At a rally in Montana last Thursday, President Trump unveiled a new campaign slogan. “Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs,” Trump said, or as the internet has abbreviated it: “Jobs not mobs.” It’s a good slogan, catchy and simple. However, like most else Trump does, its almost completely based on falsehoods and hypocrisy.
Republicans are trying to frighten voters by taking recent statements by Democrats and actions by activists and twisting them into something scary. For example, former Attorney General Eric Holder recently modified Michelle Obama’s famous quote, saying “When they go low we kick them.” After Republicans claimed he was inciting violence, Holder responded by saying that he was obviously not advocating violence, but that “Democrats need to be tough, proud and stand up for the values we believe in” when responding to Republican efforts to undermine our democracy. Nevertheless quotes like this, and several occurrences where activists have hounded administration officials at restaurants and other locations, have given rise to the narrative that the left is a violent mob.
Of course, it’s always difficult to keep track of whether liberals are snowflakes or an angry mob; it seems to change almost weekly. Regardless, when compared to what right-wing organizations are doing, the protests from liberals look tame. The worst left-wingers have done is along the lines of running DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson out of a restaurant because they were triggered about the government separating children from parents at the border and then losing a number of those children. Gosh, they’re so easily offended. On the other hand, the worst I can remember a bunch of right-wingers doing in the last year is killing Heather Heyer and beating DeAndre Harris at the Unite the Right rally in 2017.
In general acts of violence are much more likely to come from the right. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism “right-wingers and white supremacists were responsible for 74 percent of the murders committed by political extremists in the United States over the past decade. Only 2 percent were committed by left-wing radicals.” There are a number of militant groups of right-wing thugs who go to liberal centers with the express purpose of provoking violence so they can spin their own narrative. For example, groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer recently clashed with protesters in Portland. David Neiwert, a correspondent from the Southern Poverty Law Center who covered some of these events, has claimed it is clear “they are all brimming with eagerness to beat the shit out of liberals.”
32) Only one side talks about it. Only one side buys caches of guns to prepare for it. Only one side is sending clusters of activists into politically opposing communities with the intent of stirring up violence. Only one side makes up memes celebrating the murder of the other.— David Neiwert (@DavidNeiwert) October 7, 2018
Furthermore, imagery they use references Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who murdered political opponents with right-wing death mobs.
There is no equivalent left-wing group like this. No liberals are spouting comparable rhetoric or engaging in similar actions. As Neiwert puts it, “Only one side buys caches of guns to prepare for [civil war]. Only one side is sending clusters of activists into politically opposing communities with the intent of stirring up violence. Only one side makes up memes celebrating the murder of the other.”
And that is incredibly scary. Remember that when conservatives drum up fear of the left they might intend it to be just normal political posturing, but they also provide cover for and justify the actions of militant right-wing groups. And if mainstream Republicans try and distance themselves from these organizations, never forget that many have strong links to the establishment right.
Getting away from how crazy some of these groups are, let’s not forget what liberal mobs actually look like in the country. It was a mob under duress from right-wing groups that marched for civil rights in Selma. It was a defiant mob of teenagers from Parkland who raised their voices in unison against a culture of gun violence. And it was a mob of disenfranchised patriots that threw the King’s tea into a harbor in Boston. All were brave progressives who dared to hope the future was bright and knew only their efforts could bring it about. They were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who sought no fame but knew it was their duty to speak up and take action.
Liberals marching in streets bend history towards justice. All right-wing groups can do is spread fear.
Jacob Kowalski is opinion editor for The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.