The Phantom Menace

monster_in_closet

G.K. Chesteron opens up The Superstition of Divorce with a passage I think I’ve already quoted somewhere on this blog:

It is still in some strange way considered unpractical to open up inquiries about anything by asking what it is. I happen to have, however, a fairly complete contempt for that sort of practicality; for I know that it is not even practical.

I couldn’t help but thinking of that passage when I came across this article in Berlingske:

Trump’s dismal legacy has hit the Pentagon with a club blow. Now they want right-wing extremism to die
Kristian Mouritzen, Berlingske.dk, June 27

Lede: “The American military is well aware that extremists exist within their own ranks. But the Trump period has made it utterly clear that the extremism isn’t only found in the lower ranks, but also high up in the system.”

The word extremism appears once in the headline and twice in the lede. It appears nine more times in the article, frequently prefixed with “right-wing.” That’s twelve uses of the word in all: nine of them by the journalist himself, and three of them (presumably) by an editor.

And yet the word is never defined, presumably because the Danish establishment media have so zealously embraced the Democratic Party’s talking points and spin on virtually everything that they’re no longer bothering to ask what any of it means.

Mouritzen opens his article by telling us that retired Major General Sidney Shachnow’s name comes up over and over again in discussions of “the new right-wing extremism in the American army.”

(There’s no substantiation of this new extremism: Mouritzen just plops it down on the table in front of us.)

Mouritzen concedes that it’s a little unfair to drag Shachnow into all this, first of all because the major general has now been dead for a few years, secondly because, and here I struggle a little not with translation but interpretation, “his political engagement on the right wing was more classic for a top officer.”

Mourtizen tells us Shachnow supported Trump in 2016 for typically conservative reasons, all within the bounds of normality. He emphasizes:

Sidney Shachnow therefore believed that Donald Trump could make a difference. Nothing else. No conspiracy theories or extreme views at the time. Just the belief that Trump could make a difference.

We’re told a little bit about Shachnow’s journey from surviving the holocaust as Jewish child in Germany through his service as a Green Beret in Viet Nam and Cambodia and his command of American forces in Berlin, where he, a Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany, commanded a headquarters in a building that had once belonged to Herman Göring.

He was therefore listened to when he started a protest movement in later life.

88 officers of the so-called flag class, the top -3 to -4 in the US Army in the General or Admiral class, signed a declaration in 2016 stating that they supported Donald Trump. Among them was the now retired war hero from Vietnam.

But since then, this protest movement has developed into a right-wing extremist entity that poses a real threat to democracy.

There’s that word again—and it’s a threat to democracy!

Now 317 retired and current generals have signed on to support Donald Trump, but with clearly extremist views. Flag Officers 4 America, as they now call themselves, in a letter published on their website on May 10, don’t hide what they think: President Joe Biden is selling America out, and to an unvarnished form of Marxism. And in a letter, Shachnow’s “successor,” Army Major General Joe Arbuckle, sees a clear conspiracy in everything Democrats do.

Mourtizen doesn’t touch the letter itself—doesn’t cite a single word from it—so we’ll have to examine the troubling and extremist public letter they published ourselves. Line by line, so we don’t miss one single syllable of all the dangerous right-wing extremism that’s threatening democracy!

Our Nation is in deep peril.

Statement of opinion. As an American, this is an utterly unexceptional statement: the opposition party—whether Democrat or Republican—always claims our nation is in peril.

We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776.

This is either hyperbole or ignorance. The years 1861-1864 were spent embroiled in Civil War, and the years leading up to that violence were obviously also pretty fraught. That’s not something military flag officers can overlook, so I’ll chalk it up to hyperbole.

If you think it’s hyperbolic enough to be considered extremist, however, I direct your attention to pretty much any Democrat stump speech while Trump was in office.

The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty.

There is indeed a conflict between these groups, and there always has been, because they’re operating under totally incompatible visions. The significance of the conflict ebbs and flows over time, but I think it’s fair to say that at this particular moment, the conflict is both pointed and prominent.

Without fair and honest elections that accurately reflect the “will of the people” our Constitutional Republic is lost.

This is not just true but obvious.

Election integrity demands insuring there is one legal vote cast and counted per citizen.

I’d say this, too, is true and obvious, although technically I would add “eligible” before “citizen.”

Legal votes are identified by State Legislature’s approved controls using government IDs, verified signatures, etc.

That’s another statement of fact, although they’ve misplaced their apostrophe.

Today, many are calling such commonsense controls “racist” in an attempt to avoid having fair and honest elections.

