MSM Spin On White Liberals

From Tablet Magazine, Zach Goldberg writes about white liberals, what he calls America’s White Saviors. This is an example of how corporate media slants their reporting on public opinion. In this case, the author focuses on one narrow demograpic of race and ideology, so as to isolate it and make it seem far left, while ignoring that the majority of Americans agree with white liberals on most major issues. I’ll break it down and respond to it piece by piece.

“In one especially telling example of the broader trend, white liberals recently became the only demographic group in America to display a pro-outgroup bias—meaning that among all the different groups surveyed white liberals were the only one that expressed a preference for other racial and ethnic communities above their own.”

This isn’t surprising. Going back many years, I’ve seen data like this. In social science research from earlier last century, it was well known that liberals had stronger pro-outgroup bias. From some years back, one survey showed liberals had greater empathy for foreign noncombatants killed by US soldiers than for US soldiers.

There has always been a subset of people with a strong pro-outgroup bias, although Goldberg is correct to point out that this is growing. But in a way that is the whole history of the United States. Thomas Paine, in arguing for Independence from the British Empire, made an outgroup argument that a large part of American colonists weren’t English, including the majority in his adopted home of Pennsylvania.

“In the past five years, white liberals have moved so far to the left on questions of race and racism that they are now, on these issues, to the left of even the typical black voter.”

That is not entirely meaningful. Why compare an ideological demographic with a purely racial demographic? The fact of the matter is black liberals would, generally speaking, be further to the left of white liberals on most issues and particularly on issues of race and racism. This framing feels manipulative, an exercise in sophistry.

“They are also tied to a significant decrease in support for Israel and—perhaps more surprisingly—a rise in the number of white liberals who express negative attitudes about the perceived political power of American Jews.”

I doubt most white liberals have any issue with “perceived political power of American Jews” in and of itself. Rather, it’s probably an opposition to the colonial Apartheid of Zionism. As far as that goes, Jewish liberals tend to oppose Zionism as well and probably are even more critical than white liberals. Once again, why isolate white liberals in the way others isolate rural whites to scapegoat them?

Later in the artcle, the author points out that white liberals retain a strong favorability toward Jews. In fact, their favorability is stronger than that of white moderates and white conservatives toward Jews. As for ranking of advantage and disadvantage, all whites (liberal, moderate, and conservative) put Jews about smack dab in the middle. And the white liberal ranking of Jews relative to other demographic groups is about the same as white moderates, the two combined being the view of most whites in general.

“As white liberals have come to place far greater emphasis on racial injustice, they have also endorsed reparative race-related social policies in greater numbers.”

That is about right. As a white liberal, I’ve personally followed this trend. I was raised by white conservatives in the racist Deep South. I didn’t understand racism when I was younger and probably expressed unconscious racism all the time. But I educated myself and expanded my social experience. Any informed person is forced to admit that there will never be justice until there is some form of compensation for the harm done and continuing to be done, whatever that might mean. That doesn’t particularly radical to me, just common sense, as Thomas Paine thought the theft of the Commons should be compensated with a land tax.

“The woke elite act like white saviors who must lead the rest of the country, including the racial minorities whose interests they claim to represent, to a vision of justice the less enlightened groups would not choose for themselves.”

That comes across as bullshit. The author points out that minorities, even minority Democrats and liberals, are not as strongly supportive of certain issues about immigration. Sure, there is variation depending on the particular issue, but that ignores the general agreement. On immigration, the majority of every racial demographic of Democrats and liberals supports the same positions on immigration, if some support it stronger than others. Also, the vast majority of Democrats and liberals of all races agree that diversity makes the US a better place to live.

One area of divergence was on whether one sympathizes more with Israelis or Palestinians. Minorities in general seem to sympathize more with Israelis. But this sympathy has been dropping for minorities as well. And by 2018, most minority Democrats and liberals had no opinion at all in sympathizing with either side. Another issue of even less disagreement is abortion. The majority of white and Hispanic Democrats think women should be able to get an abortion under any condition, but only about half of black Democrats think so. Then again, most Americans in general, including most blacks, do support abortion in all or most cases. So, why show the most extreme scenario to portray a false division?

As for freedom to choose gender identity, the majority of Hispanic and Asian Democrats are in line wiith the majority of white Democrats in being all in favor. Even generally conservative black Democrats support this at 42% and probably quickly rising, maybe already being a majority position among young blacks. On a related issue, across all racial groups, Democrats and liberals are in agreement that there needs to be more attention given sexual harassment in the workplace.

“White liberals make up 20-24% of the general population but, for a multitude of reasons, exert an outsize political and cultural influence. […] The danger is that “woke” white activists acting on behalf of voiceless minorities have had their perceptions distorted by social media-tinted caricatures that obscure more objective measures of reality and end up silencing or ignoring what the voiceless groups, themselves, have to say about what policies are in their best interest.”

I’m not sure this is a problem, considering the vast majority of Americans support liberal views, causes, and policies. The self-identified liberal demographic might be smaller but those who are liberal without identifying as such is now the moral majority. The main problem is that, in using ‘liberal’ as a slur, most liberal-minded Americans are still afraid to identify as liberal. Demonstrating this problem, the author of that article is creating more confusion in portraying liberalism as extremism, and I’m sure that is intentional

“In fact, multiple recent studies find no racial disparities in police use of deadly force. The odds of an unarmed black person being shot by police appear to approximate his/her chance of being struck by lightning. The probability of being killed by a right-wing extremist is equally low, if not lower.”

That is such a fundamentally dishonest portrayal of the racial issue. I’m not sure about those specific claims of data, but why cherry pick what confirms the author’s beliefs. A ton of other data does show racial biases in policing and the criminal system. And, sure, rigth-wing extremism is low in a general sense, but to be honest we have to admit that most terrorism is right-wing. So, right-wingers only occasionally blow up buildings and kill lots of people. Well, occasionally is too often. Left-wingers in recent history don’t generally commit that kind of violence at all. Consider that in the past quarter of a century, no anti-fascist has ever assassinated anyone or committed terrorism.

“Due at least in part to digital media, white liberal attitudes that more or less endured for decades have been drastically overturned in the space of months or single years. In contrast, the attitudes of white conservatives—and conservatives in general—have moved at a more glacial pace, if at all. For liberals, the lack of awareness of how fast and far their attitudes have shifted fosters an illusion of conservative extremism. In reality, the conservatives of today are not all that different from the conservatives of years past.”

That deceptive argument is morally indefensible. Most Americans in general, not only white liberals, have grown increasingly leftist over the decades. Conservatives may not be any more political evil than in the past, may not be any more racist and misogynist, bigoted and xenophobic, theocratic and fascist. But pointing out that they are as extremist as they ever were is hardly a defense that they aren’t extremists and that such extremism is not problematic in being outside the moral norm of most Americans at this point.

“Resentment of those seen as standing in the way of necessary social and cultural change may inspire a commitment to what political scientist Eric Kaufman calls “multicultural millenarianism”: the belief that the demise of a white majority will pave the way for a more racially progressive and just society. Perhaps this is why white support for increasing immigration coincides with more negative feelings toward whites.”

Demise? WTF! Only a reactionary conservative would fearfully portray growing diversity as a demise. The difference for white liberals is that there simply is not a fear of the other. It’s largely irrelevant, anyway. All that is likely to happen won’t conform to the paranoid fantasy of the decline of the white race but simply a shift in how whiteness is culturally defined and so who identifies as white. Increased immigration will simply hasten this process, such that a large number of Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans will adapt to white identity, as did Jews and Italians in the past. It is the expansion of whiteness, not the disappearance, that is so fearful to white conservatives. As for white liberals, I doubt they care, one way or another about the future prospects of white identity politics. I doubt most other Americans care either.

43 thoughts on “MSM Spin On White Liberals

  1. “…to be honest we have to admit that most terrorism is right-wing.”

    Define “terrorism.” I am so sick of this argument I could scream: “Left-wingers are less violent than right-wingers because they don’t kill as many people.”

    Give me a break. I once worked with a group of Armenians from Lebanon. The patriarch of the family was literally burned out of business three times during all the strife and chaos there. He finally had to flee the country and make a go of it, first in Canada, then the States.

    So don’t tell me that “left-wing” violence hurts and/or affects no one. It most certainly does. In subtler ways? Perhaps, but that does not excuse it in any way, shape or form.

    • The anti-leftist myths are among the most powerful for social control. It’s been my project for many years to fight against this propaganda campaign that goes back to the Cold War and before. It’s why the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory bothers me so much, with its origins in Nazi rhetoric against Jews and the Left.

      Sadly, most Americans don’t know the data and history on violence and extremist groups. They are victims of propaganda and ignorance that has been enforced through the corporate media and the education system. It’s time for us to become smarter and more informed than those who want to manipulate us with lies. We need to develop intellectual and psychological defenses.

      The focus on property damage portrayed in the corporate media as ‘left-wing’ demonstrates this. At left-wing protests, much and maybe most of the violence committed and riots incited were caused by right-wing counter-protesters and the police, from right-wingers plowing cars into crowds on multiple occasions to the police beating the shit out of peaceful protesters.

      No one appears to have data on this, unfortunately. It’s just assumed that violence at left-wing protests is to be blamed on left-wingers in order to scapegoat them and discredit leftist politics. Still, we can look at the major cases where there was video or convictions and so the assailants were known.

      Consider the fact most of the killings at the BLM protests were committed not by BLM activists but those who opposed them, including the police, even though the vast majority of BLM protests were peaceful. Some of the business owners and innocent bystanders were killed by the police. Also, there were provocateurs like the white supremacist ‘Umbrella Man’ who was attempting to provoke further violence.

      That isn’t to say there are no violent left-wingers. Of course, there are. Yet their numbers and their extremism is of such a lesser degree. I realize that was different earlier last century when some left-wing groups competed in violent capacity with the Klan, but for most Americans that earlier time is no longer in living memory. Even as a GenXer, I have no memory of the left-wing violence that erupted around the 1970s and even into the 1980s.

      But it isn’t only the violence as an act by extremist individuals and groups. The other difference is that this right-wing violence is part of mainstream media and politics. There is no equivalent of a Democratic president who encouraged and provoked violence like Donald Trump. There is no equivalent of a radical left-wing media figure who used rhetoric that led to an assassination as happened when Bill O’Reilly kept repeating “Dr. Tiller the baby-killer” until one of his viewers-followers enacted his judgment by killing George Tiller.

      Violence, for whatever reason, is more central to the reactionary mind and, for whatever reason, the most extreme forms of the reactionary mind are found on the politcal right:

      That is why I write pieces like this, in hope of slowly chippiing away at disinformation, historical amnesia, and bad news reporting. But I’ve previously written about it.

      Another post I’m working on specifically focuses on false equivalency. It’s a longer piece and crammed full of data. But it will take a while for me to finish it. This is the longer piece that has been bubbling up over the past decade. Here is some of it (sans hyperlinks):

      DHS and FBI have stated that white supremacists are the single greatest terrorist threat. And according to the DHS, white supremacists alone accounted for half of recent terrorism, from 2018 to 2019. […]

      Some of the Right-Wing Terrorism, Threats, & Occupations (over last 25 yrs): 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing, 1996 attempted assassination of Dr. Calvin Jackson, 1996–98 bombings by anti-abortionist Eric Rudolph, 1998 Barnett Slepian assassination, 1998 racist murder of James Byrd Jr., 1998 killing & shooting spree by anti-abortionist James Kopp, 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting, 2006 attack by anti-abortionist David McMenemy, 2008 Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church shooting, 2009 anti-abortion assassination of Dr. George Tiller, 2009 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting, 2011 Spokane bombing attempt, 2012 Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, 2012 Family Research Councils shooting, 2013 Los Angeles International Airport shooting, 2014 Las Vegas shootings, 2014 Overland Park Jewish Community Center shooting, 2015 Charleston church shooting, 2015 Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting, 2016 Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 2017 Stabbing of Timothy Caughman, 2017 Charlottesville attack, 2018 Murder of Blaze Bernstein, 2018 United States mail bombing attempts, 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, 2019 Poway synagogue shooting, 2019 El Paso shooting, 2021 Capitol Insurrection, etc; and dozens of other proven plots and failed attacks, including a slew of other anti-abortion violence: attempted murder, assault, and kidnapping; arson, bombing, and property crime; and anthrax threats. […]

      The DNC elite have become a center-right party because the political left is powerless to force Democrats to do the right thing. But the powerlessness of the political left is partly self-imposed, an internalization of oppressive fear, demoralzed cynicism, and loss of confidence from generations of violent oppression and deafening propaganda. The political left does often protest, but they will never do anything so crazy as to storm the Capitol, much less occupy federal buildings and point guns at federal agents, and even less prone to commit terrorism. On the other hand, right-wingers feel it is their right and privilege to act freely, based on a perceived sanction by authorities, even to the point of breaking the law and threatening others without expectation of consequences. They miscalculated with the insurrection at the Capitol building, but that righteous certainty was based on generations of experience supporting their conviction that authorities were on their side.

      We don’t have to look far back to find many examples. The Bundy group that occupied the Oregon federal refuge did so with an armed showdown with federal agents, which the federal government allowed to end peacefully, and then were pardoned by President Donald Trump. That was the second time this Bundy group had pointed guns at federal agents, the first time at the Bundy Ranch when they weren’t arrested. It’s similar to why the insurrectionists were so fearless in overruning the Capitol police and taking over the Capitol building. And maybe that is why the Capitol police mostly allowed it to happen with little resistance. Many MAGA rioters were surprised that some of the police fought back in defending the lives of political leaders. And the many of the police were surprised that the MAGA rioters didn’t would attack them after their being so accomodating.

      The examples of white right-wing privilege are endless, but we don’t have to rely on mere anecdotal evidence. We have recent data of over 13,000 protests over a 10 month period, as provided by Princeton’s US Crisis Monitor and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED). This is the first time we’ve gotten data like this, since no one in the political and media elite bothered to look — ya know, ‘cuz both sides are equal. These Princeton researchers usually turn their attention to foreign conflicts, often in countries with weak democracies or authoritarian regimes, but decided to scrutinize their own country for once. What they found is damning.

      The protests on both sides were approximately equal in being peaceful, 94% of leftwing demonstrations and 96% of right-wing demonstrations. But those numbers could be deceiving because the data shows the police are more likely to start violence against left-wing protesters as compared to right-wingers, even when they’re peaceful. So, if we subtracted police-caused violence and police-incited riots, the percentage of peaceful left-wing protests could be much higher. [Stop for a moment and imagine a world where police, in upholding the law and protecting all citizens equally and fairly, were the solution to, rather than the cause of, violence.] This is an important detail, as will become apparent, in supporting the very argument of BLM and other leftist protesters that anyone who isn’t a white right-winger is typically treated more harshly.

      This is an open secret. Even if the corporate media hadn’t reported on it in the past, it was well understood by protesters on both sides. Ed Maguire, a criminology professor and policing expert, has interviewed protesters around the country: “Protesters on the left virtually universally believe that police are rougher on them. And protesters on the right almost universally believe police are on their side.” This was demonstrated by the words of MAGA insurrectionists. As one guy was arrested, his plaintive cry was that, “You’re treating me like a fucking black person.” At the MAGA insurrecton itself, this sentiment of white privilege was put into context: “This is not America. They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.” In moments of duress, their violence-tinged racism erupts in its purest form.

      Black Americans understand this all too well, based on a long history of such injustice. “For veteran social justice demonstrators,” stated a WaPo piece, “the images of men and women wearing red Trump 2020 hats and clutching American and Confederate flags walking through the Capitol largely unmolested came as shocking yet predictable evidence of their long-held suspicions that conservative, White protesters intent on violence would not be met with any of the strong-arm tactics that police brutality protesters faced.” Everyone knows police departments are rife with racial prejudice. The only disagreement is that the racists think this is a good thing and the anti-racists want it to end. On a positive note, most Americans, including most Americans, agree with the anti-racists. Now we just need to convince the police that racism is bad — if we can’t elicit their sense of conscience, maybe we could elicit their sense of shame; or else fear of criminal prosecution of racist police.

      This situation could have worrisome consequences. Listen carefully to Ed Maguire’s concerns: “I think protesters on the right, because they view the police as in their corner, they feel a sense of tacit permission. […] [They told me] that leftists are godless and they hate god and hate America. That’s what I heard from folks on the right. [But] they were god fearing moral people and police would always back them for that reason. […] I can … see the possibility that people who feel the police have broken some type of implicit or imagined pact may try to outmaneuver police and behave destructively.” And on the other side of the equation, because of the perceived failure of the Capitol police: “Every other police department facing an angry crowd will be concerned about being overrun, and overcorrecting in response to that concern may lead to overly forceful, unconstitutional responses.” Sadly, this overreaction will mostly impact left-wingers. “Violence, as they say, begets violence,” concluded Maggie Koerth. “And disparities in police force may well beget more disparities.

      Anyway, no matter one’s opinion or fears, the main point is that the disparity in the data is stiking — so, let’s look at the details. US law enforcement agencies were more than twice as likely to intervene in order to break up or disperse left-wing protests and arrest left-wing protesters (anti-Trump, pro-Biden, or associated with the Democratic Party, BLM movement, Antifa, Abolish ICE, NAACP, Democratic Socialists of America, Count Every Vote demonstrations, etc), as compared to the treatement of the political right (pro-Trump, anti-Biden, or associated with the Republican Party, pro-police Back the Blue and Blue Lives Matter, QAnon conspiracy theorists, militias, “keep the peace” movement, “Stop the Steal”, etc).

