In past blogs, I’ve addressed my concerns about the escalating violence following the election of Donald Trump to President of the United States. Since I have a sense of humor that works overtime, I’ve let out a couple of “zingers” in an attempt to make untenable opinions appear as ludicrous as they appear to me. But now, I’d like to be serious.
In all likelihood, if you are liberal in your politics or morality, you won’t read my blog. I hope I’m wrong. I myself glean news across the political spectrum. I listen to National Public Radio (NPR) and its conservative flip side. I read books by Glen Beck and Cornell West. I talk with Christian conservatives such as myself, secular liberals, libertarians, and people who are undecided, and I know people who voted for Mr. Trump; Secretary Clinton, and other lesser known candidates. I attempt to keep an open mind. I have voted for Republicans and Democrats. If you consider yourself liberal, I invite you to read what I’m now going to write. I’m writing to you.
Do you consider yourself tolerant? Do you consider yourself — if not free from unconscious racism and religious bigotry — at least broad-minded? If so, it might surprise you to know that conservatives view themselves in much the same light. In fact, all of us believe we are pretty good people. We normally believe that what we think is right and everyone else is wrong. No matter what we might say to appear humble, if we believed we might be wrong — really believed it — we would change our minds. But you and I both believe we are right. We further believe that those who disagree with us, are wrong.
But, even then, most of us maintain a sense of decency and fairness that normally holds us in check in debate with someone of a differing opinion. At our best, we listen to understand them. Sometimes, we only listen so we can argue. At our worse, we don’t even listen.
The riots across in Berkeley, at NYU, and during the inauguration worry me because that sense of decency and fairness seems to have evaporated. Let’s be honest: it’s liberals who are rioting. I keep waiting to hear NPR play quotes from President Obama or Secretary Clinton decyring the violence. Many liberals have accused conservative radio of inciting violence, but the muted reaction on the left to this level of violence is — well — it’s disturbing. People are being hurt. Moltov cocktails are being thrown.
I tell myself I’m just not hearing those quotes. I hope that’s the case. But I am nonetheless forced to come to an unwelcome conclusion: there are liberals who consider that the other side is so wrong that wanton violence is a reasonable response, there’s enough of them that they can form a frighteningly large group, and they aren’t afraid to hurt people and break things.
If you aren’t wearing a Trump hat, perhaps you’re not worried. They aren’t after you. You are safe.
But what happens to us — all of us — if this continues? If we permit this to continue, isn’t this anarchy? Or worse, isn’t it a form of dictatorship — the dictatorship of the mob?
If we give a wink to those who commit violence aimed at other people with whom we disagree, do we not, in some small way, give it our blessing?