Enabling Political Thuggery

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.

Read the whole thing.

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)

9 thoughts on “Enabling Political Thuggery”

  1. Part of the problem is with the office of the presdidency itself;we now see the power of the pardon and its control of the the DOJ makes it a threat to our liberties and safety. We will likely see Obama off,but there will be others of like mind.

  2. This wasn’t anything as legal as a pardon. Obama could do that and accept the consequences. Instead, what they do is order career prosecutors to drop the case AFTER they have obtained a default judgement. In one case, the career prosecutor objected and was sent to another state with no duties. These are not political appointees but the heart of the voting rights division of DoJ.

  3. During the brief period when the Nazis were constrained to pretend to share power in a coalition under constitutional rules, Hermann Goering secured for himself the post of chief of the Prussian police. Anti-rioting laws were strictly enforced against Communists, but somehow Nazi thugs were never charged for the same conduct.

    Obama is more of a traditionalist than I realized.

  4. There is a difference between ourselves and the Weimar Germans. The Jacksonian strain in American political culture is slow to anger. But when the tipping point is reached, there is no holding back.

    The proverb about “reaping the Whirlwind” has a basis in fact. It will not be “nice”, it will not be “polite”. It will not be “civilized”. But in the end, it will be; if the enemies of the Constitution do not cease.

    That, in itself, is not a cause for rejoicing. For in the end we may be something very different than what we have been in the 233 years before Year One Anno Obama. At the end of the Revolution, we had an empty continent and the Tories who survived the war either left or kept their heads down. Our nation found outlets for its energy other than recriminations.

    After the Civil War, we still had half a continent to fill and the South was prostrate and occupied. We turned to other things than memories of the evil that had been done. We healed.

    Today, we have no frontier, we have economic collapse, and we have [for now] very limited hope of a better future. If the new Brownshirts win, the better future will be gone, and the pressure will build. In one generation, two, or more; there will be another explosion. If there is a successful Jacksonian uprising, the lot of the surviving Brownshirts, their supporters, and masters will not be pleasant. And we will have changed into something quite different from what we were. Perhaps, that will be the hardest thing to forgive. They will have forced us to become that which we used to hate.

    I suspect that we are already on the path to a collision. The world feels like 1775, like 1860, like 1938. By those points in time it was too late to prevent what was to come, and all that was left was the igniting spark.

    I am not sanguine.

    Subotai Bahadur

  5. Do you have a comparison to the political violence of the KKK in, say, Indiana in the 1920s?

    The political power of the KKK, it’s enablers and supporters, installed a Titan of the Senate: Robert Byrd, who today is widely praised for his long service to the Democrat Party and his country. Who knows what the latest gang of white sheets/silver (black, brown) shirts can accomplish? All that hatred of freedom must lead somewhere. Look where it’s lead us now.

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