In a recent column for The Guardian, former Democratic senator for Wisconsin Russ Feingold clarified what all this controversy about white supremacists and Confederate statues is really all about: Republicans are Nazis.
“The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are,” he writes. “It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.”
Finally, finally, someone on the Left just came out and said it. Being a Republican is apparently no different than being a white supremacist. Supporting a lower marginal tax rate puts you in the same company as the Ku Klux Klan. Therefore, punching a Nazi is the same as punching someone wearing a MAGA hat.
This is the logical endpoint of what social justice warriors have been arguing since before Charlottesville. Everyone who opposes their political agenda does so out of hatred and bigotry, and there’s little difference between the GOP establishment and fringe neo-Nazi groups.
Feingold’s column, along with countless tweets and news commentary from left-wing pundits, underscores what some of us have been saying all along about Charlottesville and the Confederate statue controversy: this is not about neo-Nazis, or the Civil War, or the rise of white nationalism in American politics.
This is about progressives demonizing their political opponents. Having failed to persuade American voters to support their policies and elect their candidates, Democrats are now resorting to ad hominem attacks. Don’t agree with Feingold and other Democrats about immigration reform or voter ID laws? Well, that’s because you’re racist. “The white supremacist chant of, ‘you will not replace us,’ could easily and accurately be the slogan for these Republican politicians,” Feingold writes. “Their policies will achieve the same racial outcome as Jim Crow – the disenfranchisement and marginalization of people of color.”
If Your Enemies Are Nazis, Anything Goes
For the Left, one of the advantages of this zero-sum approach to politics is that it frees you to do whatever you like to your opponents. If Trump supporters are all racists, then it’s okay to confront them in the streets, shout them down, and physically attack them. That’s precisely what happened at a rally in Boston over the weekend, where left-wing “Antifa” activists attacked Trump supporters and others who had come out to rally in support of free speech.
As my colleague Rob Tracinski noted yesterday, “They need everyone who is not a card-carrying supporter of their political movement to be a total evil that justifies unlimited reprisal: from getting people fired from their jobs to beating them with sticks in the streets.”
And if everyone who opposes their agenda really is evil, well, then it also must be okay to take a sledgehammer to a 225-year-old monument to Christopher Columbus, as someone did in Baltimore on Sunday night. Heck, maybe it’s even okay to try to blow up Confederate statues with homemade explosives, as a man tried to do in Houston on Saturday night. Certainly, it’s okay to remove statues in secret in the dead of night, as the University of Texas at Austin did over the weekend.
If you’re a Democrat on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, it’s okay to issue a statement on Charlottesville, Virginia, that denounces Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists, but to veto an amendment that also would have condemned violent Antifa counter-protesters.
For progressive Democrats like Sen. Corey Booker and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, it’s okay now suddenly to have a problem with the Confederate statues in Congress and imply that if Republicans don’t get rid of them immediately then they’re not “serious about rejecting white supremacy.”
The Point Is to Silence Dissent
This impulse on the Left to demonize everyone who disagrees with them and draw false moral equivalencies between Republicans and Nazis has made many Americans afraid to admit what they really think about a whole host of mundane issues. If simply wearing a MAGA hat in Boston is enough to get you surrounded by an angry mob, then most people aren’t going to do it.
Likewise, if voting Republican is enough to lump you in with Nazis and the KKK, you might just keep your party affiliation to yourself. If going to hear a conservative speaker on a college campus gets you caught up in a melee, maybe you just won’t go. If speaking out about bias at Google will get you fired, maybe you just stay silent.
And that’s the point. The larger goal of the social-justice Left is to silence the opposition, whether through violence or social stigma or real economic punishment, like losing one’s job. The problem is, a lot of people will go on quietly disagreeing with progressive dogma. They will persist in supporting such evils as low taxes and secure borders. They will be silenced, for a while, but not persuaded.
Maybe that’s why the polls got it so wrong last year.