From Suppression to Coercion
May 31, 2017
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published May 30, 2017 by The Washington Times.
When it dawned on the media last fall that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had not issued a public statement condemning his friend, then-candidate Donald Trump, the pile-on started.
“Brady has had every opportunity to clarify his friendship with Trump and has mostly declined,” Sports Illustrated harrumphed.
Not to be outdone, a USA Today sports columnist warned Mr. Brady just before he mounted the greatest comeback victory in Super Bowl history that he “has some explaining to do on Donald Trump,” and that in “refusing to publicly disavow Trump’s actions, Brady is giving tacit endorsement to both Trump and the chaos he has created.”
In an article entitled “The New Abnormal,” Claremont Review of Books Senior Editor William Voegeli cites the Brady uproar and other examples of the left’s shift in tactics from muzzling people to demanding that they say things approved by the left’s cultural commissars.
Bottom line: Minding your own business is no longer an option.
As left-leaning Slate declared, “even if celebrities [want] to opt out of the current moment, they can’t. Doing nothing is doing something.”
Liberal groupthink enforced by expected speech is a requirement in many places, from campuses to newsrooms. When I worked as a news editor at the Los Angeles Times during the Reagan years, I sometimes found myself standing with a few reporters who were ranting about something the Gipper had done or said.
I thought it wise to keep my peace, since my views were to the right of almost everyone in the newsroom. But that did not cut it. After they all dumped on Reagan, there was an uncomfortable silence as they awaited my amens, or at least an eye roll, smirk and knowing look. They usually wound up shaking their heads and walking back to their desks, convinced that I wanted to kick orphans into the snow and start a world war.
Pop star Demi Lovato became a victim of this kind of cultural pressure this past week when she found herself under attack for supposedly wearing dreadlocks in a music video. The charge against the white-Hispanic singer? “Cultural appropriation” of something identified with blacks. Think about that the next time you — if you’re not black — are dancing to a Motown hit or enjoying a Ben’s Chili Bowl half-smoke.
In Ms. Lovato’s case, the “cultural appropriation” wasn’t even true. But here’s where it gets really absurd. After tweeting that “they were twists, not dreads” with a follow-up tweet declaring that “they looked [expletive] rad anyway,” she was attacked for not doing a mea culpa for something she had not done.
“Although Lovato was correct this time in telling her fans that she wasn’t actually wearing dreadlocks, this stands as an example for celebrities on how not to deny appropriation accusations,” wrote Mic.com columnist Rachel Lubitz, who apparently knows something about being in denial. Others tweeted angry advice, such as, “The appropriate response would be ‘I didn’t have dreads & I’d never be so culturally insensitive’ [sic] It’s so sad I ever looked up to you.”
Confronting this lunacy, National Review’s Katherine Timpf asks, “In what universe are people who are falsely accused of something expected to clarify that it would have been bad if they’d done what they had been falsely accused of doing?”
That would be the universe of political correctness, whose enforcement methods range from campus violence to public shaming on the internet.
At Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., biology professor Bret Weinstein confronted a mob of students who had taken over the campus last week and were angry that he did not obey their dictum for all whites to leave the campus for the “Day of Absence and Day of Presence.” Worse, he wrote an email saying, “On a college campus, one’s right to speak — or to be — should never be based on race.” For that, he was called — what else? — a racist.
Getting back to the Tom Brady fiasco, the hounds of the left even went after Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who, Mr. Voegeli writes, “expressed gratitude that Trump phoned him regularly after Kraft’s wife, Myra, died in 2011.” A Tablet magazine open letter ripped Mr. Kraft for not condemning Mr. Trump, and even told him to issue a statement that they themselves wrote, with Mr. Kraft, “as a Jew,” slamming Mr. Trump’s immigration policy.
Looking over the minefield of progressive groupthink, Rabbi Aryeh Spero put the problem in perspective in a CNSNews column: “It is the liberal version of Islamic blasphemy laws, ruthlessly excising anyone who questions or strays from the left-wing cultural and social dogmas. It is the most un-American development in our lifetime.”
And it’s all part of the socialists’ war on nature and nature’s God. We must admit to things we have not done, pretend some things are that are not, and condemn people the left wants condemned.
As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn explained in his masterpiece, The Gulag Archipelago, “In different places over the years I have had to prove that socialism, which to many western thinkers is a sort of kingdom of justice cannot be implemented without the aid of coercion.”
Which, today, comes in many forms.