Sunday, 5 February 2017

Keep it Regressive - Upping the Ante Post Inauguration

And I'm not happy about it either.  Not that it's "defending" Donald Trump per-se, It's about trying to keep political discourse open and reasonable.  Scrutiny and criticism of Trump will be more effective in the long run if it's not so marked by sensationalism and hysteria.  People are going to start rolling their eyes whenever the Huffington Post, CNN or any of them pound their "Trump is evil Hitler" drum, and the ironic result of that is that eventually Trump will gain greater leeway to act.  I suggest to the chattering classes that they go back and read that old Aesop story about the boy who cried wolf.    

As recently as a few months ago, I was rather proud of the fact that hysterical paranoia surrounding the sitting President was a right wing specialty.  Sure, "Bush derangement syndrome" did have its excesses, but nothing that could compare to Tea Party or Info Wars type nonsense asserting that Obama was a Muslim, a communist, a non-citizen or even the Antichrist.  And for those of us with a few more years under our belts, Bill Clinton was an evil commie coming to take everybody's gun's away.  

And it goes back much further than that.  Further than Reagan and the paranoid Moral Majority of the 1980s accusing my favorite heavy metal records and role playing games of the time of being Satanic.  Richard Hofstadter was writing about the Paranoid Style in American Politics as far back as 1964.   To say nothing of McCarthyism, the John Birch Society, the American Mercury Magazine (which returned in 2010, by the way, with the only thing missing being Pepe the Frog) - the craziness of which drove William F. Buckley to leave it and go start the National Review in the early 1950s.  It's even older than that.  The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, the sundry anti-immigration leagues of the late 19th century and anti-Illuminati conspiracism going back further than that.

The progressives, with all of their flaws, are simply smarter than that.  Sure there had been dumb leftists too: the degeneration of the Communist Party USA into a mere mouthpiece for the Kremlin, the carrying around of pictures of Chairman Mao and fetishizing of 3rd world dictators among the New Left, Herbert Marcuse's doctrine of "repressive tolerance" and the related concept of "power plus prejudice" to emerge out of the radical serge of the late 60s, the personal becoming political among the anti-heterosex feminists of the 1970s and 80s, the emergence of political correctness in the 1990s, the apologetics for and palling up with regressive Islamism in the Bush years (and carrying on to the present day) and the emergence of the social justice warriors in the last decade or so.  All of it stupid and counterproductive.  But widespread mass hysteria and moral panic akin to the red scare or the Satanic panic was simply not within the purview of left wing politics. 

Oh no.  Not us.

Then 2017 happened.  

Antifa riots in DC following Trump's inauguration destroy, among other things, a limousine belonging to a Muslim immigrant, whose livelihood may be lost as a result.  231 people all told were arrested.  

And then, of course, there was UC Berkeley meltdown in response to Milo Yiannopoulos's speaking tour, causing an early estimate of $100,000 damage and sporadic reports of injuries.

Though the worst of what we've seen thusfar, these are not isolated incidents either. 

Suddenly, the special snowflakes on tumblr don't seem like such a big deal now, don't they?

I've had personal experience with these antifa characters.  I moderate several alt-left Facebook groups, and quite suddenly - almost as if on cue - they're spamming every leftist social media space with bland calling outs of "liberals" who refuse to endorse black block tactics, with some even going as far as to call liberals "fascist sympathizers."  I don't brook a whole lot of this - they get banned right quick if they descend to such foolishness as to believe that smashing store windows, lighting garbage cans on fire or pepper spraying unarmed civilian protesters is some kind of valiant resistance to fascism, on par with the British R.A.F in the summer of 1940 or the Red Army in Stalingrad circa December 1942.  Seizing the means of production, they are not.

Don't major in political science.  That would be my counsel to these antifa apologists.  If antifa and actual Nazis ever end up in a real clash, can I guess it will be over who hates "liberals" more?

Do I need to actually say why it is these black block tactics are stupid?  Do I have to explain why no platforming is stupid?  Do I have to explain why attacking peaceful civilians - not actual nazi skinhead gangs that are really causing trouble, like antifa was established to do, but nothing beyond normies wearing "Make America Great Again" caps - is stupid?  Do I have to explain why smashing store windows and burning your own campus and urban core to the ground is stupid?  Do I have to explain why behaving this way in front of the whole world due to the reach of social media is stupid?

Let the recent spike in Milo's international profile and book sales answer that question.  

There's now a petition circulating to have antifa declared a terrorist organization.  And I don't blame the circulators of this petition one bit.  

What's suspicious about this is that, like every other regressive left-wing fad, from privilege theory to "Islamophobia" to just about any manufactured social justice grievance you can think of - cultural appropriation, safe spaces, trigger warnings, men complimenting women as harassment, attacks on due process for men accused of sex crimes, on and on and on, its emergence seems strangely choreographed. 

Amidst all the hubub, I keep reading - mainly in right wing sources, about paid protesters and conspiracy theories surrounding the Clinton Foundation, George Soros and the like.  I used to just scoff at such tinfoil hat talk.  Now I'm not so sure.  Regressive left stupidity emerges in all kinds of places almost spontaneously, and spreads like wildfire before reasonable people have even begun to respond - by which time media coverage has long since moved on.  

The silver lining, if there is any, is that liberals are now getting bashed from the left for a change.  This might just be the wake up call they need.  But then again, the emergence of political correctness was supposed to be a wake up call.  The excesses of online social justice warriors was supposed to be a wake up call.  Trump's victory was supposed to be a wake up call.  As I've recently said elsewhere, the center left has been hitting snooze on the alarm for a very long time now.  

Instead, the regressive left just keeps doubling down on the regressive.  Which isn't what we need, because enough bad crap is going to come down the pike from the Trump administration and GOP dominance at both the congressional, state and soon enough the Supreme Court level that we need to be on our game. We're heading in exactly the opposite direction.  We're getting conspiracy theories from people who should know better, that these riots were provoked by Breitbart, Yiannopolous and the Trump administration to bring about increased federal control over higher education.  Because it's easier to blame a conspiracy than it is to admit your side screwed up and really has no good ideas.

Perhaps I should consider becoming a professional protester.  George Soros and the Clinton Foundation on the one side; Trump, Bannon, Yiannopoulos and Breitbart on the other can bid against each other for my loyalty.  Kind of like Clint Eastwood's nameless protagonist in those old spaghetti westerns, playing one side against the other, a guy could make a fistful of dollars doing that.

I have no love of censorship and certainly balk at the prospect of government control over curriculum in higher education, but look at what a disaster the colleges have become in the last quarter century.  The censorship going on inside the Ivory Tower is beyond ridiculous.  Something needs to be done.  It's been left to fester for far, far too long now.

More seriously, trying to talk to left leaning people about the idiocies present on their own end of the spectrum reminds one of the words of Charles McKay in his 1841 opus Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds: "Men, it has been well said, think in herds.  It will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

Is it too much to ask my fellows on the left that we think and scrutinize a little more, and goose step along with the party line and follow baseless and stupid fads a little less?

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