Protesters march through the University of California, Berkeley, campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Dec. 10, 2014. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Noah Berger

It's time to worry about leftist fundamentalism, too

Much of my recent career has been spent analyzing and resisting right-wing politics, often mixed with religion.

But today I say that there is plenty to worry about on the left, too. There is left-wing politics and religion (or anti-religion), that also should be alarming to thoughtful people.

Here are a few of the most recent examples:

James Hodgkinson, the man who shot up the congressional Republican baseball practice, was clearly a disturbed and angry individual whose life had already done desperate harm to others before the shootings. But he found an outlet for some of that anger in liberal politics and strongly anti-Republican social media groups. Hodgkinson's online presence is a case study in the echo chamber of angry social media. His targeting of the Republican baseball practice can only be described as political violence, indeed, as attempted political assassination. This marks a very disturbing new descent in recent American politics.

This past weekend, a gay rights march in Chicago called the Dyke March became national news when three marchers carrying Jewish Pride flags (which are Israeli flags superimposed on a rainbow) were reportedly harassed and finally ejected from the march. In a march intended to represent "intersectional" justice causes, pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel sentiment was too strong for the "Wider Bridge" group representing lesbian and queer Jews to be allowed a presence in the march. (Everybody should read the full news story I have linked to here from the "Windy City Times,"  which reflects the peculiar nature of internal liberal-radical politics right now.)

Liberal media stars have also played their part. Consider this recent summary of disturbing events compiled by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, who is no conservative:

Madonna fantasizes about blowing up the White House. Kathy Griffin displays a likeness of Trump’s severed head. Stephen Colbert uses a crude term to describe Trump as Putin’s sexual boy toy. [Bill] Maher suggests that Trump and his daughter Ivanka have engaged in incest. I don’t question the earnestness of these entertainers’ objections to Trump, which are wholly warranted. I ask whether they’re converting even one person with a contrary point of view.

A number of recent campus incidents around the country also suggest that a kind of left-wing fundamentalism is on the rise. Sometimes these incidents are egged on by the presence or words of outside provocateurs, but other times it is simply professors who are perceived as crossing liberal orthodoxy boundaries and then facing the rage of their students and some of their colleagues.

Why is all of this disastrous for liberals?

It is disastrous culturally, because it widens the gulf between our warring tribes, which degrades the environment all of us live in.

It is disastrous politically, because left-wing fundamentalism hurts the image of the Democratic Party and liberals in general and is a sure loser in state and national races in most of the country.

It is disastrous intellectually, because it shuts down intelligent reflection on difficult issues and leaves dissenters or potential dissenters afraid to express themselves.

There is plenty wrong on the right. But there is plenty wrong on the left, too. Each side needs to get its act together. If there is a sensible, grown-up center to American public life, it's about time it showed up.

Comments

  1. Thanks for writing about this problem. As someone who is moderate-to-liberal politically, I’ve been disturbed by the rise of the angry intolerant left.
    There’s a huge dichotomy between the ‘live and let live’ liberalism I grew up with in the 70’s, and what I would call the ‘leftism’ I see more-and-more today: using hateful social pressure and the government regulation to insure everyone thinks and acts alike.

  2. Well said. I’m one of those traditional Liberals formed in the late 60s. Very little mainstream media coverage is given to the extreme Left’s suppression of free speech at college campuses and the rise in violent demonstrations on the part of the extreme Left and Antifa groups. Add to that the hateful public statement from celebrities and pundits and the abandonment of objectivity from CNN and similar media groups. The extreme Left and Right are now just two sides of the same coin. I’m trying to find footing on the rapidly shrinking middle ground.

  3. There has always been and always will be that third standard deviation on either side of the mean. The extremist behavior of James Hodgkinson is unacceptable but not unexpected. Abortionists disown the people who killed abortion doctors or blew up clinics but had no problem elevating abortion to the act of murder of defenseless life. What did they think was going to happen?

