Do Regressive Leftists enable the Right? A view from Canada

Over at the CBC News site, journalist Neil Macdonald, who considers himself a liberal and has nothing but opprobrium for the likes of Donald Trump, claims that Regressive Leftism (or “Illiberal Leftism”) is shooting itself in the foot.  In his column “Advice for anxious liberals—tone down the snark,” Macdonald argues that, in Canada (and by implication, in the U.S. as well), the anti-free-speech rhetoric, hectoring, and absolute self-assurance of Leftist identity politics is turning people rightwards. I’ve gone back and forth on that, and am pretty sure that—with the exception of the excessive respect accorded to Islam by the Illiberal Left—it didn’t have much to do with electing Trump or other Republicans. But it’s still worth considering what Macdonald says, as I hate to see the Left riven by this kind of absolutist infighting. After all, we’re but twelve days away from at least four years of oppressively crazy conservatism in the U.S., and if we don’t hang together, by Heavens we’ll surely hang separately.

A few quotes from Macdonald’s piece (have a look at the two links as well):

At protests and over drinks and at dinner tables, liberals are arguing over the proper response. Some have for weeks been yelling through bullhorns that “Trump is not my president,” which is just loopy. If you’re an American, Donald Trump will be your president as of Jan. 20, and he and his elite billionaire friends will almost certainly, in the name of the common man, set about reducing the liberal china shop to a knee-high pile of crushed eggshell porcelain.

Others argue liberals must never flag, never give an inch. “We double down,” a friend defiantly declares.

Well. Certainly the rise of Trump nation, a bizarre place where anti-Semitic white supremacists comfortably cohabit with evangelical Christian conservatives and Jewish pro-Israel absolutists, is no reason for liberals to waver on values like protection of the most vulnerable among us, or helping those fleeing genocidal wars, or equality regardless of gender, sexuality or race, or curbs on the rapaciousness of unshackled capitalism.

But with all due respect to my earnest friends on the left, a bit of advice: stop being so damned irritating about it.

Particularly on campuses, the left has developed a prissy, hectoring self-righteousness, which is what happens when a bunch of people who think the same way get into the same room and congratulate one another endlessly on being right. (“Herds of independent thinkers,” as columnist and author Nat Hentoff so beautifully puts it).

Not only do they block out any opposing viewpoint, they begin to shout it down and censor it (because, you know, it’s wrong), and ultimately try to regulate it, writing rules and laws prohibiting its expression. Consult a few university speech codes — particularly those drafted by student unions — for elaboration.

To many social activists, free speech (except when it protects their speech) is just another tool of patriarchal suppression. All debate is just false equivalence.

And because any other viewpoint is patently valueless, perhaps even dangerous, they almost immediately go ad hominem, rather than engaging on the issue.

The last line is largely true, for the best weapon the Illiberal Left has is simply to call people racists, transphobes, and sexists without engaging their arguments. It’s effective because we’re all so sensitive to those slurs.

While I’m in favor of abortion on demand, and of respecting the wishes of transgender people to be called what they want (and use whatever restroom they want), there are serious discussions to be had about affirmative action, the notion of gender (feminism is being fractured that that issue), and, yes, abortion. (Consider, for instance, the flat claim that abortion is a “right”. You can’t do that without defining what you mean by the concept of “rights”.) And you simply can’t have those discussions if you begin calling your opponents names.

So while Macdonald is right to argue for ditching the ad hominems, I’m not sure how much they give succor to the right, as he claims:

But as the media repeated and amplified the story, which the media loves to do (nothing like lefty infighting to sell papers) you can bet a lot of non-urban Canadian conservatives were reading, just as they read the vicious attacks by progressives on Marie Henein, Jian Ghomeshi’s brilliant lawyer, for doing her job so well.

You can bet they’re listening closely every year at Halloween, when progressives reliably denounce as racist anyone allowing their children to dress up as a member of any other culture. Like, say, sending a little girl out dressed as Mulan.

Or when they’re denounced as Islamophobes for even discussing the question of why so many people who commit mass murder of innocents do it in the name of Allah. Or as transphobes for using the pronouns “he” or “she” without explicit permission. Or as homophobes for obeying their priest or imam. Or as some sort of uninclusive-o-phobe for uttering the phrase “Merry Christmas.”

There are millions of people out there who aren’t terribly interested in a lecture about the difference between “cisnormative” and “heteronormative,” and how both words supposedly describe something shameful.

Yes, we should stop being so damned irritating. No argument was ever won by name-calling.

h/t: Taskin

73 Comments

  1. Pliny the in Between
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I have to disagree with your last line. What substantive arguments have the right proposed in the last 8 years that weren’t essentially just name-calling? Was the last election won by factual debate or appeals to emotion?

    The Ad Man has won. Politics is now nothing but marketing. We now live in an ‘American Idol’ world where truth (other than gods) is chosen by popular demand. Facts are just whatever props up confirmation bias.

    Just look at the right’s defense of Trump on the Russian election tampering – The refusal to address his behavior is a wonderful case study in sunk cost fallacy.

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      I doubt that the actions of the regressive left that irritate so many of us here–attacks on free speech and social identity entitlement demands–really helped Trump. He is no great supporter of free speech, and he knows that the SJW demands are a joke. He rode in pulled by those two old-fashioned work horses of demagogues everywhere–racism and xenophobia.

      • BJ
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        I doubt that the people in the Rust Belt who flipped from Obama to Trump, and the black people who went from voting for Obama to not voting at all, did so out of racism. It was more likely a weariness with the status quo, and Hillary was the epitome of the status quo.

        • somer
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

          Im sure racism and xenophobia motivated some (as equally did religious fervour) but I think as you say it was mainly people were sick of being taken for granted and particularly middle class and less well off (many non whites as well as whites) were worried about the economy

        • Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, sure, they voted for a billionaire who promised to take away their medical insurance and shift the tax burden off the rich and toward them because they are hard done by, not because they are racist or xenophobic. I’ve got some swamp land in Florida for you.

          And black people who voted for Obama but not Clinton because she is white and a woman, well…

          • Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

            My point is, they voted against their economic interests. Why?

            I apologize for being snarky.

