August 17, 2017: The Intolerant Left | Bannon Goes Mooch |Trump Wins N. Korea

charlottesville red for the blue

Good Thursday to you. All week we struggled with our decision to take time off and publish once weekly in August. Like everyone else, we watched the violence in Charlottesville in horror. Despite all the ink spilled on this topic, we still have our two cents to add. We’ve skipped the worst from the Right, like the attacks on Heather Heyer, the young woman mowed down by the car, and the conspiracy theories that the Nazi marchers were actually liberals who wanted to embarrass the Right. We’ve focused on how Trump’s arguments and reasoning actually reflected thinking we’ve seen for awhile in the Right media. 

1. The Intolerant Left: The Unifying Message of the Right

You cannot understand the president’s reaction to Charlottesville without understanding how pervasive the theme of the intolerant Left is in conservative publications.

In fact, if there’s one message unifying all Right-wing voices today, it is of the violence and inflexibility of the anti-Trump movement and the Left’s censorship of any voice that is not its own. Shades of this theme can be viewed daily in the full range of conservative media, whether in the fulminations of the alt-Right conspiracist Alex Jones, the fascist-leaning Daily Stormer, the hard-Right Gateway Pundit, the libertarian-Conservative Daily Caller, the conservative Town Hall, or even the Neo-Con (and never-Trump tome) Commentary.

So when Trump applies moral equivalence to both or many sides, he’s echoing what the Right reads every day. For example, late Tuesday evening, after Trump’s second press conference, Jason Riley, an African American writer for The Wall Street Journal, wrote an article headlined “Trump Follows Obama’s Example of Moral Equivalence: When five Dallas cops were murdered last year, the 44th president faulted police as well as the killer.” Riley said:

When five policemen were gunned down in Dallas last year, Mr. Obama said there was no justification for violence against law enforcement—but then he added a comment about racial inequity in the criminal-justice system. After violent demonstrators pillaged Baltimore in 2015 following the death of a black man in police custody, Mr. Obama dutifully condemned the rioters—but not without also noting that “we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions.”

Meanwhile, on Reddit’s Conservative Group, two participants had this exchange:


I feel I'm a reasonable and logical person. Can someone please explain to me where I'm missing the boat?

President Trump says there was fault on both sides. He cites neo-nazis and white nationalists specifically as being "horrible, horrible" people. He also cites people wearing black, wearing helmets, and carrying baseball bats (probably anti-fa but they were not named) as "bad" people there to disrupt the rally.

Admittedly, I have not seen footage of anti-fa at the rally and, admittedly, I have not seen the footage of non-white-nationalist protestors. But taking him at his word that both existed, I see nothing wrong or immoral about the statements. I didn't see him supporting Nazis as some in /r/politics have said. And I didn't see him placing blame on only the "alt-left". He blamed two groups of violent people who facilitated an environment that led to an innocent woman dying at the scene.

Am I wrong? I know, in this subreddit, I'm preaching to the choir but are there any liberals reading this that think I'm some sort of neo-nazi sympathizer?

There's a ton of people, a lot of which are on the news right now, that think you're a Nazi sympathizer yes.

And from Townhall:

The "alt-right" is evil. White supremacism is evil. Neo-Nazism is evil……….

But the media have remained largely silent about another group: Antifa. Antifa is a loosely connected band of anti-capitalist protesters generally on the far left who dub themselves "anti-fascist" after their compatriots in Europe.

They've been around in the United States since the 1990s, protesting globalization and burning trash cans at World Trade Organization meetings. But they've kicked into high gear over the past two years: They engaged in vandalism in violence, forcing the cancellation of a speech by alt-right popularizer Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley; a few months later, they attacked alt-right demonstrators in Berkeley; they attacked alt-right demonstrators in Sacramento, California, leading to a bloody street fight; they threw projectiles at police during President Trump's inauguration; they attacked pro-Trump free-speech demonstrators in Seattle last weekend. They always label their opponents "fascists" in order to justify their violence.

And from Commentary:

The white nationalist right and the identity-obsessed left speak different languages but use the same vocabulary. To a great extent, both perceive themselves to be the victims of a system that is biased against them at an institutional level. Both believe that the other is wildly exaggerating and, in fact, that the system is tilted in their favor. In this narrow sense, one group is a funhouse mirror reflection of the other. This observation will doubtless elicit howls of bitter protest from both groups as a wildly unfair assessment of their respective movements. So be it.

What Else:

But not everyone on the Right has been as quick to play the moral equivalency game. While National Review (whose columnists are not fans of Trump) has historically been one of the most vocal about political correctness on college campuses and its impact on freedom of speech, it published several pieces slamming the conservative party for giving the alt-Right a platform. For example, from Elliot Kaufman, on why the rightist flamethrower Milo Yiannopoulos was asked to speak at Stanford:

Perhaps distracted by all the attention or correctly disinclined to blame the victims instead of the perpetrators of violence, nobody bothered to ask why the College Republicans had invited a guy like Yiannopoulos to speak in the first place… I was present in the Stanford Review’s meetings. “Someone should sponsor his lecture — it’s a matter of free speech,” argued a confused fellow editor. Soon, other editors made different arguments: “This will create a huge stir,” said one. “It will drive the social-justice warriors crazy,” offered another… As one influential editor put it: “Best-case scenario is that the SJWs freak out and we get another Berkeley.” We all knew what he meant: Inviting Yiannopoulos could bait the Left to do something silly and destructive, drawing media coverage that would allow us to act as martyrs for free speech on campus. That is, the left-wing riots were not the price or downside of inviting Yiannopoulos — they were the attraction.

