Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
In 2008, “dissent” went from being the “highest form of patriotism”, a quote by Communist revisionist historian Howard Zinn that Democrats falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson, to treason when George W. Bush made way for Barack H. Obama. The old bumper stickers about the patriotic value of dissent were swiftly replaced with others touting the value of change.
In 2020, resistance just as quickly turned into sedition once the political tables were turned.
In one month, questioning a presidential election went from a commonplace proposition to a shocking attack on our democracy. And we all know that if President Trump had been inaugurated for a second term, there would be no censorship or censure of the Democrat politicians and pundits claiming that he was only reelected because of Russia or UFOs.
Nor would we be hearing any talk of “sedition” and “insurrection” as if they were bad things.
When November was just decorating the flagstones of D.C. with faded leaves, the Democrat cliques inside federal agencies were still touting their skill at undermining the White House in chats with reporters at bars where drinks cost more than most Americans earn in a day.
These members of the “resistance” had spent four years undermining elected officials while falsely claiming that they were entitled to do it because the 2016 election had been illegitimate.
Government officials boasted anonymously of undermining President Trump, members of Congress and their staffers helped protesters get inside to disrupt hearings, rioters who assaulted police officers and attacked federal buildings were bailed out by Democrat officials and celebrities who enlisted Silicon Valley and major corporations to support the riots.
By the time November was done, resistance had been rebranded as “sedition”. Storming Capitol Hill went from a passionate endeavor by Democrat activists protesting the Kavanaugh nomination, the environment, or some other lefty cause, to the single worst event since 9/11.
Black Lives Matter riots had besieged the White House and set fire to its guardhouse, while still being defended by Democrats and the media as peaceful protesters. The media agonized over photos of federal agents protecting the Lincoln Memorial as a sign of incipient fascism. Less than a year later, 25,000 troops occupying D.C. like Baghdad are being cheered by the media.
The difference between resistance and sedition, between protests and insurrections, is who’s in charge. Democrats resist Republican elected officials. Republicans however commit sedition against Democrat elected officials. Democrats protest, Republicans riot. These aren’t distinctions in law. The only real distinction is who’s in power and who’s on the barricades.
Political hypocrisy isn’t a new phenomenon, but Democrats weaponizing the national security state to suppress the political opposition over the same behavior they engage in is a serious threat to the survival of the United States as anything other than a banana republic in a civil war.
The Democrats fired the first shot when the Obama administration used the national security system to target members of Congress during its time in office and then, in an election year, went after President Trump’s associates based on Hillary Clinton’s opposition research.
Instead of being held accountable for abusing national security to target their political opponents, Democrats, their media, and their allies in the system doubled down with fake investigations of the same worthless allegations that they never managed to substantiate.
After four years of falsely claiming that President Trump was a Russian agent and that the 2016 election had somehow been rigged with Facebook ads in an event that was worse than 9/11, the Democrats have pivoted to claiming that questioning the 2020 election is worse than 9/11.
Now the old abuse of the national security state under the guise of hunting down the evidence that Republicans had rigged the 2016 election has turned into abusing the national security state to punish Republicans for suggesting that the Democrats had rigged the 2020 election.
The only consistent thing here is the Democrat abuse of national security to target their political opponents while magically transforming election skepticism from the highest form of patriotism to sedition, and riots from a moral crusade into a major threat because they are now in power.
The failure to have any kind of reckoning with the Obama administration’s national security abuses has taken us to a new era of national security abuses by the Biden administration.
Democrat officials and their media allies are already touting a new campaign against “domestic extremism”. And the same people who labeled John McCain and Mitt Romney “extremists” when they were running against their boss will get to define who the “extremists” are. Black Lives Matter, a hate group that injured hundreds of police officers and caused $2 billion in damage while taking its motto from a domestic terrorist wanted by the FBI won’t make the list.
The abuse of national security to target the political opposition isn’t a new phenomenon. The Clinton administration insisted that the real threat to America was coming from militias even while Al Qaeda was prepping the attacks that would kill nearly 3,000 people on September 11.
Democrats repeatedly claimed that the Bush Administration’s campaign against terrorists was punishing political dissent, but despite these false claims, Bush’s counter-terrorism never even came close to eavesdropping on, investigating, or shutting down the political opposition.
