How to Get Away with Political Violence
By Gary Jason
On March 22, 2010, Milbank trumpeted his views about the Tea Party movement on the front page of the Washington Post:
The journey to health-care reform has been long and gruesome, so it’s only fitting that on the day when it would finally pass, Republican members of Congress stood on the balcony of the people’s House and stirred an unruly crowd. As lawmakers debated their way to a vote on the legislation, dozens of GOP members walked from the chamber, across the Speaker’s Lobby and out onto the balcony to whip up thousands of “tea party” protesters massed on the south side of the Capitol, within about 50 feet of the building.
Some lawmakers waved handwritten signs and led the crowd in chants of “Kill the Bill.” A few waved the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag of the tea party movement. Still others fired up the demonstrators with campaign-style signs mocking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and offering messages such as “Let’s Meet ’em at the State Line.” some Democrats worried aloud about the risk of violence, while anxious Capitol Police struggled to keep the crowd away from the building.
It was a hideous display, capping one of the ugliest and strangest periods of the American legislative process[.]
Shortly after publication, the online version of the article was edited if not completely rewritten, deleting “hideous display” and much else. Fortunately, I retained a copy of the original.
I was present at this demonstration, and I observed everything Milbank did. This was not a hideous display. It was pure Americana, a scene that Norman Rockwell would’ve gladly painted for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. It wasn’t hideous at all; it was a magnificent, glorious, patriotic sight.
The Capitol Police were not anxious about the crowd. On the contrary, they had never run into such a well-behaved, friendly, non-threatening group. And of course, the Capitol lawn was much cleaner after the protest than it was before the protest had begun.
Interestingly, as the piece reached its conclusion, Milbank observed that, “[m]ercifully, there was no attempt to storm the House.”
Poor, fretful, hand-wringing Dana Milbank feared that Tea Partiers would storm the U.S. Capitol the way French protestors stormed the Bastille back in 1789. Actually, that was a good thing for “Nous les Personnes” — i.e., “We the People” — in France, so it’s no wonder that a member of the Washington political class such as Milbank would write in an hysterical manner about what he perceived as a grave threat to Washington’s aristocracy.
All this demands an answer to the question: when has Mr. Milbank used the term “hideous” or even “violent” to describe other recent rallies, protests, and demonstrations?
Did the Occupy Wall Street movement ever cause Mr. Milbank to quiver and shake? Clearly, Milbank is more fearful about imagined violence from the Main Street Americans of the Tea Party movement than he is about actual ugly physical violence and property destruction by those supporting liberal causes.
Almost one year ago to the day, I wrote “Occupy Wall Street: The Id of the Liberal Elite” about how the left’s intelligentsia not only refrain from judging the Occupy movement, but are the movement’s biggest cheerleaders. Yet the real destructiveness of the movement was well-documented:
So far, Occupy encampments and events around the country have set the scene for more than 4,000 arrests, multiple alleged rapes, anti-Semitic harangues, attacks on police, child endangerment, public defecation and urination, public sex and masturbation, drug use, thefts, assaults, vandalism, the destruction of private and public property, devastating blows to local merchants’ businesses, a few deaths, and much, much more. The list continues to grow.
But Occupy Wall Street violence was evidently of no concern to Milbank. It was for a good cause.
When public service and teachers’ union protesters took over the Wisconsin Capitol building last winter, doing about $7.5 million in damages and making multiple personal threats against Governor Scott Walker, his family, and Republican members of the Wisconsin legislature, did Mr. Milbank fret? Silence. Instead, he joined the fray, calling Governor Walker a “hooligan.”
And now, just a few days ago, union members once again showed up to protest, this time at the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. Once again, physical violence ruled the day. Steven Crowder, a Fox News commentator, was roughed up and punched as he attempted to report from the site. Americans for Prosperity had a large thirty-by-sixty-foot tent set up on the Capitol grounds, staffed by volunteers. Union thugs stormed the tent, tearing it down while AFP members were still inside. Milbank may well deem this “good” or “acceptable” violence, because it was against fiscal conservatives, not liberals, and therefore may be ignored. But we can’t know for sure, as he was silent on this event, too.
One final example of the use of personal threat by the left that Mr. Milbank was not alarmed about: on February 23, 2011, FreedomWorks employee Tabatha Hale went into a crowd of union thugs protesting outside her office, a short walk from and in clear view of the U.S. Capitol building. Members of the NEA, AFT, SEIU, and CWA were present. As she and a colleague attempted to film an interview with one of the burly CWA members, he assaulted 5’1″ Tabatha, knocking her cell phone out of her hands and onto the pavement. You can read her account and watch the whole thing here.
Through all this violence, which left-leaning pundits such as Dana Milbank choose to overlook, political operatives who are most certainly not Tea Partiers “reveal who they are deep down inside and how they would behave if they themselves were free to cast aside all societal restraint,” proving that “they are comfortable with some level of both anarchy and tyranny if either will bring about their impossible utopian vision for the United States of America.”