The left and violence
In a recent Washington Post op-ed, author Matthew Lenoe stated, “Trump and the movement that supports him (which now encompasses most of the Republican Party and its leadership) increasingly incline toward violence in ways that resemble modern authoritarian movements.” Lenoe further stated:
Additionally, we are now witnessing similar distortions purveyed by Fox News and right-wing social media that are just as extreme as those that occurred in Germany during the rise of the Nazis and in Italy during the rise of the fascists. Claims like the antifa representing a wave of left-wing terrorism threatening American democracy, and that Democrats are Communists (or Muslim terrorists) are slanderous distortions that scare people.
This false narrative of leftist terrorism that would justify right-wing violence is now in place. The parallels with previous authoritarian movements are frightening. The lesson is that the lies and those who sell them must be opposed, before it is too late.
Not only are Lenoe’s analogies offensive, but they also miss the point in light of recent events and comments by various Democrats.
For example, in June 2018, during a Keep Families Together protest and rally, Maxine Waters “urged her followers to generate mobs around Republicans wherever they see them.” During a recent television interview, Hillary Clinton stated: “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” Both messages strictly called for incivility.
These were echoed by other prominent Democrats. During a campaign event in Georgia, former attorney general Eric Holder stated, “‘When they go low, we kick them.” Along these same lines, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) recommended that Americans “get up in the face” of politicians they disagree with.
Unfortunately, these calls for incivility have led some to act out. For example, Senator Ted Cruz, Pam Bondi, and Sarah Sanders were publicly harassed. Senator Rand Paul was assaulted by his neighbor. Additional examples can be found here.
Despite these examples, Lenoe contends that the real threat of violence comes from the right:
The real threat of violence comes from the right. The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reports that right-wingers and white supremacists were responsible for 74 percent of the murders committed by political extremists in the United States over the past decade.
According to Lenoe, the behavior of President Trump and most of the Republican Party and its leaders is “increasingly inclined” toward violence. Lenoe claims that Republicans provoke violence and blame it on others and asserts that such behavior is exactly how totalitarian regimes have gained power in the past. He cites the threats against Dr. Ford (regarding the Kavanaugh matter) to support his assertion that Republicans are inclined toward violence. Lenoe somehow fails to discuss the threats against Judge Kavanaugh, his wife, and his children.
Moreover, the present-day calls for resistance and incitement are coming directly from some prominent Democratic officials, not Republicans. This is significant because these officials are elected by the people and are using positions of power to urge incitement in various forms by the people they serve and against the people they work for.