The problem of stalking controversial peoples private lives

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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 64
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Location: Long Island, New York

05 Oct 2021, 11:17 am

‘It’s Part of the Process’ - Noah Rothman for Commentary

For the sin of refusing to unconditionally support the behemoth spending bills favored by progressives, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has been forced to endure a threatening intimidation campaign. Sinema was harassed as she walked through an airport, verbally abused on an airplane, and chased into a bathroom stall by menacing progressive activists—and all of it on tape.

On Monday, President Joe Biden was asked about the senator’s ongoing torment. “I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody,” the president said. “The only people it doesn’t happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around. So, it’s part of the process.” Biden is right. These aggressive tactics are now “part of the process,” and not just for legislators who stand athwart activists’ goals but average citizens who wander into the public spaces these agitators seek to commandeer. This unacceptable circumstance has been incubated by irresponsible politicians who stood tacitly by or even appeared to view harassment as an instrument of political utility.

In January of that year, Trump’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, became the focus of a relentless persecution campaign. Amid the banal effort to repeal a three-year-old supervisory guideline involving Internet service providers, Pai became the focus of hyperventilating activists who elevated this regulatory mundanity to a literal “life-or-death” issue. Popular television hosts urged viewers to bombard his agency with insults, some of which devolved into racial antagonism. His home was staked out by activists who held 24-hour vigils. His young children’s faces were plastered on fliers posted around his neighborhood. His family was photographed and intimidated, his doorbell was rung at all hours of the day, and his place of work was targeted with bomb threats. This should have been a national scandal. But it was not.

Not long after Pai’s ordeal, Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was similarly persecuted. “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace,” activists barked at Nielsen as they descended upon her with the intent of ruining her experience at a local Mexican restaurant.

Even average citizens are being drafted into this crusade to politicize private life. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer (and ever since), social-justice activists have made it their mission to make life hell for regular folk who dare venture outside their homes. The widely publicized videos of demonstrators haranguing restaurant patrons, forcing them to declare their allegiance to their preferred program or suffer sometimes violent consequences, are not hard to find.

Roving bands of protesters have recently adopted the tactic of cruising through what they believe are comfortable neighborhoods to afflict the locals, shining spotlights into their windows in the dead of night and shouting demands to “get into the streets” into bullhorns.

This is not an exclusively leftwing proclivity. Rightwing demonstrators have picketed the private homes of Democratic politicians with whom they disagree—Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, in particular. Election workers were terrorized and intimidated by protesters animated by Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. And following the January 6 assault on the Capitol Building, some lawmakers have even alleged that the sense of fear among their Republican colleagues was such that they were “afraid for their lives” if their votes contradicted a narrative preferred by the president and his self-appointed shock troops.

This conduct is more familiar to banana republics than mature democracies such as the United States. At least, it used to be.

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