Recall not long ago or far away, when President Barak Obama was in office and the prevailing view on the left was not only that any substantive criticism of his policies was racist, but that it was tantamount to sedition.
Recall in 2010, when the conservative Tea Party held a big rally in Washington and made a lot of noise, including allegedly yelling some racial slurs at some congressmen (an allegation that was never documented, even with smartphones everywhere) but didn’t attack or harass anyone physically and even cleaned up after themselves.
That was labeled overt sedition, incitement to violence and just one small step from lynching.
Now we have a different president from a different party. Now we have an impending vacancy on the Supreme Court, with the imminent retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
And now, yes, all those rules have changed and the best, most patriotic – even divinely endorsed – thing you can do is hurl personal insults, harass, threaten and endorse violence against anyone who doesn’t think and see the world the way “progressives” do.
Now we have actor Robert De Niro shouting an expletive targeting President Donald Trump at the Tony Awards and getting a loud ovation.
Now we have actor Peter Fonda calling for the president’s 12-year-old son to be taken from his mother and “put into a cage with pedophiles.” He later issued an apology saying he was upset about children brought into the country illegally by their parents being separated from them — as if that’s what U.S. authorities were doing, putting those children into cages with pedophiles.
Now we have comedian Bill Maher openly wishing for a recession, no matter who gets hurt by it — of course, he won’t — if that’s what it takes to put Democrats back in power.
Now we have restaurants kicking out people who work for the current administration because of their political, never mind religious, beliefs.
This isn’t because people like White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (told to leave the Red Hen restaurant) or Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (shouted out of having dinner at a restaurant and then harassed and jeered at her home) were demanding special service that would reflect their identity or politics. They were just asking for what was on the menu for everybody – no parallel with the recent Supreme Court decision regarding a baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Now we have U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, of California, not some fringe member of Congress but a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who has applauded violence against her political opponents in the past. Now she praises the treatment of Sanders and Nielsen – which echoes the kind of treatment that blacks suffered during this country’s shameful era of racial discrimination that continued for decades even after slavery was abolished.
“If you see anybody from that (administration) in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd! … Tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere!“
In other words, “Anybody who doesn’t see the world the way I do shouldn’t be allowed to stay in the country.”
And she’s accusing Trump and his backers of hate?
Is that really the sort of precedent for political disagreement that Waters and others want to set? Is this what they think former First Lady Michelle Obama meant when she said, “When they go low, we go high”?
Is this what they think the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend?”
And these aren’t even enemies. Outside of a loathsome, far-out fringe of white supremacists on the right and groups like Antifa on the left, the overwhelming majority of those in both parties are simply political opponents who have a different view of what is best for the country.
Fortunately there are still a few adults among Democrats, such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former Obama chief strategist David Axelrod.
"No one should call for the harassment of political opponents,” Schumer said. “That's not right. That's not American."
Axelrod said he was "amazed and appalled by the number of folks on the left who applauded the expulsion of (Sanders) and her family from a restaurant."
That took considerable courage from both, since they will be portrayed by the far left as enabling “fascism” and being too weak to stand up to a president they say is bent on being the next Mussolini or Hitler.
Which would be funny if those declarations weren’t so serious and weren’t being used to foment violence.
Fascist? Really? Those who lived under real fascism risked their lives trying to escape it. Why would tens of thousands of illegal immigrants be flooding across U.S. borders if they thought they were going to be living under Hitler?
I understand the anger and frustration at Trump having the chance to appoint a second Supreme Court justice. I would be similarly frustrated if Hillary Clinton were making those appointments.
But to claim that Trump’s “transforming” the court will be the end of America is truly deranged. Recall President Obama shortly before he took office proclaiming, “We are just days away from the fundamental transformation of America.”
Millions of citizens don’t think he transformed the country for the better. But they did what Obama mockingly told them to do: “Go out and win an election.”
That is the way a civilized society settles disagreements. Not by following the prescription of a Maxine Waters.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org