            • Willard Bolinger
              Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

              Because they are allowed only two choices to vote for and Trump struck a cord with people who did not see in Hillary Clinton as someone who was going to help them. Part was probably that people wanted to believe a variety of things like the rich provide the jobs, his attacks on Hillary were believed, Trumps was an “outsider”, fear of immigrants taking people’s jobs by working for lower wages., fear of Muslims and terrorists attacks pushed by the news media and all the free coverage the media gave Trump, Probably others also. Republicans already have most governors and state offices! Hillar was not progressive enough which was exposed by Bernie Sanders may well have hurt her chances! Lot of people had lost jobs and had suffered from the recession and some I imagine were desperately looking for a way out and did took a chance of Trump. Does it make sense to the more progressives? No! Then you have the values voters on issues like homosexuals and other issues connected to religious beliefs!

            • BJ
              Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:49 am | Permalink

              When you’ve either already lost your job or are working one or two jobs that are worse than the one you had ten years ago (your jobs no longer have benefits, a pension, wages are lower, etc.), then voting for the “change” candidate doesn’t seem like voting against your economic interests while voting for the “status quo” candidate does. Hillary’s mmessage was basically “everything is fine, so vote for me and I’ll keep it thst way.”

              We already know people don’t tend to vote based on policy, but on an overall impression of the candidates.

              • BJ
                Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

                Oh, and what Mr. Bollinger above said.

            • Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

              I’m not sure it’s obvious they did vote against their own interests when you look at short term payouts. Trump’s tax plan cuts the rates in every bracket so even an average family with median income is going to be thrown a bone. Of course, I agree with you that Trump’s other policies are not likely to drive wages up, but that’s a more abstract issue and one that is much more open for debate that the simple bottom line calculation showing that you’ll pay less taxes if Trump’s plan passes and you make the same amount of money.

              Also, I’ve never been a fan of the argument that these people are not being prudent by voting against their own economic interests. Does that mean wealthier individuals should also vote for their own economic interests? It’s hard to criticize the elite super-rich for voting for tax cuts if the criteria is voting for one’s personal interests. I did not vote for Trump, but it’s quite likely I’ll reap pretty significant savings if his tax policies are passed. I don’t think this is a valid argument to say I should have voted for him; my biggest concerns with Trump are not economic, though his policy proposals do give plenty of cause for concern.

          • mordacious1
            Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

            Many of those “racists” voted for Obama the last two elections, so there’s that…

            Also, I think that the term “xenophobe” is used too loosely. I suppose the people trapped in Katrina were hydrophobic, because they were on a rooftop when the water was 15 feet deep? No, no one minds water when it’s a trickle, or when it’s contained in a swimming pool, but when it takes your house down stream, it’s understandable if you’re a bit shy.

            It’s the same with the so-called fear of foreigners. Most Germans were okay with accepting refugees from Syria, but when Merkel took in more than a million (or was it two?), it became a flood. If you complained, you were called xenophobic by the Left.

            The US has roughly 42 million legal immigrants living here, plus another 11 million illegal immigrants. If you only complain that the 11 million is too many, the Left will call you xenophobic. No discussion. No listening to your concerns. Nope, you’re xenophobic and racist and a red neck. People are getting tired of being called those names when they have legitimate concerns. Hillary pandered to many small groups, but didn’t pander to one very large group. In fact, she called them names. She lost, this is one reason of many.

            • BJ
              Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:51 am | Permalink

              +1. When a candidate refuses to even discuss the issues important to you, you’re going to vote for the other one, the one who maybe possibly might do something about them instead of shouting you down and insulting you.

              • Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

                How did Clinton shout down and insult low income voters? Her “deplorables” comment, while impolitic, was acccurate about Trump voters. Polls show that 65 percent of them believe Obama is a Muslim; 59 percent believe Obama wasn’t born in the United States; 40 percent believe blacks are more “lazy” than whites; 31 percent support banning homosexuals from the country; 16 percent believe whites are a superior race; and 20 percent disagree with Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed Southern slaves. Sounds kind of deplorable to me. How would you try to appeal to these folks?

              • mordacious1
                Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

                The group that you’re talking about is never going to vote Democrat, they’re the base of the Republican Party. In this election, she needed to appeal to the voters in the Rust Belt who have voted for Democrats in the past. She didn’t even try. She lumped them in with the deplorables. Trump promised them jobs, while at the same time he appealed to the knuckle draggers. Her strategy failed miserably.

          • Posted January 10, 2017 at 1:48 am | Permalink

            Having the health insurance that was impoverishing middle class families, who already mostly had health insurance to begin with?

            Trump is already bringing jobs back to the midwest.

            That’s what you liberals never understand – poor people don’t want handouts and charity, they want to work and make their own way in the world, and more you force them onto government assistance, the less likely it is they’ll ever climb out of poverty.

            • Posted January 10, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

              As Trump would say, “WRONG!”

              Negating the obvious fact that Trump isn’t President yet and thus can’t create policy, the three ring circuses he has created around the Carrier deal and Ford have little to do with Trump, but he’ll gladly take credit for them. Per the Washington Post:

              “Ford’s contract with the United Auto Workers prevents it from shutting down the factory in question, the Louisville Assembly Plant, or from laying off workers there without engaging further talks with the union. The company clarified that it had merely decided not to move production of a single vehicle, the Lincoln MKC, out of Kentucky.”

              Unless Trump knows something we don’t about time travel and went to the past to create the contract that disallows the shutting down of the Lincoln MKC, Trump has as much to do with this as Obama or you or I did, which is to say–nothing at all.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      It’s worse than politics as marketing; it’s the Entertainment Tonight presidency. Soon it’ll be hard to tell where the news leaves off and the Kardashians begins.

      Reality tv, feh!

    • Kevin
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      True, but ideologies are not broken by name-calling. The Ad Man is his own ideology.

      Religion will be terminated only by providing the masses with something that extinguishes superstition. Science and Art can only do this by making the people think about the universe we live in and making it worth fighting for. Name calling will convince no coin holders to not think they get to pay Charon to cross the river.

      • Pliny the in Between
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        It’s not name calling as much as it is relentless repetition and re-circulation of negative messaging that seems to have worked.

        Personally, I have no more faith in the power of rational discourse to change the majority of people’s minds.

