There is no effective contact between e.g. MoveOn or the Daily Kos on the one hand, and the various subgroups and splinters who are more enthusiastic about violence on the other. When the latter try to influence the former, they get mobbed and repelled. The right is a quite different matter – there are dense social ties between online partisans and anti-Muslim bigots and crazies claiming that universal dhimmidom is right around the corner.
Pexton’s suggestion that leftwing bloggers need to think carefully about whether they too will inspire the mass-murder of scores of teenagers doesn’t deserve a serious response in itself. But it is worth looking at as a specific manifestation of a more pervasive intellectual confusion between two different forms of ‘extremism,’ one of which is not in fact a form of extremism at all.
Eric Alterman piles on Pexton. When was the last time there was a left-wing secular mass murder or assassination in America? Or Europe? There was a time when left and right violence could be equated or compared. I just don’t see the evidence for it today. Especially if you consider Islamist terror, as I do, also a form of radical right fundamentalism. Bin Laden’s agenda was far closer to Pat Robertson’s than Michael Moore’s, as that fatuous Christianist reminded us just after 9/11.