Salvo 05.07.2024 4 minutes

Political Violence in America

Minneapolis after the killing oif George Floyd

Chaos is now another leftist institution.

The leftist tumult, often sliding into intimidation and violence, overtaking American college campuses is neither temporary nor topical. That is, it won’t end when the war in Gaza ends, nor is it even particularly about that war. What we are seeing in 2024 is the latest, dreary iteration of left-wing violence that seems predictably to strike during election years. 

Americans who remember the violence of 2020 will find it all familiar. Then, as now, there was a proximate trigger in events, and then, as now, the actual strategic aim of the so-called protestors—really insurrectionists—was to sow chaos and, not at all coincidentally, compel particular policy and electoral outcomes. We know what happened in 2020, even if the press and the regime have done their best to bury that memory or retrofit it as a righteous and mostly peaceful movement for justice. That fraught year saw American communities set afire, American law enforcement ambushed and murdered, American citizens subject to ideological show trials by fanatical roving mobs, and American institutions rush to acquiescence lest they be targeted. In any other country, it would have been called seditious insurrection and met with force. And probably it should have been. 

The ideological violence of 2024 has yet to climax. One reason it is slow to build is that its proximate trigger is less sympathetic than the one in 2020: everyone wants equal rights for black Americans, but the local constituency for Hamas is quite a bit smaller. Another reason is that it’s early yet. Though the Gaza war has been underway for eight months, the American mass protests over it, in the form of territorial “occupations” and transportation shutdowns, are only a month or so old. Give them time to grow. 

Grow they will. The Democratic National Convention this summer, to be held, ironically, in Chicago, will unquestionably be a scene of violence matching or perhaps even exceeding that of its fabled 1968 predecessor. The Republican National Convention in Milwaukee will be similarly hit, but likely less so: Milwaukee is a different sort of town, and anyway, the Palestinian partisans will know their target audiences are mostly in Chicago. Apart from the major party conventions, any American community with an institution of higher education can expect to be wracked, and once the full interface is made with the activist network that undertook the 2020 violence, all bets everywhere are off. 

We have to understand chaos as a well-honed and deliberately constructed institutional capacity of the American Left. Since the Obama years, we have seen successive waves of violence and civic takeover unleashed upon Americans and American communities, under a variety of pretexts—from Occupy Wall Street to Ferguson to the 2017 Inaugural protests, to various Women’s Marches, to the 2020 insurrection—and now this. This phenomenon represents the development of a series of operational capabilities, both physical and ideological: the ability to seize city centers, cut transportation arteries, occupy targeted facilities, combat or deter law enforcement, and psychologically dominate the societal commanding heights in academia, media, and governance. It is all of a piece, and all mutually reinforcing.

Yet we are lectured constantly by regime organs, which turn a blind eye to this metastasizing phenomenon of leftist violence, that right-wing violence is the real threat to American civics. This is deceptive manipulation at scale. No American business in the past century has boarded up its windows or given its employees a day off in fear of a conservative mob. But that has absolutely happened for fear of leftist mobs—most recently in autumn 2020, when storefronts across the country put up plywood in their windows out of fear of what the Democratic base would do if Joe Biden didn’t win the election. It will happen again in 2024. 

The apparatus of the Left has achieved something malign and portentous. A democracy that plunges into civic violence concurrent with elections is not a real democracy. Nor is a society that resorts to intimidation and menace over political questions a genuinely free society. A republic cannot tolerate this sort of thing forever. An end must come, and the grim and coercive apparatus of the Left must be broken. Our task—because no regime lasts forever—is to face it, and win it. 

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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