Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2002 / 18 Teves, 5762

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Smears and slanders from the Left -- "IT'S hard not to notice that political discussion over the last decade has increasingly degenerated into name-calling," Brian Anderson wrote in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal earlier this year. "The insults most often come from the left: 'racist,' 'homophobe,' 'sexist.'. . . It has become a habit of left-liberal political argument to . . . redefine mainstream conservative arguments as extremism and bigotry. Close-minded and uncivil, this tendency betrays what's liberal in liberalism."

For each of the past eight years, I have been rounding up examples of liberal hate speech -- the gross and vicious slanders of conservatives that are uttered all too often by liberal politicians, activists, and journalists. And I have reached the conclusion that as bad as these vitriolic slurs are, even worse is the failure of responsible voices on the left to condemn them.

Where were the responsible liberals in 2001, for example, when Democratic partisans were comparing John Ashcroft to the KKK and his nomination to a lynching party?

Representative William Clay of Missouri, recalling George W. Bush's talk of outreach to black Americans, said that picking Ashcroft resembled "the way that Ku Klux Klan members worked to improve race relations: They, too, reached out to blacks with nooses and burning crosses." Steve Benson, a syndicated editorial cartoonist, depicted Ashcroft wearing white robes and enthusiastically brandishing a noose as Bush restrains him: "Easy, John -- I said your confirmation should be a cinch -- a cinch."

The chairman of the NAACP reached for a more contemporary smear. Twice Julian Bond declared that Bush had dredged Ashcroft "from the Taliban wing of American politics." That was ugly enough in July, when the Taliban were merely the fanatics who tortured dissidents, crushed human rights, and repressed women so savagely that thousands died from lack of medical care. By December, when Bond repeated his libel, the Taliban were at war with the United States, actively trying to kill Americans. Yet Bond still saw nothing wrong with his revolting comparison. And neither did America's liberal elite.

Actually, one liberal -- USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham -- did call Bond's words "overblown." I would have taken that as faintly critical, except that he began by chortling over Bond's ability "to jerk the GOP's chain" and went on to defend his Republican-bashing. Far from condemning liberal hate speech, Wickham himself traffics in it. In August, he wrote about the campus uproar over conservative activist David Horowitz's ad opposing reparations for slavery. The column opened with a grotesque calumny, calling Horowitz "a man whose views on race relations track closer to those of David Duke than Martin Luther King."

To falsely accuse someone of being akin to a Nazi racist is worse than contemptible. Yet liberals say such things almost routinely -- and other liberals don't object.

By contrast, when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson ascribed the Sept. 11 attacks to God's wrath over abortion, gay rights, feminism, and the ACLU, fellow conservatives slammed them.

Rush Limbaugh blasted them as "indefensible" and said as a conservative, he was "profoundly embarrassed and disappointed by their comments." William F. Buckley disdained their "ignorant misapplication of Christian thought." In the New York Post, John Podhoretz wrote of his "revulsion," labeling the remarks "shameful . . . ignorant." Rod Dreher, in a powerful column for, called Falwell and Robertson "heartless bastards" whose words had been "unspeakably profane."

That was par for the course. When a conservative oversteps the bounds of decency in demonizing a liberal, he typically gets scorched by criticism, much of it from the right. But there was no scorching of:

  • Chris Matthews, when he likened Republicans quoting John F. Kennedy on tax cuts to "the Nazi Party quoting Kennedy saying, 'Ich bin ein Berliner'?"

  • Al Sharpton, who said during the post-election ballot fight in Florida that conservatives wanted to "do the same thing to us" that "Hitler in his wickedness and evil" did to the Jews.

  • Michelangelo Signorile, the well-known gay writer, who wrote that while Afghanistan "has been protecting Osama bin Laden, Italy has been harboring another omnipotent religious zealot, one who equally condemns us Western sinners and incites violence. . . . Meet John Paul II, Christian fundamentalist extraordinaire and a man who inspires thugs across the globe . . . ."

  • Paul Conrad, the syndicated Los Angeles Times cartoonist, who depicted the Republicans' tax-cut bill as a GOP elephant, wearing an Al Qaeda headdress and holding a smoking AK-47. 20

  • The several members of the Hawaii ACLU board of directors who publicly objected to inviting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to take part in a debate on the grounds that he is "an Antichrist," "a Hitler" -- or "if not Hitler, he is a Goebbels" -- and an "a--hole," and that allowing him to speak would be "like having a serial murderer debate the value of life."

