Radicals Shooting Congressmen: This Is How You Get the Spanish Civil War

Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinics Caught Turning Women Away Who Wanted Prenatal Care
June 15, 2017
Florida Gov. Signs Bill Putting Prayer Back in School
June 15, 2017

A pro-life congressman, a family man and Christian, fights for his life as I write this.

John ZmirakBy John Zmirak, a Senior Editor of The Stream – I found myself choking up, almost sobbing this morning. The news rarely does that to me, not since the morning of September 11, when I lived in New York City. Today I couldn’t believe that our country has come to this. But it has. And it’s our task to face it. God help us and our children.

A pro-life congressman, a family man and Christian, fights for his life as I write this. Respectable voices all over social media warn us not to “politicize” the fact that a political activist shot down Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip, for his political views. Not to dwell on ugly facts, such as these:

  • The shooting formed part of a failed attempt to massacre a dozen Republican members of Congress — the very people standing in the way of the desperate hope many Democrats hold of impeaching President Trump.

  • The killer, James T. Hodgkinson, was not a mental patient, a drifter, a foreign terrorist or a drug-addled loser.

  • He was a Bernie Sanders volunteer and a supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center — just like Floyd Lee Corkins II, who in 2012 attempted to massacre the staff of the Family Research Council, after seeing the FRC listed as a hate group on the SPLC website.

  • The attack happened scant days after New York City’s elite Shakespeare in the Park mounted a production of Julius Caesar that lip-smackingly dramatized the murder of President Trump.

  • It occurred not two weeks after Kathy Griffin produced her murder porn, ISIS-style photo of herself with the head of the president.

  • As Breitbart reports, there have been 15 separate instances of celebrities calling for or justifying violence against Trump himself or Republicans in general.

  • As The Hill reports, “The office of Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) received a threatening email with the subject line ‘One down, 216 to go …,’ shortly after a shooter opened fire on GOP lawmakers who were at a congressional baseball practice, according to her office.”

But we’re not supposed to mention any of that. We should blame “guns” or “hate” or testosterone or something. When a loner crank attacks a black church, after posing with a Confederate emblem, dozens of historic war memorials must be ripped down. When an irreligious wife-beater and voyeur shoots up a strip mall that contains an abortion clinic, the whole pro-life movement is suspect.

We’re supposed to blame “guns” or “hate” or testosterone or something.

However, when a leftist or a Muslim kills those who don’t share his views, we’re supposed to blot that out of our minds. That would “politicize” a tragedy. If we mention a terrorist’s motives in a country such as Germany, the police might come and arrest us.

Cultural Terrorism Leads to Attempted Congressional Massacres

It infuriated leftists to lose the crucial election of 2016. That vote was meant to cement their control over the Supreme Court for our lifetime. To withdraw from the voters’ hands control over abortion, marriage, religious liberty, gun rights, and even free political speech. To complete the transformation of the U.S. military into a social-justice agency. (One that expels Christian officers and funds sex change operations.) To open wide the borders and continue replacing the American people with a more left-friendly electorate. And the left came achingly close … so close that some cannot stand it.

The countless calls for “resistance” and “disruption” imply that our government is now illegitimate. What do “Resistance” movements do? They commit sabotage and violence.

So many leftists turned to what political scientist Thomas Molnar called “cultural terrorism.” It’s the breaking of ordinary norms. The stoking of mindless rage. The rejection of fair play and civic-minded respect for rules. It includes appalling actions like Griffin’s ISIS photo shoot. Like the violent attacks of hooded Antifa thugs on professors at college campuses. Like the countless calls for “resistance” and “disruption,” which imply that our government is now illegitimate. But the terror could never stop there. It has an inner logic. Cultural terrorism leads to actual terrorism. The thought is the father of the deed.

If You’re the Resistance then Your Opponents Are … Nazis?