It’s another statement of fact to say that many are calling these controls “racist” (Jim Crow on steroids!), but their individual motivation for doing so isn’t necessarily avoidance of free and fair elections. Some of them call these controls racist because they genuinely believe it’s “racist” to require identification—which, as I’ve argued elsewhere, is a pretty racist belief in its own right. Others call these controls racist because conservatives support these controls and they’ve been conditioned (by Democrats) to believe that anything conservatives support must be racist. Still others may be calling this stuff racist in a simple effort to diminish public support for policies that they believe, rightly or wrongly, will either hurt Democrats or help Republicans (or both) in elections.

Using racial terms to suppress proof of eligibility is itself a tyrannical intimidation tactic.

I don’t see anything controversial about this statement: using racial terms for anything except to call out actual racism is a nasty tactic. I’d call it cheap and contemptible, but if the officers want to call it “tyrannical intimidation,” fair enough. I mean, if leftists can compare voter identification requirements to Jim Effing Crow, why can’t rightists compare resistance to such requirements “tyrannical intimidation?”

Additionally, the “Rule of Law” must be enforced in our election processes to ensure integrity.

And we’re back to obvious truths.

The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020.

The start of the sentence is a simple statement of fact. Whether the FBI and Supreme Court “ignored” election irregularities that surfaced in 2020 is beyond my ken, but whether they did or not, the belief that they did is hardly “extreme.” Americans routinely believe that the Supreme Court has decided cases incorrectly, or that the FBI has investigated things they shouldn’t have, or not investigated things they should have. These are just opinions. If it’s within the pale to state that Russian collusion flipped the 2016 election to Trump, or that the 2016 election was “illegitimate” (as Hillary Clinton has persistently claimed), then I don’t see why a belief that irregularities were ignored in 2020 should be considered extremist.

Finally, H.R.1 & S.1, (if passed), would destroy election fairness and allow Democrats to forever remain in power violating our Constitution and ending our Representative Republic.

This is a strong opinion. I happen to agree that HR1/S1 – the House and Senate versions of the Democrat-sponsored bill to essentially federalize national elections – was a bad bill and deserved to be defeated (as it was). Whether it would destroy election fairness or allow Democrats to establish permanent dominion in our republic is a mere matter of opinion, and not even that hyperbolic an opinion, as politic rhetoric goes: our current president, you may recall, once assured a group of black voters that if Republicans won the 2012 election, they’d “put y’all back in chains.”

Besides, Democrats have been routinely (and wrongly) insisting that the world would literally end in a specific number of years unless we took this or that particular action on climate change. Those years have repeatedly come and gone and the world is still here. Apocalyptic rhetoric may be silly, but it’s certainly within the bounds of accepted political discourse.

Aside from the election, the Current Administration has launched a full-blown assault on our Constitutional rights in a dictatorial manner, bypassing the Congress, with more than 50 Executive Orders quickly signed, many reversing the previous Administration’s effective policies and regulations.

The facts are true—Joe Biden did quickly sign 50 executive orders, and EOs do bypass Congress—but Trump signed plenty himself. Live by the executive order, die by the executive order. The left wasn’t shy about accusing Trump of dictatorial tendencies for circumventing Congress this way, however, so there’s nothing unusual for conservatives to repay Biden in the same coin. There’s nothing extreme about it.

Moreover, population control actions such as excessive lockdowns, school and business closures, and most alarming, censorship of written and verbal expression are all direct assaults on our fundamental Rights.

The “excessive” is important in this sentence. The question is how much weight it’s carrying: it’s unlikely we all agree which lockdown and closure orders were and were not excessive. That much said, it seems to me that excessive lockdowns or closures, or any government-sanctioned censorship of speech, would definitionally be a direct assault on rights that are protected by the First Amendment. If this is an extremist position, the Libertarian Party needs to be disbanded at once.

We must support and hold accountable politicians who will act to counter Socialism, Marxism and Progressivism, support our Constitutional Republic, and insist on fiscally responsible governing while focusing on all Americans, especially the middle class, not special interest or extremist groups which are used to divide us into warring factions.

This is wholly and completely unobjectionable. It’s the kind of thing that any conservative running for office would be expected to say. It’s a paraphrase of things that have been said by every Republican presidential candidate in my lifetime. It’s boilerplate stuff.

The letter then includes eight bulleted items under the rubric of “Additional National Security Issues and Actions.”

Those items are (1) border security, (2) increased pressure on the CCP, (3) removal of Section 230 as a protection for Big Tech (to combat censorship), (4) staying out of the Iran deal and continuing with more peace deals in the Middle East, (5) opening the keystone pipeline, (6) returning the military’s focus to issues of preparedness for combat, (7) restoring law and order to our most beleaguered cities by enforcing “the law equally, fairly, and consistently toward all,” and (8) establishing an “unquestionable chain of command” with respect to our nuclear weapons (a necessity, they believe, based on Democrats’ efforts to remove nuclear authorization from the president).

