In an opinion column last week, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) appeared to suggest that ideologically motivated violence among conservatives and the left are problems of comparable proportions. Since being shot and almost killed, “I have become more vocal in calling out violence and threats against people in both parties,” he wrote.
Are conservatives and leftists responsible to comparable degrees for the ideologically motivated violent crimes, threatening antics, and malevolent rhetoric that have taken place recently? And is each group about as likely as the other to be responsible for those things in the future? Perhaps not, judging by the past.
A leftist tried to kill Scalise last year. Another leftist killed five police officers in Dallas in 2016. Another leftist tried to stab a Republican congressional candidate last week.
Leftists attacked police officers and bystanders with rocks, bottles, and other weapons, destroyed storefronts, and damaged vehicles in Washington DC, on Inauguration Day 2017. Several days later, at a leftist rally in DC, a famous pop singer talked about “blowing up the White House.”
Since President Trump took office, members of the leftist group Antifa have attacked or threatened people expressing different political views. A well-known woman, ostensibly a comedienne, posed for photos while holding a prop made to look like the severed head of the president.
Two weeks ago, a leftist host of a popular daytime TV chatter-fest said “God forbid” that President Trump should live another 20 years. Last week, Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters said someone should “knock off” the president and then “go after the second one,” meaning Vice President Mike Pence.
This week, California’s Democrat governor, Jerry Brown, angry that President Trump doesn’t buy into the left’s “global warming” ideas, said “something’s gotta happen to this guy, because if we don’t get rid of him, he’s gonna undermine America and the world.”
Scalise wrote that achieving “a higher level of civility in our political debate . . . starts with us.” It was unclear whether, by “us,” he meant the American people on the whole, or only the leaders of the two major political parties. Regardless, the path to civility should instead start with those who are responsible for ideologically motivated crimes and other misbehaviors, those who encourage them, and those who apologize for them or look the other way when they happen.
Scalise also appeared to suggest that leftist murderers and would-be murderers are insane and only leftist by coincidence. He referred to the Bernie Sanders supporter who shot him as “crazed,” as if the perpetrator believed Republicans in softball team uniforms were reptilian shape-shifters from a distant galaxy.
To the contrary, violence to exterminate political opponents has been in leftists’ DNA since at least the French Reign of Terror. Scalise’s assailant wasn’t just some nut, he was a bellwether, an exemplar of one of the world’s two most violent ideologies, the other being what gets redundantly referred to as “radical” Islam.
Scalise also suggested that only “Third World dictators attack and punish their political enemies.” However, while it is true that in the second half of the 20th century a Third World dictator did so in Cambodia, as did leftist revolutionary movements in several Third World Latin American and African countries, the left’s use of violence to eliminate its opponents has been and remains a worldwide scourge.
Indeed, Scalise’s brush with death at the hands of a leftist took place in the United States, where several decades ago the Weather Underground, a faction of the communist Students for a Democratic Society, bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, other government buildings, and banks. In “Terrorism 2002-2005,” the FBI reported that the most serious domestic terrorist threats in this country during the preceding 30-plus years had been “leftist-oriented extremist groups, that generally professed a revolutionary socialist doctrine.”
Leftists have murdered their political opponents in First World countries, notably France in the late 18th century and Germany during its National Socialist period, and in the Second World countries of Russia, China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba during the 20th century. The most common estimate of the number of people killed by leftist regimes is 100 million.
The president of South Africa, a member of the African National Congress, which in the 20th century allied with the South African Communist Party and today is affiliated with Socialist International, has advocated killing whites and taking their farm lands. Two weeks ago, in Brazil, a leftist attempted to assassinate conservative presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.
Like President Ronald Reagan, Scalise admirably recovered from a would-be assassin’s wound and resumed his duties in office. But there is a difference. President Reagan led the Free World in its triumph over the greatest leftist menace in history not by blurring or ignoring the vast differences between ourselves and the communists, but by emphasizing them. Scalise would do well to remember President Reagan’s example.
Mark Overstreet is a firearm instructor and author in central Texas. He retired in 2016 as the senior research coordinator of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, after 25 years with the organization. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the NRA.