    A select few Americans have brewed this pot of tea, but we are ALL going to have to drink it. Personally, I give credit to Mr Murdoch and his team of misogynists at Fox Corp for their fair and balanced reporting over the past 2-3 decades.

  4. I am an independent and not loyal to any party, though I admit I embrace more Democratic views than Republican ones. For a long time I have been particularly concerned with liberal extremism, which I consider to be just as bad as conservative extremism. So I was pleased to find this article and share it. I have a number of staunch liberal friends; I hope they will also condemn extremism among liberals.

    But will they?

  5. It’s easy to be flippant and rude when you’re using an anonymous profile.

  6. Yes the left has a problem, a big problem. As we can see from the other comments here, the left is alienating a large swath of liberal leaning Americans, including myself. I can no longer support them. While I still hold to liberal ideals of helping the poor, healthcare, assistance programs, ant-racism, their own radicals are just as deplorable as the rights. Politics had better stop catering to these extremes, disavow identifying with those extremes, and start identifying with the meaty middle where most Americans reside. It is up to politicians, society, to turn their backs on these radicals of both ends and let them know that while they may make a ruckus they are not the voice of Americans. I hope the next 4yrs puts a damper on the radical left as they most certainly need a smack down, a humbling, an awakening to how deplorable they have become all the while keeping the radical right under lock and key. Moderates are the only ones who will heal this country, and the radicals need to know they will no longer be tolerated.

  7. I’m afraid the problem is that people are very angry at the end of generational security in America. Dems and Republicans have ignored the collapse of the New Deal for far too long, and thus the anger boils over into violence. During Occupy, the issue of violence vs. non-violence was discussed on a daily basis, with OWS demanding as a movement commitments to non-violence for participation in any OWS action. The organized left, even the most radical (such as OWS) has ALWAYS maintained non-violence as the only way forward. The right, however, has stewed in violent rhetoric and symbolism for a very long time, celebrated it, has used the language of violence like a nervous tick, wears the worship of guns on their sleeves, etc. Contrary to the organized left, there is no evidence of any push back from the organized right against violence. Only embrace.

  8. The left does not stew in violent imagery and rhetoric, like the right worshipping guns my entire adult life. Quite the contrary. We follow Gandhian non-violent principles, always. Violence on the left is extremely rare, largely because we on the left know the anger very well, and seek to answer it with Gandhian principles every chance we get. Does a single member of the right wing even care who Gandhi was? They only care enough to mock him.

  9. The problem is that the Republican party just about purged every member who did not sware an oath to Rat Fascism.

  10. The two murders by the alt-right conservative in Portland and the Indian killed a racist in Kansas in 2017 and the three killed by a conservative at the Colorado Planned Parenthood in 2015 – and how many black men at the hands of police at traffic stops? If the point of this article is to keep score…

  11. Tim, I agree that the extremist right-wing faction is really bad, but there is a left-wing element that is also extreme, closed-minded, and tribal. And some do stew in hatred and violence. I don’t think the left is monolithic and some do not embraces genuine Gandhian principles.

  12. For years the Republican Party lurched every rightwards, at the same time creating a core group of supporters who do not believe any facts that do not concur with their indoctrinated worldview. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party of late has a similar problem with the far left. I, for one, am increasingly concerned that my party is being dragged every leftwards and, in the process, alienating people like me who believe in the concept of ‘big tent’ liberalism. For years, the Republicans exacted a purity test on anyone who ran for office and it seems the far left is now doing the same to the Democrats.

  13. They need to. To do so has a greater impact on the alt right than the alt left will ever hope to have. Both “alts” thrive on the rhetoric of each other. Shutting the alt right will not come from alt left views or groups, it will come from the middle right. Those people in the middle need to realize that their greatest allies are with the people who are willing to understand them even though they may not agree with them. We need to stop allowing fear of other people to turn us into left and right conformist.

  14. Well said GJ! I think conformity and tribalism is counterproductive. I agree that we need to abandon the hate-filled, alienating rhetoric and dialog where we can.

