Extremism on both sides? Let’s make this perfectly clear

I wrote a post about a month ago in which I disputed the “liberals and conservatives are equally vitriolic” claim, but feel like it’s worth saying something else about that.  A friend posted this link on Facebook this morning, and I (not to put too fine a point on it) DEFY any of you to develop evidence that liberals have planned, attempted, and executed this many acts of horrific violence–just in the last TWO YEARS.

Or put it this way: sure, there are plenty of angry lefties.  I’m one of them.  But the “Both sides are just as bad” argument is total bullshit.


8 Responses to Extremism on both sides? Let’s make this perfectly clear

  1. Laurie Ann says:

    You know, the NRA gun lovers will tell you that most guns used in the commission of a crime, where obtained illegally.

    Betcha that the people quoted (and the incidents recounted) all had LEGAL firearms.

    Yesterday, I stated basically the same thing; I truly can’t recall when a ‘mad liberal’ went and shot innocent people, or picketed with their guns strapped to them……

    We’re all angry. However, this incident, and the article-prove…not all of us are able to express that anger rationally or constructively.

  2. Madeline says:

    I was struck this morning by this article about the rhetoric of violence: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2011/1/9/934563/-Guns,-God-and-Incitement(via http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2011/01/when-does-free-speech-become-inciting.html).

    I really guess I haven’t being paying much attention to what politicians and talking heads say–because I had no idea that these sorts of violent and threatening statements were made by public figures. ? One of the quotes is of Glenn Beck talking about strangling–happily strangling–Michael Moore. !!

    One of my colleagues insists that Republicans don’t think, they act, and that Democrats spend all their time thinking and talking, so nothing gets done. For this reason, he supports Republicans (even though he disagrees with many of them).

    I feel like the argument that emerges from the assembly of such hateful, violence-embracing-and-endorsing words shows that inaction ALWAYS trumps horrible action.

  3. sethkahn says:

    I suspect, Madeline, that your colleague isn’t alone in that line of thinking. And your response is the essence of passive resistance (see, Ghandi).

    Not sure if you’ve read my post that follows this one (from late Sun night), in which I talk about reacting to threats of violence. Since I had my life threatened the first time (3 anonymous letters mailed to my house in one day), I find myself reacting to threatened violence by saying (and yes, I’ve actually said this out loud to people more than once): “Look, stop talking. Either do it, or shut up.” I kind of wish Michael Moore (for example) could say that to Glenn Beck (for example). However, the spate of insane political violence over the last couple of years makes clear that people more visible and important than I am can’t afford to take that chance.

  4. Bill says:

    You should be embracing the “both sides are just as bad argument” because that is the best you are going to get. The truth is that the far left is much worse than the far right. How many conservatives hold up signs calling for the president to be killed? I haven’t seen any pictures of such signs (although there must be some) but there were no doubt many times more hateful liberals that held signs saying “kill Bush.” Making death threats against any president is unacceptable. Who is calling people racist merely because the president with whom they disagree has a different shade of skin color? Who says racist things about black conservatives? Who explicitly threatened to kill a local tea party leader in AZ? Who took hostages at the Discovery Channel building after being all worked up by climate alarmists? Who makes the most twisted, sick death threats/wishes towards political talk show hosts? Who wished that Jesse Helms and his grandchildren would get AIDS? Who says “God damn America” and other more inflammatory hateful rhetoric during his sermons? And have you seen the garbage that Karen Porter has been writing recently (accusing the right of engaging in “nothing less than armed warfare”)? Who reads the communist manifesto and denounces the Iraq war as illegal and then goes and kills a federal judge, a child, and puts a bullet in a pro-2nd amendment Congresswoman’s head? Who says that the U.S. government inflicted black Americans with AIDS on purpose? Who argues that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by the U.S. government under Bush? Who labeled their opponent as “Taliban Dan” in an incredibly dishonest campaign ad? Who called for people that are skeptical of climate extremists’ claims about global warming to be rounded up and put in prison? Who compares such people to Holocaust deniers? Honestly, I could go on and on here. There is so much hate spewing from the left it’s utterly disgusting–look at the way they treat Sarah Palin. To say that conservatives are more hateful than liberals is a ridiculous and dishonest assertion. But then again, ridiculous and dishonest is the substance of the far left.

    • sethkahn says:

      Wow, Bill. I don’t mean for this sound as snippy as it probably will, but I’m not sure we’re occupying the same planet. I also see from your identifying info that pops up on my admin page that you’re somebody I could cross paths with professionally at some point, so I’m going to be more careful than usual about what I say.

      Let’s start with this: as I have admitted, openly and repeatedly (although you conservatives just keep ignoring it), yes, there has been hateful and violent rhetoric from the left. OK, you win. Debate over, correct?

      Actually no. There are several important differences. First, I (and every other lefty activist I know) don’t know of a single time when one of our comrades displayed one of those “Kill Bush” or “Bush=Hitler” signs and wasn’t castigated for it. We policed ourselves very severely about those kinds of images and arguments. So yes, there were some people who displayed bad taste, even willingness to call for violence for symbolically, but we ALWAYS answered them. The Right almost NEVER does this. If it happens in private, I’m glad to hear it.