  2. SusanF
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Excellent comments. Very well-balanced. It is the extreme left that has become almost as hard if not more harsh than the extreme right. And it has pushed many of my friends and family towards the center or to the right. The extreme left on the campuses are causing it to be a nexus of fascism

    • Historian
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      You may criticize the far left as much as you want, but what they’re advocating is not fascism. Fascism is a fuzzy term, but what seems common to fascistic movements is, as Wikipedia states: “Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature, and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation. Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.”

      I would note that what is common to fascistic movements is a militaristic ethos and the belief in the necessity of a strong man. These traits are always characteristic of the right wing and do not apply to what is happening on campuses. So, yes, there is an authoritarian undertone to some activities on campus, but we should not be loosely throwing around terms that do not apply and which have the effect of diluting their actual meanings.

      However, I may be misinterpreting when you say “The extreme left on the campuses are causing it to be a nexus of fascism.” The sentence is ambiguous. If you are saying that the extreme left is causing in reaction to what it is doing on campus to motivate other people to migrate toward fascism, then you may have an argument, although I doubt that the vast majority of Americans pay attention to what is happening on campus.

      On another note, Nat Hentoff is mentioned in the post. He died yesterday.

  3. Matt
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Neil MacDonald is consistently a voice of reason in Canada. Nice to see him getting some attention in the US.

    • Carl
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      I (an American) often watch CNBC to get a better rounded view on things.

      • colnago80
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        I think you mean the CBC.

        • Carl
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          Yes, thanks – CBC – I noticed that when I typed and had intended to change it. I do watch CNBC as well.

    • CJ
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Agreed. Also his brother Norm is a funny dude as well.

  4. Zado
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m dubious about left wing identity politics “pushing” people rightward. If anything, it’s simply weakening the liberal cause by extending the spectrum to the left and stretching people out along it.

    Which isn’t that bad a state of affairs. It’s fairly typical, actually. The right’s major advantage has always been the simplicity of its message, and that will probably always be the case. Lefties have always argued with each other more.

    What I can’t stand is the self-righteousness. I used to think evangelical Christians had the market cornered on that emotion; now I’m not so sure.

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      I think there are many reasons to believe that the regressive left is pushing people away from the democratic party.

      In countries in Europe, many are pushed into the open arms of populist parties like Marine Le Pens Front National, Geert Wilders Party for Freedom (PVV) and in Sweden the Swedish Democrats, (SD).

      In Sweden, SD takes voters from all the other parties (across the board), from left to right, but most of all from the Social Democratic Party, i.e. which represents the main part of the regressive left, or, in US terms, the Democratic party.

      The SD, as many of the other populist parties in Europe, is a melange of different ideas from both the traditional left and right.

      In the US case, I would claim that we in many instances in the election saw the beginning of the same general movement, away from the regressive left, of previous core democratic voters. But, due to lack of alternatives, these voters either abstained from voting, or moved to Donald Trump.

      When it comes to politics and the regressive left, I think Sweden is 10 to 15 years ahead of the US (if Hillary had won), and I think it could serve as a potential valuable case study.

    • eric
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      One analysis I heard argued that it’s the political prioritization liberals have been making that can alienate/turn off the middle. The middle might agree that gay marriage is a good thing, and that trans people should be allowed to us a bathroom of the gender they identify as being. But they don’t see those issues as being as important to solve as blue collar unemployment or illegal immigration. Thus (the argument goes), when they see liberals focus almost exclusively on the former and ignoring the latter, they tend to see a party that is clueless and out of touch with the concerns of the broader electorate.

      I’m not sure i agree with that argument fully, but I do think it’s worth considering. Certainly in terms of per capita numbers, there are probably one or two orders of magnitude more people in the situation of having just a HS diploma and worried about their job prospects, than there are transgendered individuals worried about their bathroom rights. That doesn’t mean we should ignore transgeneder abuse or stop fighting that fight, but it does mean that we need to worry that focusing too much on one issue may lead to a “what am I, chopped liver?” response by the voters who are facing a different type of trouble.

      • BJ
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

        Just one or two orders of magnitude? Transgender people make up .2% of the population, so I’d say the magnitude is much greater.

        • somer
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

          A friend of mine said Detroit looks like Chernobyl and the car industry there has mostly gone to Mexico. I think what seriously affects the many is a more pressing agenda than what seriously affects a tiny few. Also raising children/ reproducing is very hard – sex roles have drastically affected ordinary people both male and female for thousands of years and thats an adaptation to prevailing circumstances – which have changed in very important particulars but still impose many constraints. Yes its important to consider transgender people but its not a big priority.

          • BJ
            Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:54 am | Permalink

            ” I think what seriously affects the many is a more pressing agenda than what seriously affects a tiny few.”

            Indeed. People can even be sympathetic toward the issues of these small groups, but unless you have a serious agenda for the big groups they’re part of as well, it won’t matter.

            These issues for very small groups are ultimately things you deal with once the bigger issues are taken care of. otherwise it will seem like you want to fix issues that affect the well-off while ignoring issues that affect wide swaths of the economically depressed.

          • eric
            Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            I think what seriously affects the many is a more pressing agenda than what seriously affects a tiny few

            I don’t think its exactly that simple, and I’m sorry if I gave that impression. One person’s concern about being murdered or assaulted if they go out to a bar should probably weigh on us more than someone else’s concern about getting a job. Given that transgendered people face a much higher chance of assault and murder than straight people or even gays, the issue of their acceptance should probably be given more weight than the mere number of them would suggest. However, its still the case that we ought not ignore major voter social issues merely because they aren’t necessarily liberal social issues.

  5. Jenny Haniver
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I think there’s much substance to what he says. The Right waits with bated breath for anything they can pounce on to discredit the Left, the nuttier the better. Take, for instance, a murder that occurred in Berkeley just a few days ago http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/01/07/suspect-custody-berkeley-homicide-stabbing/. One Pablo Gomez, Jr., a UC student, a “Latinx” (“xicanx”) queer activist, and an individual who had been identified as male but who self-identifies as “they,” stabbed a woman to death, went on the run and was soon captured in Southern California. It seems that after Gomez was identified as male, great pains were taken by his associates to correct the record in that regard. They seemed more worried about that than the crime. Apparently, Berkeleyside, the paper that originally reported the story (above) first published a version using the male pronoun when referring to Gomez, but rewrote the story after being informed that Gomez was to be referred to as “they.” It’ll be interesting to see how Gomez is going to be identified in the greater media as things play out.

