The Era of the Thug in American Politics?

The son of a Wisconsin State Senator was beaten up when he objected to two men stealing a Romney sign in his yard.

One would like to believe that this is an exceptional case without larger significance. But then, I am afraid, one would be wrong.

Almost ten years ago, I wrote a post titled Be Afraid: The Rise of Political Violence and Intimidation in America. The post was inspired by a story about attacks on a pro-Israel group in Los Angeles:

“This may have been advertised as an anti-war rally,” said Suzanne Davidson, “but I could hear in the distance, as I looked at the hate-filled faces, military boots marching on broken glass.”

Davidson is a leader of a small group in LA that had been meeting regularly to show public support of Israel. Prior to the group’s usual rally on October 6, she learned that an “anti-war” group was planning a major demonstration in the same area. Should she cancel the pro-Israel demonstration? No, she decided…after all, what could be feared from a “peace” rally?

But from the very beginning, Davidson says, members of the “anti-war” demonstration behaved in a hostile and intimidating manner toward the smaller pro-Israel group, beginning with curses and a demand to “F___ off.” This escalated to the cry “You are Zionist Nazi pigs.” 1500 “anti-war” demonstrators marched past the 25 members of the pro-Israel group, some of them shouting “shame on you,” along with assorted name-calling. “I shudder to think what would have happened had the police not been there,” wrote Davidson.

As shameful as this event was, similar behavior–and much worse–has become increasingly common. 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.

Laurie Zoloth, a campus Jewish leader, summed up the campus situation in these words: “This is the Weimar republic with Brownshirts it cannot control.”

I cited other examples of political violence and intimidation in the post, and noted that while such behavior seemed to be most common on college campuses, it was not limited to those venues–in Colorado, for example, a car belonging to Rita Moreno (a leader of the initiative to scrap bilingual education) was torched. There was no proof that the fire-bombing was political…but Moreno says that there have been other forms of harassment against supporters of this initiative, including dumping of garbage in their yards and 3 AM phone calls.

Since that initial post, I’ve posted many stories about similar attempts at violent or near-violent political intimidation. Most of these can be found by clicking the following link: Goon Squad. Note especially this one: then he went down under a hail of black boots.

In the initial post, I said:

Suzanne Davidson’s words about “hate-filled faces” and “military boots marching on broken glass” are very apt, as are Laurie Zoloth’s words about Brownshirts and the Weimar Republic. Most Americans think of Naziism in its final state, in control of the machinery of the German government along with its police and military forces. But Naziism did not start this way. It started as a group of street rowdies, committing illegal violence to intimidate political opponents. Without such intimidation, it is unlikely that the Nazis would ever have been able to obtain control of the German government.

The rise of political violence is a serious threat to American democracy. Although not limited to the college campuses, the current wave of violence and intimidation has largely originated there. University presidents have often allowed leftist and “progressive” groups to take clearly illegal actions, such as stealing and destroying opposition newspapers, and to get away with it…indeed, they have sometimes acted as if their campuses were extraterritorial jurisdictions, in which the laws of the United States did not apply. And for years, campus “postmodern” philosphers have been arguing that speech is merely another form of action, and that free speech needs to be restricted in the service of “higher” goals. Once this philosophical position is accepted, then the use of actual violence to suppress differing viewpoints is arguably not very far away.

For at least a couple of decades now, many university administrations have been enforcing “speech codes” and conducting political indoctrination of students. They have also, far too often, turned a blind eye to activities such as the stealing of opposition newspapers, the shouting-down of politically-incorrect speakers, etc. It was only a matter of time until this poisonous contempt for free speech seeped out into the wider society, and now it has.

It seems most unlikely that an Obama administration will act effectively to protect political speech of its opponents. The behavior of Eric Holder in dropping the vote-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party, when that case had basically already been won, sends one very clear signal. Another signal is sent by Obama’s weak position on free speech when he chose to quickly blame an American filmmaker for the Benghazi violence.

I’m afraid that we are going to witness street violence as an increasingly-significant aspect of American politics over the next several years. To some extent this will happen whoever wins the Presidency, but a re-election of Barack Obama would make it much worse, and would couple the attacks on free speech by random thugs and goons with growing attempts to restrict speech by legal and administrative means.

24 thoughts on “The Era of the Thug in American Politics?”

  1. The attempt at intimidation and harassment of the Israeli ambassador, at UC, Irvine is another example. There are more complete stories at links in the article. Much of this was stirred up by a professor middle east studies who is a radical proponent of Palestinian rights. He is also a heavy metal rock musician, which seems a good example of his scholarship. I don’t know his ethnic background but his name suggests another self-hating Jew.

    Of course, the University of California is Obama’s #1 contributor.

    Obama’s “Top 20 Donors” list includes several universities. According to the website, the biggest spenders on his presidential campaign are University of California staff, who gave $927,568 as of Monday.

    The contributions are from faculty and staff.

  2. Don’t forget the “New Black Panther” party standing by PA voting site with clubs – dismissed by the Obama DOJ.

  3. “Although not limited to the college campuses, the current wave of violence and intimidation has largely originated there.”

    Academia has always been the vanguard of totalitarianism, be it fascism or communism. As it was in the 1920’s and 30’s, so it is today.

  4. Dishonesty is more important. It is impossible for a voter to make a good decision if the candidates ansd their supporters lie. Dishonesty undermines democracy and therefore imperils the state. Violence is the only alternative when democracy fails. Violence becomes the only way political questions can be answered.

    The founding fathers realized that it is impossible to have honest elections. So they deeloped a system so sophisticated that modern minds lack the education to understand it. How far we have fallen!!!

