by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest National Review cover story, from Adam Bellow of Broadside Books and Liberty Island Media, urges conservatives to pursue and support fiction writing.
It’s an interesting read, but an aside about the Left’s approach to political debate ought to sound familiar to anyone who has paid attention to North Carolina’s public policy arena in recent years.
The Left has always demonized conservatives, and many of my authors have been subject to that kind of ugly treatment. Those who cannot win an argument often fall back on ad hominem attacks. In the past we could ignore such attacks — indeed, they often worked in our favor. But lately they have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Those who dissent from the prevailing liberal dogma are quickly branded as extremists and declared to be bad people. Do you support the traditional view of marriage? You’re a homophobe who wants to deny equal rights to gay Americans. Do you question the economic benefits of raising the minimum wage? You are a selfish Scrooge who hates the working class. Do you want America to establish control over its borders? You hate hard-working immigrants who just want to enjoy the American dream. Do you believe a human fetus has legal and natural rights? You are a misogynist who wants to control women’s bodies. Do you support the death penalty in certain cases? You’re a heartless savage no better than the killers themselves, according to Charles Blow of the New York Times. Do you oppose any aspect whatsoever of Barack Obama’s transformative agenda for America? You’re a racist. Racist, racist, racist!
This is a bare-knuckled attempt to enforce an ideological orthodoxy by policing the boundaries of acceptable speech. The methods used — anonymous accusers, public shaming, forced apologies, reeducation programs — come straight out of the Stalinist playbook, and they are not only shockingly illiberal. They are shockingly effective.
By harnessing the passions of offended minorities to the power of social media, the Left has created a hurricane of politicized indignation that can be directed wherever it likes and levels everything it touches.
It’s somewhat fitting that National Review Online posted this story on a Monday.