  15. It is not to keep score. It is pointing out a disturbing trend that is being glossed over by most of the media.

  16. And the same can be said of the left if you even hint that the thought crossed your mind that abortion should not be “Free and without apology”. The left has it’s own “rat fascism” as you put it. They are just too self-glorifying to realize it.

  17. I too deplore most of these examples of extreme or over the top reactions by liberals, but I must also add that this is being driven largely by even more over the top and extreme acts from so many on the right. We are constantly being bombarded by examples of extreme thoughts, words and deeds from those in the far right. It’s hard not to respond in kind. Just think about Alex Jones as an example, but the nonsense spewed regularly over on FNC is hardly healing us. Then there is Ann Coulter and Rush. The list is nearly endless.

    Until team red starts to behave rationally we can only expect more folks on the blue team to react inappropriately.

  18. I could not agree with you more, but if team red does not take the opportunity to be the first to start behaving rationally, please don’t hesitate to take their place. Somebody has to start it, credit for it can be claim later.

  19. I would say that we have tried that strategy, a good example being Michelle Obama encouraging, “When they go low, we go high,” but is seems to have been ineffectual. Going high, instead of hitting back is often seen as weakness, and just encourages ever more drastic action on the right, apparently in hopes that they will strike the last, fatal blow to liberal thought. It is not going to happen, since liberals aren’t going away any time soon, but it does seen to encourage even more hateful behavior from the far right.

  20. Madonna has always been an embarrassing clown. She has no more bearing on me and my liberal politics than the man in the moon. I don’t have to apologize for her words or actions. I’m busy attending Bernie Sanders rallies in January, freezing my ass off and holding “Save My Healthcare” signs. If the sensationalized media wants to paint a picture of a radical, violent, irresponsible Left, then I suppose they’ll do it anyway. The vast majority of us are peacefully holding up signs, calling our senators and going to nice quiet meetings in libraries. Please don’t lump me in with Madonna or Maher or Griffin or any of the other attention whores whose careers depend on media coverage. I’m not them.

  21. The left is not monolithic, but leadership among the left is uniformly nonviolent, demands nonviolence of its followers, and rejects any suggestion of violence full stop. The right does the opposite.

  22. Why imitate hateful behavior? Why would you let someone scare you into conforming into something other than what Michelle Obama was. The Obama’s modeled confidence, I admire them for that. They were successful by going high before going high was a slogan. The alt right wins if you don’t take her advice. President Obama represented me very well. Other men would have represented my political views more often, aside from politics, I could not have asked more from a president I did not vote for. I thank him for that.

  23. Is that the way it works? If they’re going to be be bad, we’re going to be worse? If this is the standard of care going forward, we are doomed. Nobody wins, everybody loses.

  24. “Violence on the left is extremely rare”???? What planet have you been on the last year? Colleges shut down, free speech denied. Riots in the streets, highways shut down.
    Nobody on the right rioted in the streets, burned cars, closed highways when Obama was elected. And I haven’t heard Ghandi being mocked by anyone (ever).

  25. Again, on what planet? Both Bernie and Hillary, and their “people” have encouraged the suppression of free speech and violent demonstrations.

    Tell me when and where the violence on the right has happened. Thanks.

  26. In a civilized society, anger doesn’t “boil over in to violence.” We work out our differences peaceably. We are on our way to a civil war, or to a far-left Nazi state.

  27. There it is! Proved my point. No lefty would ever suggest we are on the way to a “civil war”, but the right blurts this out like it’s nothing. And no one ever steps in from leadership on the right to tell people like you to zip it.

  28. This is nonsense. Leftist extremists are a fringe group with little to no political power to effect an agenda. Right wing extremists are mainstream and have political power to impose on others. There is no parity or equivalence here.

