Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, June 17, 2017
The shooting at the Republican baseball practice has prompted virtually every commentator and columnist to pronounce on the question of whether intemperate political speech leads to political violence. Now that it is a Bernie Sanders supporter and admirer of the Southern Poverty Law Center who has gone on the rampage, even a few lefties are regretting the frenzy of Tea Party-blaming that followed Jared Loughner’s attempt to kill Gabby Giffords in 2011.
Charles Blow of the New York Times is warning Republicans not to blame anti-Trump vitriol for the shooting, and patting himself on the back for refraining from blaming the “climate of hate” that so many claimed prompted the Giffords shooting. Still, he can’t bring himself to condemn or even mention the people who don’t just stop at “violent rhetoric,” but who regularly put it into practice: the so-called “anti-fascists.”
It’s good to see the media worrying about whether it may be wrong to try to score political points whenever there is violence, but they do a bad job of pretending to be above the fray. In a Wednesday editorial on the Scalise shooting, the Times wrote that the Giffords attack was politically motivated, and made a correction only under an avalanche of criticism from readers.
The Left is certainly consistent in refusing to draw larger conclusions from attacks by Muslims. Every attack, they assure us, is the work of deranged fanatics, and says nothing about Islam itself or the wisdom of permitting Muslim immigration to the West. Somehow, the obvious escapes them: that countries with large populations of Muslims have a problem with Islamic terror, and countries that have kept them out don’t. It is now standard for promoters of mass immigration to accuse nations such as Hungary and Poland that keep out Muslim “migrants” of betraying “European values.”
But there is one school of thought that, virtually without exception, both Right and Left agree prompts political violence and must be stamped out, and that is respect for Confederate heritage. All it took was one drug-addled gunman to convince America that every visible trace of the Confederacy is incitement to violence.
After Dylann Roof’s rampage in Charleston, Amazon, eBay, Sears, Walmart, Google Shopping, the Apple app store announced they would stop selling anything any product with a Confederate flag on it. The gift shops at every national Civil War battlefield — including Fort Sumter and Gettysburg — announced they would no longer sell Confederate-flag merchandise. The Alabama State Capitol and the chapel at the Citadel took down battle flags they had displayed for years. Computer game manufacturers announced they were removing the image of Confederate flags even from simulations of Civil War battles. Nikki Haley, then-governor of South Carolina, reversed her position of many years and insisted that the Confederate flag come down from a pole on the South Carolina Capitol grounds. All this happened within 10 days of the Charleston shooting. It took a little longer actually to lower the flag at the Capitol because the South Carolina legislature had to vote on it, but the vote passed overwhelmingly.
The Roof killings were not part of a recent or continuing pattern. There has been nothing like it since the massacre. Nevertheless, Dylann Roof’s name has since been evoked to justify taking down the Confederate memorials in New Orleans this month. Charlottesville, Virginia, is determined to remove its statue of Robert E. Lee. St. Louis, Missouri, has started the process of removing every Confederate memorial in that city. The state of Arizona has six Confederate memorials that “civil rights” leaders are demanding must be removed. The Memphis city council has been fighting in the courts for years to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest — along with his bones and those of his wife — from Forrest Park. There is probably no state, town, or city in the United States where Confederate flags, memorials, and monuments are not under attack.
Unlike any political opinion — and certainly unlike Islam — we are to believe that Confederate heritage is an unqualified evil, and any expression of Southern pride is a sickness. As Mayor Mitch Landrieu explained as the New Orleans monuments came down, the Confederacy “was on the wrong side of humanity.” Not just history; humanity.
It is easy to imagine the arguments that could have been made to defend Confederate heritage if the standards of Islamic apologia applied to Dylann Roof: The gunman was deranged and not a reflection of Southern pride. The Confederate flag represents heroic devotion to a cause, not racism. All peoples, including Southerners, take legitimate pride in their ancestors’ struggles for independence. Slavery existed for nearly 100 years in the United States, but for only five years in the Confederacy. Lincoln wanted to expel freed blacks from the United States, so he was a vicious white supremacist, just like the Confederates. And so on.
The Left’s recognition that it is sometimes wrong to blame an entire political party or ideology for the violent acts of crazed individuals will be short-lived. I’m sure we can expect the New York Times to evoke a “climate of hatred” the next time anyone it doesn’t like pulls a trigger. Leftists evoke principles only when it suits them.