The time may have come for normally reserved political centrists to raise their voices.
This is not a pleasant time for the many millions of us out there who consider ourselves political moderates and who value dialogue and reasoned disagreement among people with different political views.
In the aftermath of the 2020 shooting of George Floyd, moderates were unhappy about calls to "defund the police," noting how the police defend civilization against criminals, including (perhaps especially) in low-income, minority communities.
Now a year later, new defund calls are coming from the right, not the left, in the wake of a court-authorized warrant, executed (though not initiated) by the FBI, to search Mar-a-Lago for classified documents. Far-right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has tweeted, in all capital letters, DEFUND THE FBI; Arizona Republican Paul Gosar, wrote even more provocatively,"We must destroy the FBI." As moderates opposed the earlier calls, now we must oppose the new ones, for the same reasons. Like the police, the FBI helps defend a decent society.
A parallel disgraceful campaign, occasioned by the administration's request to hire more IRS enforcement agents, has been launched against that agency. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) stated on Fox and Friends, "Are they going to have a strike force that goes in with AK-15s [sic] already loaded, ready to shoot some small business person in Iowa with these?" (The IRS has made clear that additional enforcement resources will be used only to increase audits of taxpayers making over $400,000 a year, and cutbacks on IRS enforcement funding since 2010 have produced a 70% reduction in audits of millionaires.)
Just as with the threats against FBI agents following the Trump search warrant, threats against IRS agents have followed. As reported by Government Executive, The IRS commissioner, in response to these threats, "announced a comprehensive review of the agency's safety measures, including an examination of perimeter security around facilities, exterior lighting, security around entrances and other factors."
Threats against free speech of conservatives have come mostly from the left. Threats against government enforcement officials are coming mostly from the right. Moderates should defend both free speech and government enforcement officials. People like us like to avoid shouting and getting angry. Now maybe we need to do just that.
P.S.: I have a second blog (though nothing can compete with my first child, The Lectern) called “Steve Kelman on Politics, Culture, and Life.” It appears on the newsletter site Substack. It is basically a compilation of my short Facebook posts on these topics. I publish it about three times a week. If you are interested in subscribing for free, click here.