  29. Like I use to tell my kids-it’s always fun till someone starts crying.

  30. I endorse your statement completely.

  31. Nonsense, utter nonsense. By the way, there is some disagreement among objective academics over where on the political spectrum Fascists lie. Credible arguments have been made that Fascism borrows from both the Left and the Right, but not all on the Right are by any means Fascist.

  32. Your distaste for Fox News is your absolute right, but you cannot tar those commentators with the brush of the alt-right. The extremists on the Right got there on their own initiative without any prodding from Fox. As did those on the Left, without any prodding from CNN, CNBC, or MSNBC. Each of us is a moral free agent and accountable for our own actions, that is the function of a democratic-Republic, and a properly ordered world.

  33. You sound as though you speak from personal experience. (It’s a joke…a joke…I couldn’t help myself. What a minute…that sounds like I’m abdicating personal responsibility…That can’t be right. I’ve got to think…think.)

  34. “Carry me home to die,” Tom Sawyer.

  35. It’s not glossed over by the right wing media who take up those incidents and magnify it: “see the violent left.” One more reason to insist on non-violence against those who do not use violence first.

  36. We are well on our way to an Alt-Right Nazi State already and “Tweetler Drumph” is greasing the skids to shove us the rest of the way. There is no secret about his background and desires or those of Bannon and others highly placed in his administration. These are people who actually have histories intertwined with organizations that espouse Nazi (Fascist) ideals. They (including our new Supreme Court Justice) are currently working to hamstring our Constitution while Congress shrugs. You point to people who have not a whiff of history with that sort of thing, …and accuse them of being Fascist? Clean your OWN house, first! Quit believing internet propaganda and an “entertainment channel” like FOX NEWS. (Yes, it is true.) Entertainment before truth. Money before truth.

    I don’t believe in violence, either. My religion forbids it. CHRISTian, with Christ first. Speak truth, walk truth, love the poor, hungry, needy. ‘Nuff said.

  37. What a lame and nonsensical attempt at creating a false equivalence. What a typically right-wing attempt at projection. You pull out a few isolated incidents, and pretend that this is the same as the decades of hateful rhetoric that produced right-wing Christian terrorists like Robert Dear, and white racist terrorists like Dylan Roof. After CENTURIES of the oppression and harassment of anti-establishment, anti-slavery, anti-racism, and pro-labor voices – up to and including the ‘red-baiting’ of the HUAC blacklist – you pull out a few isolated incidents of some students who didn’t think that racist hate-mongers and other divisive a-holes should be speaking on THEIR campus using THEIR tuition dollars to do so.

    Sure sure, we can’t ‘sink to their level’. Sure sure, we’re supposed to take the ‘higher ground’. But if the police were coming in to YOUR neighborhood, and systematically murdering YOUR young men and not paying any legal penalties, maybe you’d probably have a slightly different view of ‘Black Lives Matter’. If it were YOUR people being systematically oppressed and harassed and murdered by the government, you’d likely have a very different view towards ‘by any means necessary’..

    In the words of the great Billy Joel – WE didn’t start the fire….

  38. You mean like some people ‘live and let live’ while other people were being OWNED as chattel slaves? How some people ‘live and let live’ while police were attacking peaceful civil rights protesters with fire hoses and attack dogs? How many today ‘live and let live’ while others use our taxdollars to promote THEIR religious beliefs as the ‘officially correct’ ones?

    “Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.
    May your chains set lightly upon you,
    and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

  39. Show me one position of the Democrats which involved attacking the rights of individuals? I can name several Republican ones which do just that.

  40. I’m on the left myself, but I acknowledge that there is antisemitism on the left which is often part of leftist fundamentalism. At the Chicago Dyke March Jews wearing Stars of David were asked to leave. The Star of David is a Jewish symbol, not a Zionist symbol. They were asked if they were Zionists. They all answered that they were Zionists, but supported a Palestinian state. They were told that was not possible for Zionists to support a Palestinian state, because Zionists were automatically all racists. That is fundamentalism. It is also seeing the world iin a very binary way where people are either good or evil. It is only Jews that get questioned though. They see Israel as a colonial White state which isn’t true and half of all Israelis are Jews from Arab countries or their families were. Israel gets accused of genocide when the Palestinian population grows every year.

