When you read the name of this blog, you may think it refers to the debate about abortion. That is not what this blog is about. Rather, the name is a play on words, indicating that the streets should be meant for life.
Before you read further, know that this blog is about politics. It has to do with political ideologies, about the development of society in politics and what can be done about the trending political violence.
You might want to know a bit about myself: the author of this blog. I’m a young adult from Iceland; with rather conservative views.
However, I am not here to lecture people about the conservative ideology in politics, but rather to take a stance, considering the development of political violence we see going on in this world. Whether your political views lean towards the left, right, both or neither, I implore you to read through to the end as this matter concerns us all. Before I share my own views, I will try to explain what has happened and what is happening.
A lot of change is happening in the world, abrupt and unexpected ones.
We have Brexit, that most people did not expect to happen, the full exit of Britain out of the European Union. Taken by many as a bad economic play and a dangerous play in European diplomacy and European relations. Not only that but there is also the concern of immigration to the UK, the living European citizens who reside and live in Britain. Then there is also Britain’s commitment to the Migrant Crisis that has gripped most of Europe, where some countries take in more refugees while others take in less and even others take none at all. To some, this has been deemed as deeply racist and nationalistic.
In a sense, they are right. But in a sense, they are also wrong.
Britain’s unexpected and now apparent departure from the EU has left the world in shock. Equal amount of shock as when the average German citizens discovered they had actually lost the first world war, despite there not having been many battles fought inside of Germany which would have indicated that the German army was losing. The news were unexpected and sudden and people were outraged and felt betrayed. ‘How could they have lost the war? Barely any battles had been fought inside of Germany. The German citizens had not really had to experience the horrors of war, why was their government suddenly giving up?’ (I am trying to possibly see from the perspective of the average German back in the days after the first world war)
A similar kind of feeling might have gone about the people on the Remain side, of Europe and really the whole world. Brexit was so unexpected, polls had started suggesting in the end that Brexit was probably not going to happen, that life would go about as it had always done. But that did not happen, instead, abrupt change that most had not been prepared for, happened. Chaos and confusion can spread easily when it comes to enormous political changes, desperation, fear and anger manifest. Blames start flying, assumptions are made and an excuse is made for loss of one side to try and ease the pain.
This set the global political balance into a brief moment of turmoil as people were also heavily focused on what was happening in the meantime in the United States. Presidential elections were ongoing in the US and one of the candidates of the Republican Party presidential primaries, Donald J. Trump, had by that time already beaten his political rivals in the Republican primaries and was expected to be Republican nominee. Meanwhile in the Democratic Party primaries, despite Bernie Sanders still campaigning against Hillary Rodham Clinton, Clinton was expected to become the party nominee of the Democrats which she did.
However, the main focus was on Donald Trump. Trump had built his campaign in a very unconventional and unorthodox manner, which had shocked many, but had been treated as a joke at first until it became clear that he would become the Republican Party nominee. To those who deeply opposed him, Brexit was a blow to them as Trump had taken to backing the Brexiteers and for Brexit to happen.
The world would be in for more surprise with the 2016 US election. This was one of the meanest and most vindictive elections ever held in the US. It was one of the most divisive election that I have personally witnessed and really learned about. The US was pretty much split into two separate political camps who despised the other side with utmost intensity.
However, it must be pointed out that many of whom voted for Donald Trump were voting against Hillary Clinton and many who voted for Hillary Clinton were voting against Donald Trump. Political loyalty to these two candidates were at an all time low as there was more of a feeling of necessity of choosing the “lesser evil”. It must also be pointed out that there were indeed those who voted for Donald Trump based on racism, religious intolerance and for hatred against minorities while there also those who voted for Hillary Clinton based on hatred for white males whom are considered by many to be the reason for oppression against minorities and against non-minority people.
I myself paid more attention to that issue than to other ones.
There is a lot more to this. This election was not decided by these two groups as they both remained in minority of the voters, but these two groups did indeed influence these elections and cause a greater divide. Why? Because of “guilt by association”. These groups who call for political violence or for oppressive changes are often the ones who are the loudest. Hillary was associated with those who called for the expulsion of white people from any sort of power, and Trump was associated with organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and the alt-right.
But most people voted for economic and social reasons. A big voter base of Trump’s were workers, people who had lost their jobs due to industry moving out of the country. These people voted for Trump due to economic reasons. Others voted for him due to his promises of fixing the infrastructure and because he promised to focus more on domestic policies rather than foreign policies.
A lot of people voted for Clinton because she proposed less but more balanced changes, a safer route. She promised justice to minority communities and that she would help fix law enforcement. Many people voted for Clinton also based on economical reasons and for social changes.
What I personally believed tipped the scale was foreign policy. I personally believe that is where Clinton lost, as there was great fear to be confronting Russia. People were more inclined for a more peaceful approach to foreign policy as the US has engaged in hostile confrontations all over the world for the past 26 years or so (even longer if one is to count the Cold War as well). Trump promised no more world policing, no more interventions, no more hostilities with the world. To many, that was blessing and a necessity.
As you know, Donald Trump did end up winning the US elections. However, he did not win the popular vote, which caused great anger with the current electoral system that is in place in the US. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million. A far bigger and far more violent uproar took place due to the election results, than happened in Britain. Similar as to the supposed German feeling after the Great War and to the people of the world after Brexit, this had also happened completely unexpected. Polls had suggested that this was to be a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton. Polls went all the way up to a 75% chance of a Clinton win and a 25% chance of a Trump win.
‘This was not supposed to happen, polls and news organizations had told people that Trump had no chance at all and that he would lose massively’.