      When the police intervened, they were about 3.5 times more likely to use violent force (teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, stun grenades, and beatings with batons) against left-wingers (4.7%) than right-wingers (1.4%), including police violence in 1.8% of peaceful leftwing protests but a mere half a percent of peaceful rightwing protests. They intervened, including arrests, in 9% of the 10,863 leftwing protests, as compared  to only 4% of the 2,295 rightwing protests. Police intervention in left-wing protests led to police violence half of the time (51%), whereas for the right-wing about a third of the time (34%).

      This is in spite of the fact that more Americans have been involved in left-wing protests and, as recent polling shows, more Americans support left-wing causes such as the BLM argument that asserts, because of systemic racism, the police need to be reformed — the majority now agrees with that once radical position; think about the significance of that shift in public opinion. In emphasizing and justifying this needed reform, the ACLED data undeniably shows the police were more violent toward these left-wing protesters who were black or were supporting blacks. […]

      One might note that the largest police union endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campain and also that 14% (21 of 150) of the MAGA insurrectionists so far arrested were either veterans or active duty military personnel, some of them involved in right-wing extremist groups, including a veteran who is a leader of the Proud Boys and another who subscribed to QAnon. The military has long known it has an extremist problem, particularly with white supremacists. “More than one-third of all active-duty troops and more than half of minority service members,” reported Leo Shane III last year for the Military Times, “say they have personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months.” Let that sink in.

      Everyone knows that, if blacks and left-wingers had commited the same outrageous crimes against the state, there would’ve been far more bloodshed and immediate mass arrests. Compare that Capitol attack to an entirely peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in DC just weeks prior where there was a large-scale police presence in full riot gear. Yet when warned about right-wing violence in advance, the authorities did nothing to prevent it. And then during and following the MAGA riot, the police arrested far fewer people than at previous DC political events — only 61 MAGA insurgents, as compared to hundreds of arrests seen previously. “The contrast [in the] the law enforcement reaction,” wrote Julian Borger, “is not just stark – it is black and white.”

      Some will try to claim that this difference in treatment is justified. The corporate media loves to obsess over leftist protests in portraying them as violent. But the fact is they are rarely violent, as the evidence shows. Among the thousands of Black Lives Matter protests, the U.S. Crisis Monitor reported that almost 19 out of 20 were entirely peaceful and, among those where violence erupted, it was typically small-scale such as police clashes and minor property damage, not killings and burning down buildings, but even a single window broken or a garbage can set on fire makes a protest ‘violent’. Also, it doesn’t matter who starts the violence. Even the most peaceful leftists will get blamed for being at a protest where others got violent.

      So, everytime the police attack peaceful protesters and incite a riot; and everytime some right-wing counter-protesters, provocateurs, and militias show up to start fights, attack people, plow their cars into crowds, break windows, and/or set fires; the left-wing protest is called ‘violent’ and the corporate media obsesses over every incident and replays it ad nauseum while ignoring the vast majority of protesters and protests that are entirely peaceful. Meanwhile, the police treat right-wing protesters and even rioters with kids gloves, even when they show up with weapons and military gear at left-wing protests. The equivalent is rarely seen on the political left, but the corporate media conveniently never reports on this vast disparity of behavior, much less does investigative reporting on who originally instigated violence. Yet it’s the left-wing that is made out to be scary, such as the dreaded ‘Antifa’ — despite anti-fascists having no organization and having committed no murder or terrorism in more than a quarter of a century.

      Contrast this to the political right that is powerful for the very reason that there is nothing too crazy and extreme they won’t say or do. But this is based on knowing that authorities support or are otherwise sympathetic to their worldview. Unlike minorities and left-wingers, they don’t worry about a violent response by the police. There is compelling justification for their sense of faith that the authorities are on their side, as research shows the police are more violent toward left-wing protesters than right-wing protesters. And we all already know how the police treat blacks and why they disproportionately killed, such as the study that showed police more likely perceived blacks as carrying guns when they were not and less likely perceived whites as carryng guns when they were.

      Yet there is a reason, going back decades, the FBI and DHS regularly put out official reports warning that the greatest terrorist threat is right-wingers, white supremacists, and veterans. The disparity of ideologically-driven violence is immense when one focuses in on this past quarter of a century when, as listed above, there was almost continuous right-wing plots, attempts, and successful actions of terrorism, assassinations, assaults, kidnappings, and property damage.

      During that same time period, there was only one left-wing terrorist attack against people, the 2017 shooting of the Republican congressional baseball team. All other left-wing attacks were against property, such as the actions of the Earth Liberation Front in destroying machinery in defense of life, a big difference in motivation. Besides, even that those attacks on property are relatively few in number, and nothing compared to attacking the Capitol building while threatening to kill political leaders. Even during the height of left-wing terrorism about a half century ago, groups like the Weather Underground planned their actions to avoid human harm when bombing buildings. For whatever reason, far more right-wingers than left-wingers have directly and intentionally targeted human lives.

      Right-wing extremists, as the FBI and DHS has explained in great detail over years of official reports, pose a genuine threat and the ruling elite only respond to genuine threats. Everyone is scared of them and for good reason. But with this fear, there is also an odd kind of respect, the reason white right-wingers tend to be treated so delicately. Their minority views are treated as worthy of being debated, even as the views of the actual majority are ignored and dismissed. It’s infuriating!

    • Terrorism in the United States
      U.S. Totals – Recent trends

      A 2017 report by The Nation Institute and Center for Investigative Reporting looked at the terrorist incidents in the US between 2008 and 2016.[15] It found:[16]

      115 Far right inspired terror incidents. 35% of these were foiled (meaning no attack happened) and 29% resulted in fatalities. These terror incidents caused 79 deaths.
      63 Islamist inspired terror incidents. 76% of these were foiled (meaning no attack happened) and 13% resulted in fatalities. These terror incidents caused 90 deaths.
      19 incidents inspired by left-wing ideologies (and eco-terrorism). 20% of these were foiled (meaning no attack happened) and 10% resulted in fatalities. These terror incidents caused 7 deaths.

      According to a report based on Justice Department figures released by the U.S. government January 2018, about three out of four people convicted on charges of international terrorism between September 11, 2001 to December 31, 2016, were foreign-born. According to the Justice Department, 549 were convicted for international terrorism including 254 who were citizens of another country, 148 were naturalized citizens and 148 were natural-born-citizens.[17] In a speech before a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017, President Donald Trump incorrectly attributed these findings to domestic terrorism, rather than to cases in which international terrorists may have been brought to the United States for prosecution.[18]

      The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum conducted a 2015 survey of 382 police and sheriff departments nationwide. Nearly 74% of respondents stated that anti-government violence was their top concern regarding threats from violent extremism, while about 39% stated “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence was their top concern.[19][20]

      For the past decade, the national conversation on terrorism has largely focused on Islamic extremist acts, however, law enforcement groups have made it clear that Muslim extremists make up a minute percentage of ideologically based terror attacks in the United States.[21] Since 9/11/2001, only about 9 American Muslims per year have taken part in terrorist plots in the United States, in total, 20 incidents resulted in about 50 deaths. A 2012 study showed that in about the same time period right-wing extremists were responsible for about 337 attacks per year, in total, they killed more than 5 times the number of people killed by Muslims in the United States.[22]

      The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism maintains Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States, a database containing over 1,800 profiles of individuals radicalized by ideologies since 1948.[23] The database shows that from 1948 through 2016, 40.0% of identified extremists were far-right, 24.5% were Islamist and 17.4% were far-left, while 18.2% were “single issue” individuals.[24]

      In May 2019, the FBI for the first time identified fringe conspiracy theories as a potential source of domestic terrorism, specifically citing QAnon.[25]

      A June 2020 study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reported that over 25 years of domestic terrorism incidents, the majority of attacks and plots have come from far-right attackers. The trend has accelerated in recent years, with this sector responsible for about 66% of attacks and plots in 2019, and 90% of those in 2020. The next most potentially dangerous group has been “religious extremists”, the majority “Salafi jihadists inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaida”, while the number planned by the far left has reduced to a minute fraction since the mid-2000s.[26][27]

      In an article for ABC News by Mick Mulroy, the former Deputy Secretary of Defense, he explained that the US Department of Homeland Security concluded that racially motivated violent extremists — which they term white supremacist extremists — is and will remain the “most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland.” The FBI Director confirmed this fact in his testimony to Congress in September 2020.[28]

      In October 2020, the Department of Homeland Security released the “Homeland Threat Assessment”, a report detailing various domestic threats to US national security. It states that, out of all domestic terror attacks resulting in lethal threats to life between 2018 and 2019, “WSEs [white supremacist extremists] conducted half of all lethal attacks (8 of 16), resulting in the majority of deaths (39 of 48)”.[29]

    • This is where we should strongly mistrust mainstream media in the selective reporting they do and the narratives they spin (think about how studies show that the news media are more likely to show photos of black criminals than white criminals, and so gives the perception that most crime is committed by blacks). News reporting is not the same thing as reality as experienced by everyday Americans. That can be seen with your recent article about campus censorship where the reality is far different than what gets reported in the corporate media that supposedly has a liberal bias.

      An example will help show this. There was a protest where BLM leaders met with police on a stage where the police chief talked to the crowd. Everything was peaceful, until a few plastic water bottles were thrown on the stage. Then the police overreacted by using their batons to beat the shit out of hundreds of innocent protesters in the crowd who had commited no violence or any other crime. Of course, chaos and riot ensued. That protest was deemed violent, but why are left-wingers blamed for what the police did? In no moral universe is throwing plastic water bottles considered a violent threat to the state that must be punished by the equivalent of martial law where basic civil rights are denied.

      So, everytime the police attack peaceful protesters and incite a riot; and everytime some right-wing counter-protesters, provocateurs, and militias show up to start fights, attack people, plow their cars into crowds, break windows, and/or set fires; the left-wing protest is called ‘violent’ and the corporate media obsesses over every incident and replays it ad nauseum while ignoring the vast majority of protesters and protests that are entirely peaceful. Meanwhile, the police treat right-wing protesters and even rioters with kids gloves, even when they show up with weapons and military gear at left-wing protests. The equivalent is rarely seen on the political left, but the corporate media conveniently never reports on this vast disparity of behavior, much less does investigative reporting on who originally instigated violence.

      Yet it’s the left-wing that is made out to be scary, such as the dreaded ‘Antifa’ — despite anti-fascists having no organization and having committed no murder or terrorism in more than a quarter of a century. Or even worse, BLM activists are portrayed as Marxists seeking to create a Stalinist state or simply to destroy all that is white and good in the world. Many in the police force, infiltrated by Oath Keepers and white supremacists, are influenced by this bizarre rhetoric that undermines civil rights and democracy. Whatever the deeper causes, the point is that blacks and left-wingers protest unjustified and disproportionate police brutality against blacks. The response by the police is yet more unjustified and disproportiionate police brutality against blacks, while treating white right-wingers entirely differently. Then the media obsesses over the resulting violence, riots, and general outrage in portraying, once again, blacks and left-wingers as violent. Rather than reporting fairly on what happens, reality is made to conform to a narrative. And most Americans, in viewing corporate media, take it at face value in assuming that what is reported is accurate. Thus our sense of reality is shaped without our realizing it.

      This is the way that master narratives determine behavior, identity, and social order. So, they become self-fulflling prophecies. For centuries, blacks have been treated as inferior and dangerous. This was used to justify racism and oppression, which led to prejudice in every aspect of society, often through systemic practices and established institutions: Jim Crow, re-enslavement of chain gangs based on false charges, race wars, lynchings, sundown towns, redlining, minorities excluded from New Deal programs, racist clauses in housing deeds, militarized policing of minority neighborhoods, school-to-prison pipelines, underfunded public services (schools, libraries, parks, etc). Also, fewer trees are planted in minority neighborhoods which results in measurably higher heat and higher heat results in increased aggressive behavior. Blacks have been denied equal opportunities, resources, political representation, etc. Everyone knows about this dark history, but constantly act as if it has nothing to do with the present.

      Then when blacks and their allies protest this obvious racism, they experience yet more prejudice in being beat up and arrested by cops even when they’re peaceful and get called violent for the riots the police incited, along with harm caused by counter-protesters and provocateurs. The police have to commit that violence in order to turn a protest into a riot. That way it justifies them being even more brutal while affirming the narrative and proving the racist prejudice that blacks are violent, which in turn discredits the protest and the entire movement for justice and the ending of racism. And the corporate media, beng the handmaden to the police state, typically plays along to repeat this narrative and to selectively report only the minority of incidents that conform to racial and anti-leftist prejudices. All of this can happen while most white right-wingers involved act completely oblivious, not to mention the obtusenss of many good liberals and Democratic partisans. That is because such narratives are internalized and usually operate unconsciously. They simply become part of one’s sense of reality and identity. And as they are self-fulfilling, they constantly prove themselves as ‘real’. We become oblvious to how we create and enact the very realities we narratize.

      Within conservative intuition, there is great understanding of this process. This is how ideological realism is upheld and maintained, how abstract beliefs become reified in concrete social relations and political power. That leads to my theory of symbolic conflation. There is the underlying issue that is the actual concern and then there is the proxy issue that is used to distract. In this case, what can’t be fully acknowledged is the causal factor of racism and so its obscured behind a narrative of violence, but that violence is actually a result of the racism. And in some ways, racism itself obscures even deeper issues of a caste-like rigid hierarchy of classism with a permanent underclass that is the core of Western going back to feudalism, and so poor whites and poor blacks are turned against each other to keep them disempowered and disenfranchised, the very sad situation the leftist movement is trying to bring to light. Symbolic conflation is layers upon layers of symbolic issues that disconnect us from the harsh realities we can’t speak of but that are constantly hinted at by our behavior, no matter our rhetoric. We are so propagandized as a population that we can’t think straight.

      This is how the Burkean moral imagination operates as a defense of power. It clothes entrenched hierarchies and oppressions within rhetorical narratives, along with the aesthetics of authority and spectacle. That is another reason the police have to incite riots so as to create the footage for the corporate media to spin. Seeing is believing (“my own eyes”), whether or not it represents reality. Research shows that even fake footage when shown to be fake continues to affect attitudes at an unconscious level. Rationally, we may know something isn’t true but the human psyche was evolved to take experience as reality. We weren’t evolved to deal with heavily mediated and manipulated socially constructed narratives and so we are vulnerable to those who control rhetoric, media, and platforms of speech. We lack the intellectual defenses to discern what’s really going on, even in our own communities. Think about how the average person experiences almost everything secondhand or thirdhand through media, not through direct experience. A protest might be going on only a few miles from one’s own neighborhood, but few people would go to the protest itself to see what happens with their own eyes. We trust the voices of authorization that are piped directly into the intimate space of our homes, often while we are drifting off too sleep.

      Anti-leftist rhetoric has always been inseparable from anti-minority and anti-immigrant retoric, as seen with a century of bigoted conspiracy theories that have become mainstream. The best way to show how racial narratives are enforced is by how they’re internalized. That is seen by how even black police are often involved in anti-black violence. It’s also evidenced in the legal system. Black jurors are more likely perceived blacks as guilty and increasingly so for the darker their skin. And this kind of thing is found in more minor behaviors such as black girls preferring white dolls over black dolls. This is how racism gets embedded into every aspect of society and life experience, as we unknoowingly carry it around inside us. Racist police brutalty and disproportiionate violence against black protests is simply a more obvious form of what happens every single day while at work and school, while going to the store or for a walk. It doesn’t require a conspiracy to explain why the media is biased against blacks, particularly black left-wingers, and why so many Americans came to believe left-wingers are mroe violent than right-wingers, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

      Anyway, below is another example showing how blacks can even come to blame their own black communities for the racist biases of policing. It’s heartening to see the corporate media slowly coming around to this kind of insightful journalism. Not that long ago, an article like this in the corporate media would’ve been rare to non-existent. Recent events have defintely been a wake-up call or many who previously would’ve felt skeptical toward charges of systemic racism. Yet the majority of Americans have finally come around to this view. By the way, keep in mind other details of drug crimes. Whites are as or more likely to use drugs while being more likely to carry and sell drugs. So, the higher drug arrests of blacks can’t not be blamed on supposed black criminality. It’s similar to police brutality. One study found that police officers were more likely to perceive blacks as carrying guns when they were not and perceive whites as not carrying guns when they were. When police officers have to make split-second decisions about whether to shoot someone or accost them violently, such internalized racist biases obviously influence their behavior and colors their view of leftist protests.

      The media reporting and political rhetoric tell the police that blacks are more likely to be violent, criminal, and drug-using. Not to mention the largest police union backed Trump for president. And remember Trump was involved in promoting the prosecution of and advocating the death sentence for the innocent blacks known as the Central Park Five. Some of the racism of the police is unconscious, but obviously some of it is also fully conscious. All Americans know that American society is racist. It’s just, as research shows, humans have a talent for simultaneously knowing and not knowing something, particularly uncomfortable truths.

      “African Americans remain far more likely to be incarcerated for drug crimes than white Americans. And they are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts. In the UK, while the inequality is not so extreme, racial bias in sentencing still exists. Last week, it was reported that black drug dealers are 1.4 times more likely to be handed immediate custodial sentences than white people convicted of similar crimes.

      “Hart displays the passion of the convert in attacking misconceptions of African American drug use, because, as he confesses in the book, he once “wholeheartedly believed that drugs destroyed certain black communities”.

