The "Climate of Fear"

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Michelle "internment is kewl" Malkin is upset about "hate crime[s]." Stanley "Andrew Sullivan is personally undermining marriage" Kurtz is agonizing about a "climate of fear." Has the cult of victimhood now finished its long voyage from Left to Right?

Maybe. The authors above say that those hardy pilgrims willing to tempt fate by displaying Bush/Cheney signs or bumper stickers are being hit with "unprecedented" vandalism from, in the typically nuanced words of Malkin, "bug-eyed, rock-throwing, lighter-wielding Kerry/Edwards supporters just exercising their 'free speech.'" Kurtz frets:

There is a climate of fear. Again and again, Corner readers say they've been scared off of posting bumper stickers by visions of having their cars keyed or their windows smashed.

Before you snicker too much about the feverish "visions" of Corner readers (though the tone in Kurtz's column is a veritable snickerpalooza), read both columns for the apparently very real acts of anti-Republican property damage. Reminds me of the time we put up a French flag under our Stars & Stripes at home, only to have someone from our extremely Blue-state neighborhood light it on fire within 20 hours. Anyway, I was intrigued by this Kurtz comment:

Apparently, these attacks are so common that you can now buy a T-Shirt with a picture of a slashed-out Bush-Cheney logo and the legend, "A person of tolerance and diversity keyed my car."

Does that T-shirt indeed prove that the "these attacks are so common"? I actually first encountered that jarring slogan and image in an ad on a WashingtonTimes.com Lyn Nofziger book review of Pat Buchanan's Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency, and wondered just how its creator, AuthenticGOP.com, knew that the keying in question was done by "a person of tolerance and diversity." Tolerance, I get (Democrats proclaim to be the party of tolerance), but "a person of diversity" seems to suggest a minority, no? At any rate, at the same site you can also buy buttons and shirts saying "10 out 10 Terrorists Agree: Anyone But Bush." As long as we're all against that Climate of Fear….

Readers with stories of election-year vandalism are encouraged to leave them in the comments.

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  1. I think sign defacing/stealing is just a Democrat tradition. I’ve known two different Dems who would go around stealing signs in the days before the election, one of whom was my brother, who acted on his won with some friends, the other did it on orders from a local Dem organizer, or claimed to.

    This was 5-10 years ago, I don’t think there is anything especially unique about this year’s election. It’s a shark attack/church burning thing.

  2. well, all over carroll gardens (downtown brooklyn) there’s been some serious stencil v stencil action, with restenciling of destencilized areas and whatnot. “osama votes kerry” being changed to “obama vote kerry” or the more common “osama votes.”

    it tends to be heavily – or more vocally at least – kerry down here, with bush here and there, peppered about. some shouting matches, nothing more. the DNC collectors who frequent the area are a much bigger problem, since they’ve become desperate and harassing of the people who not only vote kerry, but have already given money to moveon and other organizations. i’ve had some fun run-ins with them, but being called a nazi isn’t exactly big fucking news with these douches.

    as i commented to a friend during the convention/protestfest that i’d like my obituary to be punctuated with a picture of me being stoned to death by a bunch of people wearing “celebrate diversity” t-shirts.

    as a side note, i’ve heard about publican vehicles with stickers and whatnot getting fucked up down at UNC from a friend who says the violence there has been infrequent but punctuated by rocks through windshields and the like.

  3. No election year vandalism, but even in Red State Dallas, I’ve been avoiding any political statement on my car for precisely that reason. There’s a little too much of the Any Means Necessary rhetoric floating around. Then again it may just be paranoia.

    “a person of diversity” seems to suggest a minority, no?

    Short answer, no. Or at least I don’t think so. I’m assuming that the idea is that the imagined perpetrator would claim to support diversity and tolerance. The implication is that there are a good number of Metro folks who are only tolerant of other Metros, and that diversity for them does not include the hated Retros.

    Certainly the tone on places like /. is such that you could easily imagine some pissed off left-wing radical reactionary redecorating a car they find offensive. Then again, I grew up in the rural south, where the opposite was the case, so I’m not really gonna whine about it unless it actually happens to me.

    Then again, I wouldn’t be caught dead with a bush sticker anyway. Badnarik stickers would probably be safe anywhere. Security through obscurity.

