- - Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why are liberals becoming even more vile in their public discourse? I contend it’s a result, in part, of the fact that they get away with it, and they gain power as conservative leadership retreats from the ugliness. There have never been any serious consequences for liberal hate speech, threats and general cultural assault.

Conservatives, on the other hand, the target of that bile, act on their inherent decency and “forgive and forget.”

We’ve all watched with familiar astonishment some in the leftist media expressing their rank malice for conservatives with not just the usual horrid insults, but arguments for specific personal harm to be done, and the mocking of a child.

My concern is the reaction by high-profile conservatives who, after having been smeared in the most repugnant of ways, immediately accept the apologies of the liberals who slander them. This pattern needs to change.

Conservatives must recognize that accepting apologies from liberals who cross the line only reinforces the myth that these attitudes are one-off “mistakes,” uttered by normally decent people.

As a former liberal, I assure you nothing could be further from the truth.

Two recent cases highlight my point: Martin Bashir, a former host at MSNBC, arguing on his television show that Sarah Palin should be subjected to a very specific and vile physical harm because he disagreed with a comment she made.

Melissa Harris-Perry, a host from the same network, decided that mocking and race-baiting Mitt Romney’s toddler grandson would be funny.

In the case of Mr. Bashir, he contemplated his attitude, wrote it up and presented it on television. Yet only after a backlash led by conservatives on social media, Mr. Bashir offered an on-air apology calling his words “wholly unacceptable neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone claiming to have an interest in politics.”

It’s as though we’re to presume he had been possessed by an evil leprechaun who forced him to think, then write and then utter the words suggesting Mrs. Palin should be subjected to a torturous harm.

Mrs. Palin, being the decent person she is, accepted his apology and noted, “My role was to accept his apology and be humble enough to accept it and move on.”

Mr. Romney was in a similar position when Ms. Harris-Perry, also on MSNBC, thought it would be funny to offer up a picture of the Romney family to a panel of comedians in order to mock a grandson who happens to be black.

She, too, apologized after a social-media firestorm, and Mr. Romney was widely praised for being the decent guy that he is as he accepted her apology graciously.

He went so far as to say, “The folks at MSNBC made a big mistake, and they’ve apologized for it, and that’s all you can ask for. Look, I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself.”

In the normal world, accepting an apology is the classy thing to do. We all do make mistakes, and the apology ritual is one that allows people to forgive and forget, and move on.

This is all well and good if the issue at hand truly was a “mistake” delivered by someone of good will. When dealing with partisan liberals, however, neither of those apply.

Arguing for harm to come to someone because you disagree with them is neither a mistake nor an accident. It’s a contemplated idea, cultivated into a message and delivered as an argument. Targeting a toddler for derision because it serves a political agenda isn’t something that mistakenly pops into someone’s head. It springs from an existing loathsome well.

It would be valuable for today’s conservative leadership to recognize that comments like Mr. Bashir’s and Ms. Harris-Perry’s aren’t mistakes — they are public illustrations of what sits at the core of today’s liberalism — hatred, paranoia and cruelty.

We all understand that people in the public arena will be the focus of debate and heated comments. They will be called names and accused of being everything from stupid to even dangerous. Politicians and public figures recognize and accept this is part of the public forum.

What I’m speaking of here is something inherently different. It is a very specific illustration of what American liberalism has become, and it must be confronted.

Mr. Bashir ultimately resigned from his show, while Ms. Harris-Perry still hosts hers. I’ve never been a fan of calling for someone to be fired for that they say, especially when they’ve been hired specifically to speak their mind.

Punishing individuals for having an opinion is the left’s forte.

I love it when the left grabs a microphone and exposes its craven and rotten core. It’s up to conservatives to make sure Americans see it for what it is.

Tammy Bruce is a radio talk-show host, New York Times best-selling author and Fox News political contributor.