“Know thine enemy.” The phrase is often attributed to the ancient Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu, though Sun admitted at the time that it wasn't his original idea. The commonest translation of what he wrote is this: ”Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”
A more modern “philosopher” – Saul Alinsky, patron saint and minstrel poet of Leftism – put it a little differently (and more aggressively): "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."
(As a sort of reverse example of the usefulness of knowing your enemy, I offer our recent president. Over an eight-year span, Barack Obama couldn't bring himself to even utter the phrase “Islamic terrorism,” as if not saying the words would make those murdering heathens disappear. The inevitable and completely predictable (and predicted) results are the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Middle East and elsewhere, not to mention a steady drumbeat of localized terrorist attacks in the US and across the West.)
Understanding the nature and identity of the threat is paramount. In order to prevail, conservatives should beat every bush and roll over every stone to gain the greatest possible understanding of the professional (and amateur) Left.
It's easy – and not very useful – to simply dismiss their antics as, well, antics. On the surface, the Left seems to be a weird sort of circus.
-- So-called “liberal” Hollywood personalities, faboulously wealthy and in glittering top-shelf attire, use a nationally-broadcast awards show to rail against “privilege.”
-- Racialist agitators, from local politicians to famous race-hustlers like Al Sharpton to the president and attorney general of the United States, foment civil unrest in poverty-ridden cities like St. Louis and Baltimore. The predictable results are neighborhoods destroyed and businesses boarded up or burned out – the very neighborhoods and businesses inhabited and needed by the aggrieved residents of those inner cities. (No links here, there are just too many examples.)
-- A no-strings-attached donation of $100 million (!!!) to build a new wing on the New York-Presbyterian Hospital resulted in a 2014 protest by activist groups including the NAACP New York State Conference, the New York State Nurses’ Association and the hospital-employee union SEIU Local 1199. Their grievance? The breathtakingly generous donation came from David Koch, a long-time target of the Left.
But without regard to the inanity and insanity of such shenanigans – and I could cite them all day – in significant ways the Left is a deadly adversary. The Left, by design, essentially controls the legacy media. The Left owns academia from top to bottom. The Left runs Hollywood and much of pop culture. Most insidious and dangerous of all, the Left occupies the federal administrative state, what is often being called the "deep state" these days. It is a blessing that the Left is by nature so inept and impractical. With weapons of that scope and power, the Three Stooges could rule the world.
In a recent article here, I used a famous quote from Charles Krauthammer to illustrate a fundamental difference between what he called conservatives and liberals. (I don't use the word “liberal” when referring to the Left; with all due respect to Rush Limbaugh, it is at best incorrect, and at worst grossly misleading.) I'll quote it again here:
To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
As useful and accurate as Krauthammer's observation is, I think it doesn't go far enough. While the distinction is obvious, the quote fails to flesh out what the distinction means in terms of actions, or perhaps more to the point, the willingness of the two sides to take certain actions..
Consider these headlines:
“Right-wing protestors torch downtown neighborhood, stores looted.”
“Election officials uncover massive vote fraud by local Republicans.”
“Local conservative activists block lecture hall, speech by prominent Democrat canceled.”
“IG confirms IRS slow-walking left-wing non-profit applications.”
Yes, I made these headlines up. I made them up because I had to; they have never existed before. These things don't happen in the world we live in. But in each case, if you substitute one party or philosophy for the other, they make sense. They have happened, and still do almost every day.
“BLM protestors torch downtown neighborhood, stores looted.”
“Election officials uncover massive vote fraud in Democrat precincts.”
“Local progressive activists block lecture hall, speech by prominent Republican canceled.”
“IG confirms IRS slow-walking right-wing non-profit applications.”
I wish I could say I made these headlines up, but anyone who hasn't been living in a cave in Tibet knows that they reflect today's news far too accurately. Every one of these headlines describe recent events in which agents of the Left attacked conservatives in ways blatant and subtle.
Understand that those on the Left are willing to burn police cruisers and loot stores and destroy neighborhoods in order to get their way.
Understand that those on the Left are willing to subvert free and fair elections in this country, locally and nationally, to get their way.
Understand that those on the Left are willing to shut down the free speech of conservatives on college campuses and in other public venues to get their way.
Understand that those on the Left are willing to use the immense power of the federal Leviathan to suppress and thwart their perceived enemies (us), in order to get their way.
Krauthammer's quote is useful and instructive, and should serve as an important qualifier for anyone attempting to understand the Left. But to me, it's vital to acknowledge that the Left is a determined and fanatical foe, quite willing – and in some cases uniquely able – to carry out actions against its enemies that we on the Right don't anticipate and will have difficulty defeating.
In future installments I plan to take apart the goals and methods of the Left, breaking them down and placing them in a perspective we can all understand. Stay tuned.