Hogan's Alley

Friday, April 14, 2006

Knee-Jerk Liberal Award

Seeing evil and stupidity in everything said or done by anyone not a certified member of the progressive ranks, the classic knee-jerk by the left simultaneously is incapable of recognizing when their hated enemy takes reasonable action.

This month's award goes jointly to Justin Rood of TPM Muckraker and Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. Rood links to a Homeland Security memo sent, according to him, to businesses across America. The memo warns of possible attacks by eco-terrorists and animal rights extremists. In addition to warning of serious activities like attacking staff and families of offending corporation and hacking into company computers. It also warns about lesser acts of vandalism such as tying up fax and phone lines and the perfectly legitimate activity of flyer distribution.

Fair enough, DHS bureaucrats deserve ribbing for going overboard. That, however, is not enough for the knee-jerkers. Rood goes on to bemoan:

The real outrage in this is that on the very day some DHS yahoo spent time and government money producing this bulletin, a jury was convicting a white supremacist on five counts of trying to obtain a chemical weapon and stolen explosives. The man's dream: to explode a briefcase "dirty" bomb inside the U.S. Capitol.

Needless to say, I'm told DHS has yet to send out a warning on wackos like him: white supremacists, militias, anti-abortion groups or other violent far-right groups that have actually killed people. It's the vicious left-wing flyer brigades that pose the greatest danger.

Josh Marshall, using the same language, calls this DHS activity "scary".

I hate to call for facts and logic whenever a juicy political swipe is possible, but...

1. While eco and animal rights terrorists do target businesses across the country as their enemy, right-wing militias, white supremacists and anti-abortion types see other entities as the enemy. The militias rarely move from their fortified compounds until surrounded by armed forces of the government. Supremacists, like the man cited by Rood for a bomb plot against the US Capitol, hate the government and its civil rights legislation. The anti-abortion nuts have targeted abortion clinics and medical personnel. None of them have any history of attacking business across the board. A warning to business about these groups would be silly.

2. The federal government, even during the hated Bush administration, has prosecuted the right-wing extremists to the full extent of the law. Convictions have been obtained against such characters as James Kopp, shooter of abortion doctor Barnett Slepian, Eric Rudolph bomber of a Birmingham clinic, and Clayton Waagner, convicted of mailing anthrax threats. Bush's brother, the Governor of Florida, refused to intervene in the execution of Paul Hill, who was convicted of shooting an abortion doctor and his bodyguard.

3. As to the lack of warnings to abortion providers and advocates which might have been warranted in the face of the numerous killings and bombings, the fact is that we have had none of those in the last five or more years and DHS has only been in existence since 2002.

Although it is emotionally satisfying for the writers of such tripe and for their aficionados, such reflexive stereotyping is plainly incorrect and abandons the difficult work of thinking that is required in political debate. It is also true that this kind of nonsense is not the sole province of the left. The right is equally prone to such laziness and I will be on the prowl for examples from right-wing quarters to duly award with my Sullivanesque award scheme.