“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
—Rule #4, Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals
On Tuesday, it seemed like the whole country was up in arms over a publicity photograph featuring comedienne (using that term quite loosely) Kathy Griffin holding a facsimile of the bloody, severed head of President Donald Trump. It was an image loaded with lots of symbolism, but the most obvious, and perhaps the most actionable, message was the primal, irrational, bloodthirsty hatred of Trump and the America he represents on the part of the Hollywood and East Coast elite Griffin has made a career of trying to suck up to.
The reaction to the photo on the Right was precisely as one might expect it to be — sheer outrage and righteous indignation. That people far less famous than Griffin had used social media to display the same type of low-rent blood-porn images featuring Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama on behalf of the Right didn’t register with a lot of the currently aggrieved; for others among the conservative side the previous transgressors are less a concern than those subjected to campaigns of hate among the Left for offenses much less obviously based in bad will.
Mozilla founder Brendan Eich, for example, who was ousted from his job atop the company he started because he gave a check to the National Organization for Marriage. Or Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Christian bakers who had their lives and business destroyed by a mob of leftists for the sin of expressing religious objections over catering to a gay wedding. Or the owners of Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby, whose businesses were put under attack for openly running their privately held companies according to their Christian faith. Or, for that matter, Sean Hannity, who has been subjected to a Media Matters-led bullying campaign aimed at driving his advertisers away because he pursued a questionable-but-not-entirely-disproven theory surrounding the suspicious death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich last year.
Those examples are but a drop in the ocean of ordinary, and sometimes prominent, Americans who over the past several years have found themselves targeted by an army of leftist trolls, often online but sometimes in person, seeking to destroy their professional and personal lives over ideological disagreements. On college campuses it’s now fashionable for the trolls to “de-platform” conservative speakers — yes, Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos often engage in some of the same attention-grabbing rudeness as Griffin has made a career of, but if the argument is that it’s their provocative speech which justifies violent mobs in Berkeley aimed at shutting them down, then what’s the excuse for rioting at Middlebury when social scientist Charles Murray is scheduled to speak? And no one in a position of responsibility on the Left has said a word.
Things are so bad that the utterly corrupt, thoroughly gormless, and laughably inarticulate congresswoman from the Los Angeles slums Maxine Waters is now being feted as the voice of The Resistance in many of the Left’s fever swamps. While this might indicate a definitive need for a Human Resources Department within that movement, it’s also evidence that while the Left has taken much joy in the application of Alinsky’s Rule #4 quoted above it has abandoned any pretense of maintaining its own standards.
Who’s the next political superstar for The Resistance? Is it Hank Johnson, who worries that a few thousand Marines stationed on Guam might tip the island over?
It isn’t like there is a responsible party to pull that side out of its current collective psychosis. Hillary Clinton, whose re-emergence on the political scene has been a spectacle reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart’s Captain Queeg muttering about strawberries and disloyal crewmen in front of a naval tribunal in The Caine Mutiny, is a poor candidate for the role. So is the obnoxious fraud Elizabeth Warren, whose rude demagoguery and flouting of Senate rules was rightly dealt with by the adults in the room only to confer upon her some sort of cult status among the perpetually aggrieved. Ditto Rachel Maddow, the wannabe-transgendered purveyor of rumors and hoaxes who has spent the better part of this year spinning cockamamie theories of Trump/Russia conspiracies with none of the backlash the Media Matters astroturfers brought to Hannity’s door for a far less debunked theory about Rich’s death and purported relationship with WikiLeaks.
We won’t mention any men among the potential candidates for responsibility on the Left — it seems the Left ran out of men when Fidel Castro finally dropped dead.
The Right sees these things, and notes that Rule #4 is a one-way street. Time was that having standards one may not always live up to was a far more rewarding and virtuous way of life than the alternative, but after decades of ever-coarsening civic society and a culture increasingly driven by the Kathy Griffins of the world, where ESPN becomes less known for college football on Saturday nights than transvestites catching awards for “courage” and gay sexual relationships are commonplace plot devices in animated movies for children, many are rethinking those assumptions.
Why pursue virtue in a world where virtue is ridiculed and persecuted? Why not, rather than be victimized by Alinsky’s Rule #4, flip the table and live the inverse? Why not live down to the enemy’s standards?
For some on the Right, there is double pleasure in this — because after being insulted, calumnied and dropped in a Basket of Deplorables by the Left despite attempting to be one of the Good Guys, there is an element of getting one’s money’s worth. Kurt Schlichter put this very well earlier in the week…
We don’t like the new rules — I’d sure prefer a society where no one was getting attacked, having walked through the ruins of a country that took that path — but we normals didn’t choose the new rules. The left did. It gave us Ferguson, Middlebury College, Berkeley, and “Punch a Nazi” — which, conveniently for the left, translates as “punch normals.” And many of us have had personal experiences with this New Hate — jobs lost, hassles, and worse. Some scumbags at an anti-Trump rally attacked my friend and horribly injured his dog. His freaking dog.
So when Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, who by most accounts to date looks like someone we on the Right ought to be embarrassed by, responded to a little bit of aggressive questioning by an obnoxious UK Guardian reporter by throttling him, the reaction was little more than a yawn — and a congratulatory note on his victory by a comfortable margin a couple of days later. Gianforte might be a sonofabitch, but he’s our sonofabitch. And right now, that is enough.
There is a palpable sense on the Right, particularly after Trump’s election and his survival amid an onslaught of rumors, leaks, hyperbolic idiocies about impeachment, made-up scandals involving scoops of ice cream and “shovings” of minor European potentates and other dirty tricks, that playing nice with Democrats and other leftists is a fruitless endeavor. That the other side has asked for it, during the eight years of Obama and particularly since last November, and they’re going to get it — good and hard. As Schlichter notes, this is not a good development. It’s a sign of cultural and political decline. But while the Right might be responsible for what happens in the future, it’s the Left who’s responsible for the present.
It’s far too much to ask that anyone on the Left recognize the Pandora’s box which is opening thanks to the constant name-calling, intimidation, and violence they’ve indulged in. But it was somewhat encouraging that after Griffin’s outrage Chelsea Clinton, whose pronouncements on society have to date been entirely without merit, blasted her on Twitter. That came just before Griffin appeared in a tearful video apologizing for having “gone too far” (which convinced practically no one). CNN then gave her the heave-ho after having employed her for its New Year’s Eve broadcast. It seems that perhaps she might be made a sacrifice of. That would hardly be enough, but it’s a start.
Maybe Griffin is to be commended to a small extent in that her idiotic performance art was enough to unite the Right and a sizable chunk of the Left in disgust. But with that commendation ought to come a command — namely, that if she’s serious about that apology of hers she ought to just retire from show business.
It’s not like anybody will miss her talents. Whatever those might be.