Some months ago, I wrote that the Left’s Trump Derangement Syndrome looked like it was cycling through the stages of grief, and might eventually arrive at acceptance. At the time of this writing, that outlook appears to be wrong. Rather, the Left’s anger has deformed into violence.
An ocean of ink has been spilled about the thuggish mob who attacked Conservative writer Charles Murray and Professor Alison Stanger at Middlebury two weekends ago. For all the same-old — albeit correct — diagnoses of leftist illiberalism on campus, however, the event is part of a bigger patter than has stretched far outside of the academy.
A Monday column by Allison Stanger — the professor who was attacked along with Murray — which appears to be the product of a severe case of political and ideological Stockholm Syndrome, only serves to further this point.
Referring to analyses pointing blame at liberal intolerance and the wrath of the snowflake brigade as “incomplete,” a leftist professor who was assaulted, hunted down, terrorized, and given a concussion by other leftists managed to find a way to blame the president for the incident.
Political life and discourse in the United States is at a boiling point, and nowhere is the reaction to that more heightened than on college campuses. Throughout an ugly campaign and into his presidency, President Trump has demonized Muslims as terrorists and dehumanized many groups of marginalized people. He declared the free press an enemy of the people, replaced deliberation with tweeting, and seems bent on dismantling the separation of powers and 230 years of progress this country has made toward a more perfect union. Much of the free speech he has inspired — or has refused to disavow — is ugly, and has already had ugly real-world consequences. College students have seen this, and have taken note: Speech can become action.
But Stanger is correct in one respect: The old diagnoses of campus intolerance and illiberalism are no longer sufficient. What happened at Middlebury has happened at other campuses, as Thomas Sowell points out. But even further, past this “ground zero” of illiberal political violence, what happened at Middlebury has also happened at Trump rallies, at the inauguration and in cities from Ferguson to Milwaukee to Charlotte, and on the eve and aftermath of Trump’s inauguration.
The acts of violence against Murray and Stanger weren’t just college kids getting out-of-hand, they were terrorism. Just like the summer’s riots, and just like the acts of violence — and chemical warfare against Trump supporters — that surrounded January’s inauguration festivities.
The problem is not that the president said mean things that hurt enough feelings to stoke this fire at present; Rather, Trump Derangement Syndrome has given the Left a growing violence problem, one to which we’re all becoming numb and normalized.
In his short time in office, President Trump has taken on the engines that confound the nature of a government by consent — a biased media, a removed judiciary, and an autocratic “deep state” climate in Washington — only to find the red brigades of the Left ready to prop up those engines by any means necessary. If it means breaking a few noses and setting a few fires, so be it.
Such are the hysterical reactions of self-assured progressives with a collective messiah complex, driven to madness when their prophesy goes unheeded by enough people to cost them an election, and who have turned to violence as a means of discourse. We have a word for that: terrorism.
David French writes at National Review that the mobs appear to be winning. Sadly, he appears to be correct. It should be heartening, he says, that some on the Left (naming Frank Bruni and Nicholas Kristoff at the New York Times in particular) are finally waking up to what conservatives have been railing about for years. Still, the victory is but a pyrrhic one, as the rabble is now getting away with its violence, facing little to no real consequences.
But for the few Brunis and Kristoffs that now wag their finger at Middlebury, there remain kinds of violence on campus are being extended to those that occur in our streets. Whether the focus of attack is a conservative speaker at Middlebury College or the public peace at any violent anti-Trump protest, the end is the same: political and social change through force, rather than discourse.
But there is the old platitude that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” This platitude doesn’t even rise to the level of justification that these teenybopper guerillas have found. After years of nonviolent illiberalism, the Left is beginning to hurl its collective fists with greater intensity, with consequences with the offenders becoming sparser and sparser. After all, when Trump Derangement Syndrome reaches these stages, violent “resistance” may not yet be encouraged, but it can certainly be excused.
But there is a place for violent resistance. To be an American and deny this is ignorant of one’s own history. After all, our Republic would not exist without the shots fired against the English crown at Lexington and Concord, without our Declaration of Independence from that crown, and without men more dedicated to principle than the system of government under which they found themselves.
So the question arises as to whether or not the Left’s hysteria justifies violent assault on the body politic of which they are members. Without delving into a full seminar on the philosophical tradition that informed our and other revolutions, let’s just assume that revolution — in our tradition — is justified only when nonviolent means of redress have proven futile.
These terrorists seem to have forgotten that they have a mid-term election coming up in 2018 which could derail the president’s agenda. For all of their mouth-frothing hysteria and guerrilla tactics, the rapid anti-Trumpers have yet to make peace with the fact that sometimes you lose and have to try a new tactic. After all, burning stuff and jumping on cars is much easier than self-evaluation
The behavior at Middlebury and elsewhere — while becoming more common — isn’t noble; It isn’t justified resistance. These acts of violence against our republic, its citizens, and its principles should be denounced and treated as what they are: terrorism.