I’ve always tried to make a distinction between “opponents” or “rivals” or “antagonists” and “enemies.” (I’ve not always been successful, but I do try.) To me, I don’t like to think of my fellow Americans as “enemies.” That’s a very powerful word, a very loaded term, and I tend to reserve it for those who clearly have our nation’s harm in mind. I really don’t like applying it to fellow citizens, and only do so in the most extreme cases.
But I’m really starting to reconsider that. Which does not make me happy.
In the last couple of days, some members of the left have done some truly despicable things. First, in Madison, a Fox News reporter was covering the union protests at the Capitol when he was assaulted. Next, the adolescent punkass shitheels of “Anonymous” decided to take an active role in American domestic politics, and launched DDOS attacks against the group Americans For Prosperity and Koch Industries’ web sites.
Now, generally, this sort of shit isn’t that new. Despicable people do despicable things all the time, from both sides. It’s lousy, but it happens. You deal with it.
Of late, it’s become a partisan game to play. When one of these jerks does something, you call out their putative allies and demand they condemn it. They can’t be silent, because that can be taken as assent. No, they must immediately speak out against it, dropping whatever else they might be doing at the time. For example, the “birthers” — those who challenge whether or not the circumstances of President Obama’s birth disqualify him from holding the presidency. Every now and then, especially when they’re saying or doing something that actually does challenge President Obama in some way, conservatives are challenged on the subject of the “birthers” and pushed to definitively address that issue — which oh-so-conveniently changes the subject from their entirely-different criticism of Obama.
It’s a trap. And the smart ones have figured out to just reject the trap, to not get lured into playing the “you must condemn it” game. Which is why I’m not asking or expecting anyone to waste a bit of breath talking about how awful the assault on Mike Tobin is, or how awful the adolescents of “Anonymous” are for their actions.
But for christ’s sake, you don’t have to cheer about tit and egg it on.
When Stephanie Miller and Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert find Tobin’s assault hysterically funny, they are explicitly endorsing the attack. And when The Daily Kos rejoices in the DDOS attack against those they have declared as their enemies, they are explicitly endorsing that attack.
If those are the new rules, then so be it. If this is the new standard, then it is. If this is the current playbook, then by all means let both sides use it.
As the saying goes — those that live by the sword, will die by the sword.