      “It was visiting white friends in pleasant neighbourhoods who were engaging in the same drug use he believed led to community dysfunction that made him realise it wasn’t the drugs but the context in which they were taken that harmed people. All the same, he says it took him a long time to acknowledge to himself what his scientific research and personal experience were telling him. So why did he resist for many years the logic of his own findings on drugs such as heroin?”

      I must admit that I find it disheartening and demoralizing every time I hear a liberal or the liberal-minded internalize and repeat a reactionary talking point. That’s exactly what is false equivalency rhetoric. It’s even sadder when it’s pushed the entirely other way in declaring the political left as more violent or otherwise worse. Such rhetorical framing is far from limited to violence and extremism. The same thing is seen with the political rhetoric and media spin surrounding censorship, political correctness, and cancel culture. Every time I think about no longer writing about politics, something reminds me why it’s so important that I continue, even if only a few people pay attention to my words or take them seriously. We should all be fighting back with every ounce of our strength for, otherwise, authoritarianism will continue to creep into power. That means we have to do the hard work for ourselves in scrutinizing our own thoughts and analyzing what we are exposed to.

      “Vox recently released an article about some data drawn from studies conducted by Georgetown University back in March, and the Niskanen Center in April. The overall picture, contrary to popular imagination and the odd New York Times column, is that it is actually left-leaning individuals who face the most censorship. [,,,]

      “The Georgetown University study points out that while there are definitely high-profile instances of right-wing speakers being shut down (Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopolous, Ben Shapiro et al), there are just as surely incidents of (at least seemingly) left-leaning individuals who faced censure and don’t get nearly the same coverage: there was Lars Maischak (a professor of American history at California State University) who was fired for tweeting that Donald Trump should be hanged, there was Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (a professor at Princeton University) who was forced to cancel speeches in Washington and California because of death threats following a commencement speech where she called Trump a racist, sexist megalomaniac, there was Sarah Bond (a professor of classics at the University of Iowa) who faced death threats from white supremacists for suggesting that the ancient marble statues of Greece and Rome became white because of age and were originally painted in colour (because apparently suggesting that Greek statues were painted is some kind of Cultural Marxist agenda for white genocide), and there was a student named Dee Dee Simpson (a graduate of Sonoma State University in California) who was reprimanded for reciting a poem during graduation in which he condemns the violence that occurs against African-Americans.

      “Let that last part sink in: a student in what we’re all told is a left-dominated academic environment was reprimanded for condemning violence against African-Americans. That alone should cast doubt on the narrative concerning academic political correctness.

      “I should also mention John Summa from the University of Vermont (who is not mentioned in the study), who tried to teach his students alternative economics and critiques of neoclassical economics and whose contract was not renewed, and has had to fight for his career in order to continue teaching. But you will not see self-proclaimed “free speech warriors” take the side of any of those people, because they do not care. […]

      “And if that’s not enough, even the basic premise of this authoritarian far-left dominance of academia is not supported by data. Last year, InsideHigherEd looked into the subject, and one of the things they found was that academia was actually dominated by self-identified moderates. 46.1% of faculty members identify as moderates, 44.1% identify as liberal or left-leaning, and just 9.2% identify as conservative or right-leaning. This would mean that, technically, left-leaning academics are not in fact the dominant force in universities. Hell, even the narrative of academic dominance has shifted over the years. According to the Niskanen study, even the number of conservatives who believe that universities are hostile towards their speech has gone down within the last two years, while now it’s liberals/lefties who believe that universities are hostile towards them.

      “While we’re still here, I’ve also discovered some research conducted by a political scientist named Justin Murphy, specifically an article titled “Who Is Afraid of Free Speech in the United States?”, and it turns out that the far-left are nowhere near as averse to freedom of speech as you would be lead to believe nowadays. His research showed that “extreme liberals” (possibly referring to hard-leftists given America’s bastardized political lexicon) are actually the most supportive of freedom of speech within the broad political spectrum, and that the centre-left (or slightly left) and the far-right, not the far-left, are the groups most opposed to freedom of speech. In a way this finding kind of dovetails with a recent New York Times article which showed that centrists, rather than extremists, are statistically the least supportive towards democracy (which is ironic considering the New York Times is one of the archetypal liberal centrist outlets).

      “Keep in mind, all of this is applicable to America, here in the United Kingdom, a YouGov poll was released a few months ago which suggests that there is no actual evidence that students are more likely to oppose freedom of speech. […]

      “Even centrists embraced it at the time, with publications such as The Atlantic and New York Magazine running such cover stories as “Better Watch What You Say!” and “Are You Politically Correct?” as far back as 1991. Furthermore, as John K Wilson pointed out in The Myth of Political Correctness, the Olin Foundation gave thousands of dollars not only to Dinesh D’Souza, Charlie Sykes, The New Criterion (a conservative art journal edited by Roger Kimball), Peter Collier, David Horowitz (both of whom wrote a journal called Heterodoxy dedicated to “exposing” excessive political correctness), and Carol Iannone, but also supposedly liberal and centrist figures such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Richard Bernstein (the latter of whom worked for the New York Times), in order to promote the idea that authoritarian, politically correct left-wingers are attacking academic freedom. While the modern outrage over political correctness seems grassroots, and arguably sort of is (which I will touch on later), back then the whole political correctness thing was very much a mainstream media narrative backed up by right-wing think tank money. But this isn’t even the beginning of the trope. That honour goes to William F Buckley Jr, probably the grandfather of modern American right, and his 1951 book God and Man at Yale, which argued Yale was forcing left-wing ideology on its students and suppressing conservative (not to mention, Christian) thought on campus, and incidentally was also published by Regnery Publishing (owned by the financiers of the National Policy Institute). Huh, it seems even in the beginning there was right wing money behind it. […]

      “It’s also worth addressing how a lot of grassroots sentiment can be picked up by big moneyed political interests when it aligns with their own pre-existing goals. It happened with The Tea Party and the Koch Brothers, it’s been going on with the Mercers supporting nationalism, right-populism and the alt-right, it happened with Occupy Wall Street where a surprising number of the bourgeoisie supported it, and we’re seeing a lot of the “free speech warrior” crowd line up with conservatism and find the support of Turning Point USA, which is financially tied to Dennis Prager and is even known for trying to funnel money to conservative causes. In fact, there are several conservative think tanks operating on college campuses in America funneling dark money to conservative causes, suggesting that what’s been going on back in the 1990’s is still happening today, and that these dark money groups see, in the modern liberal outrage against SJWs, a golden goose opportunity to infiltrate universities and swing disaffected liberals over to the Republican Party and the right wing. All the same though, it would be a mistake to think this is some sort of anti-establishment sentiment. In fact, as I’ve established, far from being a sentiment that exists chiefly on the rebellious fringes of Internet politics, the mythology of academic political correctness is not only a long-held right-wing trope but also an embedded idea of the neoliberal-neoconservative-centrist alliance for decades.

      “Meanwhile, I think the mythology of a leftist dominance of academia and plot to destroy academic freedom is likely to set Americans down a path that will, ironically, be the real danger to academic freedom, because the ideologues who propound this mythology are ultimately hypocrites. Jordan Peterson not only barred Faith Goldy from sharing a platform with him and other “free speech activists”, but he is also on record saying that there should be a blacklist for professors who teach postmodernism and “neo-Marxism”, which is just a rehash of what Joseph McCarthy did and is also the kind of thing you expect from Richard fucking Nixon. […]

      “What’s more, far from being alienated, libertarian and conservative ideologues are being pushed into academia by right wing donors. But you’ll never be told this by the likes of Fox News, The New York Times, Spiked, or Carl Benjamin, or any of the intellectuals set against what they call the regressive left (by now simply a catch all term for any leftist that liberals don’t like).”

    • Actually, when I saw your comment here, I thought the post you were responding to was the other one I published yesterday. I had the two posts mixed up in my head, but they are related and were both on my mind at the same time.

      In this post, I was less critical of the Right, as my purpose was simply about the false narrative projected onto white liberals. But I do think it’s fundamentally racist when people like this obsess over white liberals while pretending non-white liberals and leftists don’t exist. Going back more than a century, there is a powerful history of non-white radicalism that is obscured by mainstream rhetoric. It’s yet another means of social control through perception management.

      This post was also a continuation of my earlier post on polling and the demographic of the ‘Ferengi’ fringe. I do think it’s because the Ferengi get outsized attention that they feel emboldened to commit acts like the Capitol insurgency as an attack on the federal government, the kind of thing that never happens on the political left. Yet the police regularly brutalize leftist protesters for far less, suc as throwing a plastic bottle, even brutalizing those who weren’t involved. No informed person can honestly and fairly deny this difference.

      It’s not like that was an isolated incident. In recent years, there as been multiple armed occupations of federal buildings and federal land by white right-wingers. How many on the Left? Zero. But what is so maddening is the response, such as in the recent incident. The Capitol police simply backed off and let in the rioters, in a way everyone knows they would not have done for blacks or leftists. The same thing happened with the two incidents involving the Bundy group pointing guns at federal agents while on federal land.

      Not only did the feds not shoot them, they treated them with kids gloves and Trump pardoned a bunch of them. This double standard goes back many decades. It partly developed because of the Branch Davidian fiasco in Waco, TX. The government got such negative press that they’ve allowed white right-wingers to run rampant with little consequence, whereas the police make it a habit of coming down hard on every left-wing movement that pops up, even if entirely peaceful.

      Everyone who isn’t completely ignorant, clueless, propagandized, or psychopathic will acknowedge this immense disparity of both right-wing behavior and official response. In any of these cases, if we had exchanged white right-wingers for black left-wingers, there would be a slew of dead citizens and immediate mass arrests and convictions. They wouldn’t simply have walked away from the scene as the Capitol insurrectionists were allowed to do.

      Still, I’m not claiming that there is a mass wave of white right-wing violence. But there is more white right-wing violence than any other variety. White right-wingers, in the past quarter of a century, have killed many times over the number killed by Islamic extremists. Yet we Americans were fine, as retribution, in illegally invading innocent countries and killing millions of innocent people. But speak a mere criticism of white right-wingers and one is being unfair. What the fuck! Holly fucking hell! We trully do live in an evil and brainwashhed society.

    • False equivalency and similar rhetoric is common in the corporate media. Such views do not come from an appraisal of the data, as I’ve never come across any data in my life that supports this claim of equivalency and I’ve looked at a lot of data, along with analyses of data. If I’d seen any evidence that contradicted my claim, I would tell you about it.

      The fact that news reporting and public debate is so often, in cases like this, based on a lack of evidence brings us to my other post from yesterday.

      There is a reason reactionary right-wingers are so dismissive of data, in a way not seen on the political left (read Chris Mooney’s book if you doubt me, as he is another fact-based leftist/liberal who gathers immense data). Political violence, as anti-leftism or false equivalency, would not have symbolic valence without maintaining a vagueness in ensuring the general public remains uninformed and disinformed.

      That is why you’ll rarely see the actual data discussed by the corproate media, across the elite spectrum, or corporatist politicians, in either main party. It’s true that Republicans are most effective in dominating such symbolic debates, but the fact of the matter is the neocon DNC elite and pseudo-liberal MSNBC, WaPo, etc are glad to play along in order to keep minorities and leftists in their place, whatever it takes to keep democracy from functioning.

      Symbolic ideology is the twin of political spectacle. As long as the issue of violence and extremism remains abstract and ungrounded, it can be kept the playground of the reactionary mind. Such rhetoric has more power over whites and right-wingers who are less likely to experience this discrepancy in every aspect of life. A black left-winger who goes to protests know, in their concrete experience, how differently they are treated.

      Symbolic ideology can’t as easeily operate where there is concrete experience that is lived and personal. That is why symbolic ideology is so powerful in media where it can be detached. As the corproate media constantly spins the narrative of false equivalency, this creates the mediated experience of reality that conforms to the narrative. This then informs how authority figures behave and so it gets enforced as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      This is the positive side of media. Sometimes media can connect us more to reality, particularly other people’s experience. That is what happened with the Civil Rights movement, in that MLK made sure that the protests were filmed for the news, so as to change public opinion. The black experience of racism that been hidden by media control of the narrative suddenly became exposed. A similar thing happened with the video of all the recent black killings being shared on social media and reported in the news.

      Suddenly, more Americans saw what was actually happening, what minorities experience all the time. The constant police harrassment, being stopped for driving while black, the violent overreaction, etc. Rather than merely a symbolic issue to be used for dog whistle politics, it became real. Likewise, all of that right-wing violence that the corporate media ommitted and narratized away also became real. Americans saw those white right-wingers plowing their cars into crowds of innocent protesters, saw them invade the Capitol building and saw the lack of police response in comparison to the anti-BLM brutality.

      For decades, there had been data proving these kinds of disparities. But it still wasn’t quite concretely real. The data plus the video combined together into a moral force within the public imagination. It became real in the mind, even though it had always been real, if unacknowledged.

    • Here is the frustrating part, from my side of the debate. I’ve never merely argued that left-wingers are less violent because they kill fewer people. That feels like a straw man argument, if my argument is portrayed in that light.

      Left-wingers don’t just kill fewer people but, in general, commit far fewer acts of terrorism. But, yes, it is true that when they do commit terrorism they tend to not target human life. That is no small point, though, if you’re one of the people who a right-winger tries to kill. Or at least that has been true in recent history. We could debate left-wing violence from 50 to 100 years ago. And we could discuss why it was different then. But the present reality is a different situation.

      Most terrorism, most assassinations, most hate crimes, etc come from the political right, mostly white right-wingers. I was only sampling a small area of right-wing violence. If you really want to look at the human cost, we’d have to delve into the data on hate crimes. They aren’t always explicitly political or planned, and so they tend not to be labeled as terrorism. But white right-wingers probably harm hundreds of times more from hate crimes than terrorism.

      What bothers me the most, though, is the refusal to look beyond a superficial level. If the violence at protests and whatnot matter so much, shouldn’t we be concerned about who most often causes that violence? When a crowd gets plowed down by a car, a building gets set on fire, and a riot gets incited, shouldn’t it matter who caused it rather than mindlessly scapegoating innocent protesters? Why is there such little care given to this moral accounting?

      If we could somehow calculate that data, then I’d be all in favor of giving the actual blame to left-wingers when it was their fault. I’m opposed to violence, even property damage. Yet the ruling elite who regularly kill innocent citizens, disproportionately minorities, and more often brutalize left-wing protests are part of the same elite who regularly start wars, enforce sanctions, do covert operations, support paramilitary groups, etc that terrorize and kill millions every year.

      Where is the outrage? That is what so many left-wingers are protesting when they continually get victimized and scapegoated. The entire system is violent and unjust. That is the whole point of left-wing activism, in trying to stop that. And that is massively different from right-wing terrorism, such as the Boogaloo Bois, with specific intentions to elicit more violence. This is a difference that makes a difference.

    • Also, context is king. That relates to who started the violence. That is true in any situation, in discerning the source cause in individual actors, the groups they belong to, and the ideologies they espouse. But it’s also true in a larger sense, in understanding who created the conflict in the first place.

      Pointing out that Iraq and Afghanistan are violent places distracts from the fact that most of the violence there was caused and contributed to by Western acts of mass terrorism. Consider Afghanistan that, in alliance with the Soviets, had made great advancements with urbanization, industialization, and education. But then, during the Cold War, the US overthrew democracies in the Middle East and promoted theocracy. All the advancements in Afghanistan were destroyed over time. For ignorant Americans, they assume that Afghanistan was always a pile of rubble. Yet when these victims fight back against US terrorism, they have been called terrorists.

      A similar situation applies to those oppressed in the US. The BLM protests received such violent oppression not merely because they were left-wing but, more importantly, because those communities for generations had been targets of the police state and for centuries targets of racial violence. There is a history to why the police are so brutal, why conflict erupts during protests, and why right-wing vigilante groups think it’s their privilege and responsibility to help police these people by causing problems at these protests. There is a dark background, such as FBI COINTELPRO and the government assassination of left-wingers like Fred Hampton.

      No equivalent of that exists on the white right-wing. White supremacist groups aren’t protesting oppression but the loss of their privilege. I have zero tolerance for white resentment. Then these white right-wingers use their privilege to take the kinds of actions that woud get blacks killed, such as attacking and occupying federal buidings and land. The government, by treating them with such weak enforcement of the law, expresses a tacit agreement with these white right-wingers and what they represent. So, when these white right-wingers act violently, there is a long history of the government supporting such violence. These white right-wingers aren’t fighting for democracy and freedom, justice and civil rights. They aren’t fighting back against centuries of continuing oppression.

      The fact that there is so little violent and deadly terrorism caused by blacks and left-wingers is almost a miracle. But actually it’s unsurprising. Blacks and left-wingers have learned that, if they ever did a fraction of what white right-wingers do on a regular basis, the oppressive force that would come down on them would destroy their movement. So, there is much more caution among them in trying to maintain peaceful protests. Listen to the BLM leaders giving speeches compared to the violence-inflected rhetoric of MAGA leaders. The greater violence on the political right doesn’t come from nowhere. It has a history and it’s that very history that the political left is fighting back against. The white right-wingers in power and in the police don’t like that.

    • I have a suggestion. I dare you to go find an old black left-winger who lived through the Klan oppression of the Civil Rights movement, the FBI COINTELPRO against the Black Panthers, the turning of poor black communities into militarized war zones, and mass incarceration of black bodies. Then tell that person what you just told me. Tell them that left-wing violence, if different, is as bad as right-wing violence. Tell them that right-wingers killing more people is inconsequential. I triple dog dare you.

