There were punches thrown, cars set ablaze, and windows smashed due to violent protests across the US against the presidency of Donald Trump. But in Seattle the fury led to a shooting, as leftist radicals tried to shut down a speech by a Conservative; Milo Yiannopoulos. A 34-year-old man suffered a “life-threatening” gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.
The bloodshed occurred when crowds that had been protesting Trump migrated on the University of Washington campus to redirect their rage at Yiannopolous. Police services ensured that the speaking event went ahead, as protests continued outside. Yiannopolous interrupted his talk when word of the shooting broke. Then he resumed, saying, ‘If we don’t continue, they have won.’
Whether the shooting was politically motivated or simply a spontaneous act inspired by the charged atmosphere of the protests, the radicals who have created these conditions should pause to think about the repercussions. Sensible progressives and middle-of-the-road liberals should also ask themselves some tough questions about whether they oppose political violence and censorship half as much as they abjure Trump. If they do, they should be even more quick than conservatives to condemn what has been happening from in US.
There is an obvious paradox in the use of the tactics by people who think of themselves as ‘anti-fascist.’ The thugs on the street are not the only ones who are hypocritical here, many a liberal journalists for that matter, certain never Trump neoconservatives, have too irresponsibly likened Trump and populist movements behind him to fascism. The independent left-wing journalists have documented many such statements and rhetorically asked whether these liberals understand what they are saying: if you really, truly believe the country is on the verge of a fascist takeover, isn’t violent resistance necessary?
The carnage left in the streets only comes from a tough few following through on the incendiary words of inter group leaders who label themselves progressives, but their approaches are anything but.
The urge to avoid offence and moralise grips so many in the media that they fail in their real moral task: to draw correct lines between the objectionable and the absolutely unallowable. For too many amongst the rebel youth, the imaginary fascism of Donald Trump or Milo Yiannopoulos excuses the real-world censorship and intimidation practiced by the illiberal left.
America is far from fascism, but the counterproductive nature of left-wing violence for the left’s own purported ideals is obvious. The Black Lives Matter protests backfired in last year’s election, where Trump’s solidarity with law enforcement only strengthened his support. Conservative message predicated on the intense reactions he can count on provoking from the left reactions, typically censorious and violent, that only fuel the interest in hearing what the conservative speakers have to say.
The left likes to imagine it can win through its revolts and anti-establishment approach. But simply it can't; all it can do is expose the weakness and hypocrisy of the center left and clear the way to electing a Nixon or a Donald Trump. America does indeed have a center-right orientation, and the center-left has typically only succeeded when it has explicitly rejected the hard left as Bill Clinton symbolically did with Sistah Souljah or when, as in the case of Obama, it has reaped the rewards for the Republican Party’s own right-liberal errors.
The atmosphere of intolerance, censorship, and incipient violence created by both the thuggish hard left and the ideologically preening elite left will have dire results for everyone. Causing civil unrest and social tensions in the streets is not an act promoting democracy or American liberty but rather, showing the public the mess that would come if ever elected.
If serious progressives, including opponents of Trump, want to stop this cycle of illiberalism and hypocrisy of their fellow young anti-fascists, and want to see a left leaning office, they have to stop demonising the right and start training their rhetorical fire on the vandals in the street and the ideologues in the media.