  41. That is not what he is saying. What is being described as “intolerant left” is not organized and planned out and disseminated on purpose but often a reaction to the onslaught of Team Red’s continued and well organized plan to spread hate and disinformation.

  42. I said most of the media. I read Breitbart, Daily Wire, Daily Caller and the Blaze daily and they are making mountains out of molehills. Each side ignore their own sins and magnify the other side’s.

  43. You are right. The far-right is now in power in the GOP. I’m on the left though so anti-Zionism which becomes antisemitism is a daily problem for me.

  44. Both Bernie and Hillary, and their “people” have encouraged the suppression of free speech and violent demonstrations.

    In fact, they haven’t.

  45. I was trying to get out the words for my reaction to this article, but you’ve said it better than I could. Thanks, RustbeltRick.

  46. Almost nobody on the left is trying to put anti Zionism/anti semitism into the mainstream political sphere. Campaigning on such points is election suicide. Not so much with racism and the right wing.

  47. David gushee writes an article with no there, there. There is no such thing as an organized left-wing fundamentalism. The examples he cites are anomalies not an organized religion. Fundamentalism began on the right and will continue to be on the right as it is very organized. White nationalism, the alt right, the Moral Majority, Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council, and hundreds of Evangelical churches accross the country feed their followers with a steady diet of fundamentalist ideology. None of these right-wing fundamentalist Christian organizations endorse violence…they provide the ideology…it is up to the individual to act. Right-wing fundamentalism is organized and well funded. There is no such comparison on the left…there is no there there David.

  48. Not in the US, but Corbyn almost won the UK election and he is the head of the party. It’s not political suicide there.

    It depends on how you define the left. These days what is now considered left used to be centrist. If you care about Israel it seems to be everywhere.

  49. So, the left is right and the right is wrong — got it. Now, back to your bubble.

  50. It’s hard to beak out of your own prejudices when you don’t even know you’ve got them.

  51. Are you talking about the author of the article? I dont know anything about the author… ‘leftist fundamentalism’ is not a thing.

  52. No — I’m talking about you.
    “…leftist fundamentalism’ is not a thing.”
    Not in your mind, but the contents of your mind and reality are two different things. Your inability to make that distinction was the point of my original comment.

  53. Thank you, it was my hope you would find the humor.

  54. If you want to blame a “side” for Hodgkinson’s actions, you ought to blame the side that repeatedly and openly encouraged what he did. James Hodgkinson was only following the explicit advice of prominent Republicans:

    –Rand Paul tweeted that the 2nd amendment protects the right to shoot politicians, not deer.
    –President Trump said, prior to the election, that if Clinton won and got to appoint a Supreme Court Justice then the “2nd amendment people” would take care of it.
    –Sarah Palin said that the US needs “2nd amendment solutions” to liberals in office and used target symbols on a map to denote Democratic politicians.

    Unfortunately for them, Republicans don’t seem to understand that people outside their base are listening, too. Maybe they should be more careful about casually promoting political assassination going forward?

  55. We could try blaming the individual who committed the act. But that concept of accountability seems to have gone out of style — for which we can substantially thank the rise of “identity politics.”

  56. Congratulations, liberals! You took the bait, and now you are no different than they are. Happy now?

  57. Couple things. You are making this personal…you don’t know me or my mind. Couple questions. Can you give us a list of ‘leftists fundamentalist’ organizations? Who are the leaders? What are the tenants of ‘leftist fundamentalism’?Who is funding these leftists fundamentalists?

  58. Couple questions for the author or defenders of this fake news. Can you give us a list of ‘leftists fundamentalist’ organizations? Who are the leaders? What are the tenants of ‘leftist fundamentalism’? Who is funding these leftists fundamentalists?

