A recent visit to the “Politics & Government” section in a Borders bookstore put me before a deluge of books whose authors all evinced a feverish enthusiasm for exposing the innumerable shortcomings of our current commander in chief. Bush is a moron, a hypocrite, a lush, an illiterate, a draft dodger, a feckless rich kid, a fundamentalist cretin, a crazed militarist, a stooge of Big Oil, a toady for the Saudis, Karl Rove’s puppet, and so on and so on.
Among these angry productions I contemplated a remarkable series, a collection of “I Hate” titles. Here was a deep reservoir of resentment into which loathers of Republicans could plunge: “The I Hate George W. Bush Reader,” “The I Hate Republicans Reader,” “The I Hate Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice . . . Reader: Behind the Bush Cabal’s War on America,” and “The I Hate Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity . . . Reader: The Truth About America’s Ugliest Conservatives.” In vain I searched for the “I Hates” on the other side, e.g. “The I Hate Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson Reader: The Truth about America’s Most Bloated Leftists.” Many books on these shelves denounced liberal Democrats, but they tended to be critical of ideas and policies rather than rely on ad persona attacks.
What irony, though, that these “hate” books come from the Left. It has been the Left in recent years that has striven both to criminalize hate and to tar Republicans as the party of hate. Democrats exude compassion and tolerance. Republicans manufacture hate, and they hate just about everybody – blacks, gays, single mothers, non-Christians, etc. This calumny fits into a syllogism simple enough for the electorate. Hate is bad. Republicans hate. Ergo …
In the aftermath of the 1994 congressional elections, when the Republicans captured both Houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, Democrats appeared shell-shocked and in disarray. From the beginning, the Clinton administration was a scandal machine in overdrive. Bill and Hillary proved to be even more inept in managing the White House than they had the governor’s mansion in Little Rock. What, the Democrats must have been thinking, could be worse in the eyes of the electorate than incompetence and corruption? Hate. And what was the source? Angry right-wing talk radio hosts, egged on by mean-spirited Republicans. Rush Limbaugh and his ilk acquired an impressive following by poking fun at liberal Democrats and harping on their defects. “Politics ain’t beanball,” as they say, but Rush’s ridicule- laden bloviations drew many listeners and rallied them around Republicans. Meanwhile, antigovernment paranoiacs had recently blown up the Federal building in Oklahoma City. Rush and other conservative Republicans deplored Big Government liberals.
So, from these two distantly related facts the Democrats, including President Clinton, conjured up and peddled the howler that the Republicans, in their disdain for Big Government liberals, had through the vehicle of talk radio established “a climate of hatred” that launched the antigovernment bombers into murderous action. Hate thus became a hefty political stick with which to beat Republicans. In the following elections Republicans were coupled with arsonists of black churches, murderers of gays, and lynch .·mobs. During the 2000 presidential election, the NAACP put out a political ad that featured the grisly murder of James Byrd, Jr., in Jasper, Texas. The ad ran with a voiceover of Byrd’s daughter, saying: “My father was killed. He was· beaten, chained, and dragged three miles to his death, all because he was black. So when Governor George W. Bush refused to
In vain I searched for the “I Hates” on the Left side, such as “The I Hate Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson Reader: The Truth about America’s Most Bloated Leftists.”
support hate-crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again.” Democratic nominee Al Gore seized on this issue to suggest that because Bush was against hate-crime legislation, he was soft on murderers inspired by racial hatred – even though Bush had signed the murderers’ death warrants.
The Left’s recent smearing of its critics as haters replicates the Fascist-smear strategy developed by Comintern Stalinists in the late 1920s and ’30s. During the Spanish Civil War, the Left perfected this smear and passed it on to its progeny. Today those on the Left routinely resort to the F-word or its equivalent to describe Republicans who displease them. Recently, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond compared Republicans to Nazis and the Taliban.
To put some history with this: the Stalinists developed the Fascist smear after the consolidation of Mussolini’s dictatorship and Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s put Fascism into playas Communism’s most formidable ideological rival. Fascism, of course, was an enemy of democratic, constitutional government – as was Communism – but the Stalinists adroitly positioned themselves as anti-Fascists and promiscuously attached the epithet of “Fascist” to Cllmost all of their rivals.
In the years between 1928 and 1935, Moscow Bolsheviks anticipated the worldwide collapse of capitalism. They castigated the non-Communist Left as·Fascists, including the reform-oriented Social Democrats, an especially powerful political force in Germany. They called them “Social Fascists” because even though they were Socialists, they participated in bourgeois politics, played by parliamentary rules, and eschewed violent revolution.
But as Hitler armed the Third Reich and Nazi Germany grew more menacing and formidable, the Stalinists concluded that they actually needed those “Fascist” allies on the Left. So in 1935, the Comintern made one of its notorious about-faces and embraced the former “Social Fascists” as partners in an anti-Fascist alliance that became known as the Popular Front.
The Second Spanish Republic elected a Popular Front government in 1936 that within six months found itself under siege by General Franco. In resisting Franco, Popular Front Communists, guided by Comintern propagandists, skillfully crafted a Manichean interpretation of the civil war in Spain, scripting the conflict as a struggle that pitted Francoist forces – whose victory would plunge Spain into a Fascist abyss – against the anti-Fascist, democracy- affirming, freedom-loving defenders of the Republic.
The truth was more complicated, and quite different. Franco was no doubt an enemy of freedom. However, the Popular Front government that fought him throughout the 32-month war was increasingly dominated by Communist operatives under orders from Moscow. They wanted for the Spanish people the same kind of freedom and democracy enjoyed by the helots in Stalin’s workers’ paradise.
