By Jim Kofalt
There is a very funny scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in which a crowd of villagers drags a hapless woman before the local knight (Sir Bedemir) proclaiming that she is a witch and demanding permission to burn her at the stake. When the woman proclaims her innocence, Bedemir points out that she is in fact “dressed like a witch.”
“They dressed me up like this,” she says, pointing at the angry mob. “And this isn’t my nose; it’s a false one.” “Well we did do the nose,” says one villager… “and the hat. But she is a witch.” Sir Bedemir asks them point blank: “Did you dress her up like this?” The crowd answers: “No, no… no … well… yes. Yes, yes, a bit, a bit.” It’s obvious after all that the mob has no interest in facts. They are determined to burn a witch.
Fast forward to 2017. Steve Bannon comes to Manchester, New Hampshire to give a speech at a fundraising dinner for the 603 Alliance – a local group that aims to restore Constitutional values in government. As soon as the event is announced, the village mob swings into action on social media. Terms like Nazi, KKK, white nationalist and racist are thrown around with abandon. Facebook lights up with vile attacks on the event organizers, and a few pieces of old-fashioned hate-mail even turn up at the post office. The problem, in this case, is that like the villagers in the Monty Python movie, the mob itself is responsible for dressing Bannon up as something that he is not. They have replaced a KKK hood for the witch’s hat, and a Nazi armband for the nose. But the costume is entirely of the mob’s own creation.
This all started in 2016 when the far-left smear group Southern Poverty Law Center kicked off its hit-job on Bannon, declaring him to be in league with white supremacists. The argument goes something like this: Bannon declared that Breitbart News is a platform for the alt-right. There are some people who identify themselves as alt-right who are racists. Therefore Steve Bannon is a racist. Add a few provocatively?worded headlines from Breitbart, and voilà, we have clear and compelling evidence that Bannon is a Nazi sympathizer.
Let’s apply this logic to Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The Sanders campaign attracted many true believers, including James Hodgkinson, the 66-year-old Illinois man who came to a practice session of the GOP Congressional baseball team with the intention of killing as many Republicans as possible. Because the Sanders campaign attracted a volunteer who turned out to be a violent lunatic – the SPLC’s logic would suggest – Bernie Sanders must, therefore, advocate killing GOP Congressmen. No one actually believes that. While we could reasonably argue that hyperbolic left-wing rhetoric fueled the shooter’s passions, in the end, the responsibility sits squarely on the shoulders of only one man – James Hodgkinson.
But this is the logic that the left employs with Steve Bannon and the alt?right. For what it’s worth, I’m still not clear as to what exactly the alt-right is, and I don’t know anybody who claims to be a member of it. But at the very least we can say that the alt-right can be described as a movement that openly challenges political correctness. As such it has attracted some unsavory fringe characters who are driven by an unhealthy preoccupation with racial identity. This is something that they have in common with most Democrats insofar as “blackness,” “whiteness,” and other ethnic definitions have become an increasingly powerful obsession among mainstream progressives.
The left is obsessed with race precisely because they understand its power to spur the village mob to action. “Racist” is the new “witch.” The mob wants to make the world a better place, and calling for the burning of conservative witches fulfills a primal (but highly irrational) need to eradicate evil – whether it actually exists or not.
The nastiness around the Bannon event got pretty profane at times. These left-wing commenters reminded me of a line from an old Tom Lehrer record: “I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings… and I HATE people like that!” Our nation desperately needs a return to civility. That won’t happen as long as we are willing to listen to the instigator shouting “witch”…or in this case, “racist!” Think for yourself. Don’t be a lemming. Research the facts. And if you hear someone calling for a witch trial, think twice before you take the bait.