Peak Jacobinism? (Extreme Radicalism Explained)
By Victor Davis Hanson July 14, 2020
Even the woke eventually fear the guillotine.
The Jacobin Left is just now beginning to get edgy.
A few of its appeasers and abettors are becoming embarrassed by some of the outright racists and nihilists of BLM and the Maoists of Antifa — and their wannabe hangers-on who troll the Internet hoping to scalp some minor celebrity.
The woke rich too are worried over talk about substantial wealth, capital-gains, and income taxes, even though they have the resources to navigate around the legislation from their wink-and-nod brethren. Soon, even Hunter Biden and the Clintons could be checking in with their legal teams to see how much it will cost them to get around the Squad’s new tax plan.
The lines are thinning a bit for the guillotine. And the guillotiners are starting to panic as they glimpse faces of a restless mob always starved for something to top last night’s torching. Finally, even looters and arsonists get tired of doing the same old, same old each night. They get bored with the puerile bullhorn chants, the on-spec spray-paint defacement, and the petite fascists among them who hog the megaphones. For the lazy and bored, statue toppling — all of those ropes, those icky pry bars, those heavy sledgehammers, and so much pulling — becomes hard work, especially as the police, camera crews, and fisticuffs thin out on the ground. And the easy bronze and stone prey are now mostly rubble. Now it’s either the big, tough stuff like Mount Rushmore or the crazy targets like Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
There are only so many ways for adult-adolescents to chant monotonously “Eat the Rich! Kill the Pigs! Black Lives Matter!” blah, blah, blah. And there are only so many Road Warrior Antifa ensembles of black hoodies, black masks, black pants, and black padding — before it all it ends up like just another shrill teachers’-union meeting in the school cafeteria or a prolonged adolescent Halloween prankster show.
Some 150 leftist writers and artists recently signed a letter attesting that they are suddenly wary of cancel culture. They want it stopped and prefer free speech. Of course, they first throat-cleared about the evil Trump, as if the president had surveilled Associated Press reporters, or sicced the FBI on a political campaign, or used CIA informants and foreign dossier-mongers to undermine a political opponent. And some petition signers soon retracted, with “I didn’t know what I was doing” apologies. Nonetheless, it was a small sign that not all of the liberal intelligentsia were going to sit still and wait for the mob to swallow them.
They learned well from #MeToo that, in the end, being emancipated, feminist, and woke did not mean that anyone accused of anything was protected by the Bill of Rights, statutes of limitations, the right to cross-examination, sincere apologies, and all that reactionary jazz, whether the accused was Al Franken or Garrison Keillor. Everyone else can also learn from #MeToo: As the revolution moved on from Brett Kavanaugh to Joe Biden himself, it went the way of the fading Jacobins. Tara Reid, after all, was tsked-tsked away in the old-boy “she’s lying” fashion. If not, then she might have empowered the evil Trump in his reelection bid.
The Lincoln County, Ore., authorities just backed off from their earlier homage to Jim Crow — they had issued an edict that all residents would be equal and wear masks in public except African Americans, who would be more equal than others and not be required to wear them. Even Oregon has standards?
The CEO of Goya, Robert Unanue, recently ignored calls to ruin his company — for his sin of praising the U.S. president. So far, he seems utterly unfazed by the pajama-boy mob.
The inveterate racist and anti-Semite Al Sharpton can’t decide whether he wants to dynamite Mount Rushmore or chisel Obama’s visage on it. How strange that the radical Left is divorcing the Democratic Party from all its iconic American referents and leaving them with nothing to replace them except painted slogans of Black Lives Matter on city streets, Kente-cloth shawls, and a Woodie Guthrie song or two. Bill de Blasio believes it is legal for a mayor to ban all public demonstrations — except those predicated on skin color, as he exempts Black Lives Matter outings. That Confederate idea may be too much even for the city’s liberals in hiding.
Seattle’s CHAZ/CHOP is gone. Warlord Raz Simone is back to his capitalist land-lording without even a citation for trespassing. Maybe former CHOP residents will get a discount at his Airbnb rentals.
The streets of our big cities are no longer a “summer of love” hate-fest targeting Donald Trump, but downright scary, given that murdering someone on sight is a COVID-get-out-of-jail-free crime. Blue-state officials green-lighted the multibillion-dollar wreckage and are now coming cup in hand, begging the Trump administration to pay for it. Their logic is: “Don’t dare send your damn troops to interrupt our beautiful looting and arson, but now please send your racist money for us to clean up the mess.”
In California, the jails and prisons are emptying, ostensibly because of the virus, in reality to enact a long-desired agenda of emptying and defunding prisons. As a result, you cannot find an automatic handgun in most California gun shops: The more left-wing a community, the harder to find a gun on the shelf. For what reason do liberals think liberals are buying guns?
COVID-19 is back for a while. The more the Left insists that millions in the streets for a month were not violating quarantines and had no effect on the second wave, the more protestors got infected and graciously went home to spread it to their more vulnerable relatives. Even leftists who were not infected know that this narrative is untrue and that their own demonstrations essentially ended the legitimacy of mass quarantining.
