Sunday, May 5, 2019

How the Left Lost Me for Good

From the film 1776.
There's a scene in the musical film 1776 where the members of the Continental Congress are voting on whether to proceed with debate on drafting a declaration of independence from Britain. The vote is tied, and the Congress awaits the return of Stephen Hopkins, the delegate from Rhode Island. When he's informed that the deciding vote rests on his shoulders, Hopkins addresses the Congress:

Well, in all my years, I ain't never heard, seen, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn't be talked about. Hell, yeah! I'm for debating anything. Rhode Island says yea!

Those who had been waiting for ages just for the chance to debate independence erupt into celebration.

Now, it's doubtful whether the real Hopkins ever spoke those words, but they do telegraph something important about the founding American spirit: the ideal that our right to free expression is sacred.

Fast-forward a few centuries, and America looks a whole lot different:
  • Students at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia are seeking to fire Camille Paglia, a pioneer of feminist thought and sexual politics, for saying things that don't conform to the students' ideology. They were demanding that the woman with over 30 years of tenure be replaced by a "queer person of color" -- as if pigmentation and orientation trump any other consideration. In the mind of the modern left, given its obsession with identity politics, they apparently do.
  • At Evergreen State College, professor Bret Weinstein criticized a plan to have all white people leave the campus for a day. For doing so, protesters harassed and threatened both Weinstein and the school, forcing the college to temporarily shut down and causing over $10,000 in damage to campus, while Weinstein was forced to hold his class in a park because campus police told him they couldn't ensure his safety. 
  • Both Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos were forced to cancel speeches at Berkeley, once the home of the Free Speech Movement, because of threats of violence in Coulter's case, and actual violence in Yiannopoulos' case.
  • Antifa protestors block a city street in Portland, ordering drivers to turn while verbally assaulting them, including calling one driver from South Carolina a member of the KKK, apparently simply for being white. All this while the cops look on and do nothing.
  • A 72-year-old Russian Orthodox priest who lives in a monastery in the Seattle area was filling up his car at a gas station, when a man walked up to him, asked "How's Trump?," and then cold-cocked the priest in the head
  • Students "traumatized" by a mural in a San Francisco high school want it removed. The 83-year-old mural depicts George Washington along with slaves and Indians portrayed in an unflattering light.
  • The University of Notre Dame has decided to cover a series of 130-year-old murals depicting Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World, because they may be offensive to indigenous peoples.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers stopped playing Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" during its hockey games and first covered over and then removed her statue outside the stadium, after it came to light that she sang two songs 80 years ago that contain questionable content relating to black people.
  • The Washington Post ran an editorial advocating for the arrest and imprisonment of families who choose not to vaccinate their children.
  • The Poynter Institute has compiled a list of over 500 conservative-leaning websites that it advocates shutting down -- for being "unreliable" sources of information.
  • A group of kids from a Catholic high school, enjoying their visit to D.C., were framed by the media as racists based on a short video in which a young man, wearing a pro-Trump "Make America Great Again" hat, stands face to face with an Indian activist banging a drum at him. Only after the outrage mob went into full force was the full context revealed -- the kids had been taunting a group of racists when the Indian activist marched up into the kid's face, supposedly to try to defuse the tense situation. The kid, understandably, is a bit nonplussed over the whole thing, but the media instantly interpreted his reaction as a smart-alecky, privileged, racist smirk. The hate from the "tolerant" left kicked into full gear before the full story was ever in, with at least one good "liberal," Disney film producer Jack Morrissey, going so far as to suggest the kids should be put through a wood chipper. 
  • A social-media mob forced Mozilla's CEO to step down because he made one contribution to a movement supporting the now-overturned gay-marriage ban in California.
  • Actor Kevin Sorbo, who is politically conservative, was blacklisted from a comic-book convention -- for being politically conservative.
  • Activists are preparing to force Mastercard to deny credit access to people based on their conservative political views. 
  • And now, following a systematic takedown of people with views that challenge the establishment, Facebook has silenced Alex Jones and Yiannopoulos on flimsy charges of abusing the platform. Facebook has gone one step further with Jones, promising to ban anyone who shares Jones' material, unless they accompany the share with a statement that they denounce Jones. In other words, don't commit what George Orwell referred to in 1984 as a thoughtcrime. You may only express negative opinions of Alex Jones. The Ministry of Truth has spoken.