  4. Not vandalism, but funny. A kid was going around picking up donations for Kerry and he was telling me how much he hated Bush. I agreed with him about Bush being bad, but when it came for the money grab, I told him I’m voting libertarian and it wouldn’t matter since Bush is winning California handily (I didn’t mention that if it was close in the state, Kerry would be getting trounced, Mondale style). I got a dirty look and was afraid my place was going to get egged that night.

  5. “Security through obscurity”!

    JDM — I think the Vandalism Index is logically up this year, given stuff like the huge spike in debate TV ratings, and the not-infrequent Doomsday Scenarios presented about the prospects of the opponent winning.

    Also, my favorite stop-sign stenciling of all time was in the late ’80s, in Berkeley, when someone painted in “Stop Natalie Merchant.”

  6. The idea that such vandalism is the work of a particular party moreso than another is pure conjecture and impossible to judge. It’s been going since long before Republicans, Democrats and any other party around today.

    I find the practice repugnant, but if you’re going to deface a Bush sign, at least get some bang out of it–let them know a libertarian was there.

  7. Yeah, the more I think about it, the likely perps are going to be 25-45 year old white men, or 20-28 year old white women. Not sure why I have an idea of a differing age group based on sex. Just popped into the brain, and it seems to fit.

  8. Yeah, the more I think about it, the likely perps are going to be 25-45 year old white men, or 20-28 year old white women. Not sure why I have an idea of a differing age group based on sex. Just popped into the brain, and it seems to fit.

  9. Quick question, it seems like most of Michelle’s examples are in red states. What’s up with that. It would be less surprising if the GOP HQ in Boston or LA got shot at, but Montana, Alaska and Tennessee? Seems like the person that’s a big risk to take for a local vandal. The swing state stuff is less surprising.

    I’m with JDM, this is a pretty minor problem and not really limited to one side. For a party in power, the Republicans sure are whiny. I wonder if it’s something to do with control of Congress, like it’s the one ring.

  10. It makes you wonder…. Why can’t we all just live in ‘peace’… Perhaps, one clever individual might suggest, by way a of a pill?

    A Peace Pill, if you will.

    Yees, yes, that’s the ticket!….

    BTW, I used to indulge in the occasional light political vandalism, but those were in my stupid far left-wing times, and they’re all as equally stupid as the value of the aforememntioned stupid, AND THAT EQUALS RETARDED.

    DUH + DUH = DURRRR

    That is all for now.

  11. In 1992 my dad went around the neighborhood and stole exactly one Bush sign, one Clinton sign, and one Perot sign. Why? We didn’t ask.

    Think about the whole “liberal bias” bit and the Roy Moore/Limbaugh’s brother’s “christians are being persecuted” bit and the right now owns the whole victimhood thing.

    You could go down a whole list of how the right has taken on stereotypical characteristics of the left (say, for example, big spending) but I’m too lazy right now.

  12. Mo:

    “Bush is winning California handily ”

    You think?

  13. Here in Williamsport, PA, the news articles are all on stolen and vandalized Kerry signs. This county votes 3 to 1 Republican.

  14. Not to hijack, but I believe an “n” was omitted from: “Michelle “interment is kewl” Malkin”. As read, it would mean she’s really into burial.

  15. You call them vandals, I call them insurgents.

  16. Right you are, Umbriel! Must be my anti-internment bias….

  17. anon:
    “Bush is winning California handily ”

    Lol. Major typo there. Especially considering between the primaries and the Demo convention I saw more Kucinich for Pres bumper stickers than Bush-Cheney

  18. My 15-year-old daughter told me yesterday that she and a friend, a boy, also 15, walked past a van the other day with a “Bush/Cheney” sticker, and without saying a word, the boy ripped it off. When my daughter told him (albeit with some glee) that that wasn’t a very nice thing to do, he said, “Well, they’re not very nice, either.”

    My favorite bumpersticker of last week: “I wasn’t using my civil liberties anyway.”

  19. Getting pretty OT here but Matt’s comment reminded me of the early nineties when activists were painting “RAPE” underneath all the STOP signs, and some wag in my neighborhood got there first with “COCK” — get it? stop cock? stopcock? hoo boy!

