Over the weekend, I came across a tweet from CNN. The tweet in question contains a video from Fareed Zakaria’s show.
Zakaria was criticized on Twitter, and rightfully so.
While Zakaria raised a few valid points, he ultimately discredited his own message.
Now, I will concede that people on the left can be fairly brutal, even to each other. Look at the last election. We are still at each other’s throats and many of us are still yelling each other down instead of listening to each other. And it’s especially biting because liberals can be pretty snarky. To feel that burn being turned on us …
Also, there have been a few episodes in the news lately where riots were caused to stop right-wingers from speaking. This includes the riots at Berkeley when Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter were scheduled to speak.
In January, there was an incident where white supremacist Richard Spencer was punched in the face.
Very recently, an Antifa (anti-fascist; the irony) protester was attacked by a Trump supporter who used the above incident as “justification.”
Yes, sometimes self-proclaimed liberals can be pretty darn intolerant of their opponents. Insults are bad enough but violence over an agreement is never justified. Even worse, violence can beget violence.
I condemned incidents like those and I will continue to do so. Violence leads to more violence and the other side will use that as an excuse to physically attack people they disagree with.
However, while Sakaria was pointing out the incidents started by opponents of right-wingers, he undermined his overall message for a few reasons.
1. The Timing Is Pretty Bad.
When Sakaria made his commentary, only a few days had passed since the Montana congressional special election to fill Ryan Zinke’s old House seat. Remember what happened the day before that election?
That’s right. The Republican candidate in that race, Greg Gianforte, attacked Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for The Guardian.
Gianforte said Jacobs was being aggressive and was asked to leave.
Audio of the scuffle was recorded. That immediately contradicted what the Republican said.
Also, witnesses, including members of a FOX News crew, gave a different account than Gianforte. According to Alicia Acuna, Jacobs was only doing what reporters usually do and he was asking a simple question about the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the AHCA.
Jacobs was not aggressive, but in a flash, Gianforte lost his temper. The politician grabbed the reporter with both hands and began punching him. Acuna and her crew were in shock.
2. Fareed Zakaria Only Brushed over the Violence done by Right-Wingers.
And while speaking about partisan violence, violent acts done by right-wingers tends to be far worse.
Don’t believe me? Let me list a few perpetrators:
The KKK. Since its inception, it has been a “conservative” terrorist group. It sprung up after Reconstruction and its primary purpose was to reinforce Jim Crow Laws wherever they were, including the South and states like Oklahoma, primarily by riots, fires, and lynching. And when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, many of them and other racists migrated from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.
Timothy McVeigh. He was one of the Oklahoma City bombers who became involved with right-wing militias after serving in the first Gulf War. Speaking of right-wing militias, law enforcement officers in the know see them as a bigger domestic threat than jihadists.
Cliven Bundy and his crew. These guys illegally occupied land and took over a government building in Oregon. They shot at cops but were inexplicably cleared of all charges in 2016.
Robert L. Dear. On November 29, 2015, Dear was involved in a hours-long standoff in which he killed three people, including a police officer, and 9 others at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. He was reclusive but people who talked to him said he would sometimes talk negatively about then-President Barack Obama. When Dear was arrested, he talked about “no more baby parts,” referring to a heavily edited video by two anti-abortionists.
3. His Speech Was Ultimately One-Sided.
Now, I’m not trying to write off violence by people on the left, but what was the point of Zakaria’s lecture? I ask this because it follows another lecture by Matt Smerconish, who told people on the left to stop being so rude. (That was also on CNN.)
Really? Do you know who currently resides in the White House?
Oh, that’s right. Zakaria said Trump looked “presidential” after ordering those strikes on a Syrian airfield.
Did Zakaria have nothing to say about “protesters” who threatened New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and others because of the plan to take down Civil War-Era monuments? Some time before, a group of people lead by the aforementioned Spencer came to town with flaming torches.
4. Reaction to Zakaria’s Rant Highlights the Hypocrisy on the Right, Too.
When Republicans attack, the same people who decry the wrongdoing by leftists cheer their guys on, try to excuse their guys’ behavior, or they remain silent.
Gianforte raised over $100,000 in the 24 hours after that incident. And there were conservatives, including voters and commentators, like Rush Limbaugh, trying to excuse such behavior. Some people said Jacobs was “asking for it” and, oh yeah, Gianforte still won election.
Btw: Consider Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-TN). This dude forced his wife and mistress to have abortions. He pulled a gun on his first wife and he prescribed pills to one of his patients while they were dating. He is still in office.