  59. The sensible, grown-up center to American public life has been trying to show up for a while, it’s just that it gets drowned out by the extremes. I lean toward the liberal side on most issues. I think Trump is an absolute disaster for the nation and the world, and check the news several times a day to check if he’s leading us to World War III. I am also strongly anti-socialist. I cringe when I see Facebook posts about jailing “bankers,” knowing this would send friends of mine to prison and who knows what would happen to their families. I am a member of law enforcement and know all too well how much it needs improvement. I don’t think Soros is the devil, but am wary of any huge amounts of outside money being poured into local elections. I am a proud Zionist but also a supporter of a two-state solution. I believe government should be secular but am against attempts to extinguish religion from public life. But it’s difficult to express these positions in hashtags or Facebook likes. Orwell was right about the future of language extinguishing nuance. You must choose between thinking the police, Hillary, Israel, the financial industry, etc. are “good” or “ungood,” but if you want a broader conversation, no one’s listening anymore.

  60. Okay, let me de-personalize the issue by re-phrasing my remark. My reference to “you” was an effort to correct your misimpression that I was talking about someone else’s input. What I should have said is: “No – I’m talking about your *comment*.” That is fair game for response, whether I know anything about you personally or not.

    As for “Liberal Fundamentalism,” surely it is evident that Gushee is using the term in its broadest connotation, to signify political “true believers” who are so convinced of their own (and their own side’s) virtue that they can only see evil motives behind any opposition, and thereby contribute to the further polarization of our already yawning partisan divide.

    Your initial comment suggested that the problem may be invisible to you because it permeates your political milieu, and you simply take it as valid and normal. That was the point I was trying to make (repeatedly) during our exchange, and it doesn’t take any personal knowledge to raise it – all it takes is the ability to understand what you were saying.

  61. You skirted the question asked and it would have been helpful for me to understand what left wing fundamentalism looks like from your perspective in terms of tenets or leadership or level of organization.. Occupy Wall Street? Dakota Access Oil Pipeline? Greenpeace? Black Lives Matter? Bernie Sanders?

  62. I didn’t answer his question because it doesn’t have the pat answers he’s looking for. As for my perspective, “liberal fundamentalism” is not a term I use (or normally would use) in political discourse, but I appreciate Gushee’s comparison of aspects of current liberalism to religious zealotry – which is what the article was really all about. Gushee himself cited several examples to illustrate his point that the zealotry is getting out of hand on the liberal side, so I feel under no obligation to expand his article by elaborating detail on his behalf. Insofar as his comparison has any validity (a proposition I was basically defending) I’d say it’s essentially a matter of degree – i.e. at what point, exactly, does normal political zeal become exaggerated to the point that it qualifies as zealotry that justifies invoking the religious comparison? Everyone will draw their own lines, depending on a number of factors, but my original point, which I’ve tried to repeat several times, is that zealotry is never seen as a problem by the zealot, a psychological quirk that throws some light on a lot of the critical comments posted here. You’re not likely to see “liberal fundamentalists” as a problem (or even to see them at all) if you are one.

  63. Liberals are not on the left. There is a difference. These days if you’re a centrist, you’re on the left.

  64. Well, if you are going to go around being reality based and reasonable and e erything, then there is just no hope for you. We’re all doomed!

  65. Speaking of reality based-I’m pretty sure a piece of the sky just fell and hit me…of course we’re all doomed. Glad you finally came around to agree.;)

  66. “What a typically right-wing attempt at projection.”
    Apparently you’re so caught up in your own zealotry that you didn’t even notice the author is a self-declared liberal.

  67. “…had no problem elevating abortion to the act of murder of defenseless life.”

    The fetus is unquestionably “alive,” and it clearly has no way of “defending” itself — so, where, exactly, is the “elevation?” It can’t be in calling it “murder” — one of the dictionary definitions of “murder” is “to kill inhumanly, or barbarously…”, a description that applies in spades to all forms of abortion.