Photographic evidence of Stalin airbrushing his enemies out of history.
This is the face of the modern political left -- an authoritarian mob that would rather scrub history, Joseph Stalin-style, than take the time to educate people about how values were different in past times. These are people who would prefer to disappear old paintings, monuments, and now even entertainers for committing thoughtcrimes, by applying contemporary mores and values to past eras and expecting people from those eras to conform to how we think now, rather than use those past views as teaching moments so that we don't repeat history.

For some reason, I can't help being reminded of the Taliban members in Afghanistan who destroyed the ancient Buddha statues carved into a mountainside. It's the exact same impulse we see today from a deranged political faction that demands absolute moral purity according to its own standards.

The left once championed free speech. Now it demands you conform. And if you don't, you'll be bullied, threatened, harassed. You might be doxed. You may lose your reputation and your livelihood.

In short, you will be silenced and destroyed. They're not interested in your apology for violating their politically correct views. They might enjoy seeing you grovel, but their end goal is your annihilation.

"Tolerant" "liberal" Sarah Jeong, NYT employee.
Forget any sympathy if you're a straight white male, because the left has taken old racist attitudes and simply turned them around, as if two wrongs make a right. Just ask Sarah Jeong, whom The New York Times hired to be a part of its editorial board, despite Jeong's history of engaging in hate speech on Twitter against whites. When she was called out, the Times doubled down in support of their new addition, who once said: "White people have stopped breeding, You'll go extinct soon. That was my plan all along." That, accompanied by the hashtag #cancelwhitepeople. You can imagine the firestorm -- which would be well deserved -- if someone replaced "white people" with "black people" or "the Jews."

Indeed, in the minds of these neo-fascists, "straight white male" is the new Juden. It's as if, instead of walking into a Southern diner in the 1950s and seeing a "whites only" counter, the new left has installed a counter saying "everybody but whites welcome."

Little wonder, then, that the NYT could run an article actually asking if a white man should be the Democratic presidential nominee. If anything proves how upside-down the left's worldview has become, that's it right there. Not only does it reveal the left's hatred of white people, but it also exposes how they make appearance their most important consideration. Consider how much the left is currently enamored with Pete Buttigieg, apparently because he's articulate and gay, but then leftists start wringing their hands wondering whether he's "gay enough" -- because he's also white and male and may have benefited from too much "privilege" in his lifetime.

So even being part of one of the left's cherished identity monoliths isn't enough, if it's possible you haven't been oppressed enough.

Straight white male bad. Beep, boop.
But never mind all that, because, in the minds of the intersectional identity groups participating in the Oppression Olympics, where perpetual victimhood is a virtue, it's impossible to even be racist toward white people. You have a license to hate. Rather than take a world where the tables have been historically tipped against certain groups and attempt to level the playing field, their solution is to simply tip the playing field in the opposite direction. In their minds, two wrongs truly do make a right. Their brains are fixated on revenge, not reconciliation.

And that's because these people see humanity in monolithic groups rather than as individuals. That's the cornerstone of their identitarian groupthink politics. So there can't possibly be a decent straight white guy out there. They are all one, and they are all bad. Stereotyping an entire group is the textbook definition of racism, but never mind that. Their Borg-like hive minds can't do otherwise. (There's a reason the NPC memes irritate the left so much. They hit too close to home. It's also why the left can be so easily trolled into thinking that things like making the OK sign or drinking milk is secret Nazi code -- or that Russians won the election for Trump. Groupthink undermines critical independent thought.)

But, again, you don't even necessarily have to be a white male to be hated. You can also forget any sympathy from the left if you're a member of an identity group the left champions but you don't hold the correct political views. The left is all about looking different, it seems, but not about thinking different. Just ask Candace Owens, a black woman, who, with her breakfast companion, Charlie Kirk, was attacked by an Antifa group in Philadelphia. Listen to them chant "fuck white supremacy" -- at a black woman. 

Even if you're black, you're an un-person in the minds of those people if you hold the "wrong" views. Heck, you're literally Hitler.

