The Right doesn’t usually believe in unilateral disarmament — except when it comes to politics. The false idea, common among those of us right of center, is that we should play by civilized rules even when our opponents don’t. Perhaps that is attributable to the way we were raised and to Jesus’ famous line in the Sermon on the Mount telling us to “turn the other cheek.” This attitude was epitomized by a recent Wall Street Journal column by Peggy Noonan. (Okay, only sorta right.) Noonan praises then-Vice President Richard Nixon for not challenging the 1960 elections despite plenty of evidence, some of which she recites, that the Daley machine cheated in Chicago in order to swing the election to President-elect John F. Kennedy. This election has become folklore among Republicans and is repeated over and over.
The Left, on the other hand, will stop at nothing to win and retain power. A few examples should convince all but those who refuse to believe their own eyes: (1) the weaponization of the FBI and Justice Department; (2) the Russia hoax; and (3) the manipulation of the 2020 elections by suppressing information unfavorable to current President Joe Biden (his son Hunter’s laptop and his own corruption) while withholding information favorable to then-President Donald Trump (the fact that COVID vaccines had been developed) until after the election.
Add to these examples the unprecedented spectacle of a sitting president telling the public that Republicans are “the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history.” Really? Worse than the Ku Klux Klan, the Dixiecrats, or the Communist Party? Or add Biden’s saying that so-called “MAGA-Republicans” have “turned to semi-fascism” or that they are “threatening democracy.” This last charge is a talking point that we have heard so often from so many on the left, parroted by their media allies, that it no longer shocks, although repeat it often enough and some will believe it.
Meanwhile, the Right (with the possible exception of Trump) generally continues to play by Marquess of Queensberry rules. In fact, Trump’s refusal to play nice when so many of his colleagues are turning the other cheek may help in part to explain his appeal. Compare the treatment that the Right gave to Democrat appointments to the Supreme Court, such as Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor, with that the Left gave to Judge Robert Bork, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Even those who opposed the Democrat nominees stuck to the issues and their judicial records, and a few even voted to confirm. Not so the Left. No charge about someone’s personal life was too low to be off-limits in the televised circus hearings staged against Thomas and Kavanaugh, including going back to alleged drunken incidents at a high school party. The attitude that the end justifies the means is explained in part by the belief on the left that the arc of history bends in their favor — or, as former Soviet Union Premier Vladimir Lenin put it, that they are in the “vanguard” of the future. They try to propagate that perception by calling themselves “progressives,” as if “progress” were inevitably in the direction of more government control and less freedom.
If those examples don’t convince you, your brain has been so infected by ideology that it can no longer be penetrated by facts. True, former first lady Michelle Obama famously said, “When they go low, we go high.” But can you think of an actual instance in which that has been the case? It is standard Marxist/Saul Alinsky doctrine to accuse the other side “of what you are doing.” That way, when you are caught doing the bad thing, your audience will be predisposed to think, “They all do it.”
If you think that both the Left and the Right are equally guilty of mudslinging and weaponizing the mass media and the institutions of government, you should reflect on why you think that. It is largely because Democrats say so over and over, even though it isn’t true. For example, on a recent interview on Fox News, a well-meaning but naïve Princeton political-science professor, Lauren Wright, was asked what she thought about Biden’s calling his political opponents “fascists.” She answered that it was no different than Republicans’ calling Democrats “communists,” i.e., everyone does it. That’s simply not true, but her saying it makes it seem that way to many of us.
I challenge anyone to find instances of prominent Republicans’ calling prominent Democrats “communists,” at least since the Sen. Joseph McCarthy era in the 1950s. And that’s despite the fact that President Barack Obama was close to and supported by a number of 1960s radicals, announced his candidacy for the presidency in the home of a prominent member of the Weather Underground, and said he intended to “fundamentally transform” America. Despite all that, to the best of my knowledge, no prominent Republican ever called him a “communist.”
Apparently, the prevailing social norm, even on Fox News, is that it is okay for those on the left to call their opponents fascists because “everyone does it,” even though they really don’t. No, the Right has been guilty of unilateral disarmament in political rhetoric. The hard question, and the subject of the next article in this series, is what can be done about it.