Saturday, November 3, 2018

Spare Me Your Lectures on Civility, Blue Checks

People on the right can be hostile and violent. So can people on the left. But here's the difference as I experience it: When a crazy Trump supporter with a rap sheet sends "bomb-like" packages to high profile Democrats, the mainstream conservative media personalities I follow have no trouble condemning him. When Trump says something stupid and insensitive after Charlottesville, those self-same mainstream conservatives call him out on it -- while also utterly disavowing the fringe racists whose actions led to a woman's death. But I have yet to see any mainsteam leftwing members of the press acknowledge the violence of their own side. Don Lemon and others of his class have never searched their souls on air and questioned whether their friends might share the blame. No, it's all Trump's fault; it's never theirs.

Trump is a symptom, not the disease. If you would talk to Trump supporters for two seconds, you would hear the myriad ways in which right-leaning folks have been harassed, blacklisted, defamed, and otherwise kicked around by leftists -- particularly in fields that have always leaned left, such as academia and the arts. And the frustrating thing? Until Trump, nobody went to bat for these people. Before Trump, the GOP was notoriously inept at defending the right from the charge that it was -ist and infected by -ism. The result? A massive ground-swell of resentment among people tired of being called things they manifestly were not. Take it from someone who, as a right-leaning writer, was watching this unfold in real time.

There were warning signs if you cared to see them. A few Republican primaries ago, Newt Gingrich surged in popularity the moment he attacked the press. I remember that distinctly. I also remember the excitement among conservatives in the early days of blogging. Finally - finally - we had a powerful tool to counter mainstream media bullshit. Indeed, for as long as I've been a conscious, politically-engaged conservative, I have seen hatred of the press on my side -- and in my opinion, that hatred is generally earned. No newsworthy event in which I've been a participant has been covered with even a modicum of accuracy; it's all been poorly researched, dishonest spin.

The upshot? Trump is not some unique boogie man who's broken our discourse by stoking hate. He's playing to what already exists. And yeah, okay, he shouldn't do that. As a president, he should be trying to unite us instead of encouraging the Great Untruth of Us-Versus-Them (thanks, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff). But to act like Trump is the sole inventor of "incivility" - to act like everything is just peachy except for Trump - is pish-posh. Admit that you have done something wrong, Mr. Lemon, and then we'll talk.


  1. This would be more helpful if it had some specifics. Most liberals think the press is pretty accurate and that your complaints are simply because you can't handle the truth. And before the "War on Science" over climate change, a small majority of US scientists reported they voted Republican, so I'd be curious what long-standing problem in academia you're talking about. It seems to me that it's just a story you guys have told each other for so long that you actually believe it now.

    1. "Most liberals think the press is pretty accurate..." It's called Confirmation Bias.

  2. Just found your blog a minute ago. Like what I see.

    I get a kick out of every single person I know or meet telling me evil Don is. At my own place I kind of mocked that crowd by pointing out that the utterly evil Reagan or that satanist, NIXON just squeeked into power by a bare margine of winning 49 of Oblivious's 57 states. The ones who hate us to death are really stupid.