Mobbed Up

I’ll say it: Right-wing mobs are way scarier than left-wing mobs. It seems like the British government agrees, but are we all victims of our own biases? Or is there really something true about it?

The Asia Bibi story is terrifying. If you haven’t been following, it concerns a Christian woman in Pakistan who was convicted of blasphemy for drinking out of a water jug used by Muslim women. After surviving calls for her execution and serving several years in prison, her sentence was thrown out recently.

Under threats against her life, Bibi’s family has requested asylum in countries such as the UK. To the dismay of some critics, the government dithered, wondering if saving Bibi would harm UK/Pakistan relations.

So here is our question this morning: Are right-wing mobs like the ones calling for Bibi’s head scarier in general than left-wing mobs?

Consider the following recent examples: Last year, in Charlottesville, Virginia, a “pro-white” mob marched in support of neo-Confederate values. In the fracas, a right-winger killed a counterprotester with a car.

Of course, we’ve seen other frightening mobs recently from the other side of our culture wars. At Middlebury College, for example, protesters in masks accosted and physically threatened Charles Murray and a member of the Middlebury faculty. At Evergreen State College, protesters shouted down faculty who disagreed with their plans for a campus-wide boycott. Perhaps most dramatically, masked left-wingers swept through Berkeley last year to shut down a right-wing protest.

We could go on and on. Conservative pundits such as Tucker Carlson have lamented their abuse at the hands of chanting leftist mobs. From the other side, Christine Blasey Ford—the woman who accused new SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault—has had to move four times, hire private security, and give up her job.

To this reporter, though, the two sides don’t seem the same. Threats from the right seem far more deadly than those from the left. Maybe it’s because in the USA, the right is the side of guns and absolute values. The right is the side of “Fightin Side of Me.” The left, on the other hand, is the side of hippies and self-empowerment. It is the side of skepticism and postgraduate degrees.

I know those are just stupid stereotypes and we can think of plenty of counter examples. For instance, soccer hooligans cause far more mob havoc than do NASCAR fans.

Still…is it only my bias, or is there really something more frightening about right-wing mob violence?

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  1. Agellius

     /  November 15, 2018

    To me the difference, for the most part, is that when right-wingers demonstrate, they just want to demonstrate, whereas left-wingers want to impose their will. If left-wingers hold a demonstration, right-wingers don’t show up just to get in their faces and disrupt it. It’s usually the other way around: When right-wingers demonstrate, left-wingers find it intolerable and feel compelled to stop it, using violence if necessary (and it’s usually necessary).

    I’m fairly certain that if left-wing groups had not shown up to disrupt the right-wing demonstrations in Charlottesville, the violence would not have occurred. That’s a truism, isn’t it? But I think it’s a fact, that whenever violence breaks out between the two sides, it’s virtually always because the right was trying to demonstrate and the left found it intolerable and was compelled to stop it.

    Granted, some right-wing groups are scarier than some left-wing groups. (For that matter we haven’t even defined right-wing and left-wing groups.) But what disturbs me about the left-wing groups is the way the media gives them a free pass in a way they would never do for right-wingers. Disturbing because it sends the message that it’s OK to suppress right-wing speech – because they’re wrong, you know. The lefties are only standing up for their principles. Courage and all that. But if right-wingers try to suppress left-wing speech, it’s immediately denounced as hatred and fascism.

    By the way, you write, “Are right-wing mobs like the ones calling for Bibi’s head scarier in general than left-wing mobs?”

    What right-wing mobs are you referring to?

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