But alas, that did not happen, and to make it worse, he was the one who won the landslide victory against Clinton, winning over states that were predicted to be more Blue than Red, even states like Michigan and Wisconsin which came as a huge shock to many and that despite losing the popular vote. All Trump needed to do was to win the electoral part of the election to achieve victory.
People felt cheated, betrayed and lied to. Trump’s inevitable defeat had turned into a moment of nightmare to those who had supported Hillary Clinton. Anger, hatred and fear manifested itself among people. Excuses were made for the defeat and the divide became greater. People took to the streets to protest, to cause property damage and to attack other people.
This, this is where the point of this blog comes into play.
Now, several reasons can be given as to why the Clinton side lost the elections. The one I will offer here that considers this blog, is due to violence on the Clinton/anti-Trump side who are regarded as “leftists”. A lot of people voted for Trump because they were tired of being told that they are not allowed to say something that might offend someone, that they were being silenced and banned from speaking out publicly. They were tired of hearing only one narrative and of everybody agreeing and not being allowed to hear counter arguments or to see a different stance taken.
To focus a bit more on the development on the left side, the response after the elections has been horrible. People have become far more violent and have justified their political violence as “fight against fascism”, “fight against nazism”, “fight against white supremacy”, “fight against white nationalism” and so forth. But by doing so, all they have done is to reinforce the idea for Trump’s voters that they actually voted for the right person and this is only ensuring a second term for Trump.
For people hoping to stop a second term for Donald Trump, I would advise you to denounce all forms of political violence, especially committed in your name.
One side has become so extreme, that it is effectively creating a new extreme. We have had people physically assaulted because they look like someone who might have voted for Donald Trump, people wearing MAGA (Make America Great Again, Donald Trump’s campaign brand) hats have been violently attacked and we have had more punitive actions taken against people who style themselves as activists for free speech.
Due to this violence seemingly coming from one side, people feel pushed over to the other side. This also happens often due to the inability or due to the refusal of law enforcement to take action to protect people. Many reasons could be behind that. Sympathies for one side, fear of being fired for being politically incorrect, commands of standing down and other possible reasons to why the police often does not intervene when political violence happens.
When that happens, when even the people who are supposed to protect you and your rights refuse to do so, a very very dangerous situation, is created. Humans are creatures of survival by instinct. Many are familiar with the term “fight or flight”. A moment where our body, when it detects that it is in great danger, sets in motion a response where you either fight to protect yourself or where you flee to try and escape any harm.
To those who are more of the “fight” type or are just tired of fleeing, will indeed fight back. It is human that we seek to protect ourselves and people will do that. This is dangerous for society if people believe authorities can not protect them and seek to do so themselves. Rules and laws are then often dismissed and no rules apply in a fight for survival situations. People will use any means necessary to survive, even if that means joining controversial and possibly dangerous organizations, or creating ones that are meant to fight back. As it is often said, “violence begets violence”.
When people feel they can not depend on the authorities to protect them, they will eventually look somewhere else for protection. And alas, here is my fear as a conservative, that people may seek protection from actual fascist or neo-nazilike organizations.
This will not be due to racism, but due to fear. If there is anybody who has gained out of this great divide that has taken place in the political world, it is the extremist groups, be they far right or far left. The far left has gained from the fear and confusion and have gotten people to react violently against other people by completely dehumanizing their victims. This in turn has been a blessing to far right extremist organizations who have taken the more seemingly sympathetic and less violent route, but as it stands now, these groups are starting to become more violent as time flies by.
I started on writing this blog some time ago and my original intention was to focus on the rise of nationalism and how it might be curbed and prevented into developing into something far more extreme. But given what happened in Berkeley a few days ago, I have had to focus even more on the political violence and also to show that people more on the right side have started to fight back, which is emboldening extremist groups on the right.
Before all of this, people would respectfully debate. People would listen to each other, argue, tell them where they are wrong, show them how they are wrong, prove that they are wrong. But in this day and age, most people go around and call people who argue back to them “bigots” and “close-minded”. No one listens anymore and people rather take action instead of just speaking with each other. There is no more dialogue.
if the left wishes to see nationalism dwindle, if they really want to stop the growth of right wing extremist groups, then they need to call out the people who are committing violence in their name. What happened in Berkeley on April 15th, AntiFa, a far left leaning organization of violence, initiated a giant brawl on the streets of Berkeley, having attacked people there before and committed acts of vandalism. But this time, they were met with heavy resistance and essentially driven back and got a taste of their own medicine. Many people were hurt that day on both sides, the police did little to protect people.
Far right groups such as Identity Evropa clashed with AntiFa, a man from the organization punching a woman who had gone to the event taking place in Berkeley with the intention to attack others, sparked outrage on the internet and initiated heated debates between people, people taking side of the man who punched, saying that she was there to attack others as she indicated in her own facebook post and considering her gear, while others took the side of the woman and called out the man and those who supported him based on their masculinity, a man hitting a woman, and the fact that she had not engaged with him, yet he hit her.
But in the end, do we really have to pick a side here between two options?
And this is my message to all people who have managed to read this. Political violence is wrong, in all of its forms. It’s illegal, immoral and inhumane.
People have different ideas, different perspectives. But to get your own perspective across should not be done with violence. There is a reason why we have law enforcement, why we have a political system, why we have a legal system and why we have checks and balances.
Both sides are wrong to use political violence to further their goals.
I call on you all to take a stance against violence, to not let acts of violence be committed in your name or cause. If we prevent the rise of one extremism, we prevent the rise of another. It is simple physics of Newton’s Third Law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
Even if you may have disagreed with my examples, my way of explaining and with my point of view, I hope you at least agree that violence is not the answer, that it is never the answer. No one should have to suffer violence, ever. I believe balance can be restored and the effects of this divide, reversed. But only if there is will to end violence. Let’s keep our streets clean of violence. Let’s keep our streets pro-life.