      Second, you can name three or four instances of “left” violence, none of which are as obvious as you think they are, but even if they were, that’s nothing to compared to the litany of right-wing brutality conducted in just the last 2 years. It’s not even close, dude.

      Third, if you really believe that JLL is a lefty whacko because he read the Communist Manifesto, then you need to think a little more about this; he also cites Mein Kampf. Have you ever read either? If you have, then you’d know that nobody could fully subscribe to both of them. The only conclusion I can draw from that is that he probably didn’t really much subscribe to either. I’ve just about had it with conservatives who say out of one side of your mouths that his political philosophy is incoherent (when you want to claim that the assassination wasn’t politically motivated) and then that he’s a lefty (when you want to blame lefties for motivating it). Those can’t both be true. They can both be wrong. And you don’t have a shred of actual evidence for either of them. Neither did liberals have any evidence for accusing Sarah Palin of causing the Giffords shooting; OK, we got that. But again you don’t get to have it both ways. Do you hear what you’re saying? You’re arguing that Palin’s hateful violent rhetoric had nothing to do with it, but the Communist Manifesto did. That’s silly.

      Who argues that 9/11 was perpetrated by Bush? Truthers are all over the political spectrum, and if you actually paid any attention, you’d already know that. But you don’t want to admit that because it would make your weak argument even weaker.

      Got a link to anything to prove that any climate scientist has advocated imprisoning skeptics? I’d like to see that. Because I read about as much news as anybody on the planet and I’ve never heard such a thing. And I’m not talking about some psycho blogger who just makes stuff up. [By the way, I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly good source either, so I’m not claiming any moral or intellectual high ground here.]

      Of course, your whole line of response here doesn’t actually address the substance of my point at all. There’s a huge amount of well-documented evidence that elements of the right wing are, in fact, conducting and planning for acts of extraordinary violence. You don’t answer that, because it’s the clear and obvious truth.

      And the final important difference here is that even if the left’s motivations are just as violent as the right, which they aren’t (many of us are PACIFISTS, get it? Remember that your party made hay for decades by describing us as wusses, wimps, and other language I shouldn’t use; now, when it’s convenient to describe as blood-thirsty radicals, you do that instead. Where I come from, that’s called “lying.”), the left doesn’t have the national bully pulpit that the right does. We don’t have a Rush Limbaugh telling millions of people every day that the President of the United States “hates America,” and the rest of the poisonous crap he spews every second of his show. We don’t have a Glenn Beck railing against think tanks, convincing conspiracy-prone psychos to arm themselves to the teeth so they can massacre the staff. We don’t have Ann Coulters and Michelle Malkins and Michael Savages and … accusing anybody who disagrees with them about policy of being “traitors.”

      What you conservatives seem not to understand, or at least acknowledge, is that the left generally recognizes when we’ve done something bad and works to correct it. The right doesn’t. The never-ending supply of self-righteousness that pervades these kinds of debates makes them utterly useless. I don’t know you personally; maybe you’re a better listener than most of your comrades. If so, I’m glad to make your acquaintance. If not, then I fully expect an angry diatribe in response to this, at which point I’ll probably decide it’s pointless to keep going.

  5. Bill says:

    No angry diatribe here. That’s just not my style.

    I am the secretary of the WCU College Republicans, I forgot to mention that. I actually found this blog when searching for a connection between Karen Porter and the WCU College Republicans. Four or five us now dedicated members came along last semester and resurrected what had become an inactive group so we basically have no idea what happened before. I also want to say that I greatly respect you by default because you are a professor and I think highly of all but one of the 23 professors I have had. So please keep that in mind.

    Now I will address your points. I am not ignoring the fact that you admit there is hate coming from the left. I am disagreeing about the severity of said hate when compared to that of the right. As far as denouncing it goes, I simply don’t know for sure. If you can point to examples of people like Paul Krugman and other left-wing pundits becoming hysterical about all of the intense hatred coming from the left during the Bush years, please do so. Did they make a big production out of it? No, because most of them were in on the “hate Bush” party which still continues to this day (we are reminded constantly by liberals that it’s all Bush’s fault). Liberals were not condemning this hatred en masse because they were too busy participating in it. On a more recent note, I haven’t seen many liberals condemning the vicious attacks on Sarah Palin and the tea party. False and vicious accusations of racism are a form of racism themselves and constitute hate speech. Again, most liberals are too busy advancing the narrative of right wing racism to denounce the very same false accusations of racism.

