What is Up With the Violent Left?

Protesters march with signs in Berkeley, California on February 1, 2017. Violent protests erupted on February 1 at the University of California at Berkeley over the scheduled appearance of a controversial editor of the conservative news website Breitbart.

By George Yancey Published on April 9, 2017

Progressive activism has a history of violence, and it’s getting worse. Activists have blocked people from attending talks by conservative speakers. Ann Coulter got a pie thrown at her. Leftists aren’t the only ones throwing fists, of course. But lately it seems there’s been an uptick in violence from their side of the spectrum.

There are always fringe elements in any large political bloc. But most people on the mainstream left used to oppose such violence. Recently, though, that’s changed. When Richard Spencer got punched in the face, one leftist defended the attack as a “civic duty.” The New York Times wasn’t sure there was anything wrong with it. Liberals celebrated on the internet with memes and games.

When students and others rioted at UC-Berkeley, cutting short a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, some faculty members downplayed the violence. The city’s mayor questioned Yiannopoulos’s free speech rights. Some celebrities openly supported the violence.

Why are people on the left accepting violence more now? The obvious answer is Donald Trump. Many tie him to racism, sexism and ethnic prejudice, among other faults. Chances are they would connect any Republican president to such ills. But Trump is different. He’s a more serious threat, since he symbolizes the rise to power of people they think are going to ruin society.

Seeing Christians as Threats

Activists on the left have developed a conspiracy frame of mind. They imagine conservatives want to take us back to a dark age where all non-Christian faith is banned. They believe people on the right want a society where whites freely mistreat non-whites and men mistreat women. They see the rise of the right as a threat to science and rational thought.

As long as the left sees the right as backward people trying to bring back the Inquisition, it should be no surprise that some will try to justify violence to put a stop to it.

In my research I found that many progressives think political and Christian conservatives are stupid, bigoted and intolerant. They may admit that not all of them support violence. Commonly, though, they see themselves in a political battle that they lose at their own peril.

One person I surveyed said, “Some of this group wants to establish a theocracy and to have all laws and rules confirm to Biblical law. They will use any means to accomplish their goal to undermine democracy, so that their theology can dominate.” Another said conservatives “want to return to the Dark Ages of ignorance … to abolish the Constitution and re-instate … a Christian version of Sharia Law.”

These views were fairly typical in the group I surveyed, and they’re common on the left. I believe they’re also common among those who engage in these violent protests.

Justifying Violence

Granted, Trump doesn’t have an image as a Christian, or even as a solid conservative. Still, for the left he signals the rise of forces they think would ruin our society.

As long as the left sees the right as backward people trying to bring back the Inquisition, it should be no surprise that some will try to justify violence to put a stop to it.

Of course people are free to disagree with the goals and aims of political opponent. Of course they’re free work against them. But it’s irresponsible and bigoted to promote the type of prejudice that moves people to commit political violence.

Leftists generally agree stereotyping is wrong. Let’s hope they’ll soon take a look in the mirror. They need to see how they’ve stereotyped conservatives — and how it’s led to violence within their own ranks. If they don’t, even more violence is likely to result.

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  • Gary

    You can’t re-instate something that has never happened. It seems the left thinks that there was a theocracy in America in the past, and that Christians want to get it back. I think liberals consider the time when abortion, interracial marriage and same-sex marriage were illegal to have been a theocracy. I was living when all of that was happening, but I never heard anyone claim it was a theocracy. But, given their beliefs, I can see how liberals today would think that a theocracy was in place then. Take away abortion, interracial marriage and dating and legal homosexuality and you ruin life for liberals. You destroy their reason for living. The prospect of that brings out the violence in them.

    • Christopher Rank

      You had me until you lumped interracial marriage in there with abortion and “legal homosexuality”. Let’s get this straight, there have been some improvements that Christians should applaud, such as changing course on racist laws like interracial marriage denial. If you think that racist garbage that the church should have fought against are the same as murdering children you are going to have an interesting wake up call when you go to meet the Lord. Let’s hope you actually know Him since he hates racism just as much as murder.

      • Gary

        The Left is about race and sex, and not much else. Almost everything they are for or against has some component of either race or sex involved in it. Liberals adore non-whites and hold them in higher esteem than they do whites. I suspect the enthusiasm liberals have for mixing the races, in every way, is due to their wanting to get even with whites.

        While it is true that God has believers from different races, it is also true that race is a divider. Obviously, at least to me, that is what God intended. If God intended the races to interbreed, why go to the trouble of making the distinctions?

        • Christopher Rank

          Ok so you are saying that, like most “Christians” in America you put your own thoughts and feelings and opinions in front of the clear teaching of the Bible. Fair enough. Please don’t bring your racist belief system to the gospel. The only distinction God ever makes is between Christian and non-Christian. You are just making things up that line up with your upbringing.

          • Gary

            I disagree. There is nothing in my comments that indicates I believe any one race is better than another. You might not like it, but God made people with different skin colors. If God wanted everyone to look alike, He would have made everyone alike. What makes you think you have the right to change what God has done?

        • Sonnys_Mom

          While we don’t all look alike, we are not different species.

      • Sonnys_Mom

        I think Gary means, “if we take the focus away from topics the left is obsessed with”, such as race and sex…

  • Az1seeit

    There’s no excuse for their violence. It is pure evil, brought on by overblown political rhetoric, arrogant assumption of moral superiority and utter dehumanization of people by those who believe the aforementioned stereotyping…which has no basis in reality. This is in the name of tolerance. Compassion. This, to me, is frightening.

  • GPS Daddy

    One of the “messages” that adds to the state we are in is that there are bad people and good people. We see this message is in almost every tv show and movie to grace our screens these days. But it denies the gospel message that the evil is within each of us. As long as you can make “them” the reason we have evil and your not part of “them”, then anything can be justified to stop “them.”

  • Jennifer Hartline

    They need to see how ironic it is that they fear the Right rejects science?!? Science proves life at conception. Science proves the child in the womb is a human person. Science completely debunks the insanity of “trans” ideology. No, the Left has no interest in science or in facts. That is why they despise anyone who doesn’t toe their line.

  • Sonnys_Mom

    Excellent, insightful analysis. Thank you, George!

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