Earlier this week, Candace Owens, a young black conservative, was shouted out of a restaurant by a white crowd screaming obscenities and racial epithets at her and her dining companion, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk (who is white). The police had to be called, and the mob shouted obnoxious slurs at the officers as well. Owens tweeted: “To be clear: ANTIFA, an all-white fascist organization, just grew violent and attacked an all-black and Hispanic police force.
“Because I, a BLACK woman, was eating breakfast.
“Is this the civil rights era all over again?”
It is. And many Democrats are on the wrong side.
It would be easy to dismiss that statement as hyperbole if this were not the latest in a distressingly long line of examples of the left abandoning principles in pursuit of the bogeymen they themselves have created.
Also within the past week, The New York Times announced that it had hired tech writer Sarah Jeong to join its editorial board. Jeong has a long history of nasty and racist tweets directed against white people. She claimed that she was merely responding to trolls who had lobbed racial insults at her. But Jeong also tweeted insults against men in general, as well as police, and this went on for more than a year. Video has now emerged of Jeong spewing her ignorance and hatred during a speech at Harvard Law School.
The Times stands behind Jeong. Some applaud this as long-overdue courage in the face of torch-and-pitchfork crowds. Perhaps. But Jeong’s conduct isn’t merely bigoted; it is also immature and unprofessional and, in the case of her University of Virginia rape-hoax tweets, completely counterfactual. The Columbia School of Journalism issued a scathing report slamming Rolling Stone’s article about the alleged gang rape at UVA, and Rolling Stone lost one defamation case (and settled a second) as a result of it. This is who The Times hires, at a time when the press complains about diminishing credibility?
And then there’s the double standard. From the “free speech for me but not for thee” file, Alex Jones and his company InfoWars have been banned from most major social media platforms, including YouTube, Pinterest, Apple, Spotify, Facebook, LinkedIn and MailChimp. (Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is taking flak for not having banned Jones. Yet.)
Yes, Jones is a buffoon and a conspiracy theorist, and these are all private companies. But claims that it’s OK to expunge his views because he’s “extreme” don’t fly. Button-down conservative writer Dennis Prager’s educational and inoffensive PragerU videos have routinely been censored on YouTube (including, ironically, Wall Street Journal writer Kim Strassel’s video on censorship). Republican congressional candidate (and Cambodian immigrant) Elizabeth Heng saw her campaign commercial (referencing her parents’ survival of the Khmer Rouge genocide) taken down by Facebook. Serious scholars like Charles Murray, Heather MacDonald and Christina Hoff Sommers have been assaulted on or banned from college campuses. Conservatives have seen private and government attacks on their free speech and free exercise rights. And when they attempt to defend those rights, no less than Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan characterizes these efforts as “weaponizing the First Amendment.”
The left used to defend individual rights against government oppression and bigoted mobs. Now we see the IRS use its powers against conservative nonprofits. Pre-dawn “John Doe” police raids are conducted against conservative politicians and their supporters. Our federal law enforcement agencies are populated by people whose “progressive” political bias taints their judgment -- if not their actual conduct. Masked armies of leftist “antifa” vigilantes attack and injure people, and destroy property.
And the liberal press yawns. No big deal as long as it’s happening to people we don’t like.
It’s bad enough to lie about political opponents. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid infamously lied about former Gov. Mitt Romney not paying his taxes and bragged that Romney lost the 2012 presidential election as a result. When asked if there was a line he wouldn’t cross in political warfare, Reid said, “I don’t know what that line would be.”
That view seems to be mainstream now, and -- alarmingly -- “warfare” is no longer just a metaphor. There’s an old saying: When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And when half the people in the country are considered threats to democracy and human existence -- as the left now views everyone who disagrees with it politically -- then every tool (not just a hammer -- and sickle) is on the table: screaming in people’s faces, social media witch hunts, deprivation of fundamental rights and even violence.
To their credit, many Democrats and other liberals and progressives see the ugly irony and have spoken out against the violence, harassment and abandonment of traditional Democratic values. But it’s an open question whether those saner, sober voices will carry the day. (And apparently, there is even doubt among Democrats, part of what is fueling the #WalkAway movement.)
The violence has been limited -- and overwhelmingly on one side. But there are plenty of people -- and I am one of them -- sounding the warning: It will not stay like this indefinitely.