    As the Berkeleyside story notes, the alt-right is already making hay with this: http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/07/radical-queer-activist-arrested-in-murder-of-woman-at-uc-berkeley/ and http://www.vdare.com/posts/fugitive-latinx-chicanx-studies-major-who-is-wanted-in-berkeley-stabbing-murder-answers-only-to-pronoun-they. As was noted in the Berkeleyside report, “There was some indication from people familiar with Gomez Jr. that mental health issues likely played a role in Friday’s violence.” I think the heart of the matter lies there; yet because of this preoccupation with politically correct pronouns, this tragedy has been dragged down into the benthic depths of absurdity. But it’s all of a piece.

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      I’ve noticed that the Left has thrown the taboo about linking mental health issues with violence out of the window in the last year or so when the perpetrators belong to some other protected class.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      “It’ll be interesting to see how Gomez is going to be identified in the greater media as things play out.”

      Will there be the sentence, “They was charged with murder”?

      (“Three Faces of Eve”) Chris Sizemore comes to mind. I wonder if at least one of her (alleged) personalities was a “they.” (Would that be a “meta” they?)

  6. Brian Salkas
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you on all of this, but I just think most people, whether conservative or liberal are not going to change their minds based on a sound logical argument alone. Look at religion, most Americans are religious, where is the logic in that? I agree that shaming them is not the answer, but neither is using empirical evidence.

    • Carl
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Good reasoning may not work all the time or with everyone, but it does work, particularly over time (notice the shift in theist/atheist balance over the past 400 years).

      A year or so ago my opinion on the election was pretty much anyone but Clinton. I found the argument presented by Sam Harris against Trump completely persuasive – and he never resorted to concerns about Trump’s racism or Xenophobia. I was also able to use the Harris position to persuade at least three other people against Trump.

      • Brian Salkas
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Thats reassuring, I want to think you are right and you might be. I was persuaded similarly as well.

        • BJ
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

          The other important thing to remember is that, often, you are not necessarily trying to persuade the person with whom you’re arguing, but the spectators. Reason and logic may not persuade the true believer on the other side of your conversation, but sounding like the logical one may persuade your spectators, especially if they see the same scenario play out not just in that argument, but time and time again.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    The republicans long ago gave up representing the people because they realized they didn’t have to. Money and more money would do the trick and ensure re-election. The left and democrats continued attempting to represent people and causes but did a damn poor job of it. Unions were going away, all pension plans were dropped and manufacturing sectors were going away. Yet the democrats said they were were fighting for the less fortunate.

    Who was doing the most lying. It was a hard thing to tell and nothing was getting better. Two house incomes were normal and it was not enough even then for the bottom of the middle class. If you lost your good paying job to the overseas move or to technology, what difference did it make, you lost.

    The democrats kept selling something that did not exist and the people knew it. The noise from the regressive left does not even register to the far right republican base. However, all that noise is getting no one a good job, or a pension. It is just noise.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    … it didn’t have much to do with electing Trump …

    Yeah, less than the Russians, but a bit more, perhaps, than Jim Comey. 🙂

    “Tone down the snark”? I like a bit of snark myself, so long as it’s done with wit or a touch of good humor — although overdone, it’s true to tell, it soon grows tiresome.

  9. Marc Aresteanu
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if we’re living in separate universes (or maybe just universities), but how are rational sane liberal intelligent people still acting like mainstream feminism isn’t a massive issue? Let me just caveat that I’m aware this might be contextual and my own personal experience in Montreal, but from what I gather, this phenomenon is widespread throughout all Western universities.

    I’ll just be honest here, so forgive me if it comes off as insult… but it’s really not. I personally think the idiotic radical brand of feminism has gone so mainstream, sinking its teeth into liberal culture from academia to media, that most liberal people simply lack the balls to call a spade a spade. I think Sam Harris mentioned briefly in one of his podcasts that he simply doesn’t want to indulge the problem because he’s already overwhelmed on the Islam apologia front. But anyways, feminism…

    On one front, there are the silly ideas regarding the wage gap and rape culture… and all the other trivialities invented to claim non-existent oppression like manspreading and mansplaining which turn many girls into walking paranoid schizophrenics with a self-righteous chip on their shoulder. This alone is having a huge cultural effect…pushing men, especially white men, to the Right.

    And then there’s the fact that these same notions come along with incoherent beliefs about cultural relativism and Islam, which I think turns Right leaning people into Right-Wing extremists and white nationalists.

    I personally feel myself simply leaning Right because I think open-minded intelligent well-meaning conversation is the ultimate thing to cherish in a healthy society. Freedom of speech and engaged disagreement through conversation is the only thing worth defending when it is at the root of all our potential solutions.

    So, just like Neil, I am Canadian… and my environment might bias my view of what’s going on a larger scale, but this is what I see. Over here, the problem is feminism…or at least “feminism” is the label the regressive left uses as its trojan horse and as its fortified castle. Until it becomes less taboo to critique mainstream feminist ideas on the Left, I believe the Left will keep down the path of self-destruction… and I rather hope if it does, it destroys itself sooner than later because nothing scares me more than the Rights’ reaction to this.

    I’m afraid that no matter how many people shout this, it’ll never have much effect, because everyone knows the feminists have essentially taken over. My friends will openly criticize Islam and the Christian Right on Facebook… but feminism? Never. We all speak in secret. No one’s willing to destroy their careers and social lives. And these are super progressive liberal secular people who read Ayaan Hirsi Ali books and cry to Dove commercials. Can you imagine what a Christian white man thinks when his daughter comes home for Thanksgiving and tries convincing him that manspreading is a real issue, but criticizing Islam is racist?

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Viewing this from a Swedish perspective, I am also quite baffled.

      The question whether the regressive left is pushing people to the (populist) right is not an issue, it is (to my mind) an established fact.

      Over the previous 8 years, the Swedish Democrats (SD), the populist party in Swedish politics has (probably) taken in the order of 30 to 40% of the Social Democratic Party’s voters.

      And, if you move about in small working towns and among blue collar workers, the confusion, sheer anger and feeling of betrayal is absolutely breathtaking.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      I’m a woman and had never heard of “manspreading” before. Now I learn of “she-bagging.” Crimony.

