One of the least-reported but most important political developments over the last couple years has been the left???s increasing willingness to marginalize conservatives by portraying their views as so far outside the mainstream that they can only be informed by hatred and bigotry.
The left???s nasty divisiveness increases the prospects that unstable people will act out violently against those it tries to marginalize.
Such a result took place last August, when Floyd Lee Corkins entered the headquarters of the Family Research Council. Corkins was upset because the CEO of the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A had said he opposed same-sex marriage. This so enraged Corkins that he planned to murder people who worked at FRC, a public policy organization that supports traditional marriage and had been associated with Chick-fil-A in the past.
Fortunately, Corkins didn???t get very far, as he was apprehended by an unarmed security guard, who was shot but survived.
Corkins pled guilty last Wednesday to three felony charges, including terrorism and assault with the attempt to kill.
The prosecution said that after reviewing the Corkins??? family computer, they determined that Corkins found FRC???s name listed as a ???hate group??? on the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center. There is something wrong with our culture when the view that marriage is between one man and one woman, a view shared by half the nation, is portrayed as evidence of hatred.
Corkins evidently felt that because FRC had been labeled a ???hate group,??? he had permission to attack it. According to court documents, Corkins told the judge he intended to enter FRC that day to ???kill as many people as possible and smother Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces.???
The SPLC is not some obscure activist group but a once-respected civil rights legal association. The SPLC is highly politicized now, which may help explain why last month documents uncovered from a Freedom of Information Act request showed that the Obama administration???s Department of Justice invited the Southern Poverty Law Center???s co-founder to train DOJ employees on diversity.
Like the SPLC, the Obama administration has been more than willing to demonize conservatives in the worst possible terms. In 2009, a Department of Homeland Security report labeled as terrorists ???groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.??? Such groups, the report stated, ???are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.???
The president himself is especially willing to depict his opponents as worthy of our contempt. He referred to congressional Republicans as ???hostage takers??? for demanding tax cuts in 2010. He has accused Republicans of placing the interests of millionaires and billionaires against children with autism and Down syndrome.
Obama routinely alleges that Republicans don???t care about people with disabilities and the elderly, and that if Republicans get their way, those groups would be left to ???fend for themselves.??? Obama stokes class envy and hatred of the wealthy and depicts the Republican fiscal plan as ???you???re on your own economics.???
Obama???s not alone, of course. Democratic politicians, liberal activists and liberal news outlets routinely deploy incendiary rhetoric and wicked accusations to marginalize Republicans.
Last year, California House Democrat Henry Waxman accused Republicans of ???getting away???literally???with murder??? because they placed the interests of the economy over those of the extreme environmental lobby.
For the past two years, Democrats have been on a campaign to portray Republicans as engaging in a ???war on women.??? Why? Because Republicans refused to force religious institutions to pay for their employees??? birth control and chemical abortions.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said with a straight face that if Republicans passed a law to protect health care workers from losing their jobs because they didn???t want to assist in abortions, it would mean ???Women can die on the floor and health care providers do not have to intervene.??? MSNBC???s Martin Bashir labeled Republican supporters of the bill ???misogynists??? and called the bill the ???let women die act.???
And when Republicans voted against a politicized version of the Violence Against Women Act, Democratic Representative Gwen Moore said on the House floor that the bill was ???a direct assault on women???s lives,??? and that without the law, ???abusers??? rights prevail over the rights of the victim.???
And let???s not get started talking about the inflammatory rhetoric liberals use when the discussion turns to race, guns or immigration.
Liberals need to take the advice they routinely give to conservatives: that there are consequences to their divisive rhetoric, and that in their attempts to score political points, they are also inciting violence. Until they do, we can expect more incidents like the one at FRC. Next time things may turn out much worse.
Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families.