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The second thing to say is that a murderous attack on Republicans by an angry liberal should be an important reminder for our media-cultural establishment that societies can be pulled apart from the left as easily as from the right. Of course, network anchors and magazine editors and editorial boards know this on an intellectual level. But because our centrist elites are actually center-left there is a constant, involuntary tug toward emphasizing what’s wrong on the right-wing side of the spectrum and excusing what’s wrong on the other.
There’s a great deal wrong on the right in the age of Donald Trump, and the scrutiny directed rightward is not at all misplaced. But as Trump proves more hapless than dangerous — or only dangerous because he’s hapless — the derangement that he inspires or amplifies among his critics also matters. And if America slides toward a rendezvous with 1968, the tendency of the establishment to only see one side’s dangers — to treat Marine Le Pen as uniquely terrifying but Jeremy Corbyn as merely dotty, to “remember” that Loughner was a Palin fan or that right-wing hate killed J.F.K. — will make things more dangerous overall.