      I know you dislike left-right labeling, but as far as I can tell you are on the political left, since you appear to be an egalitarian. That is fundamentally all the ‘left’ means, to be in favor of equality and fairness (in the way that all ‘liberaism’ fundamentally means is openness). Right-wingers are opposed to egalitarianism and we can identify them as such by their anti-egalitarian ideologies, which they often state openly and in no uncertain terms. So, correct me if I’m wrong about you being an advocate of egalitarianism (and openness).

      I brought that up because of you and I, both seemingly on the ‘left’, having a disagreement like this. That is another point of frustration. Left-wingers, for some reason, have tended to be divisive in that we eat our own (or we get attacked by ‘moderate’ and ‘centrist’ liberals). The kind of argument you and I are having here is rare on the political right, at least in the US. If an American right-winger made the opposing argument, as many do, that left-wingers are more violent and generally worse, the response from other right-wingers would almost certainly be total agreement. Yet I regularly get pushback from the political left for this kind of thing.

      Maybe it has something to do with egalitarianism, as someone like you wants to apply fairness in the ideological appraisal of violence, to treat both sides equally which is an admirable intention. This is oddly why false equivalency so easily takes hold on the left. Usually, the only time one hears false equivalency on the right is when some horrifice right-wing act or set of actors is being whitewashed, such as when Trump responded to right-wingers attacking and killing left-wingers by exclaiming that both sides have done bad stuff.

      By the way, I would again empasize that this isn’t only about killing people or even only about terrorism in general, along with property damage and destructive riots. We should broaden our scope. Here is some 2019 data for hate crimes:
      7,103 single-bias incidents involved 8,552 victims.
      211 multiple-bias hate crime incidents, which involved 260 victims.

      That is only reported hate crimes. The majority were commited by whites, presumably white right-wingers. Even those committed by minorities would probably have been done because of socially conservative prejudices against immigrants, minority religious groups, LGBTQ, etc (sadly, oppressed minorities sometimes develop illiberal views, even if not right-wing extremism). There were probably few of those hate crimes committed by liberals and leftists.

      Once again, I ask: Don’t such differences matter? Imagine you (along with your family, friends, and neibhors) were among the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of minorities and left-wingers who have been victimized by right-wing terrorism and hate crimes, police harassment and brutality, militarized policing in your neighborhood as supported by right-wing ideologies and policies, If this was concretely and personally real, as opposed to a detached debate about those other people, do you imagine that your response would be the same?

    • My strong response was largely because of how you commented. Do you realize how frustrating it is when someone acts dismissive toward your informed views? You could have simply made a pleasant or neutral inquiry about the evidence, opening up a friendly dialogue. You could have admitted you had never looked at any of the data for yourself and so didn’t have enough knowledge to state a strong informed opinion, but that based on anecdotal experience you’ve come to a particular attitude about the issue and then you could have shared your concerns.

      I don’t tend to make statements lightly. I had been looking at the data on terrorism over the years and had specifically looked at in greater detail just this past week. I made a strong assertion for the very reason I knew the evidence supported that right-wingers commit more terrorism and more killings, and surely more hate crimes as well. If we can’t or won’t make a distinction between ideological groups that are dangerous/deadly and those that are not, if we can’t or won’t separate out violence caused by leftist protesters, right-wing counter-protesters, and the police — if we lack such discernment, we are in serious trouble as a society.

      Antifa is the best example of this. They have been blamed for nearly everything. Even right-wingers and conservative media have claimed it was Antifa who led the rioters into the Capitol building. Antifa is made into a bogeyman, even though any moral person should be antifa, as all that it means is one is opposed to fascism. The last time an anti-fascist intentionally did harm was over a quarter of a century ago and it was a killing during a fight with a white supremacist. How have antifa, who are fighting against oppressive violence, gotten tarred with the accusation of being provocateurs and terrorists? This is straight out of the Cold War propaganda playbook.

      Those like Trump say both sides do bad things. Fuck that! That is total bullshit. Yes, there are bad actors on all sides, but they are not equal. Yet, at the same time, there are good actors on both sides. As you well know, I regularly defend right-wingers or perceived right-wingers against false accusations, such as all the crap that gets thrown at poor whites and rural whites who tend to be more socially conservative. Even after the Capiitol insurrection, I was opposed to shutting down the “Stop the Steal” protest in DC, as most of those protesters had absolutely nothing to do with the riot or the threats on politicians. If anything, it was even more important for the government to show they supported peaceful protesters with the aforementioned discernment.

      As a left-wing egalitaran, I’ll defend anyone and everyone wth good intentions. But that doesn’t change the fact that, as a society, we have to deal with a genuine right-wing terrorst threat. The FBI and DHS collect and analyze violence data all the time and they’ve admtted that left-wingers simply haven’t been much of a threat in recent decades. Going at least back to the early Aughts, official reports regularly came out warning about right-wing terrorism, acknowledging it was a greater concern than even Islamic terrorism. Think about that. Even durng the height of the War on Terror under a Republican administration, the leading officials on violence and terrorism were explicitly and in great detail explaining that it was right-wingers we should be worried about. They also warned about veterans, a fear that has been more strongly confirmed by all of the veterans in the Capitol insurrecton, along with some active duty military personnel.

      Are we going to face this reality? Or are we going to hide behind false equivalency? Egalitariansm doesn’t mean we have to treat everyone the same in all ways when they are fundamentally different. Sure, everyone should get fair treatment by the police and legal system. But that is the problem. White right-wingers have been treated with privilege, despite their posing the greatest threat. The BLM protests were in support of such democratic egalitarianism that would treat blacks the same as whites, left-wingers the same as right-wingers, whereas the many and probably most MAGA protesters oppose this egalitarian vision. Don’t you see how that is problematic?

    • This is one of my pet peeves. I’m all for anecodtal evidence, as other kinds of evidence are so often lacking. So, I will use anecdotal evidence to develop preliminary thoughts and hypotheses. But if better evidence is available, I’ll always turn to it.

      Anecdotal evidence, although sometimes necessary, can be highly deceiving. That was demonstrated in this case where your personal observations of working with Armenians from Lebanon led you to a false conclusion about US extremist violence, to such a point that those who disagreed with you made you want to scream.

      It reminds me of a guy I used to debate. He apparently once was a liberal or leftist. But then one day he had two violent incidents with blacks and ever since he has been a race realist. Yet I’ve been harrassed and robbed by whites without becoming anti-white because I that would be illogical.

      Anyway, stop to consider even the anecdotal evidence you refer to. It’s secondhand. You weren’t there to see what actually happened and who did it. As with American protests, just because left-wingers get blamed for particular act of violence doesn’t necessarily mean they actually did it.

      Maybe his businesses were burned down three times by left-wingers and this guy had absolutely proof of the guilty. Or maybe not. But the point is that, as a foreigner, you don’t know. And, besides, what does that have to do with American left-wingers? I don’t recall making any statements about Lebanon.

    • Most fundamental is the issue of ideological confusion. An ideology is not merely a label or rhetoric. It’s more defined by a set of values as encapsulated withing a particular identity and worldview, a particular system and set of practices. I judge people by what they do not what they say.

      Left-wing politics, as I often repeat, historically means egalitarianism at its most basic. That is the foundation with which nothing else matters. It can be interpreted and applied variously, but in one form or another it must be the defining feature to honestly and meaningfully call something left-wing.

      That brings us to the problem. Most people aren’t consistent and most systems are mixed. Plus, there are a lot of people who will use rhetoric deceptively as propaganda or who will co-opt an ideological system to be used to a different end. Determining an ideology isn’t limited to words used.

      This is brilliantly demonstrated by communism. Marx believed in egalitarianism as both a means and an end. Lenin might have believed in egalitarianism as an end but definitely not as a means. Then Stalin, in seizing power, didn’t believe in egalitarianism at all and simply wanted to rebuild the feudalist Russian Empire but with a revamped and industrialized serfdom.

      So, the Russian Revolution was left-wing, whereas Stalinism was not, although there were opposing forces within the Soviet Union that did hold to egalitarian principles. As far as that goes, there also was a black market that was allowed to operate, within limits, as a free market. It was a mixed system, but for damn sure egalitarianism as not the dominant ideology.

      The same problem can be seen with Nazism. They called themselves national socialists and, as reactionaries, they did borrow heavily from leftist rhetoric. But the fact of the matter is they were as oppressive toward Marxists, Trotskyists, anarchosyndicalists, labor organizers, feminists, libertines, free speech advocates, etc as were the Stalinists. In the end, Hitler was more akin to Stalin in that his main ideology was power.

      Yet right-wingers love to throw out that the Nazis were national socialists and therefore they must’ve been left-wingers. But the Nazis, along with the Soviets and Maoists, also called their governments republics and so, by that brilliant logic, they are identical to the Republican Party. The point is what determines the ideological location on the political spectrum is not language, is not rhetoric, is not what is claimed.

      Is it egalitarian or is it inegalitarian? Obviously, autoritarians in generally tend to be inegalitarian. Yet many authoritarians find it useful to speak as if they cared about egalitarianism because it makes for good propaganda and perception management. That is the situation we find ourselves in the United States as we are a heavily propagandized population and have a hard time thinking straight.

      Research shows that most people don’t know what ‘left’ and ‘right’ means. But that doesn’t support the conclusion that these words have no meaning. Most of the words in the English language could not be accurately defined by most Americans and yet that is why we have dictionaries to define terms and scholarly texts to explain specialized terms. No matter what anyone knows or does not know, the political left is defined primarily by egalitarianism, according to many scholars in history and political science..

      Another complicating factor is that the left/right metaphorical frame developed specifically in Western thought and politics, most specifically in France, Britain, and the former colonies of both. Originally, leftism and liberalism were not separate categories and, I’d argue, they still aren’t. An illiberal leftism is as meaningless as an inegalitarian leftism. This is also why it’s problematic to call the socially conservative Soviets as left-wingers for not only was Stalinism inegalitarian but also illiberal.

      This is why it’s hard and maybe entirely unhelpful to apply Western thought to non-Western countries, be it Russia or Lebanon. I have no idea what the political ‘left’ might mean in Lebanon, but I suspect like Stalinism it tends toward the inegalitarian and illiberal, which is to say, in the terms of Western hisotry, it is not left-wing. This is why I don’t attempt to apply these labels to other parts of the world. I won’t fall into WEIRD bias making universalistic claims about how to frame politics.

      This post about the MSM spin on white liberals was entirely about the US and I thought that was obvious, as I assume that my American focus is pretty blatant, but apparently I need to state that more often and more clearly. In the United States, leftism and liberalism are closer to being identical. Most American leftists are egaitarian and liberal-minded, as they are anti-authoritarian — all of which can be seen in the social science research. To speak of the left in the US has a specific meaning as a general pattern and in a historical context of this sociocultural tradition.

      That would relate to why, at least in the present, American leftists, even when radically extreme, are shown by the data to be less prone to violence, murder, and terrorism. One might note that American leftists were much more violent during large waves of immigration earlier last century, such as when the anarcists were throwing their bombs and attempting assassinations. Many of those earlier immigrants came from Eastern Europe.

      Anyway, in talking about ideologically-motivated violence, what we are talking about is primarily whether most violence is committed in defense of egalitarianism or inegalitarianism. There are reasons and conditions under which an egalitarian would attempt violence, from terrorism to revolutions. The slave revolts were often inspired by this and they did lead to deaths, sometimes with the intention of creating terror to the oppressors.

      But I have my doubts that much regular violence is inspired by egalitarian ideals. The main actors of recent terrorism, from Islamic fundamentalists to white right-wingers, have not been holding to an egalitarian vision that they hoped to achieve through those acts of violence — quite the opposite, as their purpose was to promote the interests, agenda, and power of their own group over that of other groups.

      The American left is far different in this manner. White liberals, for example, are the only main demograpic that has a pro-outgroup bias. And it’s only taken hold as of late. There was always this tendency on the left, but only now is it becoming a real force. In practical terms, this means that those on the left are more likely to have positive attitudes and compassionate treatment toward those different to them. This was seen in past data such as how liberals are more likely to show empathy for innocent noncombatants killed by US soldiers than empathy for US soldiers.

      This is egalitarianism not only as an ideal but, more importantly as a way of being in the world and relating to others. It’s a very different kind of worldview. And so this is why false equivalency is not only false and infuriating but genuinely harmful. The sad part is that the rhetoric of false equivalency is particularly appealing to egalitarians who want to treat everyone equally, even when they aren’t equal in seriously problematic ways. This is their Achilles’ heel.

      As a side note, your commt reminds me of what Noam Chomsky discusses as the propaganda model. In the corporate media, they use sound bite rhetoric that has been repeated so often that it’s taken as truth without ever being questioned. The enforced time constraints disallow guests to challenge these sound bites or at least not effectively. That is why false equivalency is so often repeated in the corporate media, as well as repeated by political elites, public intellectuals, and thought leaders. It’s so easy to say, but nearly impossible to refute quickly.

      That is the challenge I faced in responding. Your comment contained so many assumptions and biases that so widespread in our society. To be able to respond to your criticisms, I was forced to do immense unpacking of the ideological and rhetorical baggage. I’m sure you find all of my comments frustrating and irritating. But what else could I have done to show what was wrong with such rhetoric that seems so intuitively true because of the simplicity of its structure and the cultural weight behind it. The claim you made is, in ‘mainstream’ society, taken as a given. It’s hard to challenge the conviction in a cultural truth claim that is assumed as automatically true without any proof.

      To get back to the larger point, I agree with you to an extent. We should also take seriously violence committed by egalitarians. But we should also take seriously that egalitarians probably commit a fraction of the violence as inegalitarians. This is just common sense. Look at all of the global superpowers that kill millions every year and international terrorist groups that kill thousands. What do they have in common in the reason behind their violent acts? All of them are pushing various inegalitarian agendas.

      Think about the United States. Is it left-wing or right-wing? Over the past century, the US has probably directly and indirectly killed hundreds of millions of people worldwide from bombings, invasions, occupations, covert operations, overthrowing governments, arming paramilitary groups, funding terrorist groups, economic sanctions, and on and on. I think it’s safe to say that was not done in the name of egalitarianism, not even in a propagandistic sense of Stalinism.

      Yet the US is supposedly a democracy, according to the government’s propaganda and the elite’s rhetoric. But anyone paying attenton would realize it’s a banana republic. The egalitarian claims don’t make the US a democracy. Certainly, democracy isn’t the reason the government is so brutal to so many foreign governments, why they kill so many people in other countries, and why they imprison so many of their own citizens. How could it be honest to blame this on democracy when there is no democracy except in name only?

      It wouldn’t be honest. All of this violence is committed for a fascist-like capitalism, not democracy nor the false claims of libertarian free markets. The US isn’t interested in spreading democracy and freedom around the world, any more than Stalin wanted to spread communism (in fact, Stalin had a habit of pulling support from other communist countries because he didn’t want an egalitarian world of communist equals, rather a world dominated by the imperialism of the Stalinist personality cult; Soviet support for other countries was alway strategic and temporary).

      So, in having an honest debate about the left-wing and right-wing violence, we’d have to specifically determine who is acting as an egalitarian and who is acting as an inegalitarian. That is somewhat easier in Western populations, once we dismiss any claims of Western global superpowers being motivated by egalitarianism and focusing in on specific ideological groups and identites (Antia, BLM, Black Panthers, MAGA, Boogaloo Bois, 3 Percenters, etc). But it’s still difficult in a general sense beyond very specific data-based discussions. As for public debate, it would simply be impossible because of false equivalency rhetoric and the propaganda model of the news.

      Still, it’s a debate we should have. It’s important for us to understand ideologies. I’d love to see research done on the rate of egalitarian violence vs inegalitarian violence in order to further test the hypothesis that the present American right-wing is more violent than the present American left-wing. Then I’d love even more to see the results reported in the corporate media and brougt up in presidential debates. But you and I both know that isn’t going to happen. The media and political elites don’t want an honest public debate where egalitarianism would be taken seriously and become a threat to inegalitarian rule. That is why Antifa has been made into a bogeyman.

      • Where to begin? It won’t make any difference, regardless. I will say this:

        I did not take issue with some personal argument of yours. I said, “I’m sick of this argument,” followed by a synopsis of the society-wide “argument” in question.
        To state anything about anything today all too obviously invites the presumption that one is taking a position on one or the other side of a “debate” — more at argu-mentation — and that is the fundamental issue plaguing the public conversation today. Such argumentation is absolutely heartless and useless. The roots of that issue are all too plain to see today. Good thing awareness is already “integral” whether human consciousness is or not.
        I will not fail to condemn violence of any kind whether physical, emotional, mental, spiritual or verbal.
        The “left” is doing itself no favors in condoning or downplaying the extremist violence stemming from its own “side” whether or not it is as egregious as that stemming from the “right” and — emotionally, mentally, spiritually and verbally — it most certainly is. The longer it fails to examine and rectify its own complicity in the present state of affairs, the higher the chance of a complete collapse.

        I am and will remain in the “position” I have occupied all along, regardless of anyone else’s presumptions — a “position” exceptionally few human beings are willing to take even at the urging of the most peaceful “activists” among us, e.g. Thich Nhat Hanh — and choose to bask in the glow of the regenerative cultures, projects and movements that have sprung up all around us in the past few decades. It is they that deserve my attention and nurturance. The dead branches of human thought and endeavor driving collapse are well and truly dead as well as toxic and deadly.


        • I finally got tired of your critical and conrontational attitude. It was simply irritating. Even with your occasionally interesting comments, it didn’t feel like a net gain.