      • Marc Aresteanu
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        How silly, right? Here’s Buzzfeed’s recent video regarding the problem of manspreading… and people wonder why everyone is sympathizing with the Right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQglZPVmoo8&

        This is the feminism the Left keeps pandering to. We’re literally allowing self-righteous brats to take over large facets of media and academia. See MTV and Social Science departments.

        Feminism seems to have turned into a more extreme organized version of girls getting together and venting about their husbands and boyfriends, which would be fine, if they didn’t then use their agreement amongst themselves about being perpetual victims as undeniable fact. When engaging feminists on issues, it is shockingly obvious that their epistemology goes like ASSUME CONCLUSION —> FIND SUPPORTING DATA rather than DATA —> DRAW CONCLUSION. This feels like a case of the Bystander Effect… someone should do something, tell her she’s wrong, but everyone just expects someone else to take on the task of getting accused of rape apologia. I’ve had a couple of professors thank me behind closed doors for attempting to be honest. People are really scared, because the feminism mob mentality is scary and powerful in Canada. No matter how careful and calculated you are with your words, you cannot prevent dishonest smears from circulating.

        That’s all very sad… so let me leave you with something funny. Try to spot the contradiction!

        • Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          That Buzzfeed video is extraordinarily irksome to put it mildly. I never realized until this “manspreading” trope took off the past couple of years that sitting with my feet shoulder width apart constituted me exerting my patriarchal privilege. What about the women (and men) who throw their stuff such as bags all over the seat next to them and take up 2 seats. Should this be calling “womandumping”?

          We have perfectly good language for people who hog room on public transit when it is crowded, it is called rude and inconsiderate. There is no need to tie the behavior to sexism or patriarchy. None of this touches on the obvious point that there’s an anatomical reason why men don’t sit with their legs shoved directly together either…

          • Marc Aresteanu
            Posted January 9, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

            It’s this sort of reaction to what liberals are pandering to which I think explains the rise of the Right.

            I have an easier time talking to a die-hard Christian about evolution than to a feminist about men not being the root of all problems.

            While conservatives are out of touch with science… liberals are becoming out of touch with common sense. Since common sense is well common, many more people are scared off by the Left’s anti-intellectualism.

    • BJ
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t agree with you more. As someone from the US who has been on the left for his entire life, it has been feminism that has been the biggest cause of my being pushed away. Seeing them lie about and twist statistics (calling the earnings gap a wage gap, screwing with the numbers to get to “one in five women will be raped in college,” using Title IX as a bludgeon to discriminate against men, gendering every issue, repeatedly opposing any attempt to establish men’s shelters or define “made to penetrate” by a woman against a man as “rape” because it would screw with the statistics they like to use, etc.) has made me sick and distrustful of feminism and feminists.

    • BJ
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Could you imagine the uproar from feminists if women had the suicide rate, workplace injury and death percentages, and life expectancy rates that men have?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      The type of feminists you are referring to are not mainstream feminists. It’s always the same – the squeaky wheel gets the most attention.

      I’d never heard of man spreading either, and I’ve been a feminist since before I knew there was such a thing. When I looked it up, like “Jenny Hanvier” I discovered she-bagging as well.

      There are extremists in feminism, just like their are extremists in every other social movement on the right, left, or any other space you care to describe. Extreme views get attention. They also move the Overton window.

      If you’re seriously suggesting that women are treated equally to men, I think you need to look again. Or perhaps you think we shouldn’t be equal. Or you have another opinion. I don’t know which it is and I can’t tell from your comments so I won’t judge. Yes, there are some circumstances where we’re better off than men; on average we aren’t.

      All most feminists want is equal rights, treatment and equality of opportunity.

      I also reject the life expectancy argument, made by BJ below. Women have the longest life expectancy only since most of us stopped dying in, or because of, child birth. It killed more of us than war did men until the 20th century. The women of DAESH, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Saudi Arabia also have longer life expectancies than men. Women in Saudi Arabia have a suicide rate multiple times higher than men. I guess they’re just doing their bit to redress the balance.

      And the data isn’t about rape on campus, it’s about sexual assault, and yes, at least one in five women are victims. The figures are dismissed because that’s so much higher than official figures. That’s because most don’t report it. I’m sure you’ll dismiss that claim and probably don’t understand why a woman wouldn’t report an assault. Ask a woman.

      • BJ
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        “And the data isn’t about rape on campus, it’s about sexual assault, and yes, at least one in five women are victims.”

        No. If you read the methodology of the two studies that number is based on, you’ll find that (1) the surveys were entirely self-reported (making it more likely that those who had been assaulted would take the survey), and (2) things like having sexual contact after a single beer or any kind of impairment were considered assault, as well as being asked out when you didn’t want to be asked and being kissed at the end of a date when you didn’t want to be kissed. They widened the criteria for “assault” by so much (and so far beyond normal standards) that its clear they knew exactly what they were doing, and naturally got such high numbers.

      • Marc Aresteanu
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I need to be honest. You are perfectly exposing the problem and essentially backing up my argument. And what’s scary is that this keeps happening over and over every single time I engage with a feminist.

        “The type of feminists you are referring to are not mainstream feminists. It’s always the same – the squeaky wheel gets the most attention.”

        The Wage Gap myth is mainstream. Obama, Sanders and Clinton use it for rhetoric. I’ve seen 2 self-proclaimed feminists explain it honestly, Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers, and they are branded by most feminists as anti-feminists or MRAs or Right-Wing shills… etc. I’m not even sure if you’re being honest here… because it’s blatantly obvious to everyone the wage gap and rape culture are the 2 main feminist causes today. If you want to debate this point further, go right ahead. But I wouldn’t… it’s an absurd point.

        “I’d never heard of man spreading either, and I’ve been a feminist since before I knew there was such a thing. When I looked it up, like “Jenny Hanvier” I discovered she-bagging as well.”

