Ordinarily, I would ignore these yahoos, but in the climate of violence that has emerged in this country you can bet that somewhere, someone on a message board or newspaper thread is trying to make a false equivalence between the “anarchists” that so plague many demonstrations and the insanity of the right. It’s an old rightie trick: take any stupid thing that someone not associated with liberals, progressives or the Democratic Party, and try to make us own it. You know it’s coming.
So for the record, violence is wrong, and your mother probably told you that. And the Beatles sang about carrying pictures of Chairman Mao. And so on. Putting a bandana over your face and hurling rocks at cops and newspaper photographers, or whatever actually happened, is just stupid, pointless mayhem. More seriously, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a highly sophisticated and deeply moral reason for his theories of non-violent change, which anyone can explore using the Tubes of the Internet. It’s not a game, but once you throw a rock or a punch, you’re out. I don’t know how he did it, and every time I go back and re-read some of his works I’m still in awe.
To be fair, there have been some voices from the right denouncing the death threats against politicians and such. I happened to catch talk show host Kirby Wilbur doing so on KIRO-TV the other day, so good on him. I hope he keeps speaking out.
Unfortunately, conservatives in this country have always owned violence, it’s their cultural tradition, not ours. That’s what a lot of people don’t seem to understand about the 1960’s: much of the violence that happened was either state-sponsored violence against its citizens, or was reactionary right-wing violence against social change. Somehow the right has twisted history so that many folks only seem to remember the relatively few loons who tried to build bombs in a brownstone and blew themselves up. If we’re being honest, we do need to remember that the Weather Underground did mount dozens of terrorist attacks, and that while they issued telephoned warnings in an attempt to avoid loss of life, it was still patently insane. My point is that was the end, not the beginning. Americans hated it and hated them.
In any case it’s ironic that the right is now falling victim to the same base tendencies that undid the tattered remnants of the New Left in the early 1970’s. I think it’s a form of political nihilism, as I’ve stated previously. It’s self-indulgent nearly beyond comprehension and offers nothing but destruction, which is one thing it has in common with rock-throwing “anarchists.”
One thing objective observers may note: the Democratic Party doesn’t have a massive communications infrastructure geared at whipping up “anarchists,” nor is the Democratic Party making “anarchists” a centerpiece of the election this year. We don’t have a cable tee-vee network and countless AM radio stations telling everyone how we understand that something made the “anarchists” mad. We aren’t feeding them ridiculous conspiracy theories and telling them that the government is going to kill them and take their most valued possessions.
So honest observers will not accept any false equivalences involving a few “anarchists.”