          Your argument was obvoiusy and factually false. How does promoting false equivalency between the violent and nonviolent promote peace? It doesn’t.

    • My original response, on a personal level, was just irritation. From my biased perspective and experence, what I sensed from you (wrongly or rightly) was arrogance, rather than humilty or simple courteousness; but I’m sure you didn’t think of yourself that way. And I have no desire about arguing about it. That was simply my gut-level response.

      Still, I’m not opposed to a more aggressive style, as I can give as well as receive. That would’ve been fine if you brought a lot of knowledge to back up your accusatons. Then I would’ve taken your challenging response as the confidence of being well informed. In that case, I might have felt chastened and might have even changed my mind. I am open to compelling counter-arguments and welcome tem, even though I didn’t find yours compelling in this particular case.

      I understand that it probably was not intentional and rather is simply your normal style. But why begin the dialogue with a comment that easily could be interpreted not only as confrontational but rude and unfriendly. It didn’t make me feel invited into a dialogue or even an informed debate. All you offered was an opinion strongly stated, implying anyone who disagreed with you was wrong and a moral failure. How did you expect me to respond? Did you think I’d immediately bow down in defeat and contrition at your self-assured morally superior position?

      When in my blog, you are in my personal space. It’s like entering my home. I hope you wouldn’t act that rudely if someone invited you over for coffee or dinner. Would you really start arguing with someone the moment you stepped into the front door without even offering a friendly greeting? Why do the social norms of human behavior go out the window when people are interacting online? Is it because the normal social cues are missing?

      I realize I fall into this same failing. My social skills are lacking and always have been. I’m easily antagonized and that doesn’t tend to lead to happy and productive results. That is all the more reason I try to avoid people whose behavior I find antagonizing. I wish I was above such petty human irritations, but I’m not enlightened. Other people can find me antagonistic too and I accept that. It is why I’ve learned to not impose myself on others, even when I don’t think I’m at fault.

      I recently stopped following and commenting at a blog I liked because the blogger didn’t enjoy my style of commenting. It was irrelevant that I personally thougth that my comments were a positive contribution. It was his blog and he didn’t like it. I was saddened by it, but I accepted it. I probably could’ve found a better way to communicate with this person’s style, but I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to just accept one’s limitations and those of others or else just recognize that sometimes differences are just differences.

      The thing is I really do find you an interesting person. But there is something about your manner that rubs me the wrong way and on a regular basis. It’s really hard to deal with. Maybe it’s my own failing for not being able to let it flow off of me like water on a duck’s back. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll eventually get better about it, although probably not this far into my life. For whatever reason, we irritate each other and don’t pretend that I don’t irritate you.

      That is the thing. It feels like the whole situation was going nowhere the moment you commented. It felt like a straw man and I allowed myself to be drawn in. I never said anything about foreign countries, much less non-Western countries, specifically countries that both you and I know nothing about. The context of this entire post was the United States. What do the complex ethnic, religious, and political conflicts of Lebanon that probably don’t fit into the Western left-right divide have to do with the ideological predilections of US citizens?

      If you had a specific opinion about American violence, then speak directly to that since it’s the topic of the post. I’m against violence too, but we should talk about the actual situation and not make broad sweeping gestures of moral pietism. When you speak of a violent left-wing, who exactly are you talking about? Antifa? Well, anti-fascists haven’t been involved in violence for decades and I don’t know if they’ve ever been involved in terrorism in the US.

      I assume what motivated your original comment, though unstated, was the BLM protests and the conflicts that have arisen or rather the already present conlicts that have erupted again, as they have with centuries of violent racism, classism and oppression. Yes, there was property damage. For example, locally, some BLM protesters spraypainted buildings. That is unfortunate and costly to clean up. But is it really violence at all in any meaningful sense? And how is it even slightly comparable to killing people? As for other destruction such as burning buildings in a few protests elsewhere (out of thousands of entirely peaceful protests), do we even know who started it?

      Shouldn’t people be treated innocent until proven guilty? Maybe most of the property damage was caused by outsiders: provocateurs (maybe even agent provocateurs), counter-protesters, criminals, gangs, militias, the mentally unstable, etc. Maybe most of the riots were incited by aggressive police and others looking for an excuse to discredit the protest movement and justify violent crackdown. Maybe it had nothing to do with left-wing ideology. Yet there are authoritarian forces who want to push the perception and narrative that the left-wing is not only violent but more violent than the right-wing. Why allow ourselves to be manipulated by such dangerous and destructive rhetoric?

      For specific acts of violence proven to be caused by left-wing ideology, I’m all in favor of condemning it in no uncertain terms and with no excuses. The criminals should be treated as such. But I’m not willing to condemn people on no evidence at all simply because I feel morally righteous and demand that someone be scapegoated. Such accusations are far too harmful when thrown around lightly with no concern for actual guilt. That further justifies oppressive forces in dismissing civil rights and undermining democracy, as happened during the Cold War. I don’t want to see a repeat of McCarthyism and COINTELPRO.

      Even as I argue that the right-wing is more violent on any measure (terrorism, killings, hate crimes, threats, incitng rhetoric, etc), I still won’t condemn the entire right-wing and every right-winger without evidence. As I said, I strongly believe the government should have all the more defended the rights of the “Stop the Steal” protesters, no matter how distasteful and depraved I find their ideology or rather the agenda of those who manipulate them. Each and every protester, right or left, is innocent until proven guilty and should be treated as such.

      Yet we are intellectually and morally forced to admit that most of the known and proven acts of major violence recently, particuarly this past year or so, have come from the political right. I can’t think of any example of armed left-wingers invading and/or occupying federal property. I can’t think of any example of left-wingers plowing vehicles into crowds. I can’t think of any example of left-wingers plotting to kidnap and kill politicians. Recently, all of those things have happened multiple times on political right. To my mind and to my sense of conscience, that is a difference that makes a difference.

      As for you and I, I’m willing to let bygones be bygones. I try to resist the impulse to hold grudges, a sad tendency I inherited from my mother’s family. But I have slowly learned to let things go, particularly after I’ve expressed my emotions. So, I can honestly say I hold no hard feelings toward you, even as there is some slight lingering irritation about your original comment. In all sincerity, nothing has changed about my finding you an interesting person and often a worthy debating partner. I just think your wrong in this case and wrong in a way that unintentionally contrbutes to anti-democratic forces that have ruled this society since the colonial era. I don’t take any of this lightly.

      Nonetheless, I welcome disagreement, even if I’d prefer that disagreement to be based on compelling evidence, not mere opinionating. If you’re going to be confrontational, critical, and condemning of other people, particularly strangers you know nothing about, you better make sure your argument and evidence is airtight and absolutely convincing beyond any doubt. I’m against violence, as a practice and on principle. Most left-wingers are against violence, at least in the United States. In being motivated by a sense of egalitarianism and fairness, that is what distinguishes most American left-wingers from most American right-wingers. If you make a strong case in judging violence, most left-wingers will strongly agree. But be careful about wild accusations. The stakes are too high for such moral carelessness.

      I’ll repeat one important message. We need to learn and develop better, stronger intellectual and psychological defenses. This entire ‘debate’ we are having feels artificially constructed, a manipulated framing by socal dominators who want to keep us in division and conflict. False equivalency is dangerous. It relates to how promoting the ‘Ferengi’ minority demographic of extreme right-wing views is used to make the majority feel like a minority. Ant-leftist rhetoric in general serves this purpose. We need to become smarter, more informed, and more strategic than those who seek to manipulate us and turn us aganst each other.

      That does leave us with a troubling situation, however one takes it. We live in a violent society. Our own government violently oppresses and kills millions of people every year, all over the world and in the US. As victims of that state terrorism and the police state, that is what minorities and left-wingers are forced to deal with. Even MLK carried a gun for self-defense and was prepared to use it. And the Civil Rights movement only succeeded because of generations of violent revolt and self-defense. In the prior decades, when racist whites came to destroy their communities and kill them, blacks organized in arming themselves and fightng back.

      Violence is less than optimal, but it’s hard to know how to act in response to violence. When you are a peaceful protester, what are you supposed to do when right-wingers and the police are inciting violence? Sure, you try to resist, but what do you specifically do when your civil rights are infringed as they was repeatedly and systematically done in te past, when the police violently attack you and seek to arrest you simply for practicing your civil rights? Or when the bombs dropped on innocen Iraqis, should they have peacefully accepted their fate and submitted to the state terrorism without a fight?

      It’s easy, in a position of white and class privilege, to be morally haughty toward the victims who are forced to deal with oppression. Maybe they don’t always respond well, but it can feel like an impossible situation. Even for completely peaceful protesters, when outsiders incite violence, it’s the peaceful protesters who will be blamed. As a peaceful protester, how does one respond to riots caused by others who may have nothing to do with the protesters and their cause? Then what does one do when the media and politicians once again spin it against left-wingers? The only positive is that the American public is slowly beginning to see through the bullshit in coming around in support of the BLM message and cause.

      Being against violence is easier said than done when in the middle of violence, when the victim of violence, again and again and again. As a person of privilege safe from such violence, what brilliant advice do you have for them? Don’t you get why so many people feel frustrated? People are doing the best that they know how to under extremely difficult conditions, not only a violent society and a violent government with a surveillance state, militarized policing, and mass incarceration but, in some ways worse, constant racism and bigotry, class war and poverty, desperation and struggle. Yet the comfortably privileged condemn the victims and continue on voting back into power the neocon DNC elite.

      How does the violence, oppression, and injustice end? By simply having positive thoughts? Really? What have you done lately to stop the state violence and right-wing violence that has terrorized so many innocent victims for generations and centuries? Who put you in the privileged position of moral arbiter and judge over the lives of the less fortunate? I’m doing my best to communicate my frustration. I hope it’s being heard. I’m not here to blame you, but I want you to back off from blaming those who are being scapegoated.

      We are all in this together. The shit rains down on all of us, even on right-wingers. It doesn’t rain down on all of us equally, but it does make us all covered in shittiness and that brings out the worst in us. Instead of attacking each other, we should be defending one another against the forces seeking to do us harm. And, yes, that means resisting violence as best we can. But it also means maintaining a sense of respect and sympathy, compassion and understanding toward those who are in a worst position than we are, those who don’t have the privilege of a detached moral high ground.

    • Here is one thing to understand about me. I’ll always take the side of the underdog. That does particularly include the oppresed minorities and left-wingers. But it includes poor whites and rural whites who tend to be more socially conservative. And it also includes those feeling populist outrage, including right-wingers.

      Sure, the mostly middle class whites in right-wing activism and protests are far from being the most oppressed. Even so, we all live in this same oppressive society ruled by an authortarian elite and enforced with trickle-down misery. I’ve gone to extreme lengths to defend those I disagree with. We wouldn’t see things like the Capitol insurrection and QAnon conspiracy theory without a population that was being treated badly.

      The class war is on most of us, white and non-white, right and left. I even go so far as to point out that high inequality harms the rich as well. We wouldn’t see such mentally deranged and demented figures like Trump without this kind of mass societal dysfunction. Trump, in his own way, is also a victim who was raised by an authoritarian, abusive and probably sociopathic father.

      Still, first and foremost, my heart goes to those on the bottom of society. We, including the rich, are all oppressed by the general fucked-upness. The rich then oppress everyone below them, the middle class get to oppress the working class, working class whites get to oppress minorities, and even minorities get to oppress other minorities and immigrants. Almost everyone, accept those at the very bottom, can feel superior to someone else and judge them for their perceived failures.

      So, yes, there is that general oppression. But the actual reality of direct violence is far from equally distributed across the population. But there are other things that make it all worse. The poor and minorities are more likely to be victims of lead poisoning and greater heat from being trapped in treeless urban areas, among a thousand other factors of prejudice and oppressiveness. We know scientifically that all of this contributes to aggression and violence. In cities, when the heat rises, so do murders. Yet because of racism, city governments don’t even do something as simple as plant trees in black neighborhoods to reduce heat, much less clean up lead toxicity.

      Yes, the violence is bad. But we should stop acting ignorant about the larger context of what creates the conditions of violence. Our ignorance can not be taken as a sign of innocence. We are all complicit in our apathy and indifference, our willingness to judge others, particulary the victims, rather than hold ourselves accountable as a society for collective social problems and moral failures. If we think violence is bad, we shoud do something to change the conditions of violence to conditions of peace and public good.

      Rather than talk high and mighty, let’s do something about it. Until those changes happen, we should shut the fuck up with our moral condescension of those who struggle with challenges we among the privleged can’t begin to comprehend. That is a standard I hold myself to. Even though I’m working class and have lived below the poverty line, I’ve long understood my privilege as a white male American who grew up middle class and who now has a unionized government job. I reserve my strongest criticisms for those above me on the socal pecking order, not those less fortunate.

      My drivng motivation is a fierce compassion. Anyone who is an enemy of the oppressed is an enemy of me. We are in a class war that for many Americans and non-Americans is a literal war with a brutal military in other countries and militarized police in the US. The violence should end. So when is it going to end? If we are for peace, what are we doing as a society to promote peace? The social, political, and economic conditions of peace are collectve, not individual. Blaming individuals is an evil and morally corrupt mindset.

      These are systemic problems and we need to began acting as if that is true. This is why left-wingers promote such things as solidarity and democracy, the commons and the public good. Think of the Black Panthers. Their orignal full name was the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Under Fred Hampton’s charsmatic leadership, they had a vision of the Rainbow Coalition that would unite all of the oppressed, as MLK had also envision with his Poor People’s movement.

      Is it any surprise that both MLK and Hampton were assassinated, the latter assassinated by the government. These people did want peaceful change, but the ruling elite wouldn’t accept peaceful change. They still won’t, as evidence by the brutality that continues, such as the police inciting riots at peaceful protests. Let’s save our anger and judgment for those who most deserve it. The passionate condemnation of violence is a force of good if directed at the worst purveyors of oppressive violence, but paternalistic and condescending righteousness turned against the underclass and underprivileged ensures the violence continues.

    • In this debate, you are the equivalent of Ta-Nehisi Coates and I’m the equivalent of Cornell West. We on the political left need to be having this debate, even as those like you and Coates resist this framing.

      My analsysis of these two black thinkers is relevant and applicable to our own disagreement here. We share some basic concerns and attitudes, even as we have a different approach. I’d love it if people like you were the opposition I was fighting against, rather than the frame of debate being defined by neo-fascists and other authoritarians.

      It is true that too many moderate and even conservative whites could use Coates’ words to defend a false moderate centrism that maintains the status quo and resists needed change. Coates is easily misunderstood and, unfortunately, his position can be recruited in shoring up the neoliberal order against black radicalism.

      But I’ve sensed a radicalism within Coates’ writings that is a powerful, if hidden, undercurrent. There is a genuine moral outrage he expresses. Maybe that is what we need to sneak that moral outrage past the intellectual defenses of the respectable classes. It could be a poison slipped into the mainstream racial and class order.

      On the other hand, I love the passionate condemnation of West. It is much needed. But one of the advantages is that it makes Coates’ hidden radicalism seem all the more moderate. It pushes the Overton window left. I’d like Coates to represent the new center-right and moderate conservatism. Even if Coates is too soft on Obama, he is far left of Obama and so makes a more leftist position seem reasonable.

      This is how the left wins, a slow but steady driving of the frame of public debate further and further left. That is exactly how the neo-fascists came to power by doing the same in the opposite direction. Right-wingers attacked moderate conservatives and portrayed anyone who wasn’t an authoritarian as a liberal or left-winger or simply a RINO. That is how the right-wing made possible the takeover of the Democratic Party by the Clinton neocons.

      The trick to gaining power and influence is by defining an enemy of opposition that is closer to your own position. Coates can be the controlled opposition, beyond which is an immoral and unacceptable right-wing extremism. We on the left shouldn’t only paint him as a moderate and certainly not as a centrist. Like West, we should push hard in placing the worst labels on him, not only neoliberal but far more damning as a defender of imperialism and oppression. Coates can be our ideological scapegoat and he can handle it. Coates can take one for the team.

      I agree and sympathize with both Coates and West. They are each important black voices of critique, if each in their own way. But I particularly do appreciate tough voices like that of West who hold our society accountable. West is the righteous moral force behind Coates, as Malcolm X and Fred Hampton were the moral force behind MLK. Without that potent moral force, the more moderate voices of change would be powerless.

      There must be a threat behind demands for reform, threats that if power doesn’t relent there will be revolt or revolution. That is the only way major positive changes have ever happened in all of American history. Whatever one’s opinion is on the matter of how change should happen in a perfect ideal world, that is the cold hard fact of how change has actually happened and we have no reason to suspect it’s any different now.

    • As you might understand from reading my blog, I tend to take a broad and long view of humanity. The conlict we are discussing here is essentially the same conflict that arose in the Axial Age following the collapse of Bronze Age civlization and the breakdown of the bicameral mind.

      Archaic authorization was lost and a new kind of rule-based and brutally violent authoritarianism first emerged. That was what the Axial Age propets were responding to, with Jesus arriving shortly after that period of the revolutionizing of the human psyche and identity.

      What stands out is that Jesus didn’t passively resist, much less peacefully submit to worldly power. At one point, he even went so far as to commit property damage by terrorizing the moneylenders in the temple.

      To the respectable elite and good citizens of the time, such an act was unimaginable and unacceptable. Jesus’ violence against property, within the ruling order, was as bad or worse than the regular violence of Roman authority.

      I’m sure many at the time repeated the exact same false equivalency we hear today. That is because the same fundamental conlict remains unresolved not only in society at large but, more importantly, within the human psyche.