Finally, the letter urges Americans to vote for elected officials “who will always act to defend our Constitutional Republic.”

We urge all citizens to get involved now at the local, state and/or national level to elect political representatives who will act to Save America, our Constitutional Republic, and hold those currently in office accountable. The “will of the people” must be heard and followed.

And that’s it.

Kristian Mouritzen calls these “clearly extremist views.”

Either he didn’t read that letter, didn’t understand it, or he’s a lying, dog-faced pony soldier.

I like to think he must have read it, since there’s a link to the letter right there in his article, but that may just have been for appearances: most journalists understand that the majority of their readers never actually click their links, but simply accept that the linked material must support whatever point the journalist is making.

Mouritzen goes on:

According to those who signed the letter, the purpose of Joe Biden’s presidency is to create a Marxist society where everyone is equal and where the individual is put in the background. It’s the state that has to govern, and that’s about the worst you can say to an American who hates everything that resembles a federal state and what it means for life in the local community.

To what extent does this paragraph of Mouritzen’s track with the letter itself? Does he really believe conservatives “hate” everything that resembles a federal state? Where is this coming from? Which portion of the letter, the entire contents of which I’ve shared with you, are being paraphrased here?

Is Mouritzen at all aware how many public letters were signed by various groups asserting that the Dread Tyrant Trump was the greatest threat to democracy ever? Were those extreme? I don’t recall Berlingske or any other Danish media saying so. The idea that any opposition to the Dread Tyrant Trump would be treated as anything but salubrious by any establishment media is laughable on its face.

The article then talks about the danger of the Oathkeepers, “one of the worst extremist movements in the USA,” who have “been in several violent confrontations with the police over the past year.”

Several!

Antifa and BLM have caused billions of dollars of damage, hundreds of injuries, and multiple deaths in hundreds of protests-cum-riots over the past year or so: good thing they’re not extreme! They’re just Marxists and anarchists. Those are the cool ideologies. Totally in synch with American values. Not all dorky and twisted like these damn “right wing extremists” with their crazy desire to be left alone in a constitutional republic where everyone enjoys equality under the law: they’re the real threat.

Mouritzen mentions another group I’d never heard of: the 1st Amendment Praetorian. Here’s how they describe themselves on their website: “We believe that every American is entitled to express their 1st Amendment-protected rights to freedom of speech, religion, assembly and political affiliation. This is why 1st Amendment Praetorian is dedicated to providing intelligence and security services to grassroots events in order to ensure that these rights remain protected and that important voices are heard.”

Once again, the establishment Danish media appear to be getting cause and effect inverted: this is a group organized to help conservative activists demonstrate without being attacked by the black-bloc groups that routinely assault them.

Mouritzen also namechecks the “Three Percenters.” They’re apparently a militia-type group organized around the second amendment. They actually do sound a little radical to me—not so much in their aims, but in their tactics. If you want to call them “right-wing extremists” I won’t argue.

In fact, if you want to join Berlingske (and every elected or aspiring Democrat and all of their allies in the media, academia, entertainment, sports, big tech, and corporate boardrooms) in calling any of these groups “right-wing extremists,” I won’t argue.

If you want to call me a “right-wing extremist” because I support rule of law, equality before the law, limited and localized government, free speech (including the right to assemble and protest without being physically assaulted by black-bloc thugs), and free markets, go right ahead. The damage you do to the word “extremism” is on your conscience, not mine: the “extremist” views I embrace have lifted more people out of poverty and resulted in greater improvements to quality of life than any other set of ideas in the history of the human race.

In exchange, I think intellectual honesty requires that we begin calling Antifa and BLM (and anyone who supports them) left-wing extremists. And let’s treat them the same, as well.

Here’s how the left-wing extremist Mouritzen wraps it all up:

According to Politico, there are strong concerns over these developments, not least on account of parallels in France and in Germany. In France, similar letters have also circulated from French officers hinting at civil war, which could require military intervention.

For four long years—more than four years—the establishment media across the western world lionized the “resistance,” the men and women who treated a duly-elected American president as if he were an occupying foreign power. It was impossible to be too anti-Trump. Avowed saboteurs within a presidential administration were hailed as heroes! These garbage people literally gave each other awards for the “bravery” of “standing up” to the Dread Tyrant Trump. Oh my god, you guys, they were all totally just like the guys who stormed the beaches of Normandy!

Now if someone comes along and says, “By golly, that U.S. Constitution is a pretty little piece of work, ain’t she?” then it’s time to send in a SWAT team in to crush the obvious right-wing extremism before it can spread.

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