Biden and Democrats need a history lesson on left-wing political violence in the US
Opinion by Christopher Tremoglie
During his extremely divisive “blood-red” speech last week, in which he identified half the country as our country’s enemies, President Joe Biden made many references to the alleged danger of former President Donald Trump and “MAGA Republicans.” He focused largely on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and categorized “MAGA Republicans as a threat, a danger, and a phenomenon that jeopardizes our country’s democracy like no other.”
But even as he lamented the horrors of political violence, Biden seemingly forgot the history of contemporary left-wing violence in the country. It’s no excuse for other bad actors, but it is a crucial piece of context without which nothing else can be understood. It’s time someone reminded him.
Throughout 2020, leftists in multiple cities staged hundreds of violent riots, characterized by looting, assaults, arson, and murders. Detractors will say their violence was somehow justified because it happened as a result of George Floyd’s death, as if looting a Target for flatscreen televisions and murdering a 77-year-retired black police captain had anything to do with George Floyd.
There were also the numerous riots that plagued the country after Trump won the 2016 presidential election. In D.C., a limo was deliberately set on fire just a few blocks from the Washington Examiner’s offices. Apparently, Biden (and every Democrat in the country) has forgotten about the plot by a left-wing fanatic to throw acid on the guests at one of Trump’s inaugural balls. Thankfully, that plot was foiled.
Biden’s own comment in 2018, that he wished he could take Trump “behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” is the sort of thing politicians say. It may be stupid, but it should not be criminalized — a lot like Trump’s rhetoric. The sad fact is, politicians lie a lot (including about elections) and say lots of stupid things. If that were a crime, none of them would get out of jail long enough to hold office.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, lies a lot about millionaires and billionaires rigging the system. Unfortunately, some kook was inspired by his rhetoric and attempted to assassinate much of the House Republican Conference as they practiced on a baseball diamond in northern Virginia in 2017. He fired 60 shots, hitting two Capitol Police officers, two lobbyists, one congressman, and a staffer. No one was killed, but Rep. Steve Scalise did nearly die of his wounds.
Speaking of attacks on the Capitol itself, there have been quite a few — some by people openly seeking to overthrow the U.S. government. Take, for example, the 1983 attack by the female-led, left-wing, communist domestic terrorist group known as May 19. Whereas the Jan. 6 riot involved breaking into the Capitol, this group actually bombed it. May 19 blew up the Capitol’s north wing and caused over $1 million in damage (equivalent to a little less than $3 million today). The left-wing group also bombed an FBI office and Washington, D.C.’s Fort McNair and Navy Yard.
As Democrats are seeking to establish the precedent that attacks on the Capitol are unique threats to our democracy, it is worth noting that one of the bombers of May 19 was Susan Rosenberg. She was convicted of her crime and sentenced to 58 years in prison, but President Bill Clinton commuted her sentence on Jan. 20, 2001. She later became a college professor. So much for taking threats to “our democracy” seriously.
In the 1970s, the left-wing group known as Weather Underground caused havoc throughout the country. An offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground, bombed the headquarters of the U.S State Department. Much like the SDS, this group was largely inspired by left-wing and communist political ideologies. Its stated objective was to destroy America, to “disrupt the empire … to incapacitate it, to put pressure on the cracks.” They were responsible for 25 bombings overall, including attacks on the Pentagon, the California Attorney General’s Office, a New York City police station, and, you guessed it, the Capitol.
Bill Ayers and Michael Klonsky were two prominent figures in the aforementioned left-wing groups. Ayers was with Weather Underground and Klonsky was with SDS. Both were responsible for trying to destroy the country from within by spreading communist ideology; they were legitimate threats to our democracy. Both were later given prominent government positions by Democrats. Klonsky was appointed by Clinton as a member of the President’s Advisory Panel on School Violence; Ayers became a professor at the University of Chicago and worked with Democrats on education reform.
Whereas the Jan. 6 rioters get imprisoned, vilified, and deemed a threat to our country, left-wing saboteurs get rewarded with jobs in academia and even government. Do you think a Republican is going to invite the “Viking hat guy” from Jan. 6 to sit on a government panel in the future? Just asking.
The big freakout over Jan. 6 would not be so big if more people understood the context of such attacks. This is actually nothing new.
All political violence is despicable because it erodes our ability to have a free society and an open political process. But let’s not pretend this most recent incident is some unprecedented or unique threat. This sort of thing, unfortunately, happens a lot, and neither side has a monopoly on it. From the 1970s to the present day, left-wing terrorists and traitors have done their part with their repeated, often openly admitted attempts to overthrow the U.S. government. When Democrats talk about Jan. 6, it’s mostly because this is their main issue in the current election, not because it was something new and special.