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Seeds of Destruction

Will Americans continue to permit an order that treats certain forms of lawlessness as untouchable, even praiseworthy?

Will America’s streets witness a replay of 2020’s “summer of love” if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade? Will storefronts be boarded up once more, civic buildings barricaded against firebombs? Will the militant wing of the Democrats treat the nation to another orgy of looting and violence, all while the social-welfare wing winks at the barbarians or even goads them on to still greater barbarism?

The answer is almost as important as the fate of unborn life. At stake in these other questions is whether Americans will continue to permit the metastasizing of a politico-juridical order that treats certain forms of lawlessness as untouchable, even praiseworthy. The left wing of the American overclass, unquestionably stronger than the right wing, views the criminals in these cases as possessed of righteous identities or causes, which is enough to exculpate almost any savagery. If other social forces fail to check this tendency, it will tear what little remains of our social fabric and inaugurate a despotism we only began to glimpse in 2020.

So far, the minions of the culture of death haven’t summoned anything close to 2020-level mischief. Saint James Cathedral in Seattle has been targeted for ugly protests, so far repelled by police and security at the entrance, and pro-abortion activists cosplaying as Handsmaid’s Tale characters were likewise ushered out of a Catholic church in Los Angeles. More alarming, mobs have swarmed the homes of the conservative justices, and a Wisconsin pro-life group had its offices set alight. The assailants left a warning on the walls: “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either.”

The George Floyd riots, by contrast, caused up to $2 billion in damage, and that was just in the first phase spanning May 26 to June 8, 2020. The 2020 mayhem also claimed 12 to 19 lives and left hundreds of police officers injured. I will never unsee footage of a NYPD officer deliberately run over in the early hours of June 2, 2020, in The Bronx, his body sent flying like a ragdoll. Nor will I soon forget guarding my apartment’s lobby with our doormen in East Midtown, as hundreds of thugs smashed stores on our street and eyed our building for attack.

Yet there is already a striking parallel to the aestas horribilis of 2020: The blue establishment is once more backing—or at least, tacitly approving—the domestic escalation. As the Federalist reported, some of the activists targeting churches apparently did so under the auspices of an outfit called “Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights,” which is urging supporters to wear green; Hillary Clinton tweeted out support for the green movement. Worse, outgoing White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki initially declined to condemn the mobbing of the justices’ homes (“I don’t have an official U.S. government position on where people protest.”). Only days later did she finally issue a statement reining in the party’s militant hounds.

This is incredibly dangerous stuff, but the left-liberals can’t be blamed for deploying these tactics. After all, it paid off two years ago, not just in creating scenes of chaos ahead of a national election (and thus making the incumbent look out of control), but also by fortifying the impression that they enjoy sovereignty over what counts as illegitimate violence, and what doesn’t. As the race riots broke out, the same epidemiologists who for weeks had been urging Americans to stay home now suddenly treated Black Lives Matter gatherings as almost de rigueur. That sent a potent message about the true workings of power in this country: Don’t want these quasi-legal riots to burn down your homes and small businesses? Remember to vote the right way come November.

How should the rest of us respond? By not conceding an inch to barbarism, by not trying to convince ourselves that just because the mouth-frothing vandal appears passionate, he must have at least half the truth on his side. No, it is possible to froth at the mouth and be both completely in the wrong and in need of a strong disciplinary hand.

In 1850, the Spanish statesman and reactionary writer Juan Donoso Cortés wrote of those who sowed chaos in the name of progress in his time: “The evil is not in the government; evil is in the governed. The evil is that the governed have become ungovernable.” In our time, a segment of the governed has become ungovernable in the extreme, and the trouble is that the government itself is in alliance with the ungoverned and ungovernable.

God, help us.

about the author

Sohrab Ahmari is a founder and editor of Compact magazine, a contributing editor of The American Conservative, and a visiting fellow of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University. His books include From Fire, by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith (Ignatius, 2019) and The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos (Convergent/Random House, 2021). He is currently writing a book about privatized tyranny in America.

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