The Fascist-smear tactic of the Comintern is the model for today’s hate smear. The smear works like this. The accuser attaches to the opponent an opprobrious label (e.g., Fascist or bigot) while at the same assuming the mantle of the opposite virtue. The attack creates morally· and politically dichotomous spaces occupied by the virtuous and the villainous. The morally opprobrious villain is then turned into a criminal. As a criminal, he deserves no consideration, and can be eliminated from competition. Stalin, during the Spanish Civil War, framed his old Bolshevik comrades, whom he had come to resent. He had them imprisoned and executed as traitors. N.1. Bukharin, who appeared as Rubashov in Arthur Koestler’s great novel “Darkness at Noon,” was the most notable. Stalin’s agents in Spain also labeled their non- Stalinist Marxist rivals, such as Andres Nin, as Fascist collaborators and executed them.
Similarly, the Left has moved to criminalize hate even as it has smeared Republicans as a party of hatred. In the 1990s, university administrators across the country came under the tutelage of neo-Marxists who read domination and exploitation into every facet of social life. They imposed hate speech codes that banned any kind of speech deemed “insensitive” to ethnic minorities, gays, or women. Since the self-esteem of victims groups was considered to be fragile, any less than
Sen. Kennedy’s long history of efforts to advance the well-being of women is thoroughly documented.
congratulatory remarks from a dominant group member to a minority or woman victim could be construed as a hateful slur.
Disapproval was rarely distinguished from hate. Violators were subjected to compulsory re-education programs, forced public apologies, and expulsion. Victims were institutionally immune from criticism and took advantage of that immunity to scorn, intimidate, and silence critics. Seldom then and seldom now do critics of the Left appear on college campuses. When they do, they are often shouted down and sometimes physically assaulted.
Many of the college speech codes failed court challenges and were thrown out. The war on hatred moved to Congress and from the 1990s on there has been an explosion of hate- crime legislation at the federal level. Hate crimes, it was argued, were more nefarious than “regular” crimes and hence deserving of more vigorous punishment and enforcement. Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 (28 U.S. Code 534); the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act of 1994 (Section of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, Public Law 103-222); the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 (18 U.S. Code 247); the Campus Hate Crimes Right to Know Act of 1997 (H.R.3043); the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999 (Amends 18 U.S. Code 245); and the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (P .L.I06-386).
In 2001 Sen. Edward Kennedy introduced an amendment to existing law that would extend hate crime protection to more groups and add new offenses. In a Senate debate over this amendment in 2002, Kennedy, whose long history of
The Left has moved to criminalize hate, while smearing Republicans as the party of hatred.
efforts to advance the well-being of women is thoroughly documented, denounced Republicans for their lack of commitment to basic civil rights when they blocked action on the amendment. In 2004 the enhancements passed the Senate.
Hate crimes remain problematic and controversial. They have a much larger scope in socialist countries like Canada where “hate speech” is a crime. The very concept churns up legitimate fears about the criminalization of thought and emotion and the concomitant erosion of freedom and expansion of state power. In 1999, Andrew Sullivan, a well-known writer on gay rights, published a devastating cri-
tique of the hate-crime concept titled “What’s So Bad about Hate?” Sullivan argued that hatred remains too complex, ambiguous, and primal an emotion to be unique to oppressor groups, or to be neatly categorized as either good or bad. Hatred, he noted, would likely be stronger among victims than oppressors because the victims frequently experience the injustice of the oppressor group. How then can hatred be unequivocally excoriated? Must we embrace the preposterous notion that some should hate and others should not? “Violence,” Sullivan wrote, “can and should be stopped by the government. In a free society, hate can’t and shouldn’t be.”
Republicans, at least conservative ones, have tended to oppose hate-crime legislation because it confers differential status and special treatment based on group identity, and it criminalizes thought and emotion. But just as Communists in the 1930s and ’40s denounced their critics as Fascists, so today’s leftists, who build their power base on collectivist identity politics and race-baiting, denounce critics of hate- crime legislation as sympathetic with hate-motivated criminals. They assail the motives and character of the critics, not their arguments. And the hate smear is now standard operating procedure for the Left in combating Republicans. Just recently, Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel called President Bush, who has placed more blacks in positions of national leadership than any other president, “Our Bull Connor,” linking Bush to the man whose name stands for the racial hatred and violence of the Jim Crow era.
But as hard as Rangel, Kennedy, Gore, and others try, they will likely never top CNN commentator Paul Begala’s virtuoso performance in his commentary on the 2000 election:
“[I]f you look closely at [the electoral map distinguishing Republican red states versus Democratic blue states] … [y]ou see the state where James Byrd was lynched – dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart- it’s red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay – it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employ- ees – it’s red. The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry; they’re all red too.”
There you have it – a sextuple hate smear, not from a fringe political hack but from a Georgetown University professor, nationally syndicated columnist, and adviser to our most recent Democratic president. This is not an argument but a malignant diatribe worthy of Stalin’s show trial prosecutor, Andrei Vyshinski. This attack was intended to put the opposition beyond the pale, to taint Republicans as moral cretins, mindless haters, and vicious criminals. With his reference to neo-Nazi skinheads, Begala pulls off a twofer, a Fascist-smear and a hate-smear, all in one.
As the parties begin to position candidates for the 2008 presidential election, it appears likely that another Clinton will head the Democratic ticket. Given recent history, it’s reasonable to expect that the party of.compassion will once again rely heavily on hate as a weapon.