No doubt you’ve run into those surly Americans who shout “both sides are crazy” when discussing politics, or who insist that liberals are just as bad as conservatives when it comes to reprehensible behavior.
Now, one can definitely criticize the Democratic Party for failing to address the nation’s most egregious problems, and progressives are not flawless individuals.
But saying that the left is as unhinged as the right is like saying that your kooky tía Rosa is as insane as Charles Manson.
Because the truth is that “the American right today has a bigger violence problem than the American left.” For example, “top Republican politicians have encouraged violence in ways no prominent Democrat has,” and have even assaulted people.
And when it comes to homicidal acts, please note that of the 42 politically motivated killings that occurred last year, right-wing extremists committed 38 of them. Going back even further, we see that of 893 politically motivated terrorist incidents in America since 1994, “just one attack that led to a death came from an anti-fascist agitator” (and that single person killed was the anti-fascist agitator himself). But in the same time period, “White supremacists and right-wing extremists have killed at least 329 people.”
With a lopsided tally like this, it is not exactly surprising that 13 members of a right-wing militia were recently arrested and charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The alleged scheme “included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects believe are violating the US Constitution.”
The last I heard, nobody in the ACLU, MoveOn, or Black Lives Matter was plotting to kidnap people and overthrow the government.
Of course, those neo-fascist militia members are the same loveable types who stormed Michigan’s state capital, with guns drawn, and screamed that their freedom was being taken away because of a mask mandate. They are also the people who take Trump’s command to “liberate Michigan” quite literally.
One could point out the hypocrisy of conservatives who are more furious about face masks and vandalism than they are about people getting murdered in the street. But of course, it is not about consistency or principles.
Because despite all the flowery talk of “freedom” and “liberty,” the fact is that many conservatives are doing nothing more than “defending their America—where white men can rule and brutalize without consequence.”
Ethnic minorities demanding equal rights are, to right-wingers, “the sounds of violent attacks on their supremacy.” And so they morph to Trumpism, which is “the violent defense” of white dominance. They believe they face “a choice between white male supremacy and anarchy.” And you can guess which option they will choose.
This threat of violence from Trump loyalists, and the president himself, is part of a historical pattern that “echoes the strategy of southern Democratic leaders in 1860, when they knew they did not have the numbers to win the upcoming election fairly.” Back then, the Southern leaders threated open warfare, and “promised supporters that if it came to a fight, weak and frightened Northerners would run away.”
It didn’t quite work out like that, and in the ensuing war, “Confederate soldiers learned the hard way both that Northerners would not run away, and that their leaders cared about protecting the economy, not them.”
The parties have switched roles since 1860, but the philosophy is the same.
So you have Trump “using federal law enforcement officers in unprecedented ways, not to quell protests, but to escalate them.”
You have Trump advisors saying that he should declare martial law and arrest his political enemies. You have right-wing talk show hosts shrieking that Trump “will have to … put down the enemy” after the election, using the Insurrection Act, which permits the president to “use the military against citizens to stop civil disorder and rebellion.” You have administration officials insisting that “there are hit squads being trained all over this country” to stop a second Trump term. And you have the president himself dismissing the idea of a peaceful transition of power if he loses, all while mumbling, “There has to be retribution.”
Yes, the party of law and order could not give a fuck less about either of those concepts. If they did, they might be concerned that a whistleblower alleges that top political appointees in the Department of Homeland Security “repeatedly instructed career officials to modify intelligence assessments to suit President Donald Trump’s agenda by downplaying … the threat posed by White supremacists.” They might also be concerned that the FBI says that threats by right-wing militias “will likely increase in the run-up to the November 3 election.” Hell, they might even offer words of support to Governor Whitmer rather than insult her and complain that she hasn’t been sufficiently grateful.
But Trumpists will do none of those things, because liberty and freedom and democracy are not particularly important to them. What matters is power, and if holding on to it means that the nation collapses “into a state of civil war and widespread political violence,” hey, too bad.
Yes, I’m pretty sure that both sides are not equally bad. In fact, the disequilibrium is absolutely murderous.
Featured image: The Washington Post