That didn’t stop Democrats from repeatedly invoking the Gestapo and the Stasi when attacking the Patriot Act, Ashcroft, and Gonzalez. It also didn’t stop them from abusing the Patriot Act and the national security system built to fight Communists and Islamic terrorists to target members of Congress and the political opposition including President Trump and his associates.
Democrats and the media quickly got back to comparing President Trump to Hitler and accusing him of fascism, yet his administration never did to Biden what Obama had done to Trump. The Trump administration didn’t eavesdrop on Biden associates under the guise of national security. The damaging material about Hunter Biden and his father’s ties to China came out of a laptop shop in Vermont, not from the synthesis of political operatives and national security personnel which had exploited the Steele Dossier’s false claims about Trump and Russian prostitutes.
And the same alliance between Democrat political operatives, the media, and Silicon Valley that had spread these false allegations far and wide, acted to suppress news stories about Hunter Biden on the false and familiar grounds that they represented Russian disinformation.
The suppression of the Hunter Biden story may be the last hurrah for Russian disinformation.
Biden is moving to appease Russia and that means the Democrats and the media will spend a lot less time justifying their abuses of national security by connecting Republicans to Russia. It would be awkward for Biden and Putin to hug one day after our government media got through with another concocted story justifying a crackdown on conservatives by exploiting Russia.
The Russia hoax generated a national security angle that justified abusing the broad discretion meant for chasing spies and terrorists to instead chase conservatives and Republicans. The Capitol riot provided a new pretext that has allowed the Democrats to dispense with Russia while labeling membership in the political opposition as evidence of a national security threat.
Anyone who questioned Biden’s election can be accused of “incitement”, “sedition”, and “insurrection” without Democrats and their media having to find Russia on a map.
These grotesque abuses of national security are being carried out by the same Democrats who had been neck deep in what they’ve now defined as incitement, sedition, and insurrection. Yesterday’s seditionists now fantasize, in their own words, about using the government they have seized to “investigate”, “suppress”, and “deprogram” the political opposition.
The Republican governing class has failed to come to terms with the reality that its Democrat counterparts operate by a very different definition of law and government than they do. The Democrats don’t simply disregard the Constitution, as they have ever since Woodrow Wilson, but they regard their own power as legitimate and the power of Republicans as illegitimate.
The Democrats are hypocrites only in that they don’t openly state their central principle, but they are remarkably consistent in its application by seeking to dismantle any part of government or society that aids Republicans while building up the power of any part of it that serves them.
Republicans take a legal or philosophical perspective on everything while Democrats have an expedient activist take on it. Republicans turn to the law or tradition, while Democrats decide whether the Filibuster, the Electoral College, the institution of marriage, the existence of white people, and the biological reality of women serves their purposes or ought to be eliminated.
That’s Obama’s thesis about the right side of history in a brutal nutshell.
Democrats approach politics from the simple and consistent perspective that any office currently held by a Republican is illegitimate and any held by a Democrat is sacrosanct. The reasons for this, whether it’s the Russians or white supremacy, are just a propaganda detail. That’s why Democrats “resist” while Republicans commit “sedition”. The difference between resistance and sedition is the legitimacy of the movement and the legitimacy of those in power.
Their approach to the national security state is motivated by that same understanding that its purpose is to promote “resistance” to Republicans and the suppression of Republican “sedition”.
When Republicans failed to carry out a meaningful reckoning of Obama’s national security abuses they didn’t just allow an injustice to go unpunished, but they ensured a much worse repetition by emboldened Democrats who committed the worst political abuse of the national security system that had been possible until then and got away with it. That’s the next step.
The Biden administration is moving to criminalize the political opposition, to investigate and dismantle it using all of the tools at its disposal. That is the only thing Republicans can expect. It’s exactly what they should have been expecting all along. Obama’s abuses of the national security state were not an outlier. They are the new normal. And they’re only going to get worse.
Republicans failed to hold the Democrats accountable when they were in power. They will now have to learn how to hold them accountable when they’re out of power, not with hearings or investigations, but by showing who the oppressors and the oppressed in the system really are.
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