Lots of people are very angry with Bret Stephens.
But the outrage isn't coming from the Trump supporters whom Stephens, one of the New York Times' token "conservative" columnists, routinely maligns. The NeverTrump pundit is under heavy fire from the Left for a frank—and fair—assessment of how "ordinary" Americans view the extreme positions staked out by nearly every Democratic presidential candidate during last week's primary debates.
In his June 28 column, "A Wretched Start for the Democrats," Stephens blasts Democrats for making "too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us."
Stephens questions the mainstream appeal of a party platform that promises free healthcare for illegal immigrants; the elimination of private insurance coverage; student loan forgiveness; and universal child care. But one passage in particular earned him the most scorn: "They speak Spanish. We don't. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn't. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes."
Now, only to the ears of your average Times subscriber or disciple of the Left is that some kind of heresy, or dog whistle to tiki torch-bearing white supremacists. For the rest of us, it's obvious that Stephens is referring to the Democratic Party's almost singular focus on the welfare of illegal immigrants—both currently residing in the United States and now attempting to cross the southern border in record numbers—while ignoring the woes of millions of American citizens.
But Stephens' analysis unleashed fury from the Left. Democratic strategist Peter Daou accused Stephens of xenophobia. "This @BretStephensNYT column is nothing less than Trumpian white nationalism masquerading as a NYT think piece," Dao tweeted on Saturday. "It's repugnant and wrong at every level."
Author Reza Aslan, who in January encouraged violence against a high school student attending the March for Life, dogged Stephens on Twitter for hours, mocking the writer for "[jumping] out of the white nationalist closet." Amee Vanderpool, a contributor to Playboy and the BBC, claimed Stephens "isn't trying to camouflage that he truly belongs in the Alt-Right Nationalism section that has taken over the Republican Party." Others demanded that the Times should fire Stephens for his "racist" remarks.
(Side note: I've been critical of Stephens' pandering to the Left. Shortly after the piece posted, Stephens again groveled for acceptance, reminding Democrats of his contempt for Trump. The comeuppance for NeverTrump commentators in 2020, as the Left turns on them, will be delicious to watch.)
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, the Left is running drills to see how quickly and effectively their political hit squads can be deployed against Trump, his administration, and his Republican supporters. A few other exercises—the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process, the MAGA hat-wearing Covington Catholic students—have been rolled out, but those spectacles will pale in comparison to what's in store for Republicans next year.
No cabinet official, administration employee, Trump family member, GOP candidate or regular Trump voter will be spared. We've already seen high-profile Trump associates harassed in public, chased out of restaurants, and vengefully pursued by a team of Trump-hating prosecutors in the special counsel's office and by Democrats on Capitol Hill. A Bernie Sanders supporter in 2017 attempted to assassinate several Republican congressmen and nearly succeeded in killing one of them.
In just the past week, the Left's pre-election tactics have been on full display.
A waitress spat in the face of Eric Trump at a swanky Chicago speakeasy and conservative writer Andy Ngo was assaulted by Antifa thugs in Portland. A Google executive privately admitted that the company is looking at ways to prevent Trump from winning reelection next year; Twitter announced plans to add a warning to any tweet by a political figure that the platform deemed as "abusive," a move presumably aimed at President Trump. Naturally, the free speech paladins in the corporate leftist media are cheering the policy.
This all is a warm-up for 2020. Anyone who strays outside or dares to challenge the Left's dogma will be punished harshly. Even the most tepid critic of the Democrats' de facto open borders policy will be branded a racist and a white nationalist; anyone tasked with enforcing U.S. immigration laws will be criminalized.
On June 29, the Times published a sickening column to encourage immigration lawyers and reporters to reveal the names of federal agents responsible for managing the rising influx of migrant children at the border.
Kate Cronin-Furman, a professor of "human rights" at University College London, compared the living conditions of Central American migrants at U.S. holding facilities to historical mass atrocities in Cambodia and Rwanda, and, of course, the Holocaust. She argued that the agents should be harassed at church and at their homes, as well as subjected to international tribunals.
"The individuals running detention centers are arguably directly responsible for torture, which could trigger a number of consequences at the international level," Cronin-Furman proposed. "Activists should partner with human rights organizations to bring these abuses before international bodies like the United Nations Human Rights Council."
Of course this narrative also is being fueled by Democratic House members, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who accused Custom and Border Patrol agents of "systemic cruelty" and treating detainees like "animals" after visiting a Texas facility on Monday.
Even a place of dining won't be safe for Trump Republicans. The owner of the Red Hen who famously kicked former press secretary Sarah Sanders and her family out of her restaurant last year is encouraging more of that kind of bad behavior, essentially promoting discrimination based on a person's political views.
Citing "new rules," Stephanie Wilkinson warned that Republicans are not welcome at her eatery, nor should they be welcomed at any restaurant. "[If] you're an unsavory individual—of whatever persuasion or affiliation—we have no legal or moral obligation to do business with you," Wilkinson wrote in the Washington Post on June 28. "If you're directly complicit in spreading hate or perpetuating suffering, maybe you should consider dining at home."
The idea that Trump could win reelection next year is unacceptable to the Left and NeverTrump Right. They will employ any tactic to stop him, including the targeted harassment of anyone in his personal orbit or of any American who dares to support him. Physical violence will be encouraged by those who claim the mantle of civility and the silencing of conservative opinion will be cheered by those who claim to support free speech. It's already a dangerous time—it's clear that election season will be even more perilous for those on the Right.