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If We Want to Avoid a Police State, Let’s Stop Equating Antifa and the Tea Party

It’s not difficult to say that the story of unbadged federal officers in unmarked vans rolling up on, and detaining citizens engaged in protest is not encouraging. For those of us who believe in freedom, individual liberty, the rights of conscience, speech, and assembly, it’s the furthest thing from a positive development.

It’s also not difficult to say that having a president who seems to have such a totalitarian impulse – bragging about massive shows of force against citizens, tweeting incessantly about “LAW AND ORDER,” threatening the use of military force on civilian streets – isn’t encouraging for us either.  

But here’s what is admittedly difficult: seeing left-wing authors like Vox senior correspondent Zack Beauchamp wring his hands fretting over those same developments while simultaneously proving how disingenuous he is about it all. Behold:

First of all, Obama may not have commissioned unmarked vans to haul off those he insultingly called “Tea-Baggers.” But his hands were anything but clean when it came to dealing with those ideological opponents:

In a legal settlement that still awaits a federal judge’s approval, the IRS “expresses its sincere apology” for mistreating a conservative organization called Linchpins of Liberty — along with 40 other conservative groups — in their applications for tax-exempt status.

And in a second case, NorCal Tea Party Patriots and 427 other groups suing the IRS also reached a “substantial financial settlement” with the government…

The controversy began in 2013 when an IRS official admitted the agency had been aggressively scrutinizing groups with names such as “Tea Party” and “Patriots.”

Now, it’s true that using the power of government to destroy an opponent’s livelihood is different than using the power of government to make an opponent disappear into an unmarked van.

But, let’s not overlook that this is also true:

While I enjoyed some of the comments that followed Jon’s epic response, like:

…it remains a difficult pill to swallow watching leftist journo-types ignore that what is happening on the streets of places like Portland are far different than what Tea Party gatherings ever entailed.

In truth, it’s the unwillingness of rational actors on the left, people like Zack Beauchamp, to label and call out the strain of violence that persists amongst their mainstream movement – a strain that isn’t replicated on the right – that will lead us all into the very type of police state tyranny we all want to avoid.


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