Taylor Armerding

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

CNHI News Service

President Donald Trump might be at least a bit better off politically if he had some kind of filter that would strip out some of his more thoughtless, incendiary remarks.

But just because he is wrong about some things, or even a lot of things, doesn’t mean he is wrong about everything.

And one thing he is sadly correct about – as the nation now moves toward an orgy of scrubbing our public places of any symbols, signs, monuments, statues, etc., that could be construed as “hateful” – is that hate and violence are not confined to such objects, or to those on the outer fringe of the far right.

It does indeed exist, as the president said, on “many sides” – something at least a few liberal voices are now noticing.

Remove all those objects, jail all the far-right haters (or “out” them and make it close to impossible for them to make a living) and there will still be plenty of hate.

It is a cliché but it is true – if you don’t oppose hatred when it’s not aimed directly at you, it eventually will be aimed at you, and by that point there won’t be anybody left to defend you.

If you think that when the far-left haters get done with their current targets – with the tacit endorsement of allegedly “tolerant” liberals – they won’t look elsewhere, you are in dangerous denial.

The self-described anarchist-socialist group that calls itself Antifa is mostly getting a pass for its hateful rhetoric and violence because it’s “anti-fascist.”

And since they are smart enough (or cowardly enough) to wear masks, it’s tough to “out” them, as is being done with those on the alt-right.

Gee, what other group uses masks to shield themselves from being held accountable for violence and hate? That’s right: the Ku Klux Klan. Antifa and the KKK have more in common than you might think.

The point is, Antifa’s hatred extends far beyond fascism.

Alan Dershowitz, the liberal lawyer and Harvard law professor, is one of the few on the left who is calling them out.

“Antifa is a radical, anti-America, anti-free market, communist, socialist, hard-left sensorial organization,” he said recently. “They use violence. Just because they are opposed to fascism and to some of these monuments should not make them heroes of the liberals.”

Another reality is that the slippery slope is real. Trump was correct when he wondered aloud where the elimination of “hateful” symbols will stop. It starts with the more obvious stuff – Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues – but once those are gone, there is still so much “hate” and “terrorism” to eliminate.

As few lonely voices have noted, there are 10 Confederate monuments in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol including those of Lee, Alexander Stephens of Georgia, who was vice president to Jefferson Davis, and Davis as well. When do they come down?

There are numerous colleges and universities, highways, counties and towns named for Confederates. They must be scrubbed as well, lest anyone driving on Leesburg Pike or Jefferson Davis Highway feel terrorized.

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and other founders owned slaves.

It goes on – did you know that liberal icon President Franklin Delano Roosevelt nominated a former member of the KKK – Hugo Black – to the Supreme Court? Do you recall that the late Sen. Robert Byrd was a high official in a chapter of the KKK? West Virginia is still littered with his name, thanks to all the pork he brought into the state.

Indeed, most Democratic politicians from the South, at least until the mid-1960s, were segregationists and white supremacists.

How about New York – the city and the state – named for James Stuart, then the Duke of York, who created Britain’s greatest slave business, known as the Royal African Company? What should Gov. Andrew Cuomo do once he’s done courting the left by taking down some “divisive and hateful” statues of Lee and Jackson? How can he live with himself, governing a state that with its very name honors a racist, white supremacist?

But even if all of those visible signs of the nation’s past are eliminated, and scrubbed from education texts, it will not end there.

If you think it will, note that ESPN has removed an Asian American announcer from a scheduled college football game because his name is Robert Lee. Note that a black student group at the University of Southern California is complaining that the USC mascot, a horse named Traveler, promotes white racism because Gen. Robert E. Lee rode a horse named Traveller. Note the different spelling.

Parody? If only.

It’s easy to carry signs and chant “no place for hate” at a rally or a “counter-protest.” The much more important, and ominous, question is: Who gets to define hate?

The answer from Antifa is obvious: They do. And if they think you’re a hater, you’ve got to be exposed, harassed, driven not just out of the public square but from your livelihood. Socialists and communists don’t think people should be allowed to own businesses.

This is not just about the hated robber barons and oligarchs. It includes millions of average Americans who thought they were living the American dream by having the freedom to create their own business. How do you feel about being called a hater for “depriving the community” of the property that rightly belongs to them?

If you keep looking the other way while Antifa destroys the piddling fringe of extremist right-wingers, you might find out.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting to hear how any of this is going to improve the lives of black Americans.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

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