The eruption of wild accusations after the shootings in Arizona illustrate once again that those who talk about civility the most practice it the least. Pious calls for the restoration of civility have come from a parade of pundits and pols famous for celebrating or rationalizing the most egregious violations of it.
Civility is a political, not moral concept, in the minds of many on the left. “Civility” means to them peaceful submission to liberalism and “incivility” means annoyingly effective opposition to liberalism. Were greater respect for human beings the meaning of the term, “civility” would require massive changes to their agenda, starting with their support for a right to abortion. Mother Teresa once pointed this out to the tony elite at a prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C. But they weren’t terribly interested in her definition of civic virtue. They want “civility” and a culture of death at the same time.
Moreover, it makes no sense that conservatives who called for a restoration of respect for the law in Arizona would receive the brunt of the criticism for a crazed gunman’s violation of it. Who has fed a “climate” in which violent crime occurs? The answer can’t be citizens who plead with the authorities to enforce the law. A climate of lawlessness has been fostered by those in authority deaf to those protests.
It was killings and kidnappings that led the Tea Partiers and conservatives to demand that authorities in Arizona take the law seriously again. Has any of that violence led the left to engage in soul-searching about its fashionable support for selective application of the law? The left prides itself on being “pro-government,” even as it shows no consistent respect for the rule of law underpinning government.
The “climate” change they have in mind in the wake of the shootings is not greater respect for the law but greater respect for “government,” which roughly translates as liberals in power. The left often glorifies rebels, revolutionaries, and lawbreakers. Its leading lights trot off to Cuba to pay their respects to a practitioner of political violence, Fidel Castro, and attend movies that cast defiant nonconformists like Che Guevara as heroes. One of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s most vocal apologists was the left-wing writer Gore Vidal, whom the self-appointed guardians of civility have long indulged. Left-wing film director Oliver Stone has talked about making a movie that will soften the images of Adolph Hilter and Joseph Stalin.
Several networks have solemnly replayed clips of Bill Clinton’s remarks at the memorial of those who died in Oklahoma City bombing. “The words we use really do matter because there are, there’s this vast echo chamber. And they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike,” he said. Does the left really believe that? Left-wing Hollywood and left-wing academia would have to be shut down if it did. Children are fed a steady diet of violence from the music and movies that come out of Hollywood, before heading off to college where they hear tenured professors like Ward Churchill present academic justifications for nihilism.
The same politicians who appear on civility panels and commissions also pop up at ACLU events where money is raised to defend the vitriolic speech of open jihadists at Ivy League colleges. Barack Obama started his ascent to his higher politics from the living room of a domestic terrorist turned educator of youth, Bill Ayers, and honed his views of hope and unity under the tutelage of the “God Damn America” sermonist Jeremiah Wright.
This coalition of radical intellectuals, Alinskyites, Constitution scoffers, and 1960s nostalgists is the last group Americans should entrust with the task of purifying and elevating America’s political discourse.
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