The Corner

Who’s a ‘Right-Wing Extremist’?

Let’s say you got into politics running for office as a Democrat. You hate Rupert Murdoch and Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, and you really, really hate Bill Kristol. You despise bankers and got set up in activism by a group working on behalf of “the working class” and complaining: “Every day the rich tighten the chains . . . . They close the factories, the mills, the mines, and ship our jobs overseas.” You’re part of a group that endorses the Mearsheimer-Walt view that Israeli interests hold American foreign policy captive – a group that also wholeheartedly agrees with the Occupy Wall Street take on Zionism.

I say mainstream left-winger. CNN’s Peter Bergen says right-wing extremist. But I wonder: Which one of those positions above represents the extreme version of a view held by Rick Perry, the American Enterprise Institute, or Newt Gingrich? Not one, so far as I can tell. Which of them represent more extreme (or not!) takes on mainstream left-wing views about bankers, capitalism, Zionism, globalization, Fox News, Bill Kristol, etc? Well, take your pick, Sunshine. That line about the wicked rich “shipping our jobs overseas” must have been delivered verbatim 155 times at the 2012 Democratic convention. The canard that Zionists control the U.S. government is par for the course at our better universities and among placard-toting Union Square riff-raff.

But if there’s a straight line of conservative opinion leading from anti-Zionism and banker-hatred to the back nine at Desert Horizons, it has eluded me for decades now. Every now and then, I tweet some horrific picture from North Korea or the Soviet Union along with the words: “This is Communism.” Inevitably, I get replies from various and sundry progressives, sometimes relatively well-known ones, demanding: “What about the sins of capitalism, huh? Huh? What about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire?” It always puzzles me that they feel defensive about the crimes of the Soviet model they claim to forswear. I do not feel any similar need to deflect the avalanche of richly deserved condemnation that is coming down on that lowlife kook who shot up the Jewish centers in Kansas City. I’m for free markets, American exceptionalism, and getting a job. Not a lot of crossover with the Klan in that Venn diagram.

In addition to its questionable political characterization, Mr. Bergen’s piece also engages in some daft accounting: It may very well be the case, as he argues, that Klan nuts and other white supremacists longing for the happy days when they ran the Democratic party have killed more Americans than have jihadis since 9/11, which is to say: Yes, they commit the most terrorism, just so long as we do not count the really, really significant acts of terrorism. By the same token, the $10 baggie of weed I sold to a buddy in college makes me the biggest narco-trafficker in North America, except for all the other ones. I await my narcocorrido

Idle thought: Could it be the case that the jihadists have not killed very many Americans of late because they are getting the hairy eyeball to such a degree that even our feckless and beef-witted intelligence and national-security services have managed to thwart them? And might shifting our national focus away from the jihadists to the relatively trivial activities of the Senator Byrd Fan Club take away from that success?  Worth considering.

One thing about the jihadists and the Klan — they’re all barking mad: Really, who could hate Bill Kristol?




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