It's quite notable that Facebook claimed to throw Alex Jones and others off its platform for being "dangerous." Yet Antifa, which actually commits violence against people in real life, remains on Facebook, as do people and groups who post death threats to President Trump and to critics of transgender politics. In fact, people who have the audacity to point out the biological fact that men are men and women are women are deplatformed, fined, fired, or even visited by the cops. Because now, how you feel carries more value than science. While the right has climate-deniers, the left now has people insisting that women can have a penis and men can have a period, because all that matters is how you "identify" -- as if you can just pick your biological makeup off a rack, like choosing a new pair of clothes. And then you can demand that others recognize your pronouns, whether "he," "she," "they," or some made-up concoction, with the ever-looming threat of social ostracism if you don't comply.

If this isn't the height of raging narcissism, I don't know what is.

And that doesn't even touch on the problem of men who invade women's spaces by "identifying" as one of them.

So the fact that violent extremists are still allowed to be on Facebook puts the lie to the company's rationale for kicking out Alex Jones and company. Because what's really happening here is payback for 2016. The establishment elites are terrified that they're losing their hold over the populace, so any views that challenge their hegemony are being silenced. They don't care if they have to sacrifice American values to do it, either.

We've seen this in the media for ages, of course...
  • Propaganda reigns. The media says John McCain is a hero and a saint, despite being one of the biggest warmongers and enemies of civil liberties the Senate has ever seen, and the public follows right along, like sheep.
  • Julian Assange is arrested and awaits possible extradition to the United States, and the media's reaction is to smear him, while the gullible public plays right along. Never mind that Assange's mission was only ever to reveal the truths that our governments won't tell us about. Assange and WikiLeaks wouldn't even be necessary in a world where journalists actually did their job.
  • Russiagate was revealed to be a hoax, which anyone who didn't let emotion hijack their critical-thinking skills could have seen all along. It was never anything more than a DNC-concocted diversion from the content of its leaked emails showing how the Democrats cheated Bernie Sanders out of the 2016 nomination and how Hillary Clinton's people worked with the media to promote Trump as a pied-piper candidate for the far right. Yet without any evidence, anyone who disagreed with the left or said anything remotely complimentary of Trump was smeared as a "Russian bot." And now that the investigation is complete, people still can't let go of the idea that Vladimir Putin somehow stole the election for Trump -- rather than just admit that the Democrats' plan to promote Trump blew up in their faces.
  • People refuse to let go of the idea that Trump was elected because of a racist temper tantrum. They ignore the pain of the poor working-class people who have been marginalized and forgotten as neoliberal economic policy has destroyed their way of life. Rather than listen to their concerns, the elites simply dismiss them as ignorant racist hillbillies. 
  • The establishment pumps up Joe Biden, a neoliberal corporate Democrat, while continuing to slime Bernie Sanders. It's doing the same thing to Tulsi Gabbard, for daring to question our wasteful and murderous foreign policy. Make no mistake: The establishment Democrats would probably rather cede the 2020 election to Trump than to let a progressive become its nominee. They want control back. They already control the public narrative. Now they want the power of leadership to go along with it. They want to continue to promote the disastrous policies that led to Trump's election in the first place.

I can't really say I've been red-pilled. I don't like right-wingers. I think they're mean and uncompassionate, too jingoistic, too willing to settle matters with violence, and too willing to unquestioningly defer to authority figures. And when you venture out into the far-reaching wilds of the right, into the land of the white supremacists, you find people just as ridiculous and as identity-group-obsessed as SJWs. One group blames whites for everything, and the other thinks whites can do no wrong. Both views are equally foolish.

But I just can't align with the left at all anymore, even though I support things like universal healthcare, free secondary education, and a peaceful foreign policy. The left, to put it plainly, has been taken over by virtue-signaling authoritarian dictators who squelch everyone who disagrees with them. I've had friends doxed by these people. They lost their jobs and continue to face threats to their lives and the life of their young daughter. There is absolutely nothing "liberal" or "tolerant" about any of this. To the contrary, it's absolutely terrifying that their attitudes have made it into the political mainstream at all -- every bit as terrifying as if white supremacy itself had been mainstreamed. If you deviate in the slightest from the left's dogma, they will hunt you down and anathematize you. They're fanatical, intolerant fundamentalist witch-hunters without the religion. They don't believe that you have the right to your own views. You must conform to theirs, or you will be de-personed.

