Are far left and far right equivalent?
President Trump has committed the unpardonable sin of implying that the far left is as violent as the far right. This can be a career-ender. New York Times domestic affairs correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg may have learned this the hard way. "The hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding 'antifa' beating white nationalists being led out of the park," Stolberg wrote. She was immediately set upon. She had contradicted the progressive narrative. Perhaps she can be forgiven because her comments were made early in the dispute. The progressive narrative is that this was a demonstration by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK protesting the removal of statues of slaveholders. They were opposed by "civil rights protesters," defenders of the American Way. In Stolberg's revised comments, the protesters were "standing up to hate."
Even Mitt Romney endorsed the progressive fairy tale, tweeting, "No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes." Former vice president Joe Biden tweeted simply: "There is only one side. #charlottesville." This narrative has been repeated endlessly. All demonstrators were hate advocates. There was nobody demonstrating against the removal of monuments dedicated to their forbears or people aware of the left's true agenda. Perhaps they should have known that an event organized by Richard Spencer, a known white supremacist, would not be a tea party.
The president's original statement was, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides." This allowed critics to suggest he was drawing a moral equivalency between the right and the left. After massive criticism he appeared to have capitulated. On Monday, he condemned the attack and specifically mentioned the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Unsurprisingly, this did not satisfy his critics. On Tuesday he appeared to revert to his original position with a vengeance. He asked reporters, "When you say alt-right, define alt-right for me. What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?"
Trump added, "Not all of those people were neo-Nazis."
He then touched on a problem few conservative commentators have mentioned. The entire progressive exercise is based on one goal: the acquisition of power. Trump continued, "Many of those people were there to protest the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it's Robert E. Lee; I notice Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder: is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?" Al Sharpton has already targeted Thomas Jefferson.
There is no moral equivalency between left and right. Those on the left have repeatedly demonstrated that they are more violent than the right. The left is held to an entirely different standard. Black Lives Matter ("Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon") can be invited to the White House by President Obama. President Trump cannot even criticize them. Mayors often tell their police forces to "stand down." They give protesters "who wished to destroy space to do that as well." Genuinely conservative demonstrations do not usually end with burned out liquor stores. Leftist speakers do not fear being assaulted when they pay a visit to a college campus. The left controls the establishment media. It can therefore suppress or emphasize information that it believes will further its cause. Che Guevara, Mao, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot do not receive the attention they deserve.
President Trump's exchange with the press at Trump Tower did not reflect well on the press. The question "Are you against the Confederacy?" was entirely ignored. After President Trump condemned white supremacists several times, a reporter asked, "I didn't understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly." Reporters hear what they want to hear. If they are incapable of listening, they cannot report accurately.
John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing). He has a Master of Arts degree in international relations from St. Mary's University. He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.