      It’s a deep and profound sense of divide within us that gets expressed in our social relations and the social order. That is why, even after all these millennia later, it still feels like a raw wound. We’ve never recovered from what was lost in the archaic bicameral mind.

      One can sense what that earlier mindset must have been like by looking at some siimpler societies. The Piraha exemplify this with their radical sense of communal solidarity and egalitarianism, along with their more fluid sense of identity. They express none of the oppressive anxiety and violent authoritarianism that defines modern society.

      This should teach us something fundamental about our shared humanity. Egalitarianism isn’t some modern ideal invented by intellectuals. It is the core principle of human nature that we’ve forgotten. But in our rigidly hierarchical and hyper-individualistic society, we don’t know how to healthily express this egalitarian impulse.

      What results is endless conflict. The answer some offer is to further suppress the impulse and to project it onto radicals as scapegoats. This is a way of disidentifying from the egalitarianism that is so threatening not because it’s imposed from outside but because it keeps emerging from within. This conflict gets expressed as violence all around.

      How can we imagine a peaceful society when we refuse to accept the very essence of our own human nature? The first and greatest violence is the disconnection from and denial of the most fundamental moral impulse. We are at war with ourselves and our whole society is built on this anxiety-inducing conflict.

    • It is McConaughey who described himself as politically, “aggressively centrist,” not I. I found theirs an interesting and relevant conversation as it is obviously not just the two of them who sense something amiss in the public conversation. If you want to make my comments regarding the overwhelming toxicity of the political climate all about you and me and “false equivalency,” which I do not personally engage in, that is your prerogative. Kindly pardon me, however, if I do not wish to engage in egotistical banter on the subject and long ago ceased to care what people who do not know me personally think of me personally — especially on the Internet as presumption rules on the Internet.

      In parting, I would like to acknowledge burgeoning scholarship regarding what is denoted as “extreme” (for lack of a better term) as opposed to “equivalent” in my comments.

      Similarities and Differences Between Left-Wing and Right-Wing Radicals
      Psychological Features of Extreme Political Ideologies

      I find it unfortunate that the term, “radical,” has come to describe what is more accurately characterized as “distantiated” — i.e. distantiated from the “vital center,” in Gebser’s terms — given that “radical” is associated with origin and presence as opposed to authoritarianism and authoritarian tactics. The “vital center” and what has become known as the political “center” in our times are not one and the same. It is this “vital center” from which extremities have become estranged, imo, in the sense of the falcon no longer being able to hear the call of the falconer.

      Take care and be well.

      • I wasn’t accusing you of being centrist, aggressive or otherwise. But it’s true that self-identified centrists or rather faux-centrists tend to prefer the reactionary rhetoric of false equivalency, a powerful and contagious mind virus. In the simplest of senses, false equivalency means comparing two categories with the assumption/implication that they are somehow the same/similar in a way that is unfair, inaccurate, and/or misleading (and, if unintentionally, is morally false in being harmful to those scapegoated, to the public good, and to democracy). It’s not only that the politcal left commits less volence, both less killings and less property damage, but also is more critical of violence and, instead, more supportive of democracy (compared to not only right-wingers but also ‘centrists’ and ‘moderates’. Doesn’t that matter? It does to me.

        There is a worrisome history to how false equivalency of violence can be used for violent authoritarian takeover. Matthew Lenoe writes: “These narratives about aggressive left-wing violence aren’t just distorted. They are dangerous, because they set the stage for replacing democratic institutions with authoritarian rule. Provoking street violence and blaming it on their opponents is exactly how totalitarian regimes have gained power in the past.” That is what the German Nazis and Italian fascists did in causing violence and then portraying their opponents, often the victims of that violence, as they dangerous aggressors. Then, sadly, the media at the time often repeated this right-wing narrative, as did the ‘centrists’ and ‘moderates’.

        [By the way, if democracy has already been eliminated as is the case in the American banana republic, false equivalency can instead be used to maintain the authoritarianism already in place, with the help of the false distinction of lesser evilism. In that case, the ruling authoritarianism is portrayed as non-authoritarianism while actual anti-authoritarianism/egalitarian advocates (e.g., peaceful antifa & BLM protesters) are conflated with the other forms of authoritarianism competing for power. For the violent and inegalitarian ruling elite, this kills two birds with one stone.]

        Aleph Skoteinos writes, “I’ve also discovered some research conducted by a political scientist named Justin Murphy, specifically an article titled “Who Is Afraid of Free Speech in the United States?”, and it turns out that the far-left are nowhere near as averse to freedom of speech as you would be lead to believe nowadays. His research showed that “extreme liberals” (possibly referring to hard-leftists given America’s bastardized political lexicon) are actually the most supportive of freedom of speech within the broad political spectrum, and that the centre-left (or slightly left) and the far-right, not the far-left, are the groups most opposed to freedom of speech.” No one would know that was true by listening to the media and political elite, including supposed ‘liberals’, ‘centrists’ and ‘moderates’.

        To my understanding, egalitarianism is the authentic center or, if you prefer, the “vital center” of not only society and politics but of human nature (so, in Western political terms, speaking of the ‘left’ is how we refer to this ‘center’). It can express in many ways, but it has no single ideological form (democracy, anarchosyndicalism, democratic socialism, etc). This center could be thought of as the root that the word ‘radical’ etymologically refers to. That is why the fish hook theory of the political spectrum is more accurate, where there is leftist egalitarianism and then there is everything else. Or, to put it another way, there is only a center of our shared humanity and everything that denies that core, but even a denial of the “vital center” affirms it in that all humans work within the same human nature. This is similar to the relationship between liberalism and the reactionary mind, as conservatism by default is defined by its relationship to liberalism within the liberal paradigm of modern society — that is what it reacts to and without which it would not exist.

        One is either an egalitarian, in both means and ends, or one is not. If cynical demagogues and social dominators like Stalin dishonestly claimed to be ‘leftist’ or deceptively used ‘leftist’ rhetoric while acting contrary to egalitarianism or, worse, actively promoting inegalitarianism, then by the most consistent and fundamental sense they are not leftists (in not holding to the very central principle that defines leftism). Egalitarianism, by nature and definition, is inevitably and entirely opposed to authoritarianism. That is why Lenin was also wrong in claiming that inegalitarian means can lead to egalitarian ends, as it is precisely Lenin who made possible the inegalitarianism of Stalin’s neofeudal imperialism falsely cloaked in the propaganda of communist rhetoric. There is nothing leftist about any of that in terms of the Western origins and history of left-wing politics as being precisely about egalitarianism. Of course, that might be all the more reason to find new language and metaphorical framing for politics.

        Justin Murphy spoke of extremists, instead of radicals. But extreme compared to what? What he called “extreme liberals,” presumably the far left, were the most anti-authoritarian (other research has shown the same). The <a href=”, similar to the far right, are more authoritarian. This probably relates to why those moderate centrists are also more supportive of and apologetic toward violence than the far left, such as seen with militarized policing, racist mass incarceration, wars of aggression, torture prisons, etc; not to mention all of the slow violence they ensure through their political positions promoting, rationalizing, or distracting from the harm of poverty, homelessness, malnutrition, high inequality, lead toxicity, pollution, etc. The radical and extreme left, which in American politics includes pacifists like MLK and Quakers, likely are the least violent sector of American society. So, why do they get scapegoated more for violence, both in the past and still in the present?

        We need new understanding. The second article you link is about “political extremism.” Once again, who gets to define that? The corporate media? Plutocratic politicians? The FBI and DHS? The majority of Americans hold many political positions far enough on the ‘left’ that the ruling elite ‘moderates’ and ‘centrists’ rhetorically frame such views as extremist or radical. That is why BLM protesters are portrayed as dangerous and violent in the ‘mainstream’ media, even though the BLM message is now majority opinion (i.e., not really ‘extreme’ or ‘left’, relatively speaking). That is on top of the fact that, if we subtract all violence caused by police, counter-protesters, militias, provocateurs, non-ideological criminals, and other non-leftists, it’s not clear that the leftist protesters themselves have caused much violence. As opposed to MAGA leaders, BLM leaders have gone out of their way to maintain order and prevent violence and riots, often specifically advocating non-violence, not that they have control over outside instigators.

        So, what is all the extremist bullshit about? I don’t doubt some political extremists exist on the left nor would most lefists pretend otherwise. But the fact is there is absolutely zero evidence that very many American leftists could be honestly and fairly described as such, particularly in comparison to the much more violent right and ‘center’. The second article, as far as I could tell, offers no data showing most American leftists are extremist or even that a significant number are extremist. All of my counter-arguments and criticisms remain solidly in place with no evidence-based challenge so far. But I remain open to such evidence, if you can find it. All I can say, is from looking at this kind of data going back to the Aughts, I’ve never come across such evidence within American society. It’s not that lack of evidence irrefutably proves absence, but it sure strongly supports that interpretation.

        There has been much debate about whether left-wing authoritarians exist to any significant degree, the way commonly found among right-wingers. Some studies have found small pockets in a few groups of what they perceived as left-wing authoritarians, but otherwise usually couldn’t find them in the general population. That is what is so different about right-wing authoritarians, as no one denies that they are not only easily detected but also prevalent. Yet, even the small number of supposed left-wing authoritarians remain uncertain, in how they are defined and measured.

        For example, in one study, they defined left-wing authoritarianism as someone who trusted scientific authority, opposite of having defined right-wing authoritarianism as the trust of political and religious authority figures. No sane person would see those as equivalent, as scientists are defined by being trained in changing their minds with new evidence; and as science is defined by an egalitarian ideal of a pursuit of knowledge. The researchers also determined anyone supporting a “strong leader” as authoritarian, no matter if that leader was democratically elected or not, supportive of democracy or not. All strong leaders, as with all authority figures, were assumed to represent authoritarianism. Has our society gone so insane that we can no longer make basic, meaningful distinctions about the necessary conditions of a free society?

        As I’ve said before, that isn’t to say that absolutely no left-wing authoritarians exist, as do likewise ‘centrist’ and ‘moderate’ authoritarians (probably more of the latter two, actually). But research shows that left-wing authoritarians are much more rare and less politically engaged, specifically disengaged in Western countries, which is probably why the politial left in the West is so much less violent according to every known measure. As far as I can tell, left-wingers are on average less violent than those who criticize left-wingers of violence. So, why should we listen to critics who want to scapegoat left-wingers to distract from the violence that their own views support, rationalize, and/or obscure?

        We need to be clear about what we’re talking about, according to the social science research. Authoritarianism in general, particularly on the right but also on the left, is strongly correlated but not identical to social/cultural conservatism. That is to say, all authoritarians are conservaive and yet not all conservatives are authoritarian (instead, one could say all conservatives are reactionaries, whereas overt authoritarianism is one among many expressions of the reactionary mind). Basically, authoritarianism is the polar opposite attitude of liberal-mindedness (and, hence, egalitaranism). So, a liberal could only be an authoritarian to the precise degree they are not liberal (and not egalitarian). The main reason of authoritarian disparity is that there are far more illiberal (and inegalitarian) right-wingers than there are among left-wingers.

        In fact, in the West, leftism is largely defined by liberalism (and specifcally egalitarianism) because of the history of French and Anglo-American thought, as left and liberal originally referred to the same thing (and still refer to a range within egalitarianism). But many have noted that the left-right dichotomy has less clear meaning outside of the West in countries that have no established history of liberal culture and governance (in having no foundation in the original leftist thought of the American and French revolutions), which is why one can find the seemingly contradictory illiberal and inegalitarian left-wingers like Stalin pushing neo-feudal imperialism ruled by a hierarchical elite and dominated by a personality cult, the complete opposite of the earliest and most common Western meaning of the left in its being identified with liberalism and egalitarianism.

        Where authoritarianism can be found on the left is on a vague notion of or confuson about economics. The complication is that there is no consistent and shared understanding of economic liberalism and leftism nor of it’s opposite. All of modern economics is anti-traditional in being a response to the collapse/destruction of the ancien regime. And so-called economic conservatism is merely an adaptation/mutation of past forms of economic liberalism. Libertarianism, for example, used to be considered radical leftism when it was part of the European workers movement, in alliance with communism, Marxism, and anarchism (far left anarchosyndicalism is still categorized as libertarian). But, in ‘mainstream’ American thought, it’s now considered a defining feature of the right-wing. Our views on economics shift because, unlike cultural/social conservatism, they aren’t based on any deeper attitudinal or personality traits that can be studied by social scientists. This is why Nazis could borrow elements of left-wing economics and even call themselves national socialists, but everyone knows they weren’t actually left-wingers.

        This is probably related why the left-right dichotomy is so indeterminate outside the West because egalitarianism vs authoritarianism is the only stable distinction that has existed, without which the dichotomy becomes meaningless. In the end, we cannot escape from the historical origins of left-wing thought. What defines it is egalitarianism. To call an inegalitarian and anti-egalitarian ideology as left-wing makes as much sense as calling the earth the sky when hanging upside down. This historical amnesia has led to so much confusion. Authoritarianism is always opposed to egalitarianism. Anyone who claims to be promoting the egalitarian through authoritarian ideology, rhetoric, and actions is lying or misguided. They are simply reactionaries co-opting from the left. But if we can’t discern between an egalitarian left-winger and an inegalitarian reactionary posing as a left-winger, we are in major trouble as a society. But that has been the danger of the reactionary phenomenon over this past century, in that reactionaries want to make such words meaningless, to make clear thought difficult and public debate impossible.

        The other complicating factor is that authoritarianism (like egalitarianism) is a psychological attitude, more than a singular ideology. Authoritarians by nature will follow any powerful leader. In a fascist society, they’ll be fascists. But in a communist or democratic society, they might call themselves communists or democrats, in the way MAGA authoritarians used democratic rhetoric in the US to attack democracy. This is where we have to look past rhetoric. It’s true that researchers have found some, if far fewer in number, authoritarians who claim to support equality; but when testing these supposedly ‘left-wing’ authoritarians one discovers they don’t actually treat all people equal in tending to be culturally/socially conservative, such as holding prejudice against minority groups (Jews, blacks, LGBTQ, etc). This is seen in Eastern Europe where left-wing rhetoric was co-opted to push anti-left-wing agendas (ethno-nationalism, neo-feudal imperialism, state capitalism, etc). So, do we define people by their words or by their actual beliefs and behaviors?

        It is morally deranged to treat reactionaries using empty left-wing rhetoric (that contradicts their behavior) the same as actual committed left-wingers who are living according to egalitarian principle, with words in line with deeds. Over recent generations, ‘leftism’ as a word has become about as meaningless as ‘liberalism’ and ‘progressivism’, because of a combination of reactionaries co-opting them and right-wingers turning them into a slur, a situation that is only beginning to slowly reverse as we reclaim these terms. We need to defend meaningful language for that is how the terms of debate are controlled and hence how, through perception management, the citizenry is controlled. If everyone who uses, co-opts, and manipulates left-wing rhetoric is lumped together as the same, then the same could happen to you. Everyone like you who argues for equivalency is, by this same logic, the same; and this accordingly proves that all or most people like you are bad people. I’m sure you don’t accept that defamatory attack on your on person. So, why would you accept in being used against others?

        Let me finish off with a couple of thougths. As I said, the only significant meaning to the left-right dichotomy is the attitudinal distinction that has persisted over the centuries, though this understanding has been lost (or intentionally destroyed) in the ‘mainstream’ and maybe never took hold outside of the West. Understood by many or not, this difference (or rather sets of differences) has been confirmed in immense social science research. There really is a major disimmilarity and lack of equivalence between the mindsets on the left and right, far from being extreme mirror images. For example, liberal-mindedness has long been strongly associated to an ougroup bias and among American liberals there is now a pro-outgroup bias, something that has never before been measured — one might note that this is a radically extreme manifestation of egalitarianism, maybe the strongest ever before seen at a larger group level. That is as anti-authoritarian as possible, in defining the self according to sympathy for the ‘other’.

        Following in the tradition of the Civil Rights movement, BLM protesters and supporters are probably among the most egalitarian and least supportive of violence among Americans, despite blacks living under the greatest and most constant threat of violence. Even the Black Panthers under Fred Hampton, though seeking self-defense against violence, did also seek non-violent solutions through egalitarian alliances so as to build solidarity in the face of violence, as the FBI and police were assassinating activists and killing so many others. Knowing and acknowledging this, it would be fundamentally naive or dishonest to scapegoat the victims of violence, which has been the very rhetoric used to promote violent power throughout American history, including the police justification to be more violent with left-wing protesters than right-wing protesters even when all else is equal.

        That is where your first comment felt unhelpful, in simply offering a subjectively interpreted and culturally narratized anecdote from an unknown social and political context in an unfamiliar non-Western country where the left/right distinction of rhetoric and labeling is far less consistent and reliable, specifically compared to Western history of these terms. It appears that only in recent years has Lebanese leftism taken on clear meaning in organized poltical action; but prior to that politics was more defined by religious sectarianism which continues to structure the government to this day). Lebanon has experienced long-term strife, war, and civil conlict. The left-right spectrum has not been a key element of Lebanese politics.

        To imply that is relevant to the United States is extremely invalid and dismissive. Rather than being quick to jump to such false conclusions, it would be wiser and more caring to consider what we mean by our language, specifically to clarify when language may have lost meaning.

        by E. J. Dionne Jr.