        Yes. She-bagging was a reaction to it. And an unfortunate reaction. Much of the annoying MRAs are reactions to feminist hysteria. Check out the Buzzfeed video I posted. It’s mainstream. And BTW, there are places, like San Francisco, where you can be fined for “manspreading”. Here’s an article about it: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/nyregion/MTA-targets-manspreading-on-new-york-city-subways.html?_r=0

        “There are extremists in feminism, just like their are extremists in every other social movement on the right, left, or any other space you care to describe. Extreme views get attention. They also move the Overton window”

        I judge a movement by its leaders, because they’re by definition not fringe. So, for example. Mainstream feminism today includes people like Jessica Valenti and Anita Sarkeesian. They are reactionaries and never engage in debate on the issues. Anyone who disagrees is just a misogynist. I can start providing quotes coming from their influencers if you’d like. And again… most bad feminist ideas have pretty much completely taken over the movement as can be seen by your misunderstanding of where the 1/4 or 1/5 stat comes from. Yet apparently you’re not an extremist. What does that say?

        “If you’re seriously suggesting that women are treated equally to men, I think you need to look again. Or perhaps you think we shouldn’t be equal. Or you have another opinion. I don’t know which it is and I can’t tell from your comments so I won’t judge. Yes, there are some circumstances where we’re better off than men; on average we aren’t.”

        I think women are clearly not CLEARLY OPPRESSED. There’s no good reason to assume western women are oppressed. Most feminist reasons are based in misinformation and complete ignorance of the complex gender dynamics. As BJ pointed out, feminists would go crazy if suicide rates were reversed, because that is essentially how feminist rhetoric works: find quantifiable dimension in life where men are doing better on average and claim its proof of oppression. It’s that simple. This is why feminists can keep doing this ad infinitum, because men and women are different.

        Here’s a beautiful example of the effects of mainstream feminist: https://twitter.com/HuffPostWomen/status/724236480667856896

        “All most feminists want is equal rights, treatment and equality of opportunity.”

        Yes, as does everyone. Take a gander why most people don’t identify with a movement which calls you a misogynist if you dare correct some hyperbolic fearmongering.

        “I also reject the life expectancy argument, made by BJ below.”

        You just keep proving my point. You completely missed his point. He’s not saying men should complain or claim they’re oppressed… he’s saying feminists would claim women are oppressed if all stats were reversed, because feminists are looking for data for their conclusion, rather than being intellectually honest.

        “And the data isn’t about rape on campus, it’s about sexual assault, and yes, at least one in five women are victims. The figures are dismissed because that’s so much higher than official figures. That’s because most don’t report it. I’m sure you’ll dismiss that claim and probably don’t understand why a woman wouldn’t report an assault. Ask a woman.”

        BJ already covered this. I suggest you simply go look into your sources and actually check the methodology. And per chance, am I allowed to ask women who know how to read sources and disagree with your claim?

        Final point. I’m railing into you and I’m sorry if it’s harsh. I’m sure you are lovely, as are most people. But you are a perfect example of how these bad ideas go mainstream. And even though I’m against modern feminism, I don’t believe the feminist fight is over… it simply has taken a wrong turn. Steven Pinker is calling this the Decadent Phase of Feminism. Hopefully you can introspect and change it internally, because I sure as hell can’t as a white man. I am the Devil to feminists. And there are issues I want feminists to fight for… particularly the sexualization of young girls. But aside from that, to me, the largest problem faces young women today isn’t rape or job discrimination… it’s feminism infecting their brains with paranoid delusions and anti-intellectual rhetoric.

        Cheers.

        • BJ
          Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          +1. I just didn’t have the time or energy to go through all the myths. Thank you, Mark.

        • BJ
          Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          Additionally, the life expectancy numbers I was using are for US men and women. Not many US men have died in wars (as Heather suggested), and the reports actually do point out the reasons for why men die sooner: greater heart disease and more problems with blood pressure, stress, and overall health.

          I will give in on the point that women aren’t treated equally, though. They get convicted of the same crimes 50% less of the time when they go to trial, and get 50% smaller sentences for those crimes. They don’t have to work in the worst jobs, like garbage hauling, mining, and oil rig working, which accounts for why men make up 92% of workplace injuries and 98% of workplace deaths (but feminists only talk about equality in white collar jobs, leaving the worst jobs to men. Then again, this also accounts for a significant amount of the wage gap: hazard pay). In the US and many other countries, they can’t be convicted of rape, and there is no significant movement to address sexual abuse by them, nor is that abuse discussed in any way.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 10, 2017 at 12:36 am | Permalink

          I can’t be bothered arguing with someone who says something as patronizing as “I’m sure you’re lovely,” so I’m not going to address every point. If you want to know my views you can subscribe to my blog. I always answer comments there. http://www.heatherhastie.com

          I don’t get my views from feminist leaders. I make up my own mind, and if I think they’re talking crap I say so. I’ve no time for the type of feminists, for example, who label all men who disagree with them misogynistic. Quite apart from anything else it’s childish and counter-productive. Further, I’ve often stood up for men in those circumstances on other blogs.

          One thing I’ve never talked about on my blog is the wage gap. I disagree with the studies that find it isn’t real because they don’t take into account the lower value placed on work that has traditionally been considered women’s work. If all jobs are analysed objectively to see the various skills etc required for each, you will find that in jobs traditionally done by men or women, but with the same required skill level, the job traditionally done by men is higher paid. There has been extensive analysis of this.

          A case is currently going through the courts in New Zealand related to pay increases for care workers based on this analysis. The courts have found there is a case to answer that the government has paid care workers less because the work was seen as less valuable because it was traditionally done by women. The case is on hold because it is likely to go against the government and it will cost them heaps.

          I wasn’t planning on writing about it until the case was settled.

          • Marc Aresteanu
            Posted January 10, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

            “I can’t be bothered arguing with someone who says something as patronizing as “I’m sure you’re lovely,” so I’m not going to address every point.”

            That wasn’t meant to be patronizing. I’m simply making it clear that I’m well aware people who I think are part of the problem aren’t part of it because of a flaw in character… simply circumstance which lead to buying into demonstrably false propaganda. Essentially, I’m not questioning your intention. Wanted to make that clear.

            I find it strange that you decide to take that as an affront. Oh well. I guess it would have been better to leave you guessing I might hate your character… but I’ve unfortunately learned through conversations with feminists that you have to try your best to not make it seem like you hate them, because then they will accuse you of hating all women. But then if you attempt being nicer, you’re being condescending and patronizing apparently.

            But alas… who cares. There’s apparently no way you’re not insulted. I sincerely believe your a nice person, but wrong, and I’m sorry if that angers you. It is what it is.

