On Dishing it Out . . .

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

What is weird about the liberal hysteria to the obstreperous (and occasionally rude) town meetings is the complete amnesia about what constitutes reckless public discourse.

At one time not so long ago, those on the Left, and mainstream Democrats as well, apparently believed inflammatory language, Hitler parallels, and perverse expressions of real hatred were acceptable means to the noble end of discrediting the Bush presidency.

During the bleak days of Iraq, demonstrators carried swastikas and Hitler portraits of Bush habitually. Nicholson Baker wrote a novel in which characters are contemplating killing Bush. Films were praised imagining the assassination of the president. Michael Moore, courted by the Democratic elite, lamented that bin Laden on 9/11 had hit a blue state — and once compared the killers of Americans in Iraq to Minutemen.

Al Gore customarily used excessive language like “brown shirts.” Senators Durbin, Kennedy, and others compared our soldiers to Saddamites, Pol Pot’s killers, and Nazis. Ward Churchill compared the victims in the Twin Tower to “little Eichmanns.” Sen. Robert Byrd likened Pres. George W. Bush’s policies to what transpired in Nazi Germany. Linda Ronstadt, Harold Pinter, Scott Ritter, Ted Rall, and George Soros agreed with Fidel Castro, the Iranians, and North Koreans in comparing Bush to Hitler.

Jonathan Chait wrote in the New Republic on why “I hate George W. Bush.” Garrison Keillor likened Bush’s Republicans to “brown shirts in pinstripes.” Even old hero Sen. John Glenn said of the Bush agenda: “It’s the old Hitler business.” In 1984, the Guardian’s Charles Brooker declared:

On November 2, the entire civilized world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?

Democrats were furious that Rush Limbaugh wanted Obama’s agenda to fail, but I think it was their National Chairman Howard Dean himself who went way beyond Limbaugh when he said publicly, “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for,” and, “This is a struggle of good and evil. And we’re the good.”

Didn’t NAACP chairman Julian Bond once declare of the Bush administration, “Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side?”

In comparison to all that, the outrage of a few private citizens — none of them in government, prominent in the arts, or political commentators — seems rather mild. In truth, the 2000s marked the liberal reversion to the hateful speech of the 1950s extreme Right, but with a twist. In the 1950s, there were liberal humanists who rose up to deplore the cheap slurs of Joe McCarthy & Co.; by 2001, there were none to object to the above sort of speech.

©2009 Victor Davis Hanson

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