Many feel Democrats denounce violence only when it fits their agenda
Democratic lawmakers and liberal media members have rightfully condemned the tragic Capitol riot at every turn, but this wasn’t always the left’s point of view when it came to violence against Republicans throughout President Trump’s time occupying the Oval Office.
Their leader and soon-to-be America’s commander in chief, Joe Biden, ran with an emphasis on “unity,” but many feel that Democrats denounce violence only when it fits their agenda.
Violence wasn’t exactly condemned by many on the left when Republican Sen. Rand Paul was assaulted by neighbor Rene Boucher in November 2017 while mowing his lawn. The Kentucky lawmaker was tackled from behind and suffered six broken ribs, including three displaced fractures. His recovery was complicated by fluid and blood around the lungs, and pneumonia. Following the vicious attack, Paul blamed “the narrative the left is bringing” for the divided nation.
“I guess one of the disturbing things though is to see that there is still so much hatred out there,” Paul said at the time during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.”
“I’m perplexed that this is somehow supposed to be a right-wing phenomenon but I see thousands of people on Twitter, this left-wing mob wishing that I were dead,” Paul added, noting that his attacker was a Democrat with “violent” social media postings.
GQ published a story headlined, “Rand Paul Sounds Like the Worst Guy to Have as a Neighbor,” which said the senator seemed like an “a—hole” when it comes to his yard, while liberal actor Tom Arnold took to Twitter to mock Paul over the attack.
“Imagine being Rand Paul’s next door neighbor and having to deal with @RandPaul lying cowardly circular whiney bullcrap about lawn clippings. No wonder he ripped his toupee off,” Arnold wrote.
A blogger even wrote, “What happened is Rand Paul was beat up for acting like Rand Paul.”
The attack on Paul came on the heels of liberal musician Madonna bragging that she “thought about blowing up the White House,” and comedian Kathy Griffin holding up a bloody mask made to look like a severed head of President Trump.
But while liberal entertainers appeared to condone violence against Republicans, perhaps the most egregious example came from a Democratic lawmaker.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who famously said she threatens Trump supporters “all the time,” encouraged incivility in 2018 when she urged liberals to harass members of President Trump’s administration if they dare to show their face in public.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from the Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” Waters said
But Water’s divisive rhetoric didn’t stop there.
In a TV appearance, she doubled down on her remarks, saying she had “no sympathy” for members of Trump’s administration.
“The people are going to turn on them. They’re going to protest. They’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the President, ‘No, I can’t hang with you,’” Waters said.
Waters’ remark came at a time when then-press secretary Sarah Sanders was denied service at a local restaurant, while then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller were each accosted by liberal activists.
Waters’ call for critics to accost Republicans in public places then resulted in Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife being forced to flee from a restaurant in Washington D.C. as they were confronted by angry protesters. At the time, Sanders blamed Waters’ rhetoric for fueling the harassment campaign against supporters of Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Waters’ comments “unacceptable,” but liberal CNN reported that other “Democrats were reluctant to take on Waters” because she is “a popular figure among progressives and a longtime member of Congress.” Pelosi was even scolded by many liberals on social media who thought she shouldn’t have criticized Waters over the comments.
“No, Nancy. We won’t greet fascism with open arms and hearty handshake and neither should you,” one person responded, while another sarcastically wrote, “Savvy play to tell voters energized by the most corrupt and disgusting administration in recent memory that they need to calm down.”
Pelosi’s tweet that called Waters’ remarks “unacceptable” racked up more than 12,000 comments and only 11,400 likes – which some refer to as getting “ratioed,” and is widely considered a sign that the message didn’t go over too well. So while Pelosi realized Waters was out of line, many of the House speaker’s supporters didn’t agree.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife – then-Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao – were confronted by protesters that same year as they left an event at Georgetown University. McConnell faced protesters again — weeks later — when he was verbally harassed by liberal activists calling for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as he left a Louisville restaurant.
While conservatives blasted Waters for inciting a mob of agitators to confront Republicans, the Democratic lawmaker suddenly had a change of heart–condemning violence following the tragic Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“This president intends to exercise power long after he is out of office,” she said when urging the House of Representatives to impeach Trump last week. “He is capable of starting a civil war.”
But Waters isn’t the only high-profile figure on the left to suddenly have an epiphany and claim that violence isn’t good for America.
The liberal media went out of its way in 2020 to paint sometimes-violent protests across the nation as mostly “peaceful,” but changed their positions when rioters were Trump supporters.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo even asked viewers, “Please, show me where it says that protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.” But the CNN host felt differently following the Capitol riot.
“Protestors use speech. Angry. Not peaceful often … outraged, cursing … and that is protected. Sedition is not. Criminality is not. These were mobs that trashed the capitol and got light treatment for it. This is where we are. And it is ugly,” Cuomo tweeted.
Cuomo, who was criticized on social media as old clips were unearthed, defended himself by saying “false equivalency bs is killing us.”
CNN’s Don Lemon claimed last week that the Capitol riot isn’t comparable to last summer’s police brutality riots because the anti-police demonstrations were the result of “facts,” as he downplayed violence when it comes from the left.
“I’m sick of people comparing, you can’t compare what happened this summer to what happened at the Capitol,” Lemon said. “It’s two different things. One was built on people, on racial justice, on criminal justice, right, on reform, on police not beating up – or police treating people of color differently than they do Whites. OK? That was not a lie. Those are facts. Go look at them. What happened at the Capitol was built on a lie, perpetrated by the president and the people who support him.”
Civil discourse from elected Democrats didn’t exactly improve in the more than two years that have passed since Waters called for conservatives to be accosted in public, and the older brother of CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” namesake even fantasized aloud about punching President Trump.
“If I wasn’t Governor of New York, I would’ve decked him,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told Howard Stern last year.
So while both sides of the aisle came together to condemn the Capitol riot, many are calling for the left to take responsibility for lighting the fire that’s been raging throughout Democratic-run cities over the past four years.
Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis, Brooke Singman and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.
Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.