        “The ideological terms that are the common currency of politics in many places do not seem to apply in Lebanon, where the meanings of words such as left and right often dissolve into factional slogans. […] Dr. Ghassan Salameh, a political scientist, said that in Lebanese politics the terms left and right are most useful in describing attitudes toward foreign powers. […]

        “Early in the Lebanese civil war, the term left was commonly used to describe the alliance between the Palestine Liberation Organization and groups led by Kamal Jumblat, a Druse who became a socialist. Some leftist Lebanese Christians fought on the side of Mr. Jumblat and the P.L.O.

        “But Dr. Saadeh said that as the war progressed, religion and not class or ideology became paramount.”

        “Right” and “Left” in Lebanon
        by Kamal S. Salibi

        “In reporting on events and political developments in Lebanon in recent years, the Western news media popularized the terms “Right” and “Left” — more specifically, “Christian Right” and “Moslem Left” — to denote the fronts involved in the civil war of 1975–76, and in the crisis which has since continued in the country. The use of these stereotype terms suggests that what has been going on in Lebanon during these troubled years has been essentially a contest between rival ideological stands reflecting a socioeconomic gap between “haves” and “have nots”, with the rich Christians upholding the cause of bourgeois capitalist liberalism or illiberalism, and the poor Moslems upholding the cause of socialist reform or revolution. That there are rich and poor in Lebanon — as elsewhere — is true; with the rapid economic growth of the last two or three decades, the gap between them has certainly widened, and social tensions have undoubtedly arisen. The political exploitation of these tensions, however, though persistently attempted by interested parties, has not yet been truly successful. In the on-going Lebanese crisis, these tensions may well have contributed — in one way or another — to the intensity of the conflict, but they have not ranked prominently among the basic issues involved. Throughout the civil war, and until today, they remain overshadowed by other factors of conflict — factors of a more archaic nature, perhaps, but nevertheless of clearer and more immediate relevance in the parochial Lebanese context.”

        How ‘left wing’ became a misnomer for ‘right wing’
        by Azmi Bishara

        “In truth, however, socialism and communism did not emanate directly from the left-wing tradition. Indeed, it was radical democracy not socialism that was the fruit of the French left wing we spoke of.

        “Rather, socialism and communism began as a lifestyle for some religious sects in the Middle Ages, and as a utopian ideal some writers long dreamt of.

        “The concept became political as it encountered democracy, when socialist democratic parties embraced it in the 19th century against savage capitalism.

        “Only then did socialism become a left-wing notion in the original sense, when it championed both social justice and democracy.

        “By contrast, the parties that developed socialism into a comprehensive ideology and way of life, failed to adopt democracy as the basis of the system of government.

        “Later, socialism became to these parties the ideology of a totalitarian ruling regime.

        “If we examine the totalitarian nature of regimes where political and civil liberties are totally absent, and then examine conservative traditions as compared to the privileges given to ruling party members, some of which have been inherited, we would conclude that the more apt description of these regimes is “right wing” not “left wing”.

        “These regimes are right wing in the original sense of the word: conservative authoritarian regimes that are averse to freedom.

        “Indeed, their hostility to civil liberties and citizens’ rights is completely at odds with the notion of equality they allegedly enshrine.”

        False Equivalence: Are Liberals and Conservatives in the United States Equally Biased?
        by Jonathan Baron and John T. Jost

        The Authoritarian-Conservatism Nexus
        by Artur Nilsson and John T. Jost

        The Presence of Left-Wing Authoritarianism in Western Europe and Its Relationship with Conservative Ideology
        by Alain Van Hiel

        The Authoritarian Left Withdraws from Politics: Ideological Asymmetry in the Relationship between Authoritarianism and Political Engagement
        by Christopher M. Federico, Emily L. Fisher, and Grace Deason

        A Dissonant Fantasy: Why Authoritarians on the Left Disengage from Politics
        by David Raban

        Who Are More Biased: Liberals Or Conservatives?
        by Stuart Vyse

        Ideological Asymmetries and the Essence of Political Psychology
        by John T. Jost (excerpts here)

        Asymmetrical Polarization Undermined? Thoughts on the New Pew Research Center’s Report on Political Polarization
        by Thomas E. Mann

        The Left and the Right in Thinking, Personality, and Politics
        by G. William Domhoff

        “The studies carried out or summarized by Jost and Amodio amply confirm that Leftists are more open than Rightists. In a meta-analysis of 88 studies in 12 different countries, they also show that factors such as death anxiety, dogmatism, intolerance for ambiguity, and need for order were positively correlated with conservatism and negatively correlated with liberalism, whereas openness to new experience, cognitive complexity, and tolerance of uncertainly were all positively correlated with liberalism and negatively correlated with conservatism (Jost & Amodio, 2012, p. 57). Moreover, the new work goes beyond Tomkins in demonstrating that it is not just “emotion” in general that Rightists fear more than Leftists. In particular, they are more likely to react to uncertainty and ambiguity by feeling threatened and anxious, which may lead to their negative attitude toward new experiences and their dogmatism.”

        The political left rolls with the good and the political right confronts the bad: connecting physiology and cognition to preferences
        by Michael D. Dodd et al

        “Those who, in relative terms, stress minimizing harm and maximizing equality tend to be left-of-centre in their political beliefs and those who stress purity and authority tend to be right-of-centre […] Our core finding is that, compared with individuals on the political left, individuals on the right direct more of their attention to the aversive despite displaying greater physiological responsiveness to those stimuli. This combination of physiological and attentional data is worth considering further. Previous research on the broader bases of political ideology is often interpreted as suggesting that locations on the right of the political spectrum are a deviation from the norm (or even a pathology) in need of explanation [10,51]. For example, McClosky [52, p. 40] concludes those on the right are ‘distrustful of differences … fear change, dread disorder, are intolerant of nonconformity, and derogate reason’ while Block & Block [53, p. 395] find that those on the right are ‘easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, relatively over-controlled and vulnerable’.

        “Demonstrating that those on the right not only respond more strongly to aversive images but also devote more attention to aversive images suggests a different and perhaps less value-charged interpretation of those holding right-of-centre political orientations. It appears individuals on the political right are not so much ‘fearful’ and ‘vulnerable’ as attuned and attentive to the aversive in life. This responsiveness and attentiveness, in turn, is consistent with the fact that right-of-centre policy positions are often designed to protect society from out-group threats (e.g. by supporting increased defence spending and opposing immigration) and in-group norm violators (e.g. by supporting traditional values and stern penalties for criminal behaviour). Rather than using colourful adjectives, perhaps, the proper approach is simply to state that the aversive in life appears to be more physiologically and cognitively tangible to some people and they tend to gravitate to the political right.”

      • The articles below gives some real world examples of the disparity of violence. Right-wingers not only have a long record of greater terrorism, both murders and property damage. They also have a well known history of being provocateurs.

        Some of these groups, like the Boogaloo Bois, are organized around the very idea of inciting violence and civil unrest. It is their stated goal. There is no equivalent to this on the American left, not even remotely similar. Why is it so hard to acknowledge this undeniable difference?

        “Some Republican congressional leaders, including U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar, along with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, joined President Trump in trying to pin the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol building on antifa, a loose movement of left-wing, anti-racist and anti-fascist activists.

        “The FBI negated the baseless claims, and people have recognized the conspiracy theory as a false flag – an act designed to disguise the actual source or responsible party and implicate another.

        “In contrast, members of extreme right-wing groups like the boogaloo movement and the Proud Boys did in fact infiltrate the George Floyd protests this summer, trying to spark violence between Black Lives Matter protesters and police.

        “And at the Capitol, it appears Proud Boys members hid their affiliation to better blend in with the crowd.”

        “Investigations into the Black Lives Matter protests and the riots that stemmed from them found that some instances of violence, (which took place in a very small percentage of the protests overall) were instigated by white supremacists. The killer of two police officers in Oakland during the protests was found to be part of the right-wing “Boogaloo Bois” movement. So the idea of opposing groups infiltrating a protest movement is not uncommon and totally possible.

        “However, both the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice have said that they have seen no evidence in their investigations so far that there was Antifa involvement in the Capitol riot. And there have been no credible reports of BLM involvement, either.”

    • I showed that there was a complex background to your claims of Lebanese leftism. It is mixed up with religious and ethnic sectionalism with a history of conflict between the colonizers and colonized, Christians and Muslims, etc. Leftist rhetoric was imposed upon social divisions that preceded the introducton of Western thought or, in other cases, was created by Western interventions (e.g., colonial capitalism eforcing a wealthy and powerful class of ethnic Christians).

      That directly undermines any claims that this violence was fundamentally caused by the unique Western ideology of left vs right. How does identity politics (being female, etc) have to do with knowledge of ideological history? As a non-Lebanese, you don’t know anything about Lebanon, despite your making claims about Lebanon (and various Lebanese would have differerent understandings). So, what does your self-righteousness have to do with anything? Many female minorities would call bullshit on your paternalistic claims of condescending moral superiority, something I don’t hate to say in the slightest.

    • There is a long history of minority women being heavily critical of privileged white women with their self-centered ideals and presumptuous judgments of the disadvantaged. The same goes for minorities in general. Even poor white men understand violent oppression in a way economically comfortable white women will never understand.

      Claims of identity politics to dismiss others are pathetic and meaningless. This is not an oppression Olympics where only one demograpic can claim to understand what it means to struggle aned suffer. That bullshit is not acceptable. If you want to play such juvenlie games, you’ll have to go elsewhere. Such empty rhetoric is not welcome here.

      • If I may, and I’m sorry in advance if this isn’t my place to comment, but I sense that feminine sensibilities prefer keeping the peace even under conditions of authoritarianism, theres a reason we use the term “slipping” into authoritarianism; if we remain silent over the disproportionate use of violence of one or more group of people, we are then implicit partners in the long-term slipping into authoritarianisim. We cant sit back when psychos are trying to take over the asylum.

        “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
        Edmund Burke

        • Feel free to interject. I don’t know the cause of this difference of response. But all I know is that I find it irksome. Still, I suspect that oppressed and disadvantaged women are far less desirable of keeping the ‘peace’ (at any and all costs) than privileged women. I recognize my own relative privilege as well, although only working class. For that reason, I refuse to dismiss the experience and views of those who’ve had it harder than I have.

          It’s simply a fact that American leftists, white and non-white, are less violent in all ways. We can argue why that is the case. But I suspect it partly has to do with the fact that leftists have most often been the victims of violence and so understand how violence rarely works in their favor. Besides, violence doesn’t fit into the egalitarian worldview. That is why, as someone on the left, I sympathize with the criticisms of violence.

          An example of leftist tendency toward pacifism is that of the Quakers. And many Quaker activists are women. They use civil disobedience, as did MLK and as do many BLM protesters. Yet Quakers weren’t always peaceful. They were major proponents of violent revolt during the English Civil War and decided they didn’t like the outcome of that conflict. They came to realize they had more power through radical refusal of submission to violent authoritarianism.

          That kind of history is important to understand. As a society, it’s been slow how we’ve come to better understand egalitarianism and pacifism. As I’ve said, this insight first emerged in the Axial Age and it’s become ever more clear over time. This understanding is imperfect on the left, which is without a doubt, but the point is that political left has seriously struggled with this understanding.

          Many people, particularly on the left, want to keep the peace. I know that I do. The problem is we can’t keep the peace by keeping the authoritarianism. It’s not merely about being violent or not, As long as we tolerate violence, that is the same as being violent. If we don’t fight against violence, we are complicit in it, as you also point out.

        • One thing has been on my mind. In recent years, I’ve lost all interest in ‘debate’, not only with conservatives defending oppression but also liberals making rationalizations for it. Either people understand egalitarianism or they don’t. There is no rationally explaining or proving why egalitarianism is true and meaningful. Nor do I have any desire to attempt to justify why it matters.

          And, to be honest, I really have no desire to associate with those who don’t understand. This blog is for those who understand and care about egalitarianism. It’s a free world and people can argue against egalitarianism all they want. But, here in this blog, only egalitarians are welcome. I’m long past the point of trying to defend this understanding, why there is a difference that makes a difference.

        • I sense that feminine sensibilities prefer keeping the peace even under conditions of authoritarianism, theres a reason we use the term “slipping” into authoritarianism…. We cant sit back when psychos are trying to take over the asylum.

          This is a common misperception and misconception. Of course, there is nothing remotely wrong with “feminine sensibilities.” In fact, we’re hearing a great deal about “the rise of the feminine” today for the simple reason that the feminine (or Yin) has so long been repressed, especially in the West, and is sorely needed in our times.

          The interested might find Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee’s <a href="“>treatise on the subject of interest, much of this particular article excerpted from his book, The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul.

    • You still haven’t defined “violence.” If I don’t understand, then please explain. I’ve been the victim of the violence of inequality and poverty, the victim of the violence of being mugged. I get that many others have experienced more and far worse violence, but part of my point is those victims are disproportionately found among left-wingers and minority groups aligned with left-wing movements, just as the victimizers and those who benefit from victimization of others are disproportionately found on the political right. Another point is that the whole social order is built on and maintained by violence, and so it’s unsurprising that people respond to it with dysfunctional behaviors, sometimes violent. So, yes, violence sucks. I get it. The problem is only by correctly identifying it’s central causes can we hope to lessen it and remedy it.

      You claim that left-wingers, in their own way, are as or nearly as violent as right-wingers, a statement that seems absolutely absurd to my mind. Yet you offered no justification to this claim, not even when I pointed out diverse sources of data and expert assessments prove that American right-wingers commit more terrorism, more killings, more property damage, and more hate crimes. Not only do they commit more but vastly more. This is partly because, in Western ideology, right-wing authoritarianism more easily resonates with a violent worldview than does left-wing egalitarianism. And indeed, for centuries, egalitarianism has been the most strongly defining feature of the political left, at least in Western society. Even when expressed imperfectly, I advocate defending leftist egalitarianism in the struggle against right-wing authoritarianism (or otherwise socially conservative and anti-egalitarian authoritariianism, including Stalinism, Maoism, etc). Any inegalitarian response is always a worse option as it is always inherently violent, no matter how authoritarians promise the ‘peace’ of violent law and order and no matter how the victims of violence are condemned, the movements of victims attacked and deligitimized, and egalitarianism itself rationalized away.

      I’m not arguing, of course, that there has been no left-wing violence that is morally wrong, that should be censured and criminally prosecuted. Nor am I attempting to deny that left-wing ideology can be problematic in many ways, as even the best impulses in human nature are distorted in an authoritarian and reactionary society. Nor have I asserted that left and right labels (based on Western history, ideology, and languages) apply to non-Western societies when imposed upon and conflated with prior divisions and conflicts of ethnicity, religion, colonialism, civil war, etc. I too am opposed to violence. But there is a stark contrast between a right-wing protest where right-wingers start violence and a left-wing protest where right-wingers and police start violence (or rather a lack of a difference in the primary origin and cause of violence). Right-wingers have a long history in the US and the West for being backed by or otherwise acting on behalf of authoritarian socioal, economic, and political systems.

      Related to all of this, no rational and moral person would blame indigenous people all over the world for having violently fought back against colonizers, Jewish freedom fighters for having violently fought back against the Nazis, Iraqis for having violently fought back against US invaders, etc. Or take a more complicated issue like Israel. Many people can find the violence problematic on all sides. But, once again, no rational and moral person could fail to discern the difference between the Israeli government, built on settler colonialism and an Apartheid caste system, committing mass atrocities and oppression with one of the most powerful, well-funded militaries in the world and the unfortunate response by some militant Palestinians violently fighting back for the basic right to exist. But let’s be honest and fair here, neither you or I understand the complicated sociocultural divisions of Lebanese culture, certainly not well enough to understand to what degree left-right framing applies or not.

      • All I can say is: check out the definition of violence as understood by Thich Nhat Hanh, et alia, and perhaps you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

        We’re so overly focused on the “physical” in the West that we appear nearly to have forgotten that there are many other forms of violence and abuse — mental, emotional, verbal, etc. — all of which I’ve mentioned while you’ve concentrated solely on statistics regarding physical acts of violence. It’s the roots of violence and war we have to get to in order to transform them and few are more qualified than Hanh to point them out to us.

        Very few appreciate the idea, especially those who identify with the so-called “left,” but these kinds of acts require recognition and transformation in us as much as any physical act of violence, potential or otherwise, if we’re to come together, face and properly address the crises we’ve created for ourselves as a species. On the “left,” its inevitably coming from a palpable sense of moral and intellectual superiority, the rotten fruits of which McConaughey​ identifies as condescension, patronization and arrogance — things we’re all more than capable of as a species and — if “the left” expects to get anywhere with anyone — it has to stop.

        I honestly want nothing more to do with anyone who cannot recognize the fact that there even is a “far left.” Distantiation from the “vital centre” is hardly a one-sided phenomenon. I would hope (though that hope is always disappointed) that even those who consider our shared reality “fourfold” in nature would recognize there are, at the very least, four “sides” in danger of becoming so distantiated and so they have been to an alarming degree.

      • If interested, The Dew Drop posted one of the more excellent explications I’ve ever read of Hanh and others’ understanding of the true roots of violence.

        I’ll never forget Hanh’s impression of the demonstrations he encountered during the Vietnam War upon arriving in the States, he understood those roots so well. He said of them, “the pro-war people and the anti-war people, they were having a war.” And, indeed, they were and are.