FYI: SJW stands for social justice warrior. The Right uses the term pejoratively.

Additionally, wrote Jonah Goldberg, in a Review piece headlined, “Conservatism’s Damaging Game of Footsie with the Alt-Right”:

“...The real threat to traditional conservatism is the mindset that made it possible to form even a theoretical alliance with the alt-right in the first place: the idea that winning and fighting are self-justifying.”


Antifa Watch:

And while the Right grows concerned about its radical wing, we might mention we have growing concerns about the extremists on the Left. We’ve watched uneasily this week as Mainstream Media commentators have pounded Trump for commenting on the violent intentions of the Antifa protesters who came to Charlottesville to protest the alt-Right. As we’ve noted here before, the alt-Right and alt-Left feed each other and sometimes aren’t as far apart as you might hope. In April, Mother Jones ran an article about an Antifa group and noted that several of the disaffected young men who advocated violence against fascists had actually considered being in fascist groups.

And in case you think the idea that the Antifa is just as dangerous as the alt-Right will go away, we point you to a story now gaining traction on the far right conspiracy sites like Infowars and BigLeaguePolitics about a man claiming to have been stabbed by the Antifa because he wouldn’t disavow the Nazis enough.

Statue Watch:

Another big theme on the Right: If you give the Left an inch, it will take a mile. We’ve seen conservative media point out that no sooner had the Left won on gay marriage than it was marching on transgender issues. To the Right, this dynamic tramples on its concerns -- which is why, in part, it is holding the line so tightly on Confederate statues. Trump’s admonition that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson statues could be next was widely reflected in conservative thought. The Daily Wire ran an item about the statue of Teddy Roosevelt outside The Museum of Natural History in New York:

Social justice warriors are never satisfied. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. After demanding that southern states take down statues of Confederate figures, the activist Left is now targeting an iconic American president featured on Mount Rushmore.

On Monday, more than 200 SJW zealots held a protest inside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to take down the supposedly “racist” statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt. The protest’s organizers, NYC Stands with Standing Rock and Decolonize This Place, also called for Columbus Day to be renamed Indigenous People’s Day.

2. Bannon Goes Mooch

Not sure if Las Vegas is laying odds on the future of Steve Bannon, but, if so, there must be heavy action this morning. From Rupert Murdoch to top administration officials, many folks seem to want an end to the reign of the chief strategist, according to reports. The death watch heated up overnight after Robert Kuttner of the very liberal American Prospect revealed that Bannon had called to compliment him on a piece he had written on China and then unloaded Scaramucci-style. (A cleaner version, at least.)

Bannon undercut Trump, by saying there is no military option in North Korea; insulted the Far Right (calling its denizens “clowns”), and detailed his plot to clean house in the administration, mincing no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury. “They’re wetting themselves,” he said about his adversaries who worry about a revived hard line on China.

Is Bannon a goner? Bill Kristol sees the guillotine coming down in a matter of hours.

Bill Kristol (@BillKristol)

It will be good to see Steve Bannon gone from the White House (I assume he'll be fired today). The disgrace is that he was ever there.

Remember: Bannon has been left for dead so many times there’s a hearse on permanent duty outside the White House.

3. Trump and the CEOs

Top business executives drew praise in the Mainstream Media for bailing on Trump’s business advisory councils after Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville violence. Needless to say this, interpretation was not shared by at least some in the conservative press. Holman W. Jenkins Jr., in a column in The Wall Street Journalpooh-pooh-ed the business leaders as acting out of self-interest and not heartfelt belief.

The columnist Michelle Malkin was less temperate:

Liberal business executives are leaping like lemmings from President Donald Trump's manufacturing advisory council. Good riddance.

These silly string-spined CEOs have sided with social justice agitators, Beltway media enablers and Democratic resistance knuckleheads who believe Trump was wrong to condemn violence and hatred on all sides of the political spectrum.

4. Trump Won North Korea

There may have been many reasons why North Korea stepped back from its threat to bomb the waters near Guam, but the conservative press focused on only one: Trump. Breitbart went with the valedictory headline: “Donald Trump Wins Round One with North Korea” and then added: “The situation remains unstable, and could escalate. But Trump’s rhetoric is not, as former Obama adviser Susan Rice claims, the problem. In fact, it is part of the solution. It has, at the very least, restored some of our deterrence.”

5. Poll Watch

Here’s a clue to why so many Republican officeholders are reluctant to criticize Trump directly for his response to Charlottesville.

A CBS News poll out this morning showed a sharp partisan split over Trump’s approach to the violence. In the poll, 67 percent of Republicans approved, compared with 10 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents.

Meanwhile, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted after Charlottesville showed the president with his lowest approval rating yet -- 35 percent. According to Marist, his rating has been sinking a few points every month. Still, 85 percent of respondents who said they “strongly” associated with being Republican said they still approved of Trump’s job performance.

Ominously for the White House, 52 percent of Americans agreed that race relations had worsened under Trump, including about one third of Republican respondents. When asked “Do you feel President’s Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville has been strong enough?” a similar 52 percent of Americans answered no -- but that split more dramatically along partisan lines, with only 19 percent of Republicans in the no camp.

While most Americans in both parties said they strongly disagreed with the white nationalist movement in the Marist poll, 11 percent of self-identified Tea Party Republicans said they agreed. By contrast only 8 percent of Democrats said they agreed with the Antifa. Also, a majority of Americans, including 44 percent Democrats, support letting Confederate statues remain as historical symbols.