  5. “Violence becomes the only way political questions can be answered.”


    Violence obviates all political questions.

    Violence answers all questions with the same answer: “Shut Up.”

    Violence in the pursuit of social power is the ultimate non-response to political questions. It must never be rewarded by being considered a part of discourse. The use of violence removes its user from any and all right to participate in the asking or answering of political questions.

    The user of violence for the sake of social power has forsaken the social contract of democracy for personal gain, and thus forsakes all societal protection normally granted as a part of that social contract.

    (Shorter version: use violence in an attempt to take social power that democracy denies to you, and I will shoot you like a dog, and sleep soundly that night.)

  6. All dictatorships, past and present, are based on violence. That is why our parents fled their homes and jobs and came to America. They voted with their feet for freedom and honest candidates. Candidate who lie commit undermine democracy by lying. That is treason.

    “The user of violence for the sake of social power has forsaken the social contract of democracy for personal gain, and thus forsakes all societal protection normally granted as a part of that social contract.”

    Those who commit violence to the truth for the sake of social power have also placed themselves outside the law. I do not advocate assassinations. I support voting with one’s feet.

  7. All political power is based on violence (physical coercion). Don’t pay your income taxes and see what happens. In an orderly society the state has a monopoly on violence. To the extent that it loses that monopoly, order breaks down.

  8. The Left is courting disaster here in that the American Right is the home of the American gunhuggers.

    Political mob violence by the Left will beget the use of firarms from intended victims on the Right.

    The use of government power by the Left to deny the intended victims the constitutional right of 2nd Amendment self-defense will beget death squads from the Right aimed at the Leftist thugs, leaders and their families.

    Protecting Leftist thugs from armed retaliation is one of the primary motivation of American university systems in denying the applicability of state concealed carry laws.

  9. “To the extent that it loses that monopoly, order breaks down.”

    As long as I choose to remain a citizen of my society, I tacitly agree that I will follow our democratically-instituted rules, or that I will accept the democratically-instituted agreed-upon penalties. If taxes are imposed legally, and I refuse to pay them, then the state – meaning, all of us working together – already has my consent to subject me to the proper penalties, as long as I am afforded due process.

    But if that state attempts to use violence against me to coerce me in some manner that has not been properly agreed-upon – say, if a state actor decides to simply take my bank accounts for no legally-sanctioned reason other than a desire to take it – then the state is attempting to act in a manner to which I have not consented.

    It’s only in the second instance in which I’m facing a wrongful, unjustified coercion. It’s only in such a situation where I could morally take up arms against that state actor.

    On the other hand, when non-state-actors attempt to use violence against me to take what I will not give to them voluntarily, there is no argument that I have pre-consented to such acts.

  10. A high trust society is internally ordered and government force can be minimal. We don’t want to and we can’t internalize the maze of restrictions that have been built up. Those are not laws we respect nor, really, understand. That gives the government more power because we are likely to break laws we neither know about nor respect. I realize this is off topic. But it does make us look at violence differently.

    And my great fear is that in the coming years a segment of our population has not learned to internalize but rather to see the only restraints on their use of violence to be others. That isn’t where I want to be (or, more likely, my children and grandchildren).

  11. Trent Telenko “The Left is courting disaster here in that the American Right is the home of the American gunhuggers.”

    They’re courting disaster in another way too: Conservatives have traditionally seen liberals as well-meaning but mistaken. But when it becomes clear that liberals are indifferent or worse to the civil rights of those they disagree with, then the myth of the noble, well-intentioned liberal is destroyed.

  12. This is the Weimar republic with Brownshirts it cannot control.

    I disagree. This is the Weimar Republic with Brownshirts it does control, and whose actions it directs and carefully protects.

    The flow of violence is one-way. In the absence of effective legal sanctions against those of the Left who commit violence on the Center and Right; there are only two possible results. Either the Left will prevail and achieve total power, or the flow of violence will become two way.

    If it becomes two way, the coercive organs of the state will direct their attentions exclusively against the Center and Right. There are implications to that focus, and inevitable sequalae.

    We will either re-establish a rule of law [not just in theory, but “the King’s Justice will be seen to be done”] or we will revert to what political scientists refer to as a “state of nature”. This will be far closer to Hobbes’ version, than Locke’s.

    I am not sanguine about the re-establishment of the rule of law. In fact I expect the opposite, and so should anyone from the Center or Right.

    Subotai Bahadur

  13. The lawlessness and extrajudicial thinking extend beyond that. Even at somewhat conservative campuses like SMU, we’re finding out that they’ve been holding their own “trials” and covering up rape after rape, never reporting any of it to the police.

    Our campuses are more like Lord of the Flies than we know.

  14. I wonder if anyone here watched any of the video of the protests in Athens. I watched protesters advance against the police and throw molotov cocktails directly into their midsts. One policeman had the bottom half of his body set alight. Then more protesters advanced and threw more fire bombs.

    The reaction of the police was to chase them back with batons. I could not believe they didn’t shoot them. I was astounded, really.

    Leftists. Give them your money or they’ll kill you.

  15. There is massive vote fraud in Ohio early voting. 100s of Bus loads of people, none who can speak English, have Obama supporters, acting as translators, filling out their ballots for them.

    Winter is coming.

  16. Anonymous Says:
    October 27th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Winter may be warmer, when the government does not have the consent of the governed.

    Subotai Bahadur

  17. There has been an understanding that we do not strongly pursue the miscreants of elections past. I suspect that this is going to not last much longer. The GOP has its own crew of miscreants but the Dems are going to be hurt a great deal more by the crackdown.

  18. Maybe this time we should elect an American to be President. Some one who grew up living with American values.

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