False Equivalence and Finger Pointing


Most liberals stood by for a generation while conservatives polarized politics and vilified the left. We generally took the high ground, and the result was a drastic shift to the right in media and popular consciousness.

With the rise of the alt-right and Trump era politics, more liberals started to stand up, speak out, engage, protest, and fight back. The highly-calculated and bullshit response from the right was to say that liberals were being divisive, obstructionist, and extremist. And far too many people believe it.

Whatever liberals do to respond, we are attacked and blamed. We correct a lie with a fact, and we are shouted down as “libtards” or told we are the liars despite the facts. We try to propose a political compromise and are met with “our way or no way”. We get angry, and we are either “snowflakes” or being “divisive”. We stand up against discrimination, and we are told we are politically correct “fascists” who are destroying freedom.

This is not an accident. It is the effect of an intense and long-term effort by right-wing strategists to discredit any views that disagree with their policies.

Republicans have retrospectively painted Obama as an extremist who would not work with them. When Obama took office, we wanted to have a “Team of Rivals” like Lincoln, and tried to fill his cabinet with both liberals and conservatives. Republicans refused the effort at bipartisanship, and responded by trying to block every legislation that Obama proposed. That isn’t my opinion, it is what Mitch McConnel said they were doing. Nine years later, they still are obsessing on defeating Obamacare rather than trying to do something effective.

Conservative think tanks, Fox News, sites like Breitbart, and the Republican party have turned political divides into tribalism so severe that people are attacking liberals and immigrants based upon political propaganda.

The propaganda of this nonsense is so pervasive that even moderates have adopted it. Speak out against Trump’s lies and the vile things the Republican are doing to our country, and moderates will call you divisive. I continually hear that “the left is as bad as the right”.

We have allowed these lies to become dominant specifically by not speaking out, and when we do, not speaking out effectively. We allow the right to categorize protests of neo-Nazis as “the left trying to destroy free speech”. We allowed the religious right to market themselves as “a silent majority” when in fact, they are a loud and grotesque minority who show very little in the way of “values” beyond backing any politician that is against gay rights and abortion.

Liberals themselves adopt right wing pejoratives for other liberals, calling them “SJWs” and “Feminazis”. In doing so, we are giving the right-wing labels credibility. Instead of providing intelligent criticism of liberals who we feel are phony or too extreme, we throw in with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and use their propagandistic insults on other liberals.

It is all nonsense. It is propaganda.

Calling out a lie is not the same as lying.

Being angry over injustice is not the same as being unjust.

Fighting against white supremacists and neo-Nazis who want to discriminate and hurt people is not the same as being a shitbag white supremacist.

Black Lives Matter protesting police violence is not “endangering police lives” more than inaction is endangering innocent civilian lives.

Liberal and mainstream media generally fact check sources. Conservative media distributes known lies.

Rachel Maddow is left-slanted and can border on punditry, but she does not spew a fraction of the lies and hatred that Sean Hannity spews in one day.

Republicans wasted years going after Bill Clinton for lying about his sex life, but care nothing about multiple Trump allies caught lying about communications with a hostile foreign power.

Being angry about a healthcare bill that would kill 25,000 Americans per year to give a tax cut to the rich is not the same as being angry because you are not allowed to discriminate against gay people.

We liberals still stand by our values. Fiscal conservatives support policies that will increase our debt. Christian conservatives are supporting un-Christian policies from amoral people like Trump.

This issue has grown past standing for liberal ideals. The right is attacking the foundations of democracy – courts, media, education, the right to protest, privacy, checks and balances, freedom and equality, and the right to vote. It is about democracy and freedom. It is about building a future for our country instead of allowing want to be oligarchs to steal our wealth. It is about saving people’s lives.

In the end, it is also about fixing the divisiveness and all being Americans together again, but we can’t do that by letting the right shame us or terrorize us into silence.

Extremists are very manipulative. They play victim, and they vilify their enemies. What is happening in the free world today is the product of right-wing extremists manipulating people’s anger and fears to the point that honest political debate is almost dead. That is intentional. The political agenda people like the Koch’s and Mercer’s are spending billions of dollars to promote is indefensible – it hurts 99.9% of us, it is undemocratic, and it is Unamerican. They only way they can achieve their goals is to muddy political definitions and conversation enough to hide in plain sight.

Liberals need to quit apologizing for ourselves. If we don’t speak out and act politically, right-wing think tanks will continue to control our national conversation about politics. When we speak out and put up a fight politically, they will label us and attack us. To hell with them. We have no choice but to speak out.


I wrote this piece shortly before the events in Charlottesville. The reaction to Charlottesville is a littered with examples of what this article is talking about:

  • Trump's initial reaction to Charlottesville was to condemn violence "on many sides" and avoid mentioning white supremacists or neo-fascists. Only the right-wing extremists killed an innocent woman. Only the right-wing extremists ran people over with a speeding car. Only the right-wing extremists stood as a group over a man, pummeling him with pipes until he was nearly dead.
  • Liberal media took to shaming the white supremacists with facts. Conservative media took to shaming a murder victim with lies and slut-shaming
  • And let's just stop bullshitting about who we are talking about here. Nazis are, well, Nazis. They honor a man that murdered millions of innocent people. They propose, at best, kicking millions of people out of their homes and jobs - based upon race, orientation, and religion - in order to build a "white state". At worst (and more commonly), they support the same sort of violence and genocide executed by Hitler. They are inciting violence. They are selling widespread and abject hatred. There is no popular equivalent on the left. Socialists do not want to murder people. Neither does antifa. Neither do anarchists. Whatever issues one may take with a left-wing group, it is not the remotely similar.

Social media is full of people trying to justify the actions of neo-fascists by comparing the Nazis and white supremacists to the anti-racists, antifa, and anarchists. How low have you sunk when you are an apologist for actual Nazis?! How can this even be a conversation we need to have? Nazis are just bad, like eating drain cleaner is bad. Nazis, by definition, should be stopped. Anything else is a lie.