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A recent zombie claim by “conservatives” is that “the left” is violent.

There is a hashtag, #violentDemocrats, on Twitter. It invites gems such as this:

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This the classic Roger Ailes trick of attributing your own worst qualities to your opponents. Certainly in other parts of the world, there have been important political movements that were notionally leftist in the political taxonomy of the United States that also perpetrated significant violence on their opponents. The Soviet Union under Stalin and the People’s Republic of China are obvious examples.

In the United States, however, political violence comes almost entirely from “conservatives.” It is worth noting in passing that the definitive eruption of political violence in the modern world, Nazi Germany, was also the apotheosis of western conservatism. U.S. “conservatives” often, apparently unwittingly, come up with their own proposals that are strikingly similar to, if not exactly the same as, those of the Nazis.

So just before the 2016 election, everyone’s favorite “conservative” harridan, Ann Coulter, uttered a tweet asserting that Trump would win in a fifty state landslide if we restricted voting to persons who had four grandparents who had been born in the United States. Regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of this absurd claim, the thing many people immediately noted was that it parallels very closely the Nazi law that deprived Jews of their citizenship.

Less remarked was the point that, in the United States, the notion of a “grandfather clause,” or exception to a rule for a specific class of persons, originates in the practice of states that wanted to prevent their African American citizens from voting of adopting very onerous or impossible conditions to register to vote, but exempting anyone whose grandfather could vote in the 1860 election, which of course was immediately before the outbreak of the Civil War, thus ensuring that white people could register, but African Americans could not.

Being a backward looking policy approach that allows the past to weigh more heavily than usual on the present, this is a distinctively conservative idea. It also reflects the point that both racism against African Americans and anti semitism are the province of “conservatives” in the United States, as in most of the world.

But Coulter’s channeling her inner Nazi is not especially violent itself, even if one could reasonably predict that it might lead to violence on the model of the famous showdown on the Edmund Pettus bridge in Alabama during the civil rights movement that helped motivate Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act, which good “conservatives” recently persuaded Republicans on the Supreme Court to gut by striking down a key provision.

But we do have lots of other examples of violence, either threatened or enacted, by “conservatives.” Recently, the president celebrated an act of violence by a member of Congress against a reporter at one of his signature rallies even as he accepted as plausible the patently contrived explanation the government of Saudi Arabia offered for the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of a journalist who had been living in the United States. No one can think of a previous example of a president of the United States effectively condoning the murder of a journalist by foreign state actors.

Then Democratic member of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi endured taunting and threats, allegedly by a contingent of the Proud Boys, a group whose members were recently involved in a brawl in New York City that has resulted in some of them suffering arrests, with more expected.

Needless to say, the impulse to police “certain areas” on election day, especially as bruited by various white supremacist groups, is a distinctively “conservative,” and potentially violent one. Few things are as conservative in the United States as “white supremacy.”

And of course there is the ongoing, “conservative” violence of police attacks on innocent African Americans, mostly recently the man whom an off duty police officer shot in his own apartment, claiming that she mistakenly believed she was in her own apartment and that the man was an intruder. The Dallas police department, both the shooter’s employer and the entity with responsibility for the investigation, has deliberately concealed evidence and conducted what investigation it has undertaken in a suspiciously sloppy manner.

Finally, it could only be a “conservative” who would advocate a “more violent Christianity” to defend “western civilization,” and offering president Trump and Republican House member Greg Gianforte, who in 2016 pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter, as shining examples of the admirable violence he wishes to see more of.

“Conservatives” usually have supposed counter examples of violence by Democrats and/or liberals in response to allegations of “conservative” violence, but those purported counter examples never withstand much scrutiny. Then, of course, the old rule that two wrongs do not make a right still applies. Real conservatives adhere to the idea of acting on principle, of doing what is right regardless of circumstances, an idea U.S. “conservatives” utterly fail to understand.

The putative violence of “the left” is just another cheap dodge by “conservatives” hoping to escape responsibility for their own violence.

Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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