As you may have heard, Michigan has canceled its legislative session:

Michigan closed down its capitol in Lansing on Thursday and canceled its legislative session rather than face the possibility of an armed protest and death threats against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer…

The gathering, meant to advocate opening the state for business despite the coronavirus pandemic, followed one April 30 that resulted in pictures of protesters clad in military-style gear and carrying long guns crowding the statehouse. They confronted police and taunted lawmakers…

…For the past week, lawmakers have been debating how to safely enable lawmakers to work and vote in session while the state’s laws allow people to bring firearms into the capitol building. The debate grew more tense in recent days as some lawmakers read about threats to the governor’s life on social media, which were published in the Detroit Metro Times.

Let us understand the context: Protesters from the left-wing in legislatures are routinely arrested. The charge is generally something like “disturbing the peace.” Police can always find a way and an excuse to clear protesters if they want to.

The police have SWAT teams, they can call in the national guard if necessary. They could wait for the next time the armed protesters come and arrest them. There’s a chance of violence, of course, but there are ways to do this that protect legislators.

This is clearly intimidation of elected officials. It would not be tolerated from the left, but it has not only been tolerated from the right, it has been allowed to succeed.

Now there’s an argument, and one for which I have sympathy, that politicians should be scared of the people, rather than the other way around. One can cavil, and note that the majority of the public supports isolation orders, so this is a case of intimidation from an armed minority.

But what’s more interesting to me is that it has been allowed. The protesters could be shut down if the government wanted. There might be some violence, but the US is routinely willing to be violent, so that’s not what’s stopping the government.

Violence and threats from the right are seen as legitimate; they are seen as having the right to be violent. “God, Guns, and ‘Merica.” The right has arrogated to themselves glory and right and violence. They say that violence is ethical and moral in defense of freedom, and that people who are violent and defenders of America and goodness are right-wingers.

Violence is a right-wing thing in the US and it is a good thing. Right-wing violence is legitimate to Americans; they have a right to be violent.

The left are godless, communist hippies who don’t have a right to be violent. They don’t join the cops or the military, they are not associated with legitimate violence. Most left-wingers have spent 60 years, since the 60s, explicitly saying that violence is always bad and never justified. Much of the left rejected Antifa, the people willing to fight fascists, because violence can never either be moral, or according to most left-wingers, even effective. The majority of the US left believes that violence is always bad and doesn’t work as well as non-violence.

This wasn’t always the belief. Unions fought from their earliest history right through the 70s; they would take on the police and union busters. The left fought. In the early 70s, the left was setting off multiple bombs a day; they ran rings around the FBI, who could not stop them. The 60s left-wing insurrection didn’t end because the cops won, it ended because the left itself decided to stop using violence.

A sea change happened in the 60s and 70s, one where the legitimacy of violence was rejected by the left, and violence was gifted to the right. The end of the draft and the left-wing hatred of all violence meant that the left gave the military to the right-wing. Cops have always been right-wing, of course, but the draft had meant that the rank and file military included many left-wingers. It also meant that people on the left had violent skills, taught courtesy of the military.

That ended. Meanwhile, the right, including the most far-right, encouraged their people to join the military and the police, to learn the skills and to make sure those institutions were run by right-wingers from top to bottom.

So there are two likely reasons the Michigan legislature gave into violence: (1) They think that right-wing violence is legitimate, and; (2) They don’t trust the police or national guard to stop the right-wingers, with whom they sympathize and whom they support.

Meanwhile, only two parts of the left believe they have a right to be violent: Antifa and the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers have taken to being armed escorts for those legislators they support.

Those who disarm, those who believe fanatically in non-violence, always exist at the whim of those who believe in violence and are good at it.

This is the position the left has put itself in in the US and many other countries: disarmed, bad at violence, with no influence over the violent organs of the state and almost no tradition or skill in violence in the few organs it still has influence over (like some unions).

Some of this weakness was caused by the right–as with their gutting of unions in the 80s. But much of it is because the left both believes that violence is always wrong and that it is ineffective.

Michigan is the fruit of those beliefs.

And, children, history is a record of violence often working. Sometimes non-violence works, yes, sometimes it even works very well. But effective violence, especially if it is perceived as legitimate, is also a winning strategy.

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