        Speaking of the long experience of black women in dealing with violence of all kinds, I am reminded of an article posted elsewhere, which I have unfortunately not been able to relocate, about a wonderful woman who confronted a white supremacist and snapped him out of it merely by saying, “This is not who you are.” Of course it wasn’t who he was. It was merely an identity he had forged for himself. Underneath that identity was the spark of the divine present in each and every one of us. It’s that spark — his true identity — to which she drew his attention and he was made whole via that encounter in the biblical sense of the word. He is now working to draw others away from the movement himself, as are these guys. For some reason, I’m quite certain they are enjoying far more success in the endeavor than those who dehumanize and condemn the misled straight away, but this is also where people like Jordan Peterson miss the mark. I believe he and others honestly wanted to help such folks, but wound up fighting for them and their dignity as human beings instead. Perhaps because their own dignity as human beings inevitably comes under attack? (Really not sure what to make of that unless the sense of their own dignity as human beings is so weak that it’s all too easily crushed by mere words.)

        Anyway, the point is that the rise of Authoritarianism has far deeper roots than we’re accustomed to confronting in ourselves and perhaps especially in our selves, but confront them we must while simultaneously watering those seeds of love and peace also blossoming everywhere, else history will continue to repeat itself at our own expense and behest. A great many disagree with the idea, and that’s okay, but utilizing “the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house” never has worked and is never going to work. As long as we’re defying authoritarianism, it would seem preferable to have as many among the public doing so as possible, each according to their gifts, and that can only happen if we’ve defied it within ourselves first.

        • All I can say is I won’t tolerate anti-intellectualism. If you don’t have the intellectual humility and honesty to admit your initial comments were factually wrong, you are banned from this blog. I will give you one day to demonstrate moral integrity by publicly admitting that you were wrong. If I don’t see it, you will never be allowed to comment here again.

        • My view is summarized well by another commenter:

          “Mostly I find the debate such as it is a mile wide and an inch deep.

          “I find even the most reasonable of leftists generally to be limited if not crippled by a lack of wide reading and knowledge.

          “But the fact remains. Heather Hyer wasn’t killed by a leftist and there were not “fine people on both sides.” “

        • This is what I find intolerable. Your privileged dismissal of the victims is complicity in violence and the systems that support it. A self-righteous pretense of standing above it all does not give you a moral free pass. The problem, in repeating reactionary rhetoric, you are using the master’s tools.

          You are using a corporate frame of reactionary anti-leftist rhetoric to dismiss and scapegoat the main victims of state violence and right-wing violence. And then you hide behind religious moralizing as if the privileged safety of your default complicity would keep the blood off your hands.

          Portraying the innocent and the oppressed as violent is an old ploy from the authoritarian playbook. How can any even slightly informed person not be aware of that at this point? That is unacceptable.

        • Let me go through your initial comments to make clear the problem I was responding to. In the first, you brougt up a concrete example: “I once worked with a group of Armenians from Lebanon. The patriarch of the family was literally burned out of business three times during all the strife and chaos there.”

          To begin, all you mentioned was physical violence and limited it to property damage. No mention was made of abstract ‘violence’ of emotional, mental, spiritual, or verbal. You did not claim these Lebanese had their feelings hurt but that they experienced brutal attacks that directly harmed them and that this physical violence was entirely to be blamed on leftist ideology. I responded directly to what you wrote. If your concern was non-physical violence, you should’ve said so. My accusations against you apply to all forms of violence.

          Specifically about that original comment, I made two points. I showed that you knew nothing about Lebanon, as the violence there probably has little to do with Western labels imposed upon prior divides and longstanding conflicts of ethnicity, religion, colonialism, etc. So, the only evidence you offered in your first comment was weak at best and misguided at worst. The other point was that, returning to the intended focus of the United States, the data refutes your implied claim that left-wingers are simply differently violent, as if they commit more property damage.

          That isn’t to say actual leftists commit no violence. But the fact remains probably more violence has been committed by people using your style of anti-leftist rhetoric (e.g., false equivalency) than all leftist violence combined. You claim that leftists must accept moral accounting. I’m fine with that and so my comments have gone into the factual and historical details of violence. So, sure, this moral accounting applies to left-wingers, as it also applies to anti-leftists and those using anti-leftist rhetoric. Yet, you’ve shown no evidence of accepting your moral responsibility.

          In your second comment, you failed to respond to any of my dismantling of your claims and any of my accusations of your personal moral failure. You stated that, “I will not fail to condemn violence of any kind whether physical, emotional, mental, spiritual or verbal.” But that is the very problem. You did fail and your failure is part of a societal failure. Anyway, you keep talking in vague generaltities. What emotional, mental, spiritual, and verbal violence has been committed? And how is it worse than the physical violence of being impoverished, profiled, attacked, imprisoned, killed, etc that you are downplaying by falsely equating all violence as esoterically the same?

          You go on to argue that, “The “left” is doing itself no favors in condoning or downplaying the extremist violence stemming from its own “side” whether or not it is as egregious as that stemming from the “right” and — emotionally, mentally, spiritually and verbally — it most certainly is.” There you go again making generalizations based on no evidence, simply repeating the right-wing retoric and narratives. What extremist violence? And who is downplaying it? You refuse to be specific. You gave no exact example with proof of who committed the violence and quotes of who was rationalizing it away. Otherwise, your view is dangerously ignorant.

          “The longer it fails to examine and rectify its own complicity in the present state of affairs,” you state in offering your moral condemnation, “the higher the chance of a complete collapse.” That is precisely what you have failed to do. Your guilt hangs over you, as long as you refuse to acknowledge the systemic violence you are part of and responsible for, as long as you don’t do soul-searching to recognize how your privilege is paid for in blood and other violence, including the non-physical violence you claim is so important. While pointing to the speck in the eye of others, you ignore the log in your on eye.

          There are many other kinds of violence, including slow violence: poverty, inequality, class war, prejudice, lack of healthcare, malnutrition, environmental toxins, pollution, silence, rationalization, privilege, complicity, etc. In your privilege, you are complicit in and benefit from all these forms of violence that primarily target and harm others. You don’t have to experience that violence or see it. Much of it is as if invisible, in some ways quite literally but in other ways simply not spoken of among the respectable.

          So, privileged people like you can pretend it doesn’t exist and pretend that the collective guilt of our society doesn’t include you. And you can act like your hands are free from blood because others commit the violence on your behalf in defense of your privilege. You can hold to your high-minded spiritual thoughts from the safety of your class and racial position, and then condemn the victims of violence below you. As obliviousness and beligerance is the greatest of privileges, you can ignore the harsh reality of systemic violence as if you aren’t right smack dab in the middle of it.

          In response to your third comment of posting a video discussion, I took you to task over your privilege and you never attempted to refute the irrefutable moral failure of your position. I made some comments that bear repeating and I will end with it:

          We live in a violent society. Our own government violently oppresses and kills millions of people every year, all over the world and in the US. As victims of that state terrorism and the police state, that is what minorities and left-wingers are forced to deal with. Even MLK carried a gun for self-defense and was prepared to use it. And the Civil Rights movement only succeeded because of generations of violent revolt and self-defense. In the prior decades, when racist whites came to destroy their communities and kill them, blacks organized in arming themselves and fightng back.

          Violence is less than optimal, but it’s hard to know how to act in response to violence. When you are a peaceful protester, what are you supposed to do when right-wingers and the police are inciting violence? Sure, you try to resist, but what do you specifically do when your civil rights are infringed as they was repeatedly and systematically done in te past, when the police violently attack you and seek to arrest you simply for practicing your civil rights? Or when the bombs dropped on innocent Iraqis, should they have peacefully accepted their fate and submitted to the state terrorism without a fight?

          It’s easy, in a position of white and class privilege, to be morally haughty toward the victims who are forced to deal with oppression. Maybe they don’t always respond well, but it can feel like an impossible situation. Even for completely peaceful protesters, when outsiders incite violence, it’s the peaceful protesters who will be blamed. As a peaceful protester, how does one respond to riots caused by others who may have nothing to do with the protesters and their cause? Then what does one do when the media and politicians once again spin it against left-wingers? The only positive is that the American public is slowly beginning to see through the bullshit in coming around in support of the BLM message and cause.

          Being against violence is easier said than done when in the middle of violence, when the victim of violence, again and again and again. As a person of privilege safe from such violence, what brilliant advice do you have for them? Don’t you get why so many people feel frustrated? People are doing the best that they know how to under extremely difficult conditions, not only a violent society and a violent government with a surveillance state, militarized policing, and mass incarceration but, in some ways worse, constant racism and bigotry, class war and poverty, desperation and struggle. Yet the comfortably privileged condemn the victims and continue on voting back into power the neocon DNC elite.

          How does the violence, oppression, and injustice end? By simply having positive thoughts? Really? What have you done lately to stop the state violence and right-wing violence that has terrorized so many innocent victims for generations and centuries? Who put you in the privileged position of moral arbiter and judge over the lives of the less fortunate? I’m doing my best to communicate my frustration. I hope it’s being heard. I’m not here to blame you, but I want you to back off from blaming those who are being scapegoated.

          We are all in this together. The shit rains down on all of us, even on right-wingers. It doesn’t rain down on all of us equally, but it does make us all covered in shittiness and that brings out the worst in us. Instead of attacking each other, we should be defending one another against the forces seeking to do us harm. And, yes, that means resisting violence as best we can. But it also means maintaining a sense of respect and sympathy, compassion and understanding toward those who are in a worst position than we are, those who don’t have the privilege of a detached moral high ground. […]

          Still, first and foremost, my heart goes to those on the bottom of society. We, including the rich, are all oppressed by the general fucked-upness. The rich then oppress everyone below them, the middle class get to oppress the working class, working class whites get to oppress minorities, and even minorities get to oppress other minorities and immigrants. Almost everyone, accept those at the very bottom, can feel superior to someone else and judge them for their perceived failures.

          So, yes, there is that general oppression. But the actual reality of direct violence is far from equally distributed across the population. But there are other things that make it all worse. The poor and minorities are more likely to be victims of lead poisoning and greater heat from being trapped in treeless urban areas, among a thousand other factors of prejudice and oppressiveness. We know scientifically that all of this contributes to aggression and violence. In cities, when the heat rises, so do murders. Yet because of racism, city governments don’t even do something as simple as plant trees in black neighborhoods to reduce heat, much less clean up lead toxicity.

          Yes, the violence is bad. But we should stop acting ignorant about the larger context of what creates the conditions of violence. Our ignorance can not be taken as a sign of innocence. We are all complicit in our apathy and indifference, our willingness to judge others, particulary the victims, rather than hold ourselves accountable as a society for collective social problems and moral failures. If we think violence is bad, we shoud do something to change the conditions of violence to conditions of peace and public good.

          Rather than talk high and mighty, let’s do something about it. Until those changes happen, we should shut the fuck up with our moral condescension of those who struggle with challenges we among the privleged can’t begin to comprehend.

        • I get where you’re coming from and I’m not entirely opposed to it. Yet, having grown up in a new agey church, I’m critical of certain tendencies within such a ‘spiritual’ worldview, that places the abstract ideal over concrete experience. New age fundamentalists are problematic in some similar ways as religious right fundamentalists*. In response, I’ve come to care more about saving people’s lives and protecting people from what harms their lives in the real world, and with less concern about saving souls or the new age equivalent. I’m actually quite sensitive about non-physical harms as well, but I put things in a broader and deeper context.

          Think of it as a Maslow’s hierarchy of violence. Let’s first deal with the basics and, after building a strong foundation of health and justice, we’ll move up from there. The majority of Americans are still so overwhelmed by physical harms of victimization and trauma, often overt violence but sometimes slow violence, the latter in many ways far worse (e.g., slow poisoning from lead toxicity and air pollution). So, let’s keep things real, keep things in context. We can worry about spiritual, emotional, etc violence after most people are no longer some combination of impoverished, in debt, overworked, homeless, segregated, going hungry, malnourished, over-policed, imprisoned, lacking healthcare, etc — all the various things people struggle with just to get by and survive another day.

          Sure, when people (along with their family, friends, and neighbors) are being hurt, oppressed, and sometimes outright killed while daily experiencing prejudice, profiling, micro-aggressions, etc, they can sometimes have thoughts and make statements that are less than optimal, sometimes downright harsh and mean, maybe even hurt someone’s feelings. That is sad and unfortunate, but it’s not an issue of condoning it or condemning it. People carry around all kinds of trauma, specifically in this kind of society of inequality and injustice, but I’ll take that non-physical negativity any day over actual physical violence.

          It is a struggle for people to process it all and I’m willing to be forgiving to the powerless and oppressed, those who have disproportionately been the targets of the violence that people like you and I benefit from in our relative privilege. If one is unwilling open one’s home to the mass of homeless, if one is unwilling to give away all of one’s wealth to the poor as Jesus preached, if one is unwilling to stand between the police and the victims of poliice brutality, if one is unwilling to dedicate one’s entire life to ending the real world violence so many experience, then the least one can do is be humble in not judging others in ignorance of their struggles. That is the very least one can do as a moral being.

          *Let me give an example or rather two examples of the exact same thing. One time I passed by an anti-choice protester. I told him that the data shows that abortion bans on average increase the abortion rate, that only liberal policies have proven to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place which is the only way proven to reduce the abortion rate. If one is truly against “killing babies,” then the last thing in the world one would be is anti-choice. This protester, surprisingly, gave me an honest answer in saying he cared more about the spiritual violence of immorality (i.e., souls burning in hell for eternity) than for actual lives and, in terms of fetuses, potential lives. Years later, I made this same argument to another anti-choicer and received the exact same answer, indicating this maybe is a much more common position than acknowledged according to rhetoric.

          When you talk of non-physical violence while dismissing physical violence with false equivalency, that is the kind of person you remind me of. We’ve known each other for a while now, maybe even multiple years at this point. In all that time, I’ve never once seen you make an evidence-based argument, beyond an occasional anecdote thrown out. Be honest. No matter how much hard facts, new perspectives, probing insights, and challenging perspectives anyone else offered, nothing could ever shake your dogmatic faith. I get the whole issue of moral ideology ultimately being non-rational and pre-rational, an argument I’ve made recently, but when challenged with intellectual arguments I am able and willing to counter with intellectual arguments. You show no sign of this capacity or desire. In fact, you once attacked an argument of mine for being intellectual. You actually thought intellectuality was a bad thing.

          As a working class intellectual who is self-taught, I’m not so dismissive of higher learning and its value, even as my core values extend far beyond that level. This is where we severely part ways. I retain my deep sense of spirituality of my upbringing. But, unlike you, I don’t see it as opposed to the intellect. This is why, even as my core values remain solid (after all, I am a Myers-Briggrs INFP), I regularly shift and broaden my views with new info. I was actually raised more to be a conservative, since my parents are conservatives and I spent so much time in the Deep South, and so it’s been a process of coming to this point of radical and revolutionary leftism. By personality, I’m more of a moderate. Only decades of study, having my ignorance and prejudice challenged, finally brought me to the point of where I am now. I hope that one day something will be able to shake loose your dogmatism, as there is nothing compassionate about it, in placing your abstract ideals above the lived experience of actual people.

        • Here is a good way of showing your moral failure. In your moral accounting, there is a moral equivalence to all violence, support of violence, and sympathy toward violence, or anything that is adjacent to or nearby violence, no matter who started it. Even entirely innocent peaceful protesters at peaceful protests who are the victims of violence are to be considered guilty and beyond defense when the police, saboteurs, and counter-protesters act violently, commit property damage, and incite riots.

          Similarly, according to your moral logic, the freedom fighters opposing Nazis and those supporting or sympathizing with those freedom fighters are just as violent and morally wrong, if in a different way, than the Nazis themselves. Even to historically defend or merely offer understanding to a pacifist Christan like Dietrich Bonhoeffer is violent because he chose to help try to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the hope of saving the lives of millions. Merely to entertain the thought that the freedom fighters might’ve been justifed is itself “spiritual violence”.

          As with Bonhoeffer, it would be likewise violent, physically or spiritually, to agree with pacifist Mahatma Gandhi who argued that moral cowardice was worse than violence itself. Gandhi argued that, if given a choice between allowing injustice by avoiding conflict for fear of death/harm and killing an enemy of justice, one should always choose violence over cowardice. Morality came first and pacifism second because there is nothing non-violent about allowing violence, oppression, and injustice to continue unchallenged.

          None of that matters in your mind. All of it is bad and no moral discernment is possible or desirable in making meaningful distinctions. Context and conditions are irrelevant. Not even self-defense justifies harming others. One should always accept martyrdom for oneself and for others, no matter how many lives could be saved or how much suffering alleviated. All violence is the same. The Native Americans should not have fought back aganst invaders and colonizers but should’ve laid down their weapons to die peacefully to ensure their own moral purity.

          It’s funny, though, that I’m not hearing about you sacrificing your own life on the altar of moral purity. It’s only other people’s lives that you believe should be sacrificed. Interesting! Privileged people like you who have spent their entire lives benefitting from violence are considered morally pure and spiritually above it all by default even as they continue to defend and rationalize or otherwise remain silent about the very systems of violence they participate in and are inseparable from.

  2. “Can the hungry go on a hunger strike? Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience?

    “People have the right to resist annihilation”

    ― Arundhati Roy

    • Interestingly, this statement by Roy might’ve been directed at Gandhi. He was the most famous pacifist who used hunger strikes as part of non-violent political actions.

      Yet, if he were still alive, I suspect Gandhi would agree with Roy’s moral stance of self-defense against oppression, injustice, and disenfranchisement. MLK probably would’ve chimed in with support as well. Pacifism, for these social leaders and political actors, never meant passivity toward suffering and violence.

      So, how did that original radical vision get neutered and the real strong leaders behind get whitewashed? Why is our shared memory so short?

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