Back when Democrats ran the country and Republicans mostly objected to how, that icon of the left, the New York Times, often got its panties in a bind about incivility.
To hear the Times tell it back then, Republican incivility was not only annoying to the Times and other Dems but was downright dangerous to the republic.
But over the past, oh, about 18 months, times have changed and so has the Times. America’s self-described “newspaper of record” went on record this month with a column proclaiming in its title that civility is “white America’s age-old, misguided obsession.”
There’s something vaguely racist in the contention that civility is just a white thing, but I’ll save that point for another day. Today’s point is that the left is candidly abandoning civility and is on the verge of embracing outright violence.
A restaurant evicted public servants because they were of the “wrong” political party. An actor on national TV shouted “f—” President Donald Trump and received a standing ovation for it. A cable TV host called the president’s daughter a “feckless —-” (I won’t type even a single letter of that one).
Yes, the incivility is bad. But the violent rhetoric is even worse.
A fake actor who’s the son of a real one stated that someone “should rip (the president’s son) from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles.” The former vice president boasted that he would “beat the hell out of” the president. Another actor ruminated about the “last time” an actor assassinated a president. A singer bragged that she had “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”
A so-called comedienne posed for a photograph holding up a severed head in the likeness of the president. A production of Shakespeare’s Caesar in Central Park last summer depicted the slain Caesar as a tall man with wild blond hair and a red tie.
We’ve seen that violent rhetoric leads to violent acts. A Bernie Sanders supporter gunned down congressmen playing softball simply because they were Republicans.
It’s curious. To some on the left, it’s not enough to say the other side is wrong. They have to say they’re “fascists.” Depicting their severed head or advocating their assassination or even gunning them down is therefore part of a noble resistance.
Even as they compete to see who can call the president a fascist the fastest, they also imagine, laughably, that this pandering to their fellow travelers in the fever swamps is an act of courage.
Here in Aspen — the left-most outpost between Berkeley and Boston — a newspaper columnist assured his faithful that the president is a not even a human being. He’s a “hate-filled avatar” of one who is engaged in “creeping fascism.”
OK, once you’ve name-called someone a non-human and a fascist because you disagree with his political position, which of you is really the fascist?
Another columnist compared border guards to Nazis. That’s because the guards deny illegal entry into our country in accordance with laws duly enacted by large bipartisan majorities.
The implication is that this makes the boss of these so-called Nazis — namely the current president who was married to a Jewish woman, has a Jewish son-in-law and moved the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — just like Adolf Hitler who slaughtered 6 million Jews.
Never mind that these same so-called Nazi border guards also enforced these same immigration laws under their last boss, namely the last president, who deported more illegal immigrants than any president in history. That president apparently wasn’t like Hitler because he wasn’t a Republican.
The Hitler trope is now standard operating procedure for the left. They do it not because it works; it doesn’t. In fact, their shark-jumping usually backfires because it’s so off-putting to middle Americans who decide elections. Indeed, notice that the president’s approval ratings keep rising.
No, the reason the left vilifies and dehumanizes their opponents is because it feels good to them.
Beclowning oneself by ridiculously equating political opponents to sub-human villains, comic book style, may indeed feel good. But there are two dangers.
One is that such name-calling precludes honest debate about the issues of the day.
The second danger is worse. Not everyone recognizes that these fascism comparisons are ridiculous. Violent crazies are out there — the kind who gun down congressmen playing softball.
In Hitler’s Germany, Catholic priest Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed for plotting to kill Hitler. He is correctly viewed today as a hero.
When the President of the United States is equated with Hitler and the mob roars its approval to depictions of his assassination, how long before a person lacking the intelligence, judgment and ethics of Bonhoeffer comes to believe that he too will be a hero if he pulls a Bonhoeffer?
I say to decent and responsible people what the New York Times will not: Please cool the violent rhetoric and Hitler stuff before someone else gets hurt.
(Published July 29, 2001 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-please-cool-the-hitler-rhetoric-before-someone-else-gets-hurt/#fb-comment-box-272958)