            “I don’t get my views from feminist leaders. I make up my own mind, and if I think they’re talking crap I say so. I’ve no time for the type of feminists, for example, who label all men who disagree with them misogynistic. Quite apart from anything else it’s childish and counter-productive. Further, I’ve often stood up for men in those circumstances on other blogs.”

            I’m glad, but I’m talking about feminism at large which does play tribal with any feminist who accuses critics of being misogynists

            “One thing I’ve never talked about on my blog is the wage gap. I disagree with the studies that find it isn’t real because they don’t take into account the lower value placed on work that has traditionally been considered women’s work.”

            There is a wage gap, or rather an earnings gap… which then is explained almost entirely due to differences in job choices, career paths, contract negotiations, overtime hours put in, etc.

            If you want to argue female dominated jobs are systematically underpaid, sure I guess. But that doesn’t someone make the wage gap real. Those other confounding factors don’t suddenly disappear because you found an analysis that might confirm your conclusion.

            Let me repeat my main claim: I think women are clearly not CLEARLY OPPRESSED.

            That’s my disagreement with modern western feminist rhetoric. I don’t deny there aren’t issues that surely exist on both sides of the gender divide. I’d be interested in this “extensive research”.

            I really wish you would address my main argument, where I’m focusing on mainstream feminism, with the 77cent wage gap and rape culture. You know that stuff that actually is infecting the brains of our young.

            Your defense of feminism by defending yourself is another fallacious argument I see repeated over and over with any ideology. I hope you can at least see that.

            And just to add to the wage gap issue… do feminists ever consider hypergamy and motivation? It seems obvious to me this plays a huge role when it comes to career trajectory. Men’s biological imperative to breed is tied at the hip with his social status which is largely based on financial status.

            Can you at least admit that the point I just brought up would be deemed sexist by most feminists? This is my problem with modern feminism. Women clearly are not CLEARLY OPPRESSED, but they’ll manufacture a broken epistemological system that fits their need to assume the conclusion that they are.

            Remember… I’m not claiming every feminist issue is empty, or that every feminist believes what the mainstream does. I’m arguing about the mainstream ideas… the ones which propagate and drive the enterprise. Those are the wage gap, which you at least implicitly agreed was debunked to some extent, and rape culture which is based on use of debunked stats and a complete misunderstanding of the judicial system, the presumption of innocence and the lack of evidence provided by most rape accusations.

            The fact that mainstream feminists haven’t agreed that the 1/4 or 1/5 stat have been debunked tells me there’s something wrong with the movement whether you or any other feminist claims “but I’m a good one”. And it turns out your ignored BJ and my point regarding just that. If you don’t want to talk to us, sure… but at least go look into it yourself. You want people to care about rape if it’s occurring, I’m sure, so why not at least sharpen your arguments.

            Otherwise, what’s going in this picture will keep happening: http://i.imgur.com/EXUEX7Q.jpg

            The least we can do is agree that mainstream feminism has a lot of problems regarding coherence and reason… can we do that?

            If not, how the hell do you think something so stupid which actually debunks itself could be produced?

            The squeaky wheels are getting the most attention… yes. They are mainstream.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted January 10, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

              I didn’t ignore your point. My contention is simply that the squeaky wheel isn’t as mainstream as it appears from the amount of attention it gets. Most women don’t agree with the so-called leaders of femininism and those that fall under their spell, usually when they first discover them at uni, mostly moderate their opinions by the time their brains finish growing. It’s like saying all Trump’s supporters are supporters of the alt-right movement. It can certainly appear that way but obviously, when you think of how many voted for him, most actually aren’t.

              Because of how/where I’ve been accessing WEIT for the last couple of days, I haven’t been able to look at any of your links. I will go through them in a few hours.

              • Marc Aresteanu
                Posted January 10, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for the kind reply.

                And I agree with your assessment. Most women see through this, and most who are indoctrinated get slapped by reality eventually and realize they were indoctrinated.

                But a minority of women identify as feminists, and thus mainstream feminism can still not be mainstream. And mainstream feminism, whether you like it or not, has sunk its teeth in both academia and the liberal movement at large.

                I’m claiming, from my perspective, that feminism itself is the main component of the regressive left and the main reason why it’s so hard to stop.

                No one wants to be labeled a misogynist.

                If we’re going to change things for the better, we need to call out what’s happening, whether it destroys feminism or simply reforms it. Those bullies have way too much power, and we are all suffering because of it.

                I ask you to consider why you defend “feminism”, the name. Can we not fight injustices without calling it a feminist cause? And then can these hypocritical bullies claiming to be feminists really keep bullying without bludgeoning their opponents with the label “feminism”?

                It seems like the word’s power is mostly being used for nefarious purposes. And I’m afraid that if we don’t reform it, good feminist ideas will have inconvenient bedfellows.

                We all lose, well-intentioned feminists and non-feminists alike, if we keep defending the present movement from valid criticism.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    “If you’re an American, Donald Trump will be your president as of Jan. 20 …”

    Absolutely, I’m all for giving him a warm welcome — the same type of warm welcome he gave that birth-certificate-less Kenyan jihadist usurper Obama.

    Kidding. Let’s give him a chance … at least until he proves he’s the big-league fuck-up we fear he’ll be after taking office. There’ll be time enough then to strap-in for four long years of trepidation and loathing.

  11. Dan
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I know for a fact that five years ago I was a self-identified liberal. I indeed drifted rightward when the regressive leftists started attacking those of us who are insufficiently progressive as they are. Elevatorgate and all that. We should be deferential to muslims to a fault.

    The purity purges by regressive, atheism+ advocates has steadily corroded my confidence in liberal politics. It has deflated my enthusiasm for progressive activism when my fellow progressives are “eating their own” instead of fighting the common enemy. Not to mention the fact that, even though I was a liberal, I was actually favorable to gun ownership. As Jerry’s post yesterday proves, the left still cannot reconcile itself with that individual right.

    And so now I consider myself a moderate, even conservative on some issues. I could never imagine myself not being liberal. I was a pinko treehugger and communist sympathizer way back in the 1990s in college. Now I can actually find common ground with the likes of Glenn Beck (on gun ownership, of course).

    • BJ
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      I’m in literally the exact same position as you. I find most of what the right/conservative side does to be execrable, but now I see the same on the left, so I don’t know where to turn.

