Those who stormed the Capitol are enemies of our country, but they have no public or political support that will allow them to commit large-scale violence or effect change in our country. The danger they pose to our commonweal is much less than the danger posed by the radicals being coddled and protected by a large part of our political class.
It is almost always gratifying to a writer when readers say that what he has written has helped clarify their own thought or expressed something well that they had perceived. A number of people responded in this way to my essay last week about having more enemies. Like me, they were tired of the pretense that everything is all right in our country and that our differences with others are all purely misunderstandings that can be cleared up if we just think more positively. There are powerful forces at work that are bent on fomenting racial conflict, destroying the God-given understanding of the human person as made in God’s image as male and female, eliminating equality under the law for all, and extinguishing the freedoms of religion, political speech, and economic initiative. But also like me, my grateful readers understood that the path of fighting our enemies is fraught with dangers: of seeing ourselves as purely righteous just because our enemies are generally in the wrong and, most importantly, of hating our enemies.
As with any essay, there were some dense readers. One social media denizen, whom I will call Professor Sophisticated Thinker, PhD, of Big State University, condemned the essay on the understanding that I was advocating hatred and restricting the Sermon on the Mount to the personal sphere while allowing hate-freak flags to flutter freely in the political sphere. Even a cursory glance at the editorial blurb at the top of the essay would have revealed that I was writing about loving enemies.
A more interesting and common mistake, however, is found in a comment left on the article. Commenter “CM” wrote:
I’m no fan of either BLM or Antifa, but let’s maintain some perspective about the threat they actually pose. Who is the BLM version of Dylann Roof, or the Antifa version of Patrick Crusius? Has any American progressive ever perpetrated an evil against innocent civilians on the scale of the McVeigh/Nichols bombing in Oklahoma City? What values of Western Civilization were these monsters upholding? Most importantly, why are the noxious ideas they represent never included by writers like Mr. Deavel in their catalogs of threats against our traditional way of life?
Now let’s ignore the dishonest rhetorical challenge to explain which “values of Western Civilization” Roof, Crusius, Nichols, and McVeigh were defending. I never mentioned them positively because they are all monsters. Further, the suggestion that because, say, Mr. Crusius was worried about massive immigration and some conservatives are worried about massive immigration somehow makes him “ours” doesn’t make any sense. People like the above figures usually have a variety of beliefs, some of which can be labeled conservative (anti-immigration) and some of which (fear of climate change) can be labeled liberal or even left. I didn’t mention them for the same reason I didn’t mention James T. Hodgkinson, the deranged Bernie Bro who shot up a softball field full of conservative politicians, nearly killing Representative Steve Scalise. My mention of enemies was not about crazed lone wolves of the left, right, or center.
At its heart, though, CM’s challenge is one I have heard several times over the last few years. “Dave, you’re simply focusing all your attention on the other side. Besides, BLM and Antifa are simply not that dangerous.” As Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle said, in an attempt to deflect from the vicious damage such groups were doing to her city in the summer of 2020, it was simply another “summer of love.” The problem with this is that the “summer of love” ended up with at least two dead people in the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) and many others dead in the city at large.
The reality is that these well-funded groups, of which BLM and Antifa are the most important, are bent on the destruction of the American way of life. They openly declare their hatred for our civilization, including the norms of families with a mother and a father and the idea of a society in which we do not discriminate according to skin color. Their actions have been to destabilize not only the police forces but the entire order of many cities and to turn educational institutions ever more into left-wing indoctrination camps. The riots that these groups fomented did enormous damage to personal and public property, the safety of these cities, and to the social fabric at large. Portland, Oregon, has been under siege continuously since May from these groups because local officials have largely refused to charge those doing property damage or in some cases committing assault. (The journalist Andy Ngo’s Twitter feed has documented this city’s travail in detail.) The same has obtained in a number of other cities where “progressive” district attorneys have similarly refused to do their jobs and police funds have been cut. The result was that 2020 was a year in which murders increased by as much as 50% in Chicago, New York, and a great many other cities.
Because the burden of the disorders and violent crime fall disproportionately on minorities, especially black people, I think it’s fair to say that Dylan Roof had nothing on these activists in being responsible for the deaths of “black bodies.”
This essay is being written on January 6, the day that the Electoral College’s results were to be certified. A small number of bad actors, most apparently from far right groups, stormed the United States Capitol to prevent the certification of the election, doing great damage and forcing Congress to flee. One woman was shot by Capitol police and died. [A Capitol policeman later died of injuries inflicted by the rioters, and three other people died of medical emergencies during the events.—Ed.] No doubt somebody reading this article will argue that this abhorrent behavior shows that I am wrong. But far from proving that, the events of today actually show why my fears are correctly ordered.
All through the summer and fall members of the mainstream media and politicians from the left refused to condemn the rioters who did vast damage and committed gross acts of violence in the name of “justice.” Reporters used dishonest phrases such as “mostly peaceful protest” to describe events that were more properly labeled riots. News chyrons with such phrases ran below pictures of reporters standing in front of examples of arson. While Mr. Biden did say early on that burning things was wrong, he refused until a few months later to mention the role of groups such as Antifa in the violence and he was critical of “confrontational” language used by Republican politicians. California Rep. Maxine Waters refused to use the term “rioting” and Rep. Gerald Nadler labeled Antifa violence in Portland a “myth” in late July. No Democratic party politicians could speak negatively of the role of BLM in any of the events—indeed Mr. Biden has always praised them. Even many Republican politicians have rhetorically bent the knee to BLM, if not Antifa. Radical chic has been the name of the game.
Meanwhile, as I write, almost all Republican politicians have been vociferous about the actions at the Capital. Conservative figures, even those who do believe that the presidential election is dubious, have condemned the bad actors. It is true that President Trump said to the protesters in a video, “We love you. You are very special.” This did not sound like the love of enemies I was talking about. He further foolishly tweeted, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” But he was forcefully and correctly rebuked by many of his supporters—even those who think the election was indeed stolen. A different tone and language was the norm for Republicans and conservatives. Oklahoma Republican Representative James Lankford called them “rioters and thugs.” Senators Tom Cotton and Lindsay Graham called for all of them to be arrested and face “prosecutions to the fullest extent of the law.”
There is no public political or media support for the Crusiuses, Roofs, and McVeighs. Nor is there support for the QAnon-types or white supremacists who stormed the Capitol. That they are enemies of our country is absolutely right. But unlike the enemies I named, they have no public or political support that will allow them to do large-scale violence or effect change in our country. All things being equal, the danger they pose to our commonweal is much less than the danger posed by the radicals being coddled and protected by a large part of our political class.
The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.