He says fears about “political correctness” on campuses are overblown, and he really hates one of the organizations — and one of the guys — that’s campaigning against it, in the name of free speech.
In the 1690s, it was the witches, hysterical women and girls whom Puritans said had been taken by Satan. In the 1840s, it was Catholic immigrants, who were said by a presidential candidate to be besotted with “rum, Romanism, and rebellion.” In every decade before and since then, it has been feral Negroes. In the 1920s, it was anarchists, Reds, and pushy Hebrews. In the 1950s, it was American Communist spies for Stalin, the Satan of that time. In the 1960sm [sic], it was hippies, riotous blacks and traitorous opponents of the Vietnam War. Since 2001, it has been American Muslims and, in 2003, it was critics of the Iraq War.
Some even find the prospect of naming, sighting, and punishing the enemy so thrilling that they go right out and join the hunt for prey that can be held up plausibly as proof of the disloyalty and danger: Sacco and Vanzetti as anarchists, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as Jewish Communist spies, Willie Horton and O.J. Simpson as feral blacks, and so on. It works in the tawdry, predictable ways that leaders of these rituals understand only too well. (…)
Once a public paroxysm has been exposed to sunlight and has begun to subside, many people begin to regard its chief witch-hunters, commie hunters, and prurient scourges of decadent youth as more hysterical, sinister, and destructive of their own society than their scapegoated prey ever were.
Once again we see that “progressives” live in the past.
This collection of cliches sounds like it was put together by a precocious high school student whose parents only let him watch PBS, but again:
This guy is at Yale and you aren’t.
Where to start?
Well, regular readers know what I’m about to say. I hope to go back later and add hyperlinks. I am still finishing my first coffee, and have real work to do, but off the top of my head:
Anarchists assassinated numerous heads of state, or tried to. “Reds” were a real and not imaginary problem — that is, if you value American ideals and don’t (not so) secretly think “Reds” were the cool ones.
There really were American communist spies for Stalin, who was “the Satan of the time” because he killed tens of millions of people. (As I said in the comments, perhaps the Venona Cables haven’t made it as far as Yale yet…)
Hippies really were horrible in many respects and created a lasting and unpleasant legacy.
Blacks did riot, and I thought that from the perspective of a white leftist like this fellow, that was supposed to be a feature not a bug, but oh well.
Opponents of the Vietnam War were not all created equal in terms of sincerity or motivation, and I have yet to hear one single unreconstructed hippie apologize for the million-plus Cambodian dead the American withdrawal brought about.
Americans have been nowhere near as angry at Muslims as they should or could have been after 9/11. Not a single mosque has been torched in 15 years. Instead, belligerent Muslims have claimed to be 9/11’s “real” victims, and have had to fake “hate crimes” to arouse sympathy (and other benefits.)
Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty, as many of their supporters, like Sinclair Lewis, knew at the time. And most of the money raised for their “defense” didn’t make it there.
Julius Rosenberg was a communist spy as were many in his circle.
The author is fond of the expression “feral Blacks,” evidently. If by that he means that certain individuals were guilty of rape and/or murder, and happened to be African-American, then Willie Horton and O.J. Simpson are in fact “feral Blacks.”
The last bit is a favorite “The End” of leftists, but is it really true?
For example, was Anita Bryant (to extract a name from my youth) really more “destructive” than promiscuous gay men who knowingly and sometimes even gleefully spread AIDS?
Was McCarthy or Whittaker Chambers really “more destructive” than Alger Hiss or other CPUSA spies, public school teachers, screenwriters and labor activists?
Was Jerry Falwell really “more destructive” than Larry Flynt? (Some would call it a tie…)
Was Phyllis Schlafly really “more destructive” than “all sex is rape” radical feminists, known Communist Betty Friedan, and the fat one whose name escapes me this early in the morning.
I’ve learned through personal experience that, as tempting as it can be to cook up all kinds of theories about enemy organizations from the outside, the reality within would often times shock said critics.
I also know full well that some people on “our side” may be… dubious, and have rarely hesitated to say so. (I know some things, shared in confidence, which I presume the sources will reveal at an opportune time. But basically? Trust No One.)
Few groups are as well-organized, “secretly” well-funded, conspiratorially interconnected or even as aware of their own alleged “agendas” as their critics believe them to be.
So I was particularly struck by one of the comments, which reads in part:
I can attest to this personally as a former employee of FIRE. When I worked there—as Mr. Lukianoff’s research assistant, no less—in 2014, one of my first assignments was to help conduct research for and compile FIRE’s “Disinvitation Report,” which found that a great many of the speakers whose appearances on campus were greeted with condemnation and protest were actually somewhere on the political Left.
FIRE itself was (and remains!) staffed with people from across the ideological spectrum, liberal, conservative, libertarian, and moderate, and this philosophical diversity was reflected in our frequent internal disagreements.
I do hope that you’ll at least consult what FIRE’s own employees (as well as this former employee) have to say about its work and its agenda. In general, before believing—and especially before you repeat—condemnations of a given organization or movement, especially when those condemnations come from outlets and critics who have vested political interests in making their targets look bad, one should at least consult that organization or movement first, and hear out what its members have to say. Don’t just believe whatever you see or hear written or said about them.