The hated police are slowing down in anticipation of early retirements, layoffs, and budget shortages. The logic is that going into the inner city is a trifecta losing proposition for them: Either get shot, or get accused, or get hated for doing your proper duty. De facto “community policing” seems to be operating in Atlanta, Chicago, and New York as murder spikes and shooters rediscover how it once worked out in Deadwood, Dodge City, and Tombstone. One can learn a lot about “community policing” by watching a 1950s Western in which “community leaders” plead for the outgunned sheriff to remove the accused from his jail cell and hand him over to the posse, which, with one minor lynching, would make it all go away.
How did woke Beverley Hills left-wing zillionaires respond to the Black Lives marcher shouting into their enclave “Eat the Rich”?
Try now politically correct tear gas.
When an Atherton or Georgetown liberal calls 911, will he now first say: “One, I am not an angry white person calling to rat out a suspect of color. Two, I am not calling to save my ‘brick and mortar’ property at the expense of the life of a marginalized victim. Three, I support defunding the police. And so, four, look — an individual of unknown appearance may kind of, sort of be shattering our bedroom window and could be pondering a felonious infraction. So could you send out a community facilitator to inquire?”
The Marxist-birthed Black Lives Matter now resembles Robespierre’s ridiculous Cult of the Supreme Being. So likewise, it has become our new state-sponsored religion for America’s nonbelievers. All that is left is to set up a BLM statue on a man-made mountain in D.C. where all can take the knee.
Suddenly retired generals are growing quiet. It’s as if the much-reported “small number” of violent protesters somehow got really, really big. And they do not necessarily worship the military.
Or maybe promises of renaming Fort Bragg and tearing down the Lee statue at West Point strangely did not quite satisfy the architects of Black Lives Matter. It is, after all, a blink of an eye from “Defund the Police!” to “Defund the Military!” (How strange that retired four-star generals in their sixties and seventies suddenly discovered in late spring 2020 that their once hallowed bases a century ago were named after racist Confederate mediocrities. Who would have thought?)
If the chairman of the Joint Chiefs won’t even appear on camera with the commander in chief who restored a decrepit Pentagon budget, and the pantheon of retired military luminaries believes that proof of a Mussolini, Nazi, or fascist in the White House is to be found in the act of securing the southern U.S. border, or not staying another 20 years in Afghanistan, or not inserting American youth into the middle of Kurdish-Turkish bloodletting while inside Russian- and Iranian-occupied fascist Syria, then many might decide that the U.S. military should deal on its own with the defunding Left.
The NFL pulled a Joe Biden VP trick and prematurely promised to play the “black national anthem” at a few games so that all can stand in homage in racial solidarity and then all kneel in disrespect for the subsequent ecumenical national anthem.
Players can wear political insignia to remind incorrect viewers at home about how they are to think correctly. Will extra points be given for great passes and catches by the most woke?
NFL owners can’t yet fathom how they have conjured up a brilliant new way of destroying a 100-year heritage and an inherited huge audience. Is the message of the most non-diverse players to their most diverse fans now to be: “We don’t like your racist country and won’t stand for your toxic anthem, but you owe us to stay tuned for the commercial ads and to come out to the stadium to pay oppressed multimillionaires like us”?
Anyone who watches such an NFL game this fall might as just as well get it over with and enroll in a more honest North Korean–style reeducation camp. If that doesn’t work out, one can always tune in to the NBA preseason and hear more lectures from philosopher-king coach Steven Kerr, contextualizing the many reasons the NBA honors the power of Chinese Communist Party money.
As the cities turn into wastelands, children are gunned down, and careers are destroyed, fewer and fewer bore us by intoning that Trump is Mussolini, or that he resembles the operators of Auschwitz. Fewer still care about the spiraling tragic carnage of the inner cities — not Black Lives Matter, not the Squad, not Nancy Pelosi.
When will we see the BLM/Antifa/Democratic agenda spelled out in full? A new inheritance tax for the midlevel retiring Google executives? A yearly wealth tax on Beyoncé, Cher, and LeBron James? No more carbon foot-printing in a private jet for Barack and Michelle, or Bill and Hillary? Reparations for Maxine Waters? No police force for Pacific Heights?
Terrified inner-city dwellers can’t count on their progressive governors or mayors, or sympathetic billionaires, who will soon be able to hire politically incorrect ex-policemen at a bargain to beef up their private security patrols.
So, the revolution is tiring, devouring its own, terrifying its enablers, embarrassing its abettors, and becoming worried that somewhere some courageous nobody might dare say, “You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”
The unhinged revolution is trying to make the U.S. into one big CHOP. Millions of Americans seem to be scrambling to avoid it, preferring instead to let the effort cannibalize itself at a safe distance — at least for now.
NRO contributor VICTOR DAVIS HANSON is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump. @vdhanson