But again, remember, you can be violently hateful and it's perfectly OK, as long as you hold the correct political views. Jack Morrissey, the one who advocated throwing teenage boys into a wood chipper for wearing MAGA hats, still has his Twitter account as of now.

This kind of behavior is completely contrary to the values of a free society.

Especially in an intolerant climate like this, when people take Facebook's side on censorship and argue that private companies can do whatever they want, that’s not just a total copout -- it's irresponsible. No company can do whatever it wants, especially when it fails to act in the public interest. When companies are caught using child or slave labor, is that OK because private companies can do whatever they want? When pharma companies jack up the price of life-saving drugs into the tens of thousands of dollars, all while buying back billions of dollars of their own stock to pump up earnings per share for their shareholders, is that OK because private companies can do whatever they want? Of course not.

And in Facebook's case, even Mark Zuckerberg has argued that his company is the equivalent of the modern public square. We're talking about a massive multibillion-dollar corporation that's accountable to no one yet has enormous influence over the public narrative. If it can't guarantee equal access to its services, then it needs to be regulated like a public utility, along with all other social media. If it were some random website with a few thousand followers, that would be one thing. But Facebook controls what people talk about, and it most certainly has an influence over who wins elections. So when it decides which political views to silence, and then demands that its users denounce those views if talking about them, it has crossed an acceptable line.

Of course, in a country like ours where government and corporate interests are so deeply intertwined, what Facebook's doing amounts to state censorship by proxy, a sort of end-run around the First Amendment.

I saw all this coming decades ago, when speech codes started popping up on college campuses. The seemingly innocuous attempt to have people self-police what they say has metastasized into what we see today, with outrage mobs demanding the suppression of free speech. How tragic that college campuses were once the place where young adults went to be exposed to and challenged by new ideas. Now they serve as gigantic "safe spaces" where eternally triggered overgrown children are coddled, and where they cry to an authority figure every time somebody threatens their bubble. How they feel trumps all else, which is why so many of them do nothing but scream down their opponents when challenged, like toddlers throwing a tantrum. They have no logical arguments -- only emotion. And so they deal with things by shutting down opposing views that they lack the tools to refute, whether by drowning out a speaker, threatening violence against the place hosting the speaker, or pulling fire alarms to shut down the talk. The Brownshirts of old would love their tactics.

You don't have to like Trump, for example, to realize that Trump Derangement Syndrome is a real thing. Incoherent screaming is not an argument.

Seriously -- when college campuses arrange for their students to have cry-ins, where they could hug puppies and color with crayons and use Play-Doh, all in response to Trump's election victory, is there any question whether these people are emotionally stunted, and that that's why they act the way they do? They simply can't let go of the reality that it wasn't Russians and racists that elected Trump, but their very own fellow Americans, in response to neoliberal policies that have been ruining poor working-class lives. The policies that they, the deranged, support, by voting for corporate-friendly establishment Democrats. Caught in their own cognitive dissonance, and unable to articulate a response, they scream like children and demand that everyone shut up. And that's if they're not busy actually launching violent attacks on Trump supporters.

"Tolerant" "liberals," indeed.

It seems, then, that we're censoring people, deplatforming them, de-personing them, all because these people hurt the feelings of those who lack both the ability to refute their opponents and the emotional intelligence to allow other people to have views different from theirs. Rather than teach people to defend their views while allowing other people to have their own views, we infantilize them and enable their deficiencies, even at the cost of free speech.

What it boils down to is that the left is afraid of ideas. If they weren't, they'd allow other people to have their say, after which they could have theirs. But no, that's not allowed. Ideology reigns. Groupthink is a given. Oppression is a virtue. And just like with any fanatical religious group, independent thought is regarded with deep disdain. You have to go out and burn the witches to remove any challenges to your ideological purity. And when witch-burning isn't being carried out through harassment and violence, it takes the form of censorship of opposing views. Which is precisely what we're seeing now.

Censorship is how dictatorships operate, not open, free democracies. Free societies allow the free exchange of opinions and let the marketplace of ideas play itself out. I don't need a nanny telling me what I can and can't say or read. I have a brain in my head and can discern good from bad for myself.

I also don't have to like what someone says to recognize their right to say it. The cost of living in a free society is that other people get to say and do things I might not agree with. As Noam Chomsky once said, if we don't believe in freedom of speech for the people we despise, then we don't believe in it at all. Truer words were never spoken.