Political terminology can be confusing and misleading, so let’s get some things straight. For the purposes of this piece, let’s call a “classical liberal” someone who believes that the government is best-suited to address the nation’s problems (as opposed to the true classical liberal in the sense of John Locke or Thomas Hobbes). Modern-day American classical liberals would be advocates of LBJ’s Great Society, and of 1970s/80s liberal lions like Ted Kennedy and Tip O’Neill.
Next, there are those to whom we can refer, for lack of a better term, as modern-day “classical progressives.” They are a new generation of liberals, more focused on political correctness, at times to the point that it becomes overcorrectness. Whereas a classical liberal might not care about using words or phrases like “who wears the pants in this house” or “black sheep of the family,” progressives are quick to discourage such language, deeming it potentially offensive because of sexist or racist implications.
Neither of these groups is radical or antithetic to American civilization, but another group surely is: what now passes for the new Radical Left in America; an unruly mob of incensed anarchists who are rooting for the United States to lose.
For liberal readers of this column (who, say, disparage trickle-down economics, champion pro-choice, and don’t like to see America behave like the policeman of the world), I’m not talking about you. For classical progressives, who might deem my use of the word “policeman” in the previous sentence, instead of “police officer” as sexism, I’m not talking about you, either. Granted, I consider that type of political overcorrectness to be ridiculous, but that’s not the problem on the table today.
The Radical Left is those who have concluded that they are not a part of America, that America is the enemy, and so they want to see America destroyed. Some will take active steps to achieve that destruction – such as disturbing the peace, defacing public and private property, and even committing random murder. They are domestic terrorists – just like any mass shooter poster boy.
I’ll share a personal story, to illustrate, even though my example is mild and not at all dangerous: when I completed the seventh grade, my parents and I moved from the New York side of the George Washington Bridge to the New Jersey side. That’s only about a mile distance, yet to me, it seemed like two completely different worlds. Having been part of an accelerated class, I “skipped” (as they say) the eighth grade and went straight into the ninth. Not only was I the youngest person at my high school, I also felt out of place culturally. I was a city boy surrounded by suburban Jersey kids. During most of my freshman year, I was not happy. I remember sitting in home room every morning, as the announcements over the PA (Public Address) system recapped the previous days’ interscholastic games. I remember secretly rooting against my school’s team, because I didn’t like the school. So, if I learned that we got trounced in football or basketball, I silently cheered! Of course, I never took any steps to cause violence or other harm to anyone, it was just something I felt inside.
Happily, all of that changed quickly. I acclimated to my new culture, made plenty of friends, and by my sophomore year had begun to join those very sports teams I had rooted against.
Though my overall high school experience turned out to be a positive one, at least for half of my freshman year I felt as if I didn’t belong, and I derived pleasure in hearing that my school lost. That is exactly how the Radical Left feels. Not organizers that incite public riots to feed their own anarchist philosophy, but rank-and-file window-smashers and cop attackers who feel they are at war. To them, the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner, the White House, the Capitol Building, and most of all, our police departments, are the enemy. They root for the enemy to lose.
Perhaps most importantly, and most troublingly, though only very few in comparison to the population as a whole take up battle in the streets, an alarming silent majority within the sizeable Radical Left minority watch on their living room televisions – and cheer.
This is a big problem to the health and well-being of American society, and the first step toward solving a problem is to understand it. This is not about justifying anything these people do, and certainly not about encouraging it. However, to sit around, point fingers, and condemn them without even attempting to understand the situation won’t do any good. The focus needs to be on having good ways of changing the hearts and minds not of the lawless radicals who tear down statues and set police cars on fire, but the peaceful ones who sit at home, secretly rooting for America to lose. The ones like me, the peace-loving, law-abiding high school freshman who didn’t belong, and was happy to hear that my school’s teams lost.
Donald Trump took a lot of heat for saying that after 9/11, he saw, on television, “thousands upon thousands” of Muslims cheering in New Jersey as the Twin Towers had crumbled to the ground. In a country of over 300 million, think about the thousands upon thousands of non-Muslims – most American-born – who silently cheered, believing that their only tie to the United States is an accident of birth and circumstance.
I remember my senior year of high school fondly. Smiling to myself as I walked around the corridors, saying goodbye to my favorite teachers, and thinking about how three years earlier I had walked along those same halls as a lost, bewildered soul.
The path to societal healing is to save the many silent, bewildered souls who live in this great country yet have not learned to love it.