“The New Inquisition”
VDH, in an iteration of things you’ve been hearing here and elsewhere for years. Still, it’s worth beating the drum some more — if we agree that the time for simply whining about it is over:
What if you believed that the planet might not have warmed up the last two decades, even though carbon emissions reached all-time highs?
Or, if the earth did heat up, you thought that it was not caused by human activity?
Or, if global warming were the fault of mankind, you trusted that the slight increases would not make all that much difference?
The Los Angeles Times would not print your letter to the editor to that effect.
The CEO of Apple Inc. might advise that you should “get out of this stock.”
Or maybe if you were a skeptical climatologist, you would cease all research and concede that man-caused global warming needed no further scientific cross-examination — as columnist Bill McKibben recently advocated.
If you were a drought-stricken California farmer and worried about diversions of irrigation water to support fish populations, you would be told by the president of the United States that the real problem is not a failure to build reservoirs and canals, but is due entirely to global warming, which is a “fact” and “settled science.”
What if you supported equality for all Americans regardless of their sexual preference, but — like presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 and about half the country today — opposed making gay marriage legal?
If you were the CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, you would be forced to resign your position.
If you owned a fast-food franchise like Chick-fil-A, boycotts of your business would ensue.
If you were a star of “Duck Dynasty,” your show would be threatened with suspension or cancellation.
What if you thought that supporters of both the Israelis and Palestinians would wish to air their positions on college campuses?
If you were the Israeli ambassador, you would be shouted down at University of California, Irvine.
If you were a Jewish student organization asking to ensure free speech at the University of Michigan, you would probably be cursed at with racial epithets, as happened recently.
If you were a faculty member organizing a scholarly trip to Israel, you would be harassed at Vassar College.
What if you were a professor at Oberlin College or the University of California, Santa Barbara, who wished to teach literature that sometimes dealt with class, race, gender and sex?
If the ensuing class discussions did not meet left-wing dogma, you might soon be asked by student groups to offer “trigger warnings” on your syllabus — as if your class were a toxic cigarette or pesticide in need of warning labels.
We are in a new Inquisition. Self-appointed censors try to stamp out any idea or word that they don’t wish to be aired — in the pursuit of a new race, class, gender and environment orthodoxy.
Hounding out people with different views is seen by the Left as a necessary means to achieve its supposedly noble goals — just like the Spanish Inquisitioners who claimed God was on their side as they went after religiously “incorrect” Jews, Muslims and heretics.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has been part of the problem, not part of the solution. Its appointees used the once-impartial IRS against conservatives. They monitored Associated Press reporters. They denied that the NSA was eavesdropping on average citizens. They arbitrarily chose not to enforce laws they didn’t like.
The president bragged of using “a pen and phone” to circumvent the legislative branch, and urged his supporters to “punish our enemies.” The attorney general calls Americans who have different views from his own on matters of affirmative action “cowards.”
All of that them/us rhetoric has given a top-down green light to radical thought police to harass anyone who is open-minded about man-caused global warming, or believes that gay marriage needs more debate, or that supporting Israel is a legitimate cause, or that breaking federal immigration law is still a crime and therefore “illegal.”
Our civil liberties will not be lost to crude fascists in jackboots. More likely, the death of free speech will be the work of the new medieval Torquemadas who claim they destroyed freedom of expression for the sake of “equality” and “fairness” and “saving the planet.”
Of course, free speech will only die if we allow it to — if instead of launching a counter-offensive, we merely bitch about the hypocrisy of it all.
Personally, that’s not part of my makeup — and over the years, I’ve counseled our “own” side on how to beat back such an assault, a lesson for which I was rather infamously and publicly branded an “honor”-destroyer and, by way of a networking of lawyers and party “pragmatists” who’ve taken over the messaging apparatus for the GOP, essentially frozen out of any online conversation. I was to be driven off the internet, mostly by a back channel email campaign. And as commenting here dwindles, I’m anticipating the end is nigh.
I used to torment the internet left, who I can assure you was, in the aggregate, happy to see me marginalized by my own side, if only because it meant they didn’t have to respond to me when I belittled their magical thinking, their lies, and their obvious sophistry. As one troll asked archly the other day, “this place is still here?” — a shot at my faded influence. Which is what it is: Being impolitic and eschewing diplomacy for straight talk wasn’t particularly popular back when I began it, taking on both the left and those on the right whom I believed to be, consciously or not, giving aid to the progressive agenda. Doing so in a general way was okay; but calling out individual arguments attached to those who made them was out of bounds — less an intellectual endeavor than a way to bruise their egos. Or so they must have believed.
Which is why I find it ironic that those on “my” side who worked so creatively behind the scenes to see to my banishment are being forced to write posts now that echo things I was preaching for years, often to their scorn, or at least their tacit dismay.
I was being unhelpful back then, you see. A true believer. A purist. Whereas now, the political winds have shifted a bit, and if you can’t get into the establishment game, being a firebrand for liberty is the new online black. Outlaw is no longer a punchline. And intentionalism and originalism are starting to seem more and more useful in the fight against the left than they were when my dogged determination to shift the faulty institutionalization of linguistic incoherence was labeled “fundamentally unserious” and part of my “pseudo-intellectualism.”
So here we are, exactly where I suggested we were headed, and for precisely the reasons I suggested such — surrender the rules of language, you surrender any claim to the prevailing epistemology — which means now more than ever those who wished me gone would like to see me stay that way, if only because I will always serve as a reminder to them of who they really are and what they really thought important.
VDH, let me be clear, isn’t one of these people.
I hope — seriously, for the sake of our liberty — that someone who hasn’t been targeted for destruction by his or her own side, is able to make the linguistic and hermeneutic case for how a particular set of prevailing assumptions leads inevitably, as I’ve been noting for years, to where we today find ourselves, awash in anti-foundationalism, identity politics, PC thought enforcement, and the perversion and deconstruction of our most cherished founding ideals — equality before the law; tolerance in speech; and the dignity of the individual — to their current low states of radical egalitarianism; officially-sanctioned “protected” thought; and the individual as finding his true goodness only in service to the collective.
Maybe they can throw me a footnote or something. To assuage their nagging guilt. Assuming they have the capacity for shame.