Recently on HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher had this to say about the attack on Republican legislators: "We would never really think this would happen on the left. We think of the right as the people who pick up guns and do crazy things like this."
And that's just what they think. Liberals are peaceful and conservatives are violent. Even those who take pride in their political incorrectness repeat it. But you don't have to be an American historian to know how little it holds up to the facts.
Every year on the anniversary of JFK's assassination, media people talk about right-wingers in Dallas. But the real shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, was a Soviet sympathizer. And Robert Kennedy's killer was a Palestinian radical.
Last year at the Super Bowl, America watched Beyonce's half-time tribute to the Black Panthers, who loved their guns as much as any NRA fanatic, and used them enthusiastically.
The media did everything they could to make us forget about Barack Obama's friendship with fellow Chicagoans Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, both members of the bomb-wielding Weather Underground. This month's Puerto Rican Day Parade controversy resurrected the '70s leftist terrorist group the FALN. Today we have the Antifa, whose black mask image has become an emblem of America 2017.
And just last month, Obama appeared on video at the Songwriters Hall of Fame to help induct Jay-Z, who once wrote these lines in his song "Money, Cash, Hoes":
Money cash hoes money cash chicks what
Sex murder and mayhem romance for the street
Only wife of mines is a life of crime …
"Jay, you have been inspiring," Obama said, but he didn't mention how the millions of young men who've listened to Jay-Z and other rappers have been affected by lyrics such as "Now if I kill you I probably do ten in the box / Come down on appeal then I'm killin' your pops" ("Reservoir Dogs").
It takes a strange act of the mind to overlook leftist violence in the American present and recent past. It's as if attributing deep hate to right-leaning people was a drug. An obvious addict is Bill Moyers, the former LBJ operative who's made a career out of sanctimonious exposes of conservative wrath. A few years ago, he spoke of how "Conservative Talk Radio Incites Domestic Terrorism & Hate" and last year during the campaign he warned,
"Trump and his ilk would sweep the promise of America into the dustbin of history unless they are exposed now to the disinfectant of sunlight, the cleansing torch of truth. Nothing else can save us from the dark age of unreason that would arrive with the triumph of Donald Trump."
Whether it's real (the softball shooter) or make-believe (Kathy Griffin), liberal violence in contemporary America is a fact. It would seem to be a natural focus for Moyers' campaign against political hatred. But at his web site one can only find brief notices of the shooting in Alexandria that emphasize the bipartisan nature of wrath in the United States, citing another story on "potential incitement of political violence by Democrats and Republicans, the right and the left," as well as a population research finding that "Republicans and Democrats were indistinguishable in their support for political violence."
This all sounds like a cross-political appeal to reason, but in truth, it's an effective way to push the liberal-peace and conservative-violence meme. When a lunatic with right-wing opinions goes on a rampage, it says something about the essence of conservatism. When a lunatic with left-wing opinions acts, it summons forth bipartisan expressions of civility. Conservative hate is conservative, but liberal hate isn't liberal at all.
Republicans and conservatives should recognize the across-the-divide call for unity as a hustle. The next time a right-wing crazy picks up his gun, the one-sided denunciations of conservative hate will come once more. Liberals pay themselves a compliment when they attribute vice to their adversaries, and they double down on back-patting when they (putatively) rise above politics after one of their own commits violence. Conservatives shouldn't help them do it.
They should instead proclaim that liberalism circa 2017 is not "give peace a chance." It has a malicious streak, and all too many liberals don't just despise President Trump and everyone who voted for him, but also take pleasure in their spite.
Mark Bauerlein is an English professor at Emory University. email@example.com