A popular meme amongst centrists, libertarians, and moderate conservatives is that there is some sort of real equivalency between the far left and the far right. But as we're seeing in America and now in parts of Europe, this could not be further from the truth.
The political center in numerous Western countries is now shifting dangerously towards the right, making fascism acceptable as an ideology and a force to be reckoned with. As the far-right, anti-immigration interior minister in Italy blocked a rescue vessel carrying 629 migrants from entering Italian ports and the Trump administration separates immigrant parents from their children at America's borders, the true vileness of right wing extremism is now being exposed for the world to see. This isn't hyperbole, merely an accurate description of what is happening around the world today.
The most vulnerable people on earth are being targeted by right wing extremists who are building popular political movements around their racism. They are not content to demonize those with darker skins from impoverished backgrounds, they are now enacting brutal policies that will result in unimaginable suffering. Those trying to escape hellish situations to build better lives for themselves and their families are being turned away from the richest, most advanced countries on earth.
The League party, a far right anti immigrant party now represented in the Italian government has gained popularity by pledging to deport an estimated 500,000 unregistered migrants from the country. Their leader, Matteo Salvini, who now serves as the interior minister, has made his presence felt by creating an international outcry over his actions agains the migrants attempting to come to Italy. As far as he was concerned, Italy had “nothing to learn from anyone about generosity, voluntarism, welcoming and solidarity”, and insisted Emanuel Macron make a formal apology for criticizing them.
The Trump administration is now ripping newborn babies away from their mothers while breastfeeding at US borders as part of their "zero tolerance" policy on immigration. Over 500 children have reportedly been separated from their parents, an act so appallingly cruel it is tantamount to torture.
We have seen this script before, and it does not end well. When the far right gets into power, those least able to defend themselves are always first in the firing line. There is no satiating the right's cruelty, no end game for their repressive policies -- just more scapegoating and more repression. Because there are always minorities, always poor people, and always immigrants to blame for society's woes. When migrants are likened to cockroaches, as far right British columnist Katie Hopkins did to great applause from her fascist fans, it is an explicit
As irritating as many on the far left can be, there is no equivalence between them and the far right, and anyone spreading this nonsense should not be taken seriously.
Intellectual powerhouse Jordan Peterson, for example, is raking in millions of dollars peddling pseudo history about the dangers of the radical left and "Cultural Marxism". He describes a world of marauding feminists, gender identity extremists and beta males hell bent on upending the patriarchy and the foundations of Western civilization. He does this while simultaneously decrying the demonization of far right men who engage in vicious racism and misogyny -- an act of brazen intellectual dishonesty that is beneath someone of his intelligence.
Others like Peterson (usually white, usually men) insist on a drawing these equivalencies and it is having disastrous consequences for our society. As the right in America drifts further and further towards total insanity, it is easy to forget that the so-called center would have been regarded as deeply conservative only a few years ago. Mitt Romney for example, would now be considered a moderate in today's political climate -- an astonishing development when you consider he is a pro-life, free market militant who ran in 2012 on one of the most conservative agendas in US history.
While identity politics and excessive outrage defines much of the left, there is nothing remotely similar that is threatening to wreck liberal democracy and the rule of law. The left at least punches up, attacking those with power and defending those without it -- two tenants of a civilized society that are now under serious threat.
The movement in the new political center to equate attacking the powerful with attacking the vulnerable must be challenged relentlessly given the stakes at hand. These pseudo centrists and libertarians often claim they want a return to civility and decorum, yet fail to acknowledge their role in normalizing insanity. Both sides are not "just as bad", and those who understand this must continue speaking out about it as loudly as possible.