  68. In the long run, we’re all dead. Somebody important and English said that,

  69. Sometimes these incidents are egged on by the presence or words of outside provocateurs,

    Proof?

  70. Tim, who, in your opinion, is the leadership of the Left? Are you only referring to the Left in the US, or does your statement encompass more of the world?

  71. Raising Workers’ Wages (i..e higher legally mandated minimum wage) ……
    Democrats believe so-called “right to work” laws are wrong for workers (i.e. forced union membership)
    Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes
    Democrats support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Buckley v. Va

    The above are all QUOTES from the 2016 Democratic Party Platform. EVERY one of them is an assault on individual rights (parantheticals above explain how, in case it isn’t obvious). You can also include their fetish for gun control, their lust for censorship (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-colmes/congressional-democrats-m_b_5173493.html), their utter disdain for property rights, their hostility to both charter schools and home schooling.

  72. Right to work laws crush salaries for blue collar labor by attacking the one thing which has been responsible for giving it a middle class wage, organized labor. It’s telling that the poorest states per capita have such laws.

    Citizens United allows for elections to be more easily “bought” through dark money. It was a terrible decision. But unlike conservatives I don’t blame the entire judiciary and “activist judges” or “going against constitutional intent” for bad decisions.

    You are under the mistaken impression corporations are individuals. Very Ayn Rand Libertarian if you.

  73. Well, at the moment, the most popular leaders on the left are Bernie Sanders & Jeremy Corbyn. Both are pillars of nonviolence, with pictures to prove it.

  74. Okay. We have a few — countable few, mind you — acts of bad behavior on the left. So now we are considered to be just as bad as the uncountable many, many acts of horrid behavior accomplished on the right.

    Whew. Somebody’s balance scales are seriously off.

    Yes, there are doctrinaire leftists. There are intolerant people on the left — usually pushed to intolerance by the scalding behavior on the right. I mean, we have tolerated the right wing’s pleas to assassinate Obama, and we did not call for an end to freedom of speech. We deplored the threats, but we rose above them. And now the threats are even more and more frequent against anyone who speaks out in favor of free speech, equal rights, civil liberties, and the separation of church and state. But because one person smashed a statue of the Ten Commandments, we on the left are as bad as those who have been bullying and persecuting us in the name of religion? Good grief!

    There is no equivalence. And mind you, what some people call “left” is just right-wing on a different feather. So libertarians want an end to the war on drugs? That doesn’t make them leftists, by any means. They just want no government, which makes them right-wing-tip-fuzz fanatics.

    Fundamentalism is the opposite of liberalism and progressivism. A leftist fundamentalist is not progressive. A leftist fundamentalist is not a liberal.

    Get out your balance scales. Put the handful of leftist offenses on the one side, and the mountain of right-wing offenses on the other. Put in your calculations the fact that the right wants to rob people of health care, of food, of heat in the winter, and even take away Social Security. There is no comparison. Stop the foolishness.

  75. When I was a freshman at the University of Colorado in 1962, they invited George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, to speak. No one protested. We just went and listened. Not everything he said was well received, but there was no disturbance. CU was a far left wing school at the time, but people behaved themselves in those days. Things have gone downhill since then.

  76. You might add to those modern Libertarian that they should read the classical libertarian writings that our founding fathers followed. Some might change.

  77. I guess it makes right wingers feel better about themselves if they throw around false equivalencies. “Liberal Media Stars” have no more bearing on policy than my poodle. Look at the policies, the party platform. That’s the difference. Everything else is just noise (clickbait).

  78. I think he’s looking for the distinction… I don’t look at myself as a liberal, but as a progressive. I agree with this piece although I don’t think it delved deep enough. The difference between a liberal and a progressive is the liberal turns a blind eye to the cheating, lying and rigging of the last election done by the Democrats, while the progressive will not take part of the tomfoolery and will not until the ship its righted or a 3rd party is formed. The liberals are so foaming at the mouth to impeach a duly elected president, they can’t see how very much they look like the right when Obama was president.

