January 14, 2021 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Why Republicans won’t fight terrorism
The Democrats, meanwhile, are redefining "unity."
Just when I thought respectable white people were pushing fascist politics back to the margins, where it belongs, Politico gives that poisonous smurf Ben Shapiro its marque platform to explain why “conservatives” believe, in light of Donald Trump’s second and, and this time, bipartisan impeachment, that “members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction, not simply to punish Trump for his behavior.”
I’m not going to respect Shapiro by rebutting his points. I’m only going to say that polite white society, if Politico is any indication, remains vulnerable to “koshering,” and that as long as it remains so, we’re all still in trouble. Shapiro is a bad-faith smear artist who makes fascism seem less lethal than it is by calling it “conservatism” or some other name, as if it were a legitimate school of thought in a democratic republic. In doing so, Politico is making room for fascist politics without appearing to. In doing so, Politico enables the gangrene to continue eating out the center of the body politic.
Dems seem to be ready to tell a story about the Republican Party that puts it in a light similar to Osama Bin Laden’s.
By calling himself a “conservative,” instead of what he truly is, Shapiro is able to elicit sympathy for members of the Republican Party who fear or suspect the Democratic program of being malicious. If Politico presented him correctly, as the backstabbing apparatchik that he is, you might not feel sympathy at all, because it would be clear that when Shapiro accuses the Democrats of trying to destroy the Republicans, he’s projecting what he’d like to see happen to the Democrats or confessing what the GOP has already done. In fascism, everything revolves around the fascists. They are the object, the subject, the hero, the victim. This is why they’re totalitarians of the right.
Having a worldview that’s totalizing—that squeezes out all respect and deference for anything that can’t or won’t be dominated—means that Shapiro and the fascists will never concede to having any responsibility in human events. Even when everyone else, and I mean everyone else, sees with their own two eyes that the president really did incite a violent revolt against the US government, and a throng of armed insurgents really did try to murder members of the US Congress, fascists will simply deny it, and focus instead on their fetish. As Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican from New York, said Wednesday: “Democrats just threw more fuel on the fire by ramming through score-settling, hastily drafted articles of impeachment just a week before the inauguration. I voted NO on this latest push that will only serve to divide our nation further.”
Zeldin is among the 60 percent of Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the election. Like Shapiro accusing the Democrats of wanting to destroy the Republicans, Zeldin, in accusing the Democrats of being divisive, is confessing. What’s divisive is not holding accountable a president who fomented an insurgency. What’s divisive is protecting a president who fomented an insurgency after casting a vote to invalidate democracy. Like Shapiro, Zeldin is koshering. He’s making fascism seem principled. He’s making an attempt at political murder seem less political and less murderous.
Koshering only works, however, when there are people ready and willing to believe it. Specifically, if “members of the opposing political tribe” believe it. Truth be told, some Democrats probably did believe some of it before the magattack. Not so much now. The Democrats seem prepared to answer politics with politics, instead of moral appeals to reason. They seem to be ready to tell a story about the Republican Party that puts it in a light similar to Osama Bin Laden’s. “On September 11, we came together against an enemy from without, but on Jan. 6, we were attacked by an enemy from within,” said Rep. Sean Casten, Democrat of Illinois, during yesterday’s impeachment debate. “We must come together today against that domestic threat to our constitution.”
Unity, as seen from the point of view of Democrats targeted for murder, is not a matter of being for or against a humiliated one-term twice-impeached president. Unity is a matter of being for or against a common enemy, of being for or against the United States. The question then is why the Republicans have not joined the Democrats the way the Democrats joined a Republican president in the fight against international terrorism. The answer is clear. The Republicans are OK with domestic terrorism, and they are OK with domestic terrorism, because it’s Republicans who are doing it. Over time, this will be obvious to everyone. No amount of koshering can change that.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.