Violence Is Right-Handed

Congresscretin Marjorie Taylor-Greene sending a message that the GOP is a party of peace.

I listen to a fair amount of podcasts. I listen while doing housework, yardwork, exercise, driving, etc. Much of what I subscribe to is either politics or comedy. I often get on mini-binges where politics gets to be too much so I listen to funny things, and then sometimes I get in the mood to be hyperinformed, which podcasts do a nice job with (depending on what you listen to, of course).

So, recently I delved into two historical podcasts. One, titled Mother Country Radicals, is about the somewhat distant past, the turbulent era from the late-1960s to mid-1970s; and one, Will Be Wild, is about the very near past, an earlier part of the turbulent era we are currently experiencing.

Mother Country RadicalsĀ is the story of the radical leftist group The Weather Underground as told through the eyes of the son, Zayd Dohrn, of two of its founders, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. The Weather Underground declared war on the United States government, carrying out terror attacks such as bombings at the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, fighting police, carrying out robberies, and other acts of political violence. At one time, Bernardine was once considered the most dangerous woman in the world, and if the name “Bill Ayers” sounds familiar, he was the guy whose name was hung on Obama during the 2008 election, based on some fairly casual connections between the two.

The podcast is compelling, as it combines the host’s own memories of his parents supplemented by interviews with them with historical accounts and recordings. It’s one of those “I was there” kind of podcasts that is a classic example of why some people love the medium so much: good stories.

It is also a reminder that during the Vietnam era, almost all of the political violence was committed by the left (there are notable exceptions, such as the Hard Hat Riot). Hearing again about what the Weather Underground was saying, and doing, is sobering when you consider what we are hearing from the right today.

A good thing to remember is that unlike the current moment, there was no cheering for this violence from high-ranking members of the Democratic Party. Which is a good transition to the other podcast I’ve been listening to, Will Be Wild.

Will Be Wild is hosted by journalists Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, and is a look at the January 6 Insurrection and what may be next. This includes interviews with participants from the Trumpers who were part of the attack, Capitol police officers, experts on democracy, and so on.

The storytelling pulls no punches about how dangerous all of this is, and how none of these issues are going to go away when Trump is no longer on the scene. We have a lot of rebuilding to do.

It is also makes it quite clear that the idea that “both sides are just as bad” is a completely ridiculous stance to hold in 2022. There is no left equivalent to the Weather Underground right now. Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Sunrise, etc. are not anything like the Weather Underground. We do not have widespread attacks by leftists, and if you think “Antifa and BLM are violent organizations just look at what went on the summer of 2020” all I can say is my friend, stop being suckered by right-wing media.

In some ways, this lack of political violence from the left is a little surprising. Given the existential threat that climate change poses and the generally slow response to it by the people in power, it would not be a total shock if a violent climate group rose up. Think the eco-terrorists who carried out violent acts in the Pacific Northwest against loggers. But this has been very limited.

Meanwhile, a current constant subject of discussion in The Discourse is about the threat of right-wing violence increasing due to the Trump raid. This is after a recent parade of right-wing violence, and at this point, dear reader, if you get the urge to bring up the wacko Dem who shot up the GOP Congressional baseball practice as “proof” that Both Sides Are Violent, I have plenty of right-wing examples to bury that with.

Some of this discussion about rising violence from the right seems to imply that this is a real reason why we should not indict Trump. So much for all the praise of the “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” stance I’d hear coming from these very same people 20 years ago. For what is letting a powerful criminal get away with his crimes due to a fear of violence by his supporters but a form of terrorism?

I think this current form of right-wing violence is scarier for the country than the leftist violence of 50 years ago. For starters, violence is more natural for the current American right. Guns have become an all-powerful totem, and violent imagery and rhetoric are commonplace. These are part of the atmosphere that they breathe, something that never was so widespread among the left in say 1970. There is no “peace and love is best” wing of the current conservative movement.

Second, the Weather Underground and other radical groups were never a part of the Democratic Party in any significant way. Certainly, there was never a Democratic president in recent history who openly encouraged violence. The Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, for example, was part of the January 6 insurrection and often uses violent rhetoric. You do not have to worry near as much that an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supporter will commit a violent act near as much as you do a Lauren Boebert supporter. Perhaps because progressive campaign ads do not have implied political violence as their message.

There is a wildness in the nation right now, and it is not coming from the left. We need to be honest about that, in order to stop it.

The last word goes to some vintage left-wing revolutionaries, the MC5:

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