The Unforgiving Hard-Left

Madison Ald. Gary Halverson resigned last night. He probably made the right decision for his family, but the whole awful episode says worse things about the hard-left than it does about Halverson.

Here’s the story. In 2020, before he was on the Council and before the January 6, 2021 Insurrection, Halverson joined the Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group that was a key player in that violent attempt to overthrow a legally elected government. These are bad guys.

But Halverson was only a member of the group for a couple of months. He says that he didn’t understand what they were about and as soon as he realized what he had joined he quit. When his brief membership was outed by the Anti-Defamation League a week ago, Halverson apologized for having been a member if only briefly and he stridently denounced the organization and its role, as well as Donald Trump’s, in the January 6th attacks.

In a sane world that would have been enough. His apology should have been accepted and, if he chose to run again, voters could decide for themselves if this incident warranted the end of his service.


But instead of accepting Halverson’s mea culpa, Council President Keith Furman and Vice President Jael Currie issued a harsh statement denouncing Halverson and suggesting he should have known (and perhaps did know) what the Oath Keepers were up to. Halverson shot back, suggesting that their statement incited harassment of him and vandalism at his home. Now, claiming that his wife suffers from PTSD, he has resigned.

I’m skeptical of Halverson’s incitement charge. It seems to me that he was going to get this kind of treatment from Madison’s hard-left regardless of what Furman and Currie might have said.

But the whole sorry tale is another example of the hardness of the hard-left. In that world there is no forgiveness. The worst motivations are assumed and the accused is considered guilty until proven otherwise. Even then, any exculpatory evidence is routinely thrown out by the tribunal. Just ask Frederic March or James Sweet or the Chamberlin Rock. And maybe Furman and Currie were worried that if they accepted Halverson’s apology they would become targets of the mob themselves. That would be par for the course around here.

And then there’s the double standard. In the hot days surrounding the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, then Madison Ald. Max Prestigiacomo posted a message on his Face Book page urging people to go to Kenosha and “F*** things up!” Nobody on the Council called for his resignation and he never apologized. But what’s closer to inciting violence? Briefly belonging to a national organization that turned out to be violent or posting a direct call for violence at a specific place on a specific date? And why is Halverson’s apology not accepted while Prestigiacomo’s complete lack of one okay?

Look, Halverson made a mistake. I don’t know what the hell he was thinking. But his actions and words since suggest he was never an extremist. And at the very least he should have been given the benefit of a doubt and the chance to prove himself in the future. And his constituents should have been given the opportunity to pass their judgment on him at the next election. Instead, he was hounded from office.

The hard-left just gets harder.

And on another matter... the players just get ripped off again. The State Journal reports that the UW is selling jerseys with the names of players on the back. What will that set you back? A cool $140. What does the player get? A crummy $3.92.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

4 thoughts on “The Unforgiving Hard-Left

  1. The “hard left”. How about the left period? Did any of Madison’s active politicos publicly give Halverson the benefit of the doubt?

    If only the left had as much vitriol for leftist extremism.


  2. I think he should have resigned Oathkeeper membership is disqualifying for me but what Furman, Currie did is possibly slander and incitement. Also this like the third public official in hounded out of office by an organized Left wing hit squad. The others choose not to fight back and that was a mistake. He should get himself a good lawyer.


  3. Did Mr. Halverson ever hear of a Google search?

    Someone shouldn’t join any organization until they understand what exactly their mission statement is or was. When I was a cop I saw them on various online oriented websites advertising. It took me all of 5 minutes to figure out who and what the Oath Keepers represented. If Mr. Halverson didn’t know what they stood for, he shouldn’t have joined. Either way it’s poor judgement.


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