Also, Zakaria mentioned Ann Coulter, who has always been confrontational with her ideological opponents. She badmouthed 9/11 survivors who differed with her and she wrote How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must). What is that?
Additionally, people like Milo, who is gay, are only being used by the right. Many of them hated him because of his sexual preference but they used him because they wanted to pit an gay person against liberals, who are largely aligned with the LGBTQ community. His “allies” threw him under the bus the moment it seemed like he excused pedophilia.
And finally, while there are people on the left who don’t take criticism well, this past election has shown plenty of people on the right who are the same way.
Look at Trump himself. He cries like a child when the press asks him tough questions or challenges him on the stupid things he says and does. Some of his supporters can’t take people criticizing him and they act like their own crap doesn’t stink. They’re the “precious little snowflakes” they accuse liberals of being.
Why This Ticks Me Off
There’s more I need to say about Montana, because it represents a problem with a contingent of conservatives. Montana is a deep red state and most of the votes for Gianforte were already in due to absentee balloting (see how there’s no problem when conservatives have it?), but the reaction by some Republicans echoes the view some have that liberalism is a disease. Basically, they’re dehumanizing their opponents and once people dehumanize their opponents, violence is usually the next step.
This is part of the statement Gianforte’s campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon, wrote about the confrontation:
It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.
How does Scanlon know Jacobs is a liberal? Scanlon just stuck that in there to get right-wingers in the stat riled up and to justify Gianforte’s attack.
I remember one day in high school, I was talking about the two major political parties. I asked why someone preferred the Republicans, and she cut me off and immediately said the Democrats were stupid.
I wish I had told her that was an ironic statement. What she said was stupid, ignorant, and intolerant. She was basically in the process of dehumanizing her ideological opponents.
When I use labels like “liberal” and “conservative,” I see them as helpful descriptors to describe how people generally view the issues. But sometimes, people use these labels to excuse tribalism.
When people do that, they often dismiss dissenting opinion. Next, they start insulting people. Then they take away other people’s rights. And finally, they result to violence to reinforce their power.
That’s what Fareed Zakaria missed in his little rant and he should be ashamed.
Acuna, Alicia. “Greg Gianforte: Fox News team witnesses GOP House candidate ‘body slam’ reporter.” Fox News. 24 May 2017. Web. <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/24/greg-gianforte-fox-news-team-witnesses-gop-house-candidate-body-slam-reporter.html>.
Associated Press and Fieldstadt, Elisha. “Who Is Robert Dear? Planned Parenthood Shooting Suspect Seemed Strange, Not Dangerous, Neighbors Say.” NBC News. 30 Nov 2015. Web. <http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/who-robert-dear-planned-parenthood-shooting-suspect-seemed-strange-not-n470896>.
Baragona, Justin. “Smerconish Takes on Colbert and the Left: Only Beneficiary of ‘Liberal Intolerance’ is Trump.” Mediaite. 6 May 2017. Web. <http://www.mediaite.com/online/smerconish-takes-on-colbert-and-the-left-only-beneficiary-of-liberal-intolerance-is-trump/>.
Eichenwald, Kurt. “Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS.” Newsweek. 4 Feb 2016. Web. <http://www.newsweek.com/2016/02/12/right-wing-extremists-militants-bigger-threat-america-isis-jihadists-422743.html>.
Gonzales, Richard. “New Orleans Takes Down Statue Of Gen. Robert E. Lee.” NPR. 19 May 2017. Web. <http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/19/529130606/new-orleans-prepares-to-take-down-statue-of-gen-robert-e-lee>.
Lah, Kyung and Park, Madison. “Berkeley: ‘Masked agitators’ sparked violence before Milo Yiannopoulos talk.” CNN. 2 Feb 2017. Web. <http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/01/us/milo-yiannopoulos-berkeley/>.
Morefield, Scott. “CNN’s Zakaria DESTROYS the ‘tolerant Left,’ leaves them dumbfounded and defensive.” BizPacReview. 29 May 2017. Web. <http://www.bizpacreview.com/2017/05/29/cnns-zakaria-destroys-tolerant-left-leaves-dumbfounded-defensive-496324>.
Sarah Burris. “White nationalist Richard Spencer punched in the face camera while doing interview.” YouTube. 20 Jan 2017. Video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rh1dhur4aI
Sisk, Chas. “The Biggest Hypocrite in Congress?” Politico. 14 Aug 2014. Web. <http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/scott-desjarlais-reelection-110028>.