Democrats and progressives have nothing but contempt for the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and they deplore, at least rhetorically, all attempts to subvert the peaceful, lawful, democratic process. They very frequently go further, however, by blurring the distinction between those who broke the law on Jan. 6 and those who merely questioned the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 election by exercising their right of free speech. To Democrats, all too often, even the “thought crime” of doubting Joe Biden’s victory constitutes “insurrection.”
Further undercutting the Left’s case against political violence, as many have pointed out already, is the very timid response of many progressive politicians to the wave of street protests and outright rioting that followed the death of George Floyd in May 2020. A summer of rage befell many American cities, and it took most leading Democrats quite some time to notice. To this day, many progressives deny that there is any connection between BLM and violence, and they refuse to admit that “Antifa” even exists.
Furthermore, the tactics of violence and intimidation employed by leftist agitators on college campuses, usually with the goal of preventing conservatives from being heard, are now so extreme and commonplace that elaborate security measures are necessary whenever a conservative, or more accurately a non-leftist, speaks. Similar tactics of intimidation are increasingly being used by liberal protesters against conservative Supreme Court justices, as we saw in the wake of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and Joe Biden’s Department of Justice shows no appetite for standing in their way.
The recent school shooting in Nashville amplifies this theme of left-wing extremism. It was perpetrated by a transgender man/woman who had penned a (still undisclosed) “manifesto,” which presumably sheds light on why he/she chose to attack a Christian school. For some reason, though, the political/ideological dimension of these murders does not seem to interest the Left or the mainstream media. Instead, once again this mass shooting is described as the guns’ fault, rather than the fault of the person who pulled the trigger. Very convenient!
In response to the Nashville shooting, three members of the Tennessee House of Representatives stormed onto the House floor and hijacked the proceedings, but, leading Democrats assure us, this breach of democratic norms was in fact a noble and necessary act of protest, which makes the subsequent expulsion of two of the renegade legislators a political abomination (despite the fact that it was, in practice, temporary and symbolic). President Biden himself stated that the so-called Tennessee Three had “joined thousands of peaceful protesters calling for action,” glossing over their forceful takeover of the House chamber, their use of a bullhorn and the threatening slogans they bellowed, such as “No action, no peace!” and “Whose house? Our house!” – the latter a verbatim repetition of a rallying cry used in the January 6 Capitol riot.
The takeaway appears to be that, for Democrats, violence and illegality perpetrated by leftists is neither violence nor illegality, or at the very least is not important, and may even be praiseworthy, but violence and illegality perpetrated by conservatives is horrific, by definition, and even non-violent, constitutionally protected action by the political Right can constitute a form of “violence,” in that it disturbs the peace of mind of leftists, and must therefore be vigorously suppressed by police and prosecutors.
This blatant hypocrisy is unfortunately not confined to the U.S. On the contrary, there is a disturbing worldwide trend involving the increased use of political violence by leftist activists, and the downplaying of such violence by sympathetic media outlets and left-wing politicians.
Not long ago, for instance, a wave of mass protests, mostly by progressives, forced the newly installed conservative government of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel to “pause” controversial judicial reforms. At one point, hot rhetoric from the Left caused the mayor of Tel Aviv to be accused of incitement to murder. Street demonstrations, including the blockage of major highways, the refusal of some reservists to fulfill their military obligations and crippling strikes were not the only factors influencing Netanyahu, however, as President Biden lent his weight to the chaotic protests, declaring ominously, “They [the Israeli government] cannot continue down this road, and I’ve sort of made that clear.” Thus, sadly, the reforms were halted, and leftist disrespect for the law was crowned with political success, as is often the case.
The recent mass protests in France, which have persistently descended into lawlessness and violence, have followed a similar pattern. As in Israel, disruptive strikes have been employed to intimidate the government into backing down. Because of escalating violence, a state visit by Britain’s King Charles III was postponed.
Needless to say, leftist journalists, politicians and union leaders do not regard the rioting as a poor reflection on those who are in opposition to President Macron’s controversial pension reforms. No, not at all. Instead, the protests and violence are a sign that Macron’s reforms have gone too far, and thus he should change course. And, one union boss adds, “it would be dangerous for the government not to listen.”
To his credit, Macron is standing firm. Several days ago, he signed into law the substance of his reforms, which will raise the minimum age for the receipt of a state pension from 62 to 64.
Macron’s steadfastness in the face of leftist-inspired anarchy is as rare as it is commendable. He has paid a heavy political price for sticking to his guns. Macron has been castigated and vilified in ways so petty that one is reminded of the ravages of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” Nonetheless, he seems to realize that surrendering to street thugs and agents of chaos by canceling the pension reform program would ultimately be fatal to his credibility as a leader. It would also be a disaster for France’s finances.
As it turns out, there is arguably even more at stake in the battles now being fought on French streets. Macron, by standing up to the rioters, is striking a blow against the emerging consensus on the Left that the rules of democracy, and the rule of law itself, only apply to conservatives. According to this consensus, when progressives, by contrast, flout norms, violate rules, or openly and shamelessly break the law or perpetrate violence, these outrages are to be ignored, at best, or lionized as acts of “courage,” at worst.
What the Left most wants from this calculated campaign of incivility, lawlessness and violence, of course, is to tighten its grip on power and to intimidate the political Right into submission. Oftentimes, sadly, due to conservatives’ natural reserve and timidity, they get their way.
President Macron is sending the vitally important message that leftists cannot count on these despicable, coercive tactics to work in every case. As such, he is standing up for the integrity of democracy and the survival of liberty not just in France, but throughout the Western world.
We must hope that America can boast of a few statesmen like Emmanuel Macron – men who have the toughness to face down the leftist mob. If not, we better find such leaders soon, or else there might not be much democracy left to save.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT CITIZENS JOURNAL Please keep us publishing – DONATE