Trump's side wasn't alone in the big lie: The alarming rise of far-left domestic terrorism and the rhetoric fueling it.

Much of the violence, rioting, and destruction of property at last year's Black Lives Matter protests were perpetrated by white anarchists who pushed past Black leaders in their communities trying to stop them. Despite the fact that peaceful protesters even put themselves in harm's way to protect property and even police, protests that were 93% peaceful were tarred and feathered as generally violent riots, thanks to the anarchists who sought to usurp the cause of Black lives for their own anti-government ends.

Left-anarchists are at it again in the wake of President Biden and Vice President Harris taking office. In Portland, Oregon, they smashed windows of the local Democratic party headquarters and set fires near a federal building. In Seattle, Washington, they smashed windows at the original Starbucks at Pike Place, a place of community pride.

But is far-left violence widespread and a real threat, much like the spread of violence and violent propaganda among right-wing and white supremacist groups? As Speaker Nancy Pelosi once brilliantly put, "The plural of anecdotes is not data."

The data bears it out. While far-right groups and white supremacists remain responsible for the vast majority of domestic terrorism in the United States, the share of violence committed by anarchists and others with far-left ideology is rapidly rising. A study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that far-left terrorism accounted for 20% of domestic terrorist attacks in 2020, a near three-fold increase from its share in 2019.

But here is where it gets interesting: far-right terrorism and far-left political violence are not distributed the same way throughout the country. According to CSIS, far-left terrorism has paralleled the scope of far-right terrorism in only two major cities: Portland and Seattle. Far-right violence dominates the domestic terrorism landscape everywhere else in the country.

Left-wing terrorism is inspired in part by the desire to hit back against the licensure of hate that the far-right secured under Trump, but it is also motivated by their contempt for "both parties," the liberal global order, and capitalism. And their rage is often focused on the Democratic party rather than Republicans because while they see Republicans as outside-enemies, they view Democrats as in-house traitors.

Modern socialists of note like to share a quote lifted from one of Dr. Martin Luther King's letters to Coretta Scott in which he stated that his personal economic outlook was "more socialistic than capitalistic." It's a quote completely removed from the context of its time. The United States government and its systems - for better or worse - were at the time inextricably linked with capitalism in the American context, and the feudal system of the time that systemically denied wealth to people of color came to be seen as capitalism. As much as Dr. King rejected hyper-individualistic economics, so too did he condemn the hyper-collectivist view of economics, something today's socialist activists embrace.

But I digress. A key difference between the American civil rights movement and the global rise of socialism and communism taking place roughly around the same time in history was that the American civil rights movement chose the path of peaceful resistance and civil disobedience, while communists and socialists across Asia, Europe, and south and central America chose violent uprising. Dr. King was famously captivated by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. The struggle for India's independence from British colonialists had its share of advocates of violence (some even going as far as seeking assistance from Nazi Germany), but Gandhi, who came to be known as the Father of the Nation in India, steadfastly rejected violence.

Gandhi did not reject violence because its use would have been unmerited by an occupied people in the context of colonial oppression but because he realized that the true battlefield for the struggle for freedom was the hearts and minds of people, not at the forts of the British Raj. King was initiated into the school of Satyagrahaor the seeking of truth, which Gandhi taught was the non-violent resistance to systems of oppression through self-sacrifice. If Gandhi and King were radicals, they were radicals for preaching and practicing peace in the face of brutal violence from their foes and the temptation to respond with force from their friends.

The modern far-left, which is organized around the subjugation of racial justice to class war, the centering of "economic anxiety" (white grievance), and nostalgia over a time of segregation, internment, and extraordinary growth in the white middle class, is anything but the ideological heirs of King. In fact, they are more his antithesis. They aspire to the violent overthrow of the system in hopes that from the ashes of a burned down country will rise the phoenix of perfect socialism that will fix all ills.

It is no coincidence that epicenters of far-right white supremacist violence and far-left anti-capitalist violence intersect most prominently in the two so-called "progressive" cities of Portland and Seattle. These cities, despite their 'progressive' reputations, are fertile ground for centering white grievance, no matter the end of the political horseshoe. Among American cities with populations of 600,000 and above, Portland is by far the whitest. 71% of Portlanders identify as non-Hispanic white. The second whitest? Seattle at 64%. No other major American city passes 60%, and people of color make up the majority in most.

Just as the radical right's rise is in good part attributable to the rhetoric of right-wing politicians, media personalities, and other influencers, the role of irresponsible, populist rhetoric from leftist politicians and media personalities in the rise of far-left violence cannot be ignored.