    This, to me is the difference between the two.

  79. ‘self-declared’ is pretty worthless, really. Leftist is as leftist does, Forrest, and REAL Leftists don’t ignore the plight of the oppressed, nor attack those who are trying to help the oppressed.

    Again, after CENTURIES of freethinkers and anti-authoritarians being murdered and oppressed by theocracies of various sorts, it’s ABOUT DAMN TIME we started actually fighting back.

  80. So – you know better than the author does about what he REALLY believes? Either your arrogance is showing or your mind-reading skills are truly amazing.

    “If there is a sensible, grown-up center to American public life, it’s about time it showed up…”

    But apparently not in this discussion.

  81. We all want to be thought of as the calm, sensible, above it all “middle” it seems. This bothers me in religious commentators — of course it is easy to claim some golden mean which isn’t sullied by the extremes of left and right. “I’m not a Democrat or a Republican” they say, as if every card carrying member of a party agrees with everything their party says, and has turned over their brain to the cause. Actually, lots of us just like the ability to vote in a primary, and think some organized voicing is helpful.

    Still, Alex Jones and the guy who shot up the baseball game are not the same thing. Jones is watched and promoted by the President. He gets something approximating serious attention. The guy with the gun — didn’t. Coulter is an actual political commentator, as is Rush. That’s what they do all day every day. Madonna is Madonna. A rock star. But fine, I’ll drop a postcard to Colbert and Maher and tell them to knock it off. They both went too far. A couple of times.

    Perhaps the real question is whether the responsible representatives of a side attempt to police their own, and in what way. Kathy Griffin lost work. Did Kid Rock? The right elected a guy who spent 5 years insisting the last president was illegitimate. Am I really going to say its all the same?

    So the left needs to condemn the anarchists and anybody who suggests violence or even kids about it on their end. And I’ll be glad when the right speaks clearly and consistently against its fringe. Its white supremacists, for example.

  82. Here it is, talking past each other. You could say the radical left has anarchists — those are the people responsible for the rioting and vandalism in Berkeley. Highways shut down? King did that too — and I wouldn’t call it violent. OTOH, the right needs to answer for the white supremacists and the armed 2nd amendment types, which if they aren’t actually violent, mean to threaten that they could. Most Republicans feel the same affinity for white supremacists as Democrats feel about anarchists. See the problem?

  83. Please show us where Bernie and Hillary encouraged violence or the suppression of free speech, because I just don’t remember that.

  84. To be fair, right and left are continuums. The left includes anarchists, and farther out, maoists. So it isn’t quite true that no one on the left favors violence.

  85. I completely agree: holding up Griffin–who only makes money by being an ass–as some kind of Serious Liberal Leader we all follow is disingenuous. Same with Madonna.

    The author did raise some genuine issues. There are “purity” tests out there for the Left just as real as abortion is for the Right, but pretending that liberals don’t understand that celebrities who grandstand represent anyone other than their own brand is an insult to thinking individuals. Madonna is not our “Ann Coulter” who also makes money by being an ass. We know the difference.

    Coulter and Maher may qualify, but they actually understand and discuss policy. They are more than just the id of liberals. You can decry the coarseness (and I do), but I’m not sure that aspect is fundamentalism so much as entertainment.

  86. I agree. Consider myself a moderate but there do not appear to be too many people that see that there can be a moderate group anymore.

  87. I sense that those who allow either leftist or rightist perspectives control their vision of life, they confine themselves to living in gigantic blind spots. It;s sad to see how they limit their view of life, failing to see the larger landscape–the beauty of God’s enormous love and the profound harmony of the universe. When I consider the ways we are alike, I am at peace. If I focus on our differences or especially argue against them, whether it’s religion, skin pigmentation or politics, I get irritable bowel syndrome, mostly.

  88. Bravo, Skip You win because you look around those nasty blind spots, avoiding a head-on collision with life.

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