s be honest: it takes approximately zero courage for me, or you, to do so. Despite the fever dreams of far too many lefty pundits, nearly everyone in this country detests Nazis. At some point, your teary-eyed condemnations transform into moral puffery and self-aggrandizement — and ultimately a silly sideshow.
On the other hand, it takes perhaps a morsel of bravery — certainly for someone who is on the Left — to point out that the progressives and resistance movements are stocked with various factions of anti-Semites, racists, haters, and anarchists, who use or threaten violence quite often.
It would, of course, be far healthier if we lumped these people into a single group—the extremists on left and right, after all, share many ideological attributes – and called them “alt-Americans” or whatever. But partisanship makes this impossible. Admitting the existence of violent leftist radicalism would be tacitly conceding that fringe violence isn’t unique to one side. And then, even a rudimentary exploration of the problem would reveal that authoritarians have embedded themselves into the activist Left in ways that cosplay Nazis could only dream of achieving.
This is why progressives will make excuses for Islamic terror apologist Linda Sarsour and others like her. It’s why so many in the media (and the tens of thousands of partisan automatons who retweet them) spent the day comparing black-hooded violent antifa protestors to the heroes who landed on the beaches of Normandy. This is why CNN runs rickety appeals to authority with headlines like, “What’s the ‘alt-left’? Experts say it’s a ‘made-up term’.” Using the Southern Poverty Law, which places entirely peaceful civil rights groups they disagree with in their “hate group” category as a way of smearing them, is contemptible and misleading.
Is the alt-Left a “made-up term?” Yes, every term is made up. That’s how terms work. But the idea that all of Antifa (or whatever these perennial leftist agitators happen to be calling themselves today) is anti-authoritarian because their name says so is risible. This reasoning, as many have pointed out, would make Stalin a friend of liberty. The men who landed in D-Day fought against fascism for freedom. Many in Antifa fight against fascism, and also for limiting free expression and other freedoms for people they don’t like. Their ideas have not only infiltrated and thoroughly corrupted many college campuses, but the op-ed pages of The New York Times as well.
It’s all a matter of framing. The left doesn’t take responsibility for the violence on its fringes, for the murder of five cops in Dallas, or the assassination attempt on Republican leadership, or the serial vandalism, or the mobs of free-speech antagonists on campuses, or the rioters at WTO, or those who desire to massacre social conservatives in Washington, because it’s inconvenient to the left’s preferred narrative. They don’t see these people as their responsibility. But you, my conservative voter, do you condemn in the harshest terms those Nazis in Charlottesville that you spawned by supporting tax cuts and judicial restraint and Donald Trump?
And even then, condemnation is not enough. You may not mention anyone else or any other factor or you risk being smeared as a Nazi-apologist.
There are exceptions — Sheryl Gay Stolberg at The Times, for instance, detailed incidents of leftist violence in Charlottesville — but most act as though the mere mention of such a thing is offensive and relativistic and unworthy of anyone’s time. Yes, of course, the president’s words carried far more weight than others. But your credibility would be greatly improved if perhaps you slipped in a word or two about leftist violence during some of the Nazi panic.
It’s not all that difficult to simultaneously hate Nazis and communists. Perhaps our leftist commentariat should give it a try.
*These kinds of people were attacking me (and many others I know and work with) when I was first critical of Donald Trump during the GOP primaries in 2016. So, in other words, around the same time Joe Scarborough and CNN and others who now act like they live in 1938 Germany were handing Trump millions of dollars of free airtime to help him defeat his Republican opponents.