Those Alinskyite tactics to move the Overton Window to the left, effective for the past 30 or so years, may now be sufficiently understood and exposed that they no longer have soft environs in which to operate. The Right now understands the game and resists, which causes the Left to double down, which results in more ugliness. That Alinskyite stuff relies on the good will of its targets; once the targets realize the absence of good faith on the part of their accusers…
Related: this great piece from Kevin D. Williamson. “Phony hate crimes. Phony hate.”
First he argues:
Fake hate crimes committed by progressives are by this point so familiar that they are practically a cliché. … A large Internet archive of such fake hate crimes, with links to local media reporting, is available here.
Next he objects to the smear tactics and straw man arguments used by people who haven’t done the homework on actual conservative positions. “It is not only the hate crimes that are fake. For the most part, the hate they are intended to highlight is fake, too.”
There are many strands of conservatism and many kinds of conservatives. There are those such as myself whose views are shaped by the epistemic critique of central planning associated with Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, who believe that all attempts to replace the spontaneous order of free exchange with purportedly rational central planning will fail for reasons having to do with the way knowledge is distributed and used in a complex society. There are moral traditionalists and Christian traditionalists and nationalists, and there are those whose main concern is that the wider world is a dangerous and unpredictable place that would be more dangerous and unpredictable without American diplomatic leadership and military power. There are green-eyeshades conservatives and anti-abortion conservatives. Most conservatives are a compound of two or more of those tendencies. It is significant that the broadly defined Right’s racists and Jew-haters — of course they exist — felt the need to identify themselves as a separate movement and a distinct political school.
The Republican party within living memory was led by a Jewish man. The Democratic party just came within a hair of elevating to its highest institutional position a man who has long associated with the worst kind of anti-Semites, conspiracy theorists, racists, and lunatics, who has worked with them and apologized for them: As it turns out, Keith Ellison will only be elevated to the rank of No. 2 rather than given the top leadership position in the party. There have been pogroms in modern American history: A notable one happened after the Reverend Al Sharpton gave a number of speeches denouncing Jewish “bloodsuckers” and delivered a stirring denunciation of Jewish merchants in which he insisted “You got to pay!” at a venue in which was hanging a banner reading “Hitler Did Not Do the Job.”
Whatever happened to Al Sharpton?
Then he asks and answers a pointed question…
Do you know why there has not been a string of fake hate crimes and acts of violence conducted by right-wing hoaxers? Because the Right does not have to make this stuff up: Left-wing rioters really did set fire to Berkeley when an unpopular right-wing speaker was invited to campus. They really did burn Baltimore. Jeremiah Wright really is part of a loony race cult. Van Jones really is a 9/11 truther and an apologist for Mumia Abu-Jamal. No need for fiction.
… and laments the quality of thinking on the Left:
The Left, particularly in the English-speaking world, has been in intellectual crisis since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Left’s last really big idea was Communism. (Bernie Sanders would say “socialism,” and the difference is not entirely trivial: Communism begins with a gun in your face, socialism ends with a gun in your face.) When Communism was discredited — not only by the failures of central planning alluded to earlier but also by its horrifying body count of some 100 million victims in the 20th century — the Left was left intellectually unmoored. It has come up with strategies — environmentalism, feminism, identity politics, “1 percent” resentment politics — but no big ideas. This is a problem, because conservatism’s big idea — the marriage of free enterprise to liberal political institutions — is doing pretty well almost everywhere it has been tried. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and countries around the world from Western Europe to Scandinavia to Singapore that have adopted, however partially and imperfectly, the universal truths embedded in Anglo-American liberalism are doing pretty well.
And closes with “the ad hominem fallacy elevated… to a general conception of politcs.”
The Left, for the moment, cannot seriously compete in the theater of ideas. So rather than play the ball, it’s play the man. Socialism failed, but there is some juice to be had from convincing people who are not especially intellectually engaged and who are led by their emotions more than by their intellect — which is to say, most people — that the people pushing ideas contrary to yours are racists and anti-Semites, that they hate women and homosexuals and Muslims and foreigners, that they could not possibly be correct on the policy questions, because they are moral monsters. This is the ad hominem fallacy elevated, if not quite to a creed, then to a general conception of politics. Hence the hoaxes and lies and nonsense.
I’ve tried to make a similar argument before. American conservatives tend to define virtue personally – act, or pretend to act, according to traditional values; American liberals tend to define virtue politically – you’re a good person if you support policies X, Y, Z. The former will forgive you thinking whatever you want as long as your behavior is under control; the latter will forgive any behavior as long as your thinking is under control.
The problem: if you derive your personal sense of virtue from the political views you hold, those who disagree with you must be, by definition, bad people. Not just political opponents with whom to argue, but unworthies who ought to be stopped by just about any means necessary.