As a proud right-winger, I’m appalled and disgusted by Donald Trump. Nonetheless, I feel a certain schadenfreudean glee at watching leftists reel in horror at his unbridled incivility. They truly don’t seem to realize: he is only the loud and manifest avatar of their own silent and invisible nastiness. In a veiled reference to Trump at a recent lunch on Capitol Hill, President Obama declared he was “dismayed” at the “vulgar and divisive rhetoric” being heard on the campaign trail. “In America, there is no law that says we have to be nice to each other, or courteous, or treat each other with respect,” the president said. “But there are norms. There are customs.”
Are there? When I hear this sort of thing from Obama and his fellow leftists, what I wonder is: Have they not listened to themselves for the past 50 years? Do they really have no idea how vicious, how low, how cruel, and how dishonest their attacks on the Right have been?
No, they haven’t; and, no, they don’t. The Democrat-monopolized media, which explodes with rage at any minor unmannerliness on the right, falls so silent at the Left’s almost ceaseless acrimony that leftists are never forced to confront what despicable little Trumps they often are.
It begins with the Democratic leadership. Last August, principled Republicans opposed Obama’s foolish nuclear deal with Iran. Obama’s response? He compared them to terrorists. “Those hard-liners chanting ‘Death to America,’” he said. “They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.” And yet “there are norms. There are customs.”
Cities like Detroit and Baltimore—run by Democrats—are hellish for African-Americans; black families have been destroyed by Democratic welfare-programs; murder rates have risen in black neighborhoods where the police have been intimidated by Black Lives Matter and their allies in the Obama Justice Department. And yet, former attorney general Eric Holder frequently accused administration critics of “racial animus,” and Vice President Joe Biden asserted to a partly black audience that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains.”
Such reflexive insults from the top die to nothing in the media’s left-wing echo chamber, leaving the rank-and-file free to imitate them without self-awareness or remorse. If a conservative expresses concern that Koranic ideas seem to be conducive to oppression and violence in every country where they hold sway, leftists label him “Islamophobic.” If he feels unborn children might have a right to life, leftists say he is a sexist waging war on women. If he feels that secure borders and the rule of law might be necessary to the maintenance of a sovereign nation, leftists cry that he’s a nativist who hates immigrants.
With the help of the media, leftists have even managed to bake their rudeness into the language itself, redefining standard behavior with offensive phrases. They use “objectification of women” to describe men’s normal sexual yearnings; “racial profiling” to describe street-smart police work that protects citizens of every color; and “climate deniers” (ala “Holocaust deniers,” for God’s sake) to describe those who call baloney on one of the great scams of our generation.
These off-handed insults have a purpose and a rationale. The mental tyranny that goes by the name of political correctness wrongly assumes that the human heart is infinitely malleable and that words can endlessly reshape the reality of its experience. Force people to declare that all cultures are morally equal, and morally equal those cultures will become; demand we pretend that gender differences are a myth, and gender differences will disappear; shame us out of noticing the color of a criminal’s skin, and crime statistics will lose their power.
It is in seeking these transformations that the Left has felt blithely justified in sneering at opposing opinions it deems racist, sexist, or otherwise hateful. But it just doesn’t work. The eyes see what they see; the heart knows what it knows. Bottle up the human experience in silence, and it will ultimately break forth in rage. Thus, the result of these last 50 years of ceaseless left-wing incivility has been not a rainbow-striped paradise of social justice, but the utter collapse of our civic dialogue as the Right now responds with vulgar cruelty of its own. “Those to whom evil is done,” as the poet Auden wrote, “do evil in return.”
You might say to me, as my mother used to say, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” But I say to you, as I used to say to my mother, “They started it.”
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