At best a tepid enthusiast of Michelle Goldberg’s columns, I hereby endorse her latest, in which she parses the levels of gall necessary to be a member of the Beltway pundit class that regards civility as a heaven to which American citizens have a duty to ascend. “The right’s revulsion against a black president targeted by birther conspiracy theories is not the same as the left’s revulsion against a racist president who spread birther conspiracy theories,” she writes in the column’s pithtiest sentence.
Faced with the unceasing cruelty and degradation of the Trump presidency, liberals have not taken to marching around in public with assault weapons and threatening civil war. I know of no left-wing publication that has followed the example of the right-wing Federalist and run quasi-pornographic fantasies about murdering political enemies. (“Close your eyes and imagine holding someone’s scalp in your hands,” began a recent Federalist article.) Unlike Trump, no Democratic politician I’m aware of has urged his or her followers to beat up opposing demonstrators.
Instead, some progressive celebrities have said some bad words, and some people have treated administration officials with the sort of public opprobrium due members of any other white nationalist organization. Liberals are using their cultural power against the right because it’s the only power they have left, and people have a desperate need to say, and to hear others say, that what is happening in this country is intolerable.
Sometimes, their strategies may be poorly conceived. But there’s an abusive sort of victim-blaming in demanding that progressives single-handedly uphold civility, lest the right become even more uncivil in response. As long as our rulers wage war on cosmopolitan culture, they shouldn’t feel entitled to its fruits. If they don’t want to hear from the angry citizens they’re supposed to serve, let them eat at Trump Grill.
When “Morning” Joe and “Mika” Bryzezinski mourn the inability of a racist president’s mouthpiece to get a meal, and Bell Curve enthusiast Andrew Sullivan whinges against open borders while applauding his mythical political independence, I understand a little the Trump voter rage at so-called elites. Both Sides Do It and we’re living in normal times.