There is a great quote floating around the Internet that is wrongly attributed to former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt: “To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.” It is a telling and relevant statement, whether on college campuses or in the mainstream media.
Truth is Under Attack
In today’s toxic environment, the truth has fallen under the Orwellian boot. Data, facts, and statistics, the left argues, are tools of white supremacists and odious conservatives who want to oppress minorities and introduce the Fourth Reich. When this becomes the default rebuke to conservative or libertarian opinions, then you know the left is intellectually bankrupt and void of logic.
This is on full display when the right pontificates on controversial issues. If you express your disapproval of affirmative action, the left will accuse you of racism. If you espouse elementary biological facts, they will assert you are transphobic. If you suggest winding down costly and ineffective welfare programs, the left will charge you with abhorring the impecunious.
Heck, under present-day conditions, even when you show your support for something that should be as universally virtuous as free speech, the left will hyperventilate and label you as a Nazi. This is what happened to an innocent Briton last year who was intimidated by a vile mob.
Ultimately, if you hold an opinion that contradicts leftist groupthink, no matter how benign, then prepare for a barrage of attacks from the Counterfeit News Network, leaving you befuddled, stumped, and frustrated.
It’s the only way they know how to operate.
Saul Alinsky’s Rule Three
Leftist icon Saul Alinsky proposed this tactic in his influential 1971 book, Rules for Radicals. He proposed as part of Rule Three: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
Alinsky further writes:
“Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)”
Libertarian commentator Tom Woods, alongside economist Robert Murphy, exposed this strategy a few years ago in his “Interview with a Zombie” video. He parodied the typical media responses to his book, Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, which often involve “neoconfederate,” “racism,” “Hitler,” and “slavery.”
Despite its satirical nature of how opponents in the media behave, it really is what takes place in the public arena.
Recently, Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, proposed a talk with socialist it-girl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, going as far as offering to donate $10,000 to her political campaign or a charity of her choice. Rather than accept, decline, or ignore, Ocasio-Cortez took a page out of Alinsky’s book and accused the conservative pundit of being a sexist by “catcalling” her.
Throughout former President Barack Obama’s time in office, the right was so resentful of the administration’s efforts to grow the size of the federal government that there were many movements in multiple states, particularly in Texas, to secede from the union. Rather than accept the principles of secession, the left wailed about racism and that Republicans wanted to renew slavery. Instead of debating the pros and cons of secession, the left went hysterical. It’s ironic that the left has suddenly embraced secession in the age of President Donald Trump.
For years, the Tea Party was the target of vicious attacks by the media. Despite largely being peaceful – of course, there will always be crazies on both sides – the left felt threatened, so it decided to ignore their ideas and instead concentrated on ad hominem jabs.
Here is what MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan said about the Tea Party:
“The Tea Party has a bit of an integrity problem, as everybody from birthers, to open racists, to outright Nazis are actually on the team. And no one involved, including its leadership, seems to mind that fact.”
Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) remarked about the movement: “They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare.”
When Jordan Peterson appeared on Channel 4 News with journalist Cathy Newman, she routinely interjected and put words in his mouth that either contradicted what he had espoused or were completely irrelevant to the conversation. Her annihilation by Peterson launched a tsunami of memes.
Today’s immigration debate is another interesting way the left has “blind-sided” those who want to prevent illegal aliens from crossing the border or visitors overstaying their visa permits. President Trump and his base call for legal immigration as opposed to breaking the law and curtailing the system, but opponents jack it up to 11 and somehow view it as xenophobia.
A Successful Strategy – Until Now
The left has employed this strategy, and it has been a successful one – until now. The American people, especially the right and libertarians, have become so immune to strawman arguments, derailments of intellectual discourse, and outlandish assertions of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia, that it is difficult to fall for the tactic anymore. You ignore it and carry on.
Years ago, if you were slapped with the label of racist for merely meditating on the difference of IQ between races, it may have ended your career in the public realm. Today, conservatives merely laugh it off, shrug, and roll their eyes, returning to a thoughtful exploration on the subject.
The pearl-clutching of the left might have railroaded your passionate dissertation on welfare abolition to cure poverty in the past. However, because we have become accustomed to leftists freaking out over everything, Alinsky’s recommendation to make opponents insecure, anxious, and uncertain has failed.