Apparently there’s a self-proclaimed militia leader named Mike Vanderboegh who runs an obscure, low-traffic blog out of Pinson, Ala. (population 5,007). Mr. Vanderboegh recently called on his fellow “sons of liberty” to break the windows of Democrats to protest health-care reform.
Let’s start with the obvious: Vanderboegh is an idiot, and anyone who followed his advice is an idiot, too. These people are buffoons, not just because such tactics help Democrats but because such behavior is simply wrong, reprehensible, and clownish.
Equally wrong, reprehensible, and clownish: the reaction to Vanderboegh and his alleged ilk.
The Daily Beast’s John Avlon insists that Vanderboegh’s rallying cry, combined with some threats and broken windows, make “the parallels, intentional or not, to the Nazis’ heinous 1938 Kristallnacht . . . hard to ignore.”
Actually, it’s really, really easy to ignore the parallels. During Kristallnacht, Nazi goons destroyed not just 7,000 store windows but hundreds of synagogues and thousands of homes. Tens of thousands of Jews were hauled off to concentration camps by the Nazis, who had been in total power for half a decade.
I couldn't agree more that comparing Mike Vanderboegh's encouragement of vandalism, even if there were greater acts of violence intended, to the holocaust is absolutely ridiculous. But Mr. Goldberg's point that the liberal reaction to the right is tantamount to McCarthyism doesn't work for me at all.
"I thought liberals rejected guilt by association as McCarthyism," says Goldberg. Now, that's a slick phrase but it doesn't add up. McCarthyism was ostensibly an attempt to seek out Communist sympathizers and silence them for the good of the country, but it quickly turned into a witch-hunt of Hollywood liberals. It turned into a seriously ugly chapter of American history because of ideology and control, but there was no substance there. There was no true danger.
On the other hand, the liberal tendency to paint the conservative movements in America with a broad brush, notwithstanding the exaggerated Holocaust claim mentioned above, is something else again. The hate talk and divisive fanaticism of the right has led to numerous acts of violence which far exceed the breaking of windows. Tolerance for these attitudes among the tea parties, gun-rights movement and even the Republican party itself is part of a concrete and very serious problem. In this there really is a true danger.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.