What’s worse, violence on the left or the right? It’s a dangerous question

Getty Images

Sounding awfully equivocal, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Mich.) claimed at a Tuesday hearing to “join my Republican colleagues, unequivocally, in condemning left-wing violence.” “But,” he hastened to add — and you just knew there was one of those totally unequivocal “buts” coming, right? — “let’s stop pretending that the threat of antifa is equivalent to the white supremacist threat.”

Well, of course it’s not. Antifa, the Orwellian name of a Marxist insurrectionary movement, is a terrorist threat that Democrats insist must not be seen for what it is, nor notice taken of the political ramifications — certainly, you are not to notice that antifa colludes with such left-wing darlings as Black Lives Matter in attacks on police officers and government installations. White supremacism, by contrast, is a terrorist threat that Democrats are hell-bent on hanging like a leper’s bell around the necks of their Republican opposition.

Thus did Durbin indulge the same comparison spouted in the same committee last week by Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s attorney general nominee: Months of rampant violence by the radical left, exemplified by the siege on a federal courthouse in Portland, is mere criminal vandalism, whereas a few hours of violence by the radical right, carried out at the Capitol on Jan. 6, is domestic terrorism.

It is a ridiculous analysis.

To rank ideologically motivated violence, under the present circumstances, is to divide the country politically, flouting a principle that ought to be unifying us. In truth, all the violence we are seeing is equally condemnable, regardless of which side is responsible and for which supposedly noble causes they claim to be fighting. Anyone who honestly tried to rank the divergently motivated threats based on their comparative gravity would quickly abandon the effort as counterproductive.

The Capitol riot on Jan. 6 was of relatively short duration. It was, nevertheless, a violent attack on the seat of our government. It was timed with the goal of frustrating a solemn constitutional duty of the federal government to tabulate the states’ electoral votes in order to formally recognize the winner of the presidential election. The siege included assaults on Capitol Police; and though the claim that one officer was brutally killed by rioters is dubious (and has been walked back since first made), four other people also died — all apparently from among the pro-Trump protesters, one killed by security forces, the other three perishing, it appears, from medical conditions exacerbated by the mayhem.

Aspects of the left-wing violence are both more and less serious than the Capitol riot — making any comparison meaningless. The left’s siege against the cities has gone on for eight months. There are spikes and lulls, but it has never completely stopped. Many police have been killed and injured, as have innocent bystanders and rioters. Government buildings have been attacked, as have businesses — many of them destroyed, along with the financial well-being of the innocent people who built them. What’s occurring is not mere vandalism; its leading forces justly regard themselves as revolutionaries against our society and constitutional system.

Sen. Durbin and Judge Garland minimize the siege of the Portland courthouse, as if all that happened were a few hours of graffiti spraying, as opposed to weeks of firebombs and other forcible attacks. And while nothing quite as significant as the constitutionally-mandated Jan. 6 joint session of Congress was occurring inside the complex, it insults our intelligence to suggest that the violence has not interfered with important government business, or that government officials and other people were not gravely imperiled just as they were in the Capitol riot.

And it’s not like Portland is the only place where the radical left is raging. It is a cross-country phenomenon. In Seattle, for example, antifa and its confederates presumed to seize territory and operate an autonomous zone — a provocation that has been imitated in other cities. Swaths of Minneapolis now resemble a third-world war zone. And speaking of Minneapolis, security forces are bracing for still more violence when the trial of former cop Derek Chauvin, accused of murdering George Floyd, gets under way this month — and don’t for a moment think the rioting will be confined to the Twin Cities, especially if a jury reaches the “wrong” verdict.

Democrats spent years soft-pedaling jihadist terror, slandering Americans concerned about it as “Islamophobes.” There was nothing mysterious about this. Islamist organizations that are leading apologists for jihadists (with whom they share sharia supremacist ideology, if not methodology) align with progressive Democrats — many of whom sympathize with their critique of America as a systemically racist, deeply corrupt society. Democrats today turn a blind eye to the radical left’s belligerents for the same reasons. Indeed some, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, signify support by helping bail out arrested sociopaths, who naturally proceed to engage in more mayhem.

In fact, Democrats are now engaging in the very kind of smear they accused the “Islamophobes” of promoting. They are seizing on the Jan. 6 riot not because they condemn politically motivated violence but because they perceive political opportunity. They are relentlessly projecting a hallucination of America mortally threatened by white supremacism, with the transparent purpose of tainting not only all supporters of Donald Trump but Republicans and conservatives who actually have condemned the Capitol siege without equivocation.

The country should be uniting against political violence. It should be that rare thing these days that Americans of good will can agree about, regardless of their partisan affiliations, their political views, or the twisted ideologies of the terrorists. Democrats, instead, are choosing to further divide the country through a libelous narrative. Whatever political advantage they see in this will be fleeting. The damage they are doing will endure.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at National Review Institute, a contributing editor at National Review, and a Fox News contributor. His latest book is “Ball of Collusion.” Follow him on Twitter @AndrewCMcCarthy.

Tags antifa Capitol Riots Dick Durbin Donald Trump Electoral violence Joe Biden Kamala Harris Merrick Garland Radical Left urban unrest

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video