  20. Yeah, just before Iraq 2.0 many of the stop signs here in Uptown New Orleans were spray stenciled with “the war” or “Bush” under the STOP. Points for creativity I suppose…

  21. “‘A person of tolerance and diversity keyed my car.’ … Tolerance, I get (Democrats proclaim to be the party of tolerance), but “a person of diversity” seems to suggest a minority, no?”

    To a lefty, maybe — that seems to be the only kind of diversity they care about. There’s also diversity of opinion, you know, but that tends to be overlooked. My local daily liberal newspaper will make an effort to hire various racial minorities and a few gays so they can “look like America” — but are they going change their hiring so their editorial writers and reporters are roughly half people who vote Republican, and half Democrat, instead of what is now probably more like a 10%-90% split?

    “Tolerance and diversity” go together because if people aren’t diverse — if they’re all the same — what is there to be tolerant about?

  22. I know here in the Nor. Cal. conservatives are few and far between. I go to law school and I am seriously scared that if I put a Bush/Cheny sticker on my car or wear a pin that my car will get keyed or windows broken and obsentities yealled at me. This fear is not irrational… it had happened to others. Even more, to speak out in class with a remotely conservative (or at least not crazy left-wing) thought is even more brutal. I have seen students and professors come down on a “rasict, ignorant, facsit pig” in class. Pretty scary stuff.

  23. I remember many decades ago when Ronald Reagan was running for president, my step-mother told me not to put a sticker on my car. It would get vandalized. many of her friends in the Republican active groups were experiencing these attacks on their vehicles.

    So what has changed?

  24. I remember many decades ago when Ronald Reagan was running for president, my step-mother told me not to put a sticker on my car. It would get vandalized. many of her friends in the Republican active groups were experiencing these attacks on their vehicles.

    So what has changed?

  25. Personally, I think most of that stuff about fear iprove that those Republicans are just chicken shit (and I was republican my whole life). Most of stuff people described are childish behavior, and have nothing to do with terrorism. In fact, I would go futher and put most of those behavior in same class as “for good time call…” you find written in restrooms. It have more to do with the fact that the kids are angry because when people talked about politics they are talking about THEIR future, but do people ever asked them seriously (outside human interest stories and civil classes)? No. Trust me, if the teens find a leader of their own age who is really smart and foresighted in his plans, they can really challenge the system handy. They already got the passion, up-to-date skills in various people, and advantage of outside-the-box thinking without “experience”. They just need somebody who can turn them into a team. Now THAT will scare those Republicans and Democrats pantless.

  26. Stevo — Since the slogan is clearly intended to mock Democrats with their own language, I tend to think they meant “diversity” the way *Democrats* mean diversity, as opposed to how Republicans mean it. But, you know, there are more productive things to thing about, etc.

  27. Regarding Kurtz’s column: It is no more the state’s job to “save” marriage than it is the state’s job to “save” trick-or-treating.

  28. >Tolerance, I get (Democrats proclaim to be
    >the party of tolerance), but “a person of
    >diversity” seems to suggest a minority,
    >no?

    I suggest you go look up “irony” … and hoo
    boy, you just added another layer with
    your line above …

    The point is that the left *claims* to be
    about tolerance and diversity, but actual
    diversity of *ideas* is verboten.

  29. Amy Alkon wrote:

    >Regarding Kurtz’s column: It is no more
    >the state’s job to “save” marriage than
    >it is the state’s job to “save”
    >trick-or-treating.

    Now surely, whether you agree or not, you
    can grant that some people of good will
    think that marriage has a higher social
    value than trick-or-treating.

    And I can’t help but playfully point out
    that many localities announce times and
    so forth for trick-or-treating (though I
    don’t know if any enforce them).

  30. Stevo — Since the slogan is clearly intended to mock Democrats with their own language, I tend to think they meant “diversity” the way *Democrats* mean diversity, as opposed to how Republicans mean it. But, you know, there are more productive things to thing about, etc.

    Like what?

    Actually, I’ve lurked quite a bit at freerepublic.com (which you may know is a conservative Web site). They are quite often mocking Democrats/liberals for failure to appreciate “idea” diversity, and using that as an example of “liberal hypocrisy.” I’m quite confident the slogan referred to “idea” diversity, as more of the same.

    Not everything conservatives say has a racist subtext, hard as the Left tries to find one.

    OK, now that I’ve had the last word, maybe there are more productive things to think about… 🙂

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