And then there was California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who said last summer, in reference to the chairman of Enron Corp., "I would love to personally escort [Kenneth] Lay to an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, 'Hi, my name is Spike, honey.' "

That is what liberal hate speech descended to this year: A Democratic politician openly yearning for an unpopular businessman to be raped behind bars. How low will they go in 2002?

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

12/28/01: Congress gives to others -- and itself
12/24/01: The littlest peacemakers
12/20/01: How to condemn terror
12/18/01: Greenland once was
12/14/01: Parents who never said ''no''
12/11/01: Wit and (economic) wisdom
12/04/01: The war against Israel goes on
11/30/01: Tribunals, motorcycles -- and freedom
11/19/01: Friendship and the House of Saud
11/12/01: The Justice Department's unjust monopoly
11/09/01: Muslim, but not extremist
11/02/01: Too good for Oprah
10/29/01: Journalism and the 'neutrality fetish'
10/26/01: Derail these subsidies
10/22/01: Good and evil in the New York Times
10/15/01: Rush Limbaugh's ear
10/08/01: With allies like these
10/01/01: An unpardonable act
09/25/01: Speaking out against terror
09/21/01: What the terrorists saw
09/17/01: Calling evil by its name
09/13/01: Our enemies mean what they say
09/04/01: The real bigots
08/31/01: Shrugging at genocide
08/28/01: Big Brother's privacy -- or ours?
08/24/01: The mufti's message of hate
08/21/01: Remembering the 'Wall of Shame'
08/16/01: If I were the editor ...
08/14/01: If I were the Transportation Czar ...
08/10/01: Import quotas 'steel' from us all
08/07/01: Is gay "marriage" a threat?
08/03/01: A colorblind nominee
07/27/01: Eminent-domain tortures
07/24/01: On protecting the flag ... and drivers ... and immigrants
07/20/01: Dying for better mileage
07/17/01: Why Americans would rather drive
07/13/01: Do these cabbies look like bigots?
07/10/01: 'Defeated in the bedroom'
07/06/01: Who's white? Who's Hispanic? Who cares?
07/02/01: Big(oted) man on campus
06/29/01: Still appeasing China's dictators
06/21/01: Cuban liberty: A test for Bush
06/19/01: The feeble 'arguments' against capital punishment
06/12/01: What energy crisis?
06/08/01: A jewel in the crown of self-government
05/31/01: The settlement myth
05/25/01: An award JFK would have liked
05/22/01: No Internet taxes? No problem
05/18/01: Heather has five mommies (and a daddy)
05/15/01: An execution, not a lynching
05/11/01: Losing the common tongue
05/08/01: Olympics 2008: Say no to Beijing
05/04/01: Do welfare mothers a kindness: Make them work
05/01/01: Another man's child
04/24/01: Sharon should have said no
04/02/01: The Inhumane Society
03/30/01: To have a friend, Caleb, be a friend
03/27/01: Is Chief Wahoo racist?
03/22/01: Ending the Clinton appeasement
03/20/01: They're coming for you
03/16/01: Kennedy v. Kennedy
03/13/01: We should see McVeigh die
03/09/01: The Taliban's wrecking job
03/07/01: The No. 1 reason to cut taxes
03/02/01: A Harvard candidate's silence on free speech
02/27/01: A lesson from Birmingham jail
02/20/01: How Jimmy Carter got his good name back
02/15/01: Cashing in on the presidency
02/09/01: The debt for slavery -- and for freedom
02/06/01: The reparations calculation
02/01/01: The freedom not to say 'amen'
01/29/01: Chavez's 'hypocrisy': Take a closer look
01/26/01: Good-bye, good riddance
01/23/01: When everything changed (mostly for the better)
01/19/01: The real zealots
01/16/01: Pardon Clinton?
01/11/01: The fanaticism of Linda Chavez
01/09/01: When Jerusalem was divided
12/29/00 Liberal hate speech, 2000
12/15/00Does the Constitution expect poor children be condemned to lousy government schools?
12/08/00 Powell is wrong man to run State Department
12/05/00 The 'MCAS' teens give each other
12/01/00 Turning his back on the Vietnamese -- again
11/23/00 Why were the Pilgrims thankful?
11/21/00 The fruit of this 'peace process' is war
11/13/00 Unleashing the lawyers
11/17/00 Gore's mark on history
40 reasons to say NO to Gore

© 2002, Boston Globe