Leave aside their belief that ad hominem and ad feminam attacks can refute an argument.
No, don’t. If someone tells you you don’t have the right to an opinion because you are a man, woman, white, black, Christian, Muslim, or whatever, the correct response is “fuck off you bigot”.
Consider that the worst of the old elite directed its attention to silencing the marginalised because it knew that their voice was often the only weapon the latter possessed. Then look around. Now as then, people without access to lawyers and influential friends suffer the most.
Meet the new elite, same as the old elite. Power corrupts.
To take an example of that encapsulates the cowardice of our times: the Washington Post, a newspaper I admire and have written for, went to enormous lengths to destroy the life of one Sue Schafer, a middle-aged woman who made a mistake. She turned up to a Halloween party at the home of one of its cartoonists in blackface. She did not mean to insult African Americans but had come dressed as a ghoul in the guise of a conservative morning show host who had defended whites blacking up. The joke didn’t work, as several guests forcefully told her. Because the words “Washington Post” and “blackface” could be said in the same sentence, and because several guests looked as if they might go public two years later, the paper gave 3,000 words to the “story” – the amount of space normally reserved for a terrorist attack or declaration of war. Her employer, a government contractor, fired her. Everyone’s back was covered except Schafer’s and, frankly, she was a woman of no importance.
Sad. This is why the mainstream media is dying.
Panic at the fear of denunciation and bad faith posing as rectitude can be found across the west. A comparison with the right shows how deep the decay has reached. Conservatives know there are thoughts they cannot whisper – Brexit is a mistake comparable to Munich and Suez, anti-black and anti-Muslim racism are tangible evils, poverty makes a nonsense of equality of opportunity. Likewise on the liberal left, the canny careerist takes care to avoid being caught on the “wrong side” of arguments about trans and women’s rights, leftwing antisemitism, and bigotry in ethnic minorities. The canniest decide the best course is to say nothing at all.
There are plenty of conservatives who go against the orthodox. Nigel Farage opposed the EU long before the Conservatives in the UK did. Tucker Carlson opposes military intervention. Rand Paul voted against the US stimulus bill. In Canada, Maxime Bernier took on the dairy cartel. Bernier was cancelled by the left, not the right.
The British ought to know the dangers of thinking there are no enemies to the left. Because Labour members failed to confront the crankery and racism of the Corbyn movement, they drove millions into Boris Johnson’s clammy embrace. I doubt the same will happen in the US. Joe Biden has his faults, but he is no one’s idea of a commissar.
He has been embracing some left wing positions, but I’d agree. It’s more likely that he will be hit by enemies from the left who sit out or vote Green.
That is not to say there won’t be a heavy price to pay. The nationalist right is determined to police opinion. In Hungary and Poland, the media are becoming its propaganda organs. Trump incites hatred of reporters who tell the truth about his administration.
The mainstream media spewed Russiagate propaganda for years. They do not tell the truth. It’s OK to hate liars.
Johnson threatens the independence of the BBC and Channel 4. Yet they can pose as the champions of free expression because the loudest strain in progressivism has embraced censorship. The practical danger in giving up on freedom of speech is that the day will come when you find you are lost for words just when you need them most.
The BBC is supposed to be politically neutral and is far, far from it. Johnson should entirely defund it. Those who give up on free speech may find that the day comes when they wake up in the gulag or a concentration camp. One need only look to the plight of the Uyghurs in China to see this happening right now.