What do you do with an illegitimate government? You resist it. What do “Resistance” movements do? They commit sabotage and violence. That’s the next logical step. It’s what the French Resistance did. It is also what the Ku Klux Klan did right after the Civil War. “Resistance” cuts all ways, you see. One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. And that is why we should be so very, very reluctant to label a government illegitimate. Because that amounts to declaring a state of civil war.

We should set the bar very, very high before deciding something like that. (Here’s why.) We conservatives usually do. That is why even though we know that abortion is murder, and that Planned Parenthood is an organization of ghouls and organ thieves, we haven’t responded with violence. No right-wing celebrity is posing with Cecile Richards’ severed head. We on the right (and some on the left) are still grounded in Christian Just War theory and the classical liberal respect for the human person and civic order.

The Left Has Embraced Irrationalism and Coercion

Alas, many influential voices on the left have abandoned these ideals. Not just in patchouli-reeking cafes in Portland, but in the very halls of elite academia. Did you notice what happened to the students who bullied two professors into resigning tenure at Yale? They won a coveted award at graduation. The mob that attacked professors and visiting scholar Charles Murray at Middlebury went completely unpunished. I could go on with such incidents for another 2,000 words. Or 5,000. Whole websites like The College Fix, FIRE, and Campus Reform are devoted to recounting such grim abuses, day after day.

Read this fascinating, if difficult article by an honest liberal academic explaining how we came to this pretty pass. It’s worth reading in full, but I’ll sum it up for you in a few quick, brutal strokes:

  • Post-modernist intellectuals now dominate the humanities and social sciences at most universities.

  • Post-modernism rejects traditional standards of fairness, objectivity, open debate, free speech, and scholarly rigor.

  • It’s driven by a profound and visceral hatred of middle-class life, Christian morals, property rights, and virtually every other crucial institution and precept of the West.

  • It measures the moral and intellectual validity of every statement or action by its political impact: Does it advance the destruction of those demonized institutions? Then it is good, brave, even heroic.

  • Does it slow that destruction down? Then it is oppressive, wicked, fascist, even racist. It must be silenced, “by any means necessary.”

That is the moral code most kids are learning in college, with a shrinking set of exceptions.

White Terrorists and Extremists

There is a small, contemptible fringe of racists, anti-government anarchists, and other disaffected people we could put on the political right who do trade in such violent rhetoric. The “militia” movement of the 1990s was its high point. Timothy McVeigh was its terrorist. You can still find websites that dismiss our democracy as a “Zionist Occupational Government.” A few Alt-Right cranks still peddle such unhinged theories.

What you can’t find are Hollywood actors espousing such loathsome views, unpunished. No city or state governments will offer “sanctuary” to people who break the law for reasons like that. No elite arts companies will sponsor live productions of Julius Caesar that climax with Barack Obama getting lynched. Thank God for that, of course. I am glad that the right has not climbed down into the same sewer as the left.

Because when it does, things get even uglier. Far worse than you’d imagine. In Spain on July 13, 1936, a conservative member of the Spanish parliament, Calvo Sotelo, was murdered in cold blood by leftists. It was the last straw in a wave of escalating political violence, much of which had targeted churches. It sparked the Spanish Civil War.

We don’t want to go there. Let’s pray that we don’t.


John Zmirak is a Senior Editor of The Stream, and author of the new Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. His focus was the English Renaissance, and the novels of Walker Percy. He taught composition at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, and has written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods & Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention, representing Pat Buchanan.

He has been Press Secretary to pro-life Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, and a reporter and editor at Success magazine and Investor’s Business Daily, among other publications. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in First Things, The Weekly Standard, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, FrontPage Magazine, The American Conservative, The South Carolina Review, Modern Age, The Intercollegiate Review, Commonweal, and The National Catholic Register, among other venues. He has contributed to American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought. From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of Faith & Family magazine and a reporter at The National Catholic Register. During 2012 he was editor of Crisis.

He is author, co-author, or editor of eleven books, including Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist, The Grand Inquisitor (graphic novel) and The Race to Save Our Century. He was editor of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s guide to higher education, Choosing the Right College and Collegeguide.org, for ten years, and is also editor of Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind.