J Christian Adams, formerly an attorney with the US Department of Justice:
On Election Day 2008, armed men wearing the uniforms and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were posted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the entrance to a polling site. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters. After the election, the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice brought a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and these armed thugs. I, and other Justice lawyers, obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the case against them.
Before a final judgment could be entered, however, our superiors ordered dismissal of the claims.
For some time, I have been concerned about the rise of political violence and intimidation in America. This has been most apparent in universities, where administrators have too often allowed leftists and Islamic radicals to interfere with the expression of opinion by others. For example, in this post I cited the behavior of some “anti-war” and anti-Israel activists:
At Concordia College (Toronto), Benhamin Netanyahu was prevented from speaking by a riot of Palestinian students and their supporters. Thomas Hecht, a Holocaust survivor, was pushed against a wall, spat on, and reportedly kicked in the groin. A woman said that during the same incident, attackers “aimed their punches at my breasts.” Two weeks later, at the same college, a Jewish student was beaten bloody by an Arab student.
At Berkeley, someone thre a cinder block through the glass door at the Hillel (Jewish) center, and wrote “F___ Jews” on the wall. At San Francisco State University, a rally of Jewish students and other was disrupted by pro-Palestinian students screaming “Go back to Russia,” and “We will kill you.” Some students were reportedly shoved against the wall, and the Jewish group had to be escorted out by police. Laurie Zoloth, a campus Jewish leader, summed up the campus situation in these words: “This is the Weimar republic with Brownshirts it cannot control.”
My concern has also been that the acceptance of political violence and intimidation on campus would lead, sooner or later, to the rise of political violence in the larger society. This is now happening, under a President with close ties to “progressivism” of the sort which has so often sought to suppress dissenting opinions at universities.
Speaking of the Weimar Republic, which Laurie Zoloth mentioned in the passage cited above…It is well-known that the failure of the Weimar government to deal effectively with Brownshirt violence was a major factor in the eventual Nazi takeover. Here is Sebastian Haffner, whose important memoir I reviewed here, with examples of how the process worked:
Summoned as a witness before the highest German court, Hitler bellowed at the judges that he would one day come to power by strictly constitutional means and then heads would roll. Nothing happened. The white-haired president of the supreme court did not think of ordering the witness to be taken into custody for contempt…One night, six storm troopers fell on a ‘dissident’ in his bed and literally trampled him to death, for which they were sentenced to death. Hitler sent them a telegram of praise and acknowledgement. Nothing happened. No, something did happen: the murderers were pardoned.
It was strange to observe how the behavior of each side reinforced that of the other: the savage impudence which gradually made it possible for the unpleasant, little apostle of hate to assume the proportions of a demon; the bafflement of his tamers, who always realized just too late exactly what he was up to…
Weimar passivity in the face of the Brownshirts was driven in some cases by personal fear on the part of the officials concerned; in others, by sympathy with the criminals. In our present case, it is not credible that Eric Holder and the senior officials of his Justice Department are afraid of the members of the very small New Black Panther Party. One can only conclude that they are willing to accept a certain amount of poltiical intimidation as long as it is exercised on behalf of candidates and causes which they favor.
(J Christian Adams link via Instapundit)