The Violent Left, Part 1
The recent killings of abortion doctor George Tiller and a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington have sent leftists in the U.S. into a frenzy of manufactured outrage and alarmism -- with the left-dominated mainstream media seizing on the shootings as evidence of growing "right-wing" extremism and attributing this "escalation" in part to Obama's victory.
Not for the first time, the left is of course projecting.
Because while the terms "left-wing" and "right-wing" are notoriously vague, relative, and misused, a glance at last century and this one shows that virtually every act of political violence -- from the murder and enslavement of millions to street thuggery and petty vandalism -- has been committed in the name of what are broadly left-wing ideas. By contrast, violence in pursuit of right-wing aims has been virtually non-existent, to the extent that it has had to be invented by the left.
As Rand Simberg explained here a couple of weeks ago, there was nothing "right-wing" about James von Brunn, the Holocaust Museum shooter -- insofar as he had a coherent political ideology at all, he had more in common with leftists.
And while Scott Roeder, the man accused of murdering Tiller, may have had ties to anti-government extremists, he was also mentally ill. And the ideology that led him to kill -- opposition to abortion -- is no more a "right-wing" position than von Brunn's anti-Semitism. Conservatives are more likely than liberals to oppose abortion, but just because someone is repelled by the killing of unborn babies, it doesn't follow that they're also in favor of limited government and a strong national defense.
But whoever controls the medium controls the message, and the left's dominance of academia, the media, and the arts has enabled it to frame the debate and shape the language, including the very definitions of left and right.
Leftists have succeeded in hijacking the term "liberal" in order to make themselves appear virtuous, tolerant, and reasonable, while simultaneously turning the term "right-wing" into shorthand for all that is evil, intolerant, and unfair. Both labels have stuck, along with the categorization of racism and extreme religious convictions as "right-wing" when both are in reality extremes of human nature. (Ironically, many former "liberals" now prefer to call themselves "progressives" after the right turned the tables by using "liberal" as a term of abuse).
The most effective and insidious example of this revisionist obfuscation has been the left's characterization of "fascism" as a right-wing phenomenon, when Mussolini's Fascists in Italy and Hitler's Nazis (who weren't strictly fascists in the Italian sense) were corporatists, and in many respects socialists, with nationalistic and racist baggage. The full name of the Nazi party was the National Socialist German Workers Party.
Both movements were widely admired by statists and "progressives" across Europe and in the U.S., but fell into disrepute when Germany invaded Russia and Stalin, whose brand of international socialism was even more popular with leftists than the nationalist variety, condemned the "fascists" as enemies of the revolution. (For a detailed analysis of the subject see Jonah Goldberg's indispensable Liberal Fascism.)
Racism is these days universally accepted as a "far-right" phenomenon. There are of course racists on both the left and the right, if we use those terms to broadly describe attitudes to economic and social policy. But so effective has been the left's propaganda campaign against its opponents that in Britain, for example, the racist British National Party is routinely described as being "far-right," when many of its policies -- including nationalized health care, support for unions, and opposition to free trade -- are hallmarks of old-school socialism.
There's racism aplenty in mainstream political parties too. In the U.S., the Democratic Party, home of the modern left-liberal, was the party of slavery and Jim Crow. The most racially charged political campaign in recent U.S. history was the Democratic primary contest between Obama and Hillary Clinton. The racism of the left is far more insidious than a simple mistrust or fear of foreigners; it seeks to divide people into groups which can then be exploited and played against each other for political gain.