There is a genuinely uncomfortable pettiness to much of liberalism, an habitual crossing of the line that suggests progressive politics is, frequently, a fundamentally vindictive enterprise. It is fashionable these days, of course, to adopt a “both-sides-do-it” attitude when it comes to criticisms of political ideology. But you simply do not see the level of spite on the Right as you do on the Left; or, rather, while there are surely plenty of nasty and hateful conservatives, such things are overwhelmingly discouraged and condemned by the nominal leaders of popular conservative thought. The same is not true for liberalism, the standard-bearers and authority figures of which are often the nastiest and most malefic of the bunch.
It is easy enough to produce examples aplenty. Consider Bill Maher publicly berating Sarah Palin’s child as “retarded,” for instance, or Dave Letterman joking about a baseball player banging her 14-year-old daughter and then issuing an admitted phony apology about it. Sarah Palin, of course, inspires no small amount of genuinely shocking vitriol from the Left. But the direction of liberalism’s cruel and juvenile anger is not limited merely towards successful conservative women; consider the more recent matter of the GOP baseball shooting, where in the wake of the tragedy liberal darling George Takei tweeted:
The universe doesn’t joke around. The officer who saved bigoted, homophobic Rep. Steve Scalise during baseball practice was a black lesbian.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 17, 2017
I am not quite sure what “the universe” is supposed to mean in this context; it seems to be the word people use to refer to God when for whatever reason they don’t want to actually say the word God. But never mind that. Consider the circumstances surrounding this tweet: at the time of its composition, Steve Scalise was still in very serious condition; he was likely undergoing surgery at the very same time that George Takei was accusing him of being “bigoted” and “homophobic.” A man was very possibly lying at death’s door, a victim of a homicidal maniac who shot him while he was playing baseball with his friends, and George Takei’s impulse is to smear him for his politics and chortle about an idiotic manufactured identity politics incongruity. It bears repeating: George Takei actually typed this, and he actually tweeted it, and then it was retweeted almost twenty thousand times by thousands upon thousands of delighted fans, all while Steve Scalise was struggling to survive.
It is, of course, possible to imagine a conservative—somebody, somewhere—writing such trash from the other side. What is far more difficult to imagine is a highly prominent and celebrated conservative writing such trash and being lauded and rewarded for it. Imagine if some outspoken, unapologetically progressive politician was gunned down, ended up fighting for her life in a hospital, and a conservative celebrity took to social media to say, “Well, gee, isn’t it funny, this hateful and bigoted liberal was saved by a straight white conservative Christian male, har-de-har-har, the universe is incredible isn’t it?” Imagine the armageddon that would result. Now ask yourself why George Takei was able to avoid such a fallout.
Perhaps we have simply gotten used to this kind of hate; we have come to expect it from the Left and are thus not liable to get all worked up over it. Maybe. But it is still something of a mystery. Steve Scalise, thank goodness, looks to be pulling through. The same cannot be said of American progressivism, which is mired in this kind of enmity and shows no signs of recovering.