      I came of age during the W. Bush administration, so I grew up thinking that democrats/the left were the ones who cared about the people and their rights (like free speech, employment/wages, and privacy). Imagine my surprise when I found out that they only care about such things when they’re not the ones in power, and that the right cares about those things when the left is in power. And round and round we go…Neither side really cares about any of it. Who does? I have no idea anymore, but I’ve certainly learned not to label myself as anything (though I’m still a social programs-leaning person who has ideals that more closely align with the left than the right).

  12. Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I think the Regressive Left definitely had something to do with Trump’s victory, even if it was only a little to do with it. Given the razor-thin margin of victory, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Hillary may have flipped that thin margin if there had been less disgust towards this illiberal leftism.

    Hillary did her own part in catering to this dynamic as well. Her refusal to talk sensibly about the threat of Islamic terror. Really, in hindsight, what did she have to gain with her proposal to increase refugees admitted to the United States? At least anecdotally speaking, I’ve run across far more people both on the Internet and in person who said this position was a non starter and swung them towards Trump. I haven’t seen anyone who would have changed course and not voted Hillary if she had a more hard line position on this matter.

    Then there was the notion that her campaign slogan, “I’m With Her” did its part in playing into the narrative that the only reason one wouldn’t vote for her is due to sexism. Trump’s campaign did a fantastic job jumping all over this and Kyle Kulinski mentions it in this clip as well. I’ve been enjoying his clips more recently as he seems to have found his own voice after breaking away from TYT.

  13. Kage
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I have to disagree with the idea that the regressive left does not fuel the right, as it does so in two very clear ways.

    First off I’m a Canuck, so I don’t understand how the US got quite the extreme result it did, but in less polarized nations, I can see how it does.

    The first way the regressive left tends to fuel the right is by leaving “classical liberals”, those who value equality but also freedom, with no where to turn except to the right. Canada is effectively a 2 party system in most provinces and at the federal level (sorry NDPers, good luck in the future though). And when the “Liberal” party is espousing very illiberal ideas and hurling insults people are left with the option to either not vote or vote for the opposition. As a personal note, I am not personally effected by many of the hot button issues these days, but I would never vote for a party threatening to curtail freedom of speech in order to save someone’s feelings, even if I agreed with them otherwise politically. I would never vote hard right either, but I would certainly note vote at all, thus still giving the Right a 1 vote advantage, if voting for the left meant voting against my own values.

    The second is by destroying the moderate center by not debating issues and insulting those who disagree with them, they drive the undecided to the right. As an extreme example, imagine a right wing nutter screaming on the internet or fox news that “Transsexual women are genetically male, and vaccines cause autism! They’ll try and censor me for saying this!” Twitter bans this person, facebook declares it fake news and the left media dumps all over this person without ever making the distinction between the first statement, which is a politically incorrect statement of fact, and the second, which is a lie, but a popular statement and gives it credibility it should not have. This example is extreme but I think you get the idea, and the right welcomes these people with opens arms while the left censors them instead of proving them wrong.

    The extreme right has always been around and probably always will, regardless of any action of the left, but it’s popularity and therefore political standing is undoubtedly fueled by the left and their inability to tolerate debate.If the left is unwilling persuade the center and insults them instead, the right doesn’t even have to do a singe thing except not insult them to gain their support.

  14. mcirvin14
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I have a very simple anecdote that leads me to believe that the premise of the Authoritarian Left contributing to Trump and the Alt-Right is at least partly true. By virtue of my rural, blue-collar upbringing in what became a crucial state in the 2016 election (WI, I’m a shamed you couldn’t even send RusS Feingold back to the Senate) I still have contact with a lot of right-wing types, and I’ve never seen them so well informed about the excesses of the far-left. It used to be garden variety racism, and pro-life zealotry – but now they know all about microagressions, and trans bathrooms, special snowflakes. They learned about it from the alt-right and it’s media which has been relentless in portraying liberals as violently obsessed with what seem to be incredible strange and fringe ideas. The alt-right’s ambassador to “College,” Milo, has probably been instrumental in this portrayal.

    20 yrs ago my redneck associations didn’t know anything about radical feminism, or queer theory, or intersectionality – now they know all about it, and they love to mock and ridicule it and pain the entire Left as broadly under it’s sway.

    • Walt Jones
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      I was going to write something very similar. It’s one reason why the Democrats have lost the blue collar vote. The right has used “liberal” as a pejorative for a few decades, and now that liberal is associated with safe spaces and coloring books, they have substance to back up the slur (and they don’t want to be associated with it).

  15. mfdempsey1946
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    Whatever the excesses of people who, for example, dote on using trendy terms like “cisnormative” and “heteronormative” as sticks with which to beat anyone else they don’t like for any reason, one thing is perfectly clear.

    As far as the fundamentalist, quasi-fascist right that will shortly take over the government of the former United States of America is concerned…

    …the only way “we” can “stop being so damned irritating” is by dying.

    And, indeed, it is possible that dying would be preferable, if this ever becomes the only other choice facing us, to living in a country, let alone a world, that this brand of conservative would consider totally wonderful.

    Cutting to the chase, this is how things stands now, it seems to me.

  16. JohnH
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    “No argument was ever won by name-calling.” I agree, but, unfortunately, it can win a person the presidency. Truly a dire time for honest debate.

  17. Richard C
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    A man who spent seven of the past eight years insisting President Obama was secretly born in Kenya and not a legitimate President, who can’t take any criticism without going nuts on Twitter, was just elected President himself. Being irritating, clearly, does not work against you.

    So I disagree with that last line too. If we want to have any chance of reigning Trumpism in, we’d better make ourselves pretty damned irritating.

  18. Posted January 9, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I think we need some honest, hard nosed sociology to figure all of this out. And it won’t be easy, because people lie or are misinformed about their own motivations.

  19. Posted January 11, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that the real problem isn’t going ad hominem (that is going to happen, given the way people are these days ). It is using ad hominem “arguments” to shut down discussion.

    We should be willing to ask AND ANSWER questions like “so what is wrong with being ‘islamaphobic’, or ‘homophobic’, or ‘racist’, or ‘anti-science’?” Confront the position directly.

  20. Bob Cozart
    Posted January 11, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    OK, I do like this one. And you were right, but only about his politics.


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