Viewers of the Jan. 6 committee docudrama this week received two new installments of the standard liberal narrative: America nearly lost its democracy thanks to an extremist GOP.
Residents of Oregon last Friday received the far uglier, far messier reality. They woke up to a torched building after pro-abortion activists threw an incendiary device through the window of the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center near Portland. The group provides counseling and medical services to vulnerable pregnant women and new mothers.
The firebombing is one of an estimated 24 attacks on pregnancy centers and pro-life groups since the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade leaked on May 2. An outfit called Jane’s Revenge says it perpetrated some of the attacks, several featuring graffiti reading: “If abortion isn’t safe, you aren’t either.”
The organization, which says it is “not one group but many,” issued a communiqué Wednesday threatening worse: “Now the leash is off. . . . We promised to take increasingly drastic measures against oppressive infrastructures. Rest assured that we will, and those measures may not come in the form of something so easily cleaned up as fire and graffiti. . . . From here forward, any anti-choice group who closes their doors, and stops operating will no longer be a target. But until you do, it’s open season.”
The attacks come amid news of a plot to assassinate Justice
angry over the draft opinion, allegedly showed up at the justice’s house packing a pistol, ammunition, a knife, duct tape and zip ties. A radical group called
Us responded to the threat against Justice Kavanaugh by organizing more protests outside justices’ homes. News organizations last month reported on a Department of Homeland Security memo warning of growing threats to courts, lawmakers, the clergy and medical providers from a range of violent extremists.
This is the real story—the explosion of political violence on all sides—and the committee is missing the forest for the trees. The Jan. 6 riot was a dreadful event, featuring fringe right-wing militants. The firebombings of pregnancy centers have been as dreadful, featuring fringe left-wing militants. Add to the dreadful category the shoot-up at the Republican congressional baseball practice in 2017, the death at a Charlottesville, Va., rally the same year, Antifa attacks, assassinations of cops, anti-Semitic shootings in synagogues, and the torching of a Portland, Ore., courthouse by rioters.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies maintains a database of domestic terrorism, which it defines (much like the U.S. government) as the use or threat of violence by nonstate actors to achieve political goals. It reports a significant rise in such incidents at metropolitan demonstrations in 2020 and 2021—“a major break from historical trends”—and notes that government, military and law enforcement are increasingly the targets. In 2021 about 49% of incidents were perpetrated by people on the far right, and 40% by the far left.
The White House and Democrats are refusing to confront this problem, because it isn’t politically convenient. Jan. 6 was their opportunity to paint the entire GOP as a party of insurrectionists—never mind that the videos of the riot feature a class of raving militants that is alien to most conservatives. With inflation eroding their political fortunes, Democrats are doubling down on this midterm strategy, with Mr. Biden labeling his opponents “ultra-MAGA Republicans.”
This is how you end up with prime-time Jan. 6 hearings that ignore the broader violence and instead feed a cramped, partisan narrative. Or a White House that still won’t condemn protests outside justices’ homes. Or a Democratic House that had to be shamed into voting for a bill for more security for the justices and their families (with 27 Democrats voting “no”). Or a media that described the 2020 riots and fires as “peaceful protests” and that has barely mentioned the attacks on pregnancy centers. Democrats won’t even acknowledge violence on the left for fear of upending a political narrative.
This is also how you end up with more violence. This week Mr. Biden raged about “the ultra-MAGA agenda attacking families and our freedoms.” The Jan. 6 committee is insisting Republicans writ large were engaged in an “attempted coup.” Sen.
this week again said the Supreme Court has “been captured by big special interests” and it won’t stop with overturning Roe v. Wade. Not a day goes by that an elected Democrat doesn’t (falsely) tell the public that the GOP intends to strip their voting rights and basic liberties and kill the planet. Politicians on the right answer in kind. It is no surprise that some fanatics feel moved to act.
The bigger story of Jan. 6 is that numerous brave Republicans refused to swallow or promote crazy claims, and institutions held. We are going to need a lot more of Washington to follow suit to have any hope of stemming the tide of political violence.
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