In fact, the timeline of the rise of far-left domestic terrorism tracks frighteningly well with one electoral event: the rise and fall of the Bernie Sanders presidential primary campaign in 2019-2020, much like the rise of white supremacist terrorism tracks with the rise of Donald Trump with striking precision. Though Sanders hardly measures up to Trump in blatant rhetorical violence, his two campaigns too were poisonous, populist, anti-capitalist, rage-against-the-system undertakings that went hard against an imaginary enemy of the people, "the establishment." Implicit in the rhetoric was a falsehood that the only way to make any progress was to 'break' the system. That some in the Sanders - and Sanders-adjacent - movements took the 'breaking' party literally hardly a surprise. Sanders had, after all, promised that the establishment 'couldn't stop' him.

That promise, like Trump's promise of re-election, turned out to be premature. And just like Trump, Bernie Sanders and his allies were eager to plant the seed of mistrust in the electoral process, both in 2016 and 2020. In 2016, Bernie Sanders famously dragged out the Democratic primary in a way that likely cost Hillary Clinton the election and put Donald Trump in the White House, complaining of a 'rigged' primary.

In 2020, Bernie's most ardent supporters blamed the DNC, President Obama, and other Democratic primary candidates for 'fixing' the election because after Biden won a thumping victory in South Carolina, the first primary (non-caucus) state in which non-whites comprised a majority of the electorate, other pragmatists in the race dropped out and endorsed Biden, setting up a one-on-one race between Biden and Sanders, something Sanders had previously said he wanted.

After Biden decimated Sanders in the primaries that followed, the narrowing of the field was termed 'cheating', and Sanders did nothing to diffuse the rhetoric of his supporters.

While Donald Trump and his political enablers incited an insurrection against the United States and should suffer the fullest measure of legal and political consequences for their actions, it is important to note that Trump and his allies had help from the far left in sowing the seeds of doubt and distrust against the legitimacy of the democratic process.

The manufactured self-pity of victimhood and disenfranchisement has seeped into the fabric of the far left as much as that of the radical right. The only difference is that the far right is emboldened by their successes within the Republican party while the far left is agitated by their failures within the Democratic diaspora. The fascists have managed to take over the machinery of the Republican party in a way modern-day socialists and communists have been unable to for the Democratic party.

But that's not for lack of trying.

Sowing lies about election integrity is not the totality of their offenses. Rejections of free markets, free trade, and a political process free from intimidation are all key parts of the agenda of people who often identify as 'democratic socialists' and sport a rose on their social media profiles. A constant state of rage toward competence - what they really mean when they say 'establishment' - is, too.

Joe Biden ran on the most aggressive agenda to battle climate change in modern memory, but extremist groups like the Sunrise Movement are still organizing legislator-attended 'protest' rallies against Democrats for not doing enough (and it is never enough - that's the gest of manufactured outrage). Leftist lawmakers are engaged in moving the goalposts for the Biden administration like it is some kind of a game. Now that President Biden has proposed a $15 minimum wage, something they have wanted for four years, suddenly $23 is the new demand. Now that Joe Biden has ordered a pause on student loan payments through September, they want every penny canceled, right away. Heck, some leftist legislators who heaped praise on Donald Trump for wanting to raise the $600 direct payment in December's COVID relief package to $2,000 have now made a pariah of President Biden for wanting to do exactly the same thing.

Bernie Sanders has himself yet to demand the resignation of his close friend Sen. Josh Hawley, even after Hawley was a primary instrument for Donald Trump to incite the insurrection of January 6. Because Hawley, once upon a time, supported Bernie Sanders on a $2,000 direct payment, and Sanders likely feels loyalty for Hawley, loyalty he never felt for Democrats who are about to make him the powerful chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Why? Because for the far left, this is not about achieving policy goals. This is about preserving their feelings of victimhood and outrage and directing that outrage toward 'the establishment.' The 'establishment' is never allowed to be good, so if ever it agreed with the stated policy goals of leftists, the demands must be quickly changed to something impractical. Not to improve the lives of their fellow citizens. To preserve outrage.

But constant, unrelenting, manufactured outrage has consequences. Constant rejection of 'the system' even when the system makes progress has consequences. It creates the self-fulfilling prophecy that 'the system' must be torn down, by violence if necessary. From there, it's a short road to "The system must be torn down, and violence is necessary."

This is the path extremists take, right and left.

Moderating the rhetoric and purging poisonous populism of the rabid, radical right from the conservative movement isn't enough. The heated, fanatic, populist leftism must also be purged from the American progressive movement.

Otherwise, we're in trouble.

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