The Rise of the Thug Left

Times are tough. Actually, they're getting tough in a lot of places. They proved very tough for Hamas operatives in the Eastern Mediterranean last weekend. They were tough in poor Balto as well, with seven people shot to death. (Baltimore should be one of the jewels of the East Coast, but of course, it's no such thing. I wonder who's been running the place the last century.) It was nearly as tough in Chicago, with twelve shot and three dead. But when has there ever been good news from the Windy City? 

But none of these, however bad they may be, have the potential to shake up the political system the way Obama's more feisty allies have been doing over the past year or so.

On Sunday, May 16, a gang of close to five hundred purple shirts (that is, members of the Service Employees International Union, reinforced by something called National Political Action) surrounded the Silver Spring, Maryland home of Greg Baer, corporate law counsel for Bank of America. They claimed to be carrying out a "protest" of the bank's foreclosure policies. That was the excuse for surrounding Baer's home, trampling his lawn, occupying his front porch, and creating an uproar audible throughout the entire neighborhood.

Baer was not home. The only person present was his fourteen-year-old son, who, overcome with fear, locked himself in the bathroom. On returning home, Baer made his way through the mob to rescue his son, suffering near-assault in the process. At no point did the police attempt to control the mob or order them to leave the property. In fact, evidence exists that District of Columbia police actually escorted the mob to the Baer's home. Coincidentally, the SEIU owes almost $100 million to the Bank of America.

This is the third example of blatant violence -- and yes, terrorizing a young boy is violence -- by administration supporters since last summer. (While other incidents have occurred, going back to the Black Panthers menacing voters in Philly, these are the most blatantly violent.) The first was the case of Kenneth Gladney, who in St. Louis on August 6 last year was selling buttons and flags (identified as Gadsden flags, with the rattler and "Don't Tread on Me" slogan, one of the minor ironies of the incident) outside a town hall meeting being held by Democrat Congressman Russ Carnahan. The SEIU, ubiquitous at Democratic events these days, showed up to confront Gladney and demanded to know what "kind of shit" he was selling, along with calling him a nigger. (This from another black, which of course makes it okay.) Gladney's answers were evidently unsatisfactory, and he was then beaten, knocked down, and stomped on, suffering injuries that required hospital treatment. (The purple shirts were identified from video footage. All of them pleaded not guilty this past April 20 -- justice moves frighteningly fast in Missouri.)

Even as the SEIU members were rehearsing their pleas in St. Louis, yet another attack occurred a few hundred miles down the Big Muddy. On April 9 in New Orleans, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference held a dinner at Brennan's Restaurant in the French Quarter. The event generated a protest, as everything seems to do these days. The responsible organization here was the Iron Rail Collective, an anarchist group. The anarchists chased GOP chairman Roger Villeres as he left the restaurant, but this was only the first act. A short time later, fundraiser Allee Butsch and her boyfriend Joe Brown emerged. They were evidently followed and then attacked a few blocks away by at least five people. Both were badly beaten, Ms. Butsch suffering a leg broken so severely as to require an operation.

While the perpetrators remain unknown, the ringleader was identified from video footage (Beard, dirty t-shirt, ponytail -- about what you'd expect). This sense of uncertainty has been used to downplay the political motives behind the attack. Even the Jindal administration played this game, calling the assault an "altercation", as if the two Republican operatives had stolen the anarchists' parking space.

None of these attacks made more than the most perfunctory appearance in the mainstream media...much less so than the arrests of the "Hutaree Army", a strange Midwestern religious group that, whatever their violent and obnoxious rhetoric, have never harmed anybody.

The attacks haven't drawn media attention because they are in violation of  a crucial liberal myth, the one holding that liberals are the leading contemporary apostles of nonviolence and peace, holding the line of rational behavior against the assaults by all manner of rabid elements, almost all of them right of center. We've heard that one to the point of exhaustion. It's an unspoken axiom of American politics. Liberals inhabit the Isles of the Blessed, where the lion lies down with the lamb and Willie Horton is only a ballplayer, wearing white togas and discussing conflict resolution in low, melodic voices. And the rest of us? We're somewhere off in the depths of Mordor, on a perpetual rampage, following the demagogue of the moment. These days, that would be Glenn Beck waving a musket and Sarah Palin lugging whatever it is you use to shoot wolves from the air. That's the great divide in American politics, from the liberal point of view, one as sharply defined as the gap between the Eloi and the Morlocks, and as permanent. All they need to do is point to Joe McCarthy (who started out as a New Deal Democrat), Lyndon LaRouche (who helped found the Students for a Democratic Society), and Timothy McVeigh. (A rabid atheist. McVeigh refused to see clergy before his execution and demanded that the old atheist chestnut "Invictus" be recited at his funeral. He actually thought he was going to get one of those.)

What we're seeing now is that myth beginning to unravel. The type of rhetoric liberals have been indulging in the past ten years, the barely-controlled personal attacks and open menacing of every last individual who opposes them -- Bush, Rove, Cheney, Rice, Palin, and Bachmann -- serves as its own fuel. The more it's repeated, the more incendiary it grows, the more it spreads, and the more used to it people become. It's like a narcotic that you grow habituated to -- every time you hit up, you need a bigger jolt. Eventually the threats become so lurid, so wild-eyed, that they begin to take on a life of their own. They become the standard means of expression. And at some definite but unknowable point, they begin to fulfill themselves. Some of your comrades, the more stupid, the more unbalanced, the more fanatical, begin taking them seriously, and start acting them out.

That's the process we're seeing at this moment. The left's civilized elite are still living a delusion, gliding through toga world, while the more unstable elements, the SEIU trash, the anarchists, the ACORN hirelings, are starting to lose it. It will get worse as the Obama dream continues to shred under the pressure of reality. The American left has begun to crack -- deterioration has set in, and it is beginning the long slide into goonhood.

It's all very similar to the events of the late '60s, where wild rhetoric from the antiwar movement and related "revolutionary" outfits -- the Black Panthers, the SDS, the Weather Underground -- triggered ever-graver disturbances around the country until the entire cycle was brought to an abrupt halt at Kent and Jackson State universities. Thirteen people were killed in those confrontations -- the price of cutting the revolutionary left completely out of American society. Students and casual protestors abandoned the antiwar effort. The movement withered and collapsed. The would-be revos were transformed into little more than armed gangs, to be hunted down and mopped up through the ensuing decade.

The more subdued leftists who had aided in triggering the nightmare dodged the bullet in large part by being shielded by media -- at the time effectively a monopoly under liberal control -- along with the fact that their political opposition consisted of Richard Nixon and his merry crew. The Watergate saga was on one level a complex and successful effort to paint the political "establishment" as evil enough to justify the more vicious tactics of the antiwar left. All the same, it required quite some time for leftists to live down the excesses of the '60s.

History may be repeating itself where the left is concerned. But it's doubtful they'll duck anything this time around. Union thugs have none of the romantic air of campus rebels, and the beards and filthy tee-shirts of the anarchists lost their shock value long ago. They will get little in the way of protection from a media that's on the verge of collapse. But even more compelling is the fact that their opposition is no longer a corrupt establishment, but a movement representing Americans as a whole. Conservatives today are no longer the staid, isolated remnant of mid-century, but a tougher, blunter group that comes from a much wider slice of American life. Confront them with people who attack women and threaten children, and it's easy to surmise who's going to end up on deck. A violent left is a dying left. If I were on that side of the fence, I would worry.

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and will edit the forthcoming Military Thinker.
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