    I don’t know what you’re looking for from us conservatives. I have repeatedly condemned comparing Obama to Hitler (although the circumstances of his rise to power are a good way to explain to liberals why voting for unspecified “change” in bad economic times is not always a good idea). But where was the liberal outrage at the latest liberal Representative to compare Republicans to Nazis? It goes without saying that any racial depictions of the president, which may constitute 1-2% of tea party rally signs are unacceptable (yes, racism exists on the right but not on the scale that liberals say it does). I disagree with the use of the term “death panels” in the health care legislation debate. I dislike anti-gay religious freaks that inhabit the far right (I am an agnostic). I favor legalizing prostitution and marijuana (although it should be banned in public along with all the other nasty smoking materials). Overall, I’m a fair, independent person and I try to be open-minded.

    I don’t think Loughner has a set of coherent political beliefs. The point I try to make is that there are just as many things that would bolster the argument that he is a liberal as there are that he is conservative. I should not have included that in my list, I suppose, because I can see how you could interpret it to mean that I am trying to “have it both ways.” We clearly agree about this so there’s no need to say more.

    As far as the climate extremist thing goes, I have not been made aware of any scientist advocating imprisoning those who do not subscribe to what amounts to conjecture based upon a bunch of half-truths labeled as science. But non-scientists are a different story. I was thinking of former Rep. Alan Grayson when I mentioned this. He was actually talking about jailing people who want to drill for more oil–I don’t know why I thought it was about climate change, but for the point I was trying to make it doesn’t really matter. Go here: http://radioequalizer.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html and search the page for drill and you’ll see it as a June 4 entry under “Jail My Foes.” It is a blog but it has the original audio clip. Here is a link to the holocaust denier comparison being made: http://newsbusters.org/node/10730. Here’s an Australian professor and author making the connection http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/11/16/hamilton-denying-the-coming-climate-holocaust/. There are many other examples as well

    You said that “There’s a huge amount of well-documented evidence that elements of the right wing are, in fact, conducting and planning for acts of extraordinary violence. You don’t answer that, because it’s the clear and obvious truth.” First of all, you never asked anything for me to answer and there is no question here but I will answer anyway. Show me this huge amount of evidence. Islamic terrorists really have a monopoly on attempting or carrying out acts of violence in the U.S. I can only think of one example to the contrary in recent years.

    I would also like to mention the story of the liberal that stabbed a Muslim cab driver after asking him if he was a Muslim. It was clearly a violent hate crime that was perpetrated against a Muslim cab driver by a far left college student. People on the right may occasionally vandalize a mosque or write threatening things against Muslims (all of which I strongly denounce as reprehensible) but I am unaware of a similar crime of immense violence being committed by a conservative against a Muslim because he/she is Muslim (hate crime). Yet we conservatives are called racists (never mind the fact that Islam is a religious/political ideology and not a race) and “Islamaphobes.”

    As far as liberals being pacifists is concerned, I disagree. The Vietnam War protests by “pacifist” liberals made soldiers’ return home to America miserable. When we call left wing “peaceniks” wimps or some form thereof we mean when it come to dealing with the real enemy and the real threat: Islamic terrorism. I see no conflict.

    What do you think we should do about the overwhelming presence of conservatives in talk radio? Do you support the “Fairness Doctrine”? Or do you recognize that liberal radio has tried multiple times but always fails for several reasons including the Olbermann-like middle school style insults and the fact that America is a center-right country. Let the market decide—and indeed it has spoken.

    At this point I want to ask you to address some of my other examples in my last post. How about the far left AZ shooting victim who made an explicit death threat against a conservative leader? How about Karen Porter and her hate-ridden articles? (Karen has also somehow been spying on the emails that our president sends out to us). How about the Discovery Channel hostage taker? How about the False accusations of racism? How about the sick, perverted death wishes directed towards people like Limbaugh? How about the “Taliban Dan” commercial and all of the other hateful things Grayson has said? Obama’s pastor and buddy for two decades that habitually spews racial hatred from the pulpit? You noted my lack of actually violent examples but you didn’t address the few I did list. Nor did you provide abundant examples of right wing violence (and spare me the mention of Timothy McVeigh—it’s over 15 years later). Both the right and the left rarely resort to violence and that’s a good thing. In my opinion it is dishonest to say that conservatives are more violent than liberals, however.

    And finally, if you knew me personally you would probably like me. At DCCC one of my favorite professors was a guy that I had for both English comp classes in my first and second semesters. He was very liberal and wore an Obama lapel button to class before the elections. One of the assignments was a satire essay and I wrote one that slammed Obama supporters and he showed it to the class as an outstanding example of good satire, even though he obviously disagreed with the content. I perceive the left the way you perceive the right in that a liberal with whom I can have a respectful and productive debate with is in the minority. America is too polarized in general though and both sides are to blame (one more than the other, depending on your perspective) for the national tone that makes civilized political discussions near impossible.

    • sethkahn says:

      I appreciate the candor and tone; will do my best to respond in kind…

      Just FYI: It’ll probably be a few days before I can give this due diligence; I’m not blowing you off if it takes a while before I can get back to it.

  6. sethkahn says:

    I still haven’t forgotten you, Bill–been a little preoccupied for the last few weeks with the budget slashing and union killing in Wisconsin and Ohio. I saw your article in the Quad, though, so I already know where you stand on that.

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