It has perhaps been a long time coming, but America as a nation now finds itself at a precarious moment in time with regard to freedom of thought and free speech. An entire section of the population – or, at least, the most vocal and influential members of that section – has found a way to justify dismissing and even silencing the views of all those with whom they disagree. The American left has gone from “you’re entitled to your opinion” to “you’re not entitled to your opinion because that opinion is extreme and dangerous.” It is the big lie constructed by progressives so that they may claim the moral high ground even as they engage in unconcealed intolerance.
What constitutes a “fringe” or “extremist” position on any given issue? If just two percent of Americans express a view with which the other 98% disagree or perhaps find offensive, might that reasonably be considered an extreme position? How about if 20% or 45% of the population shares an opinion that is unacceptable to the remainder – the majority? Is the former group also to be considered fringe, extreme, or “outside of the mainstream”?
In Federalist No. 51, written on February 6, 1788, James Madison or Alexander Hamilton – since this component of the “Federalist Papers” is attributed to one of those two men – wrote that it would be important, in the proposed new system of constitutional republican government, “to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part.” The author was forewarning the very situation in which Americans find themselves today. “If a majority be united by a common interest,” he observed, “the rights of the minority will be insecure.”
The question is, who is the majority and who the minority? A 2020 survey from the Pew Research Center tells us there really is no majority or minority. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed identified as Independent, 33% as Democrat, and 29% as Republican – so, roughly, the nation is split into thirds, politically. Can the views of one-third of the population be considered outside of the “mainstream”? Surely not, yet that is what progressives have decreed – even though progressives themselves make up only one part of all those who identify as Democrats.
A Duty to Abandon Objectivity
The censorship and de-platforming of conservatives have been happening for a while, now. Leftists asserted it simply wasn’t true but when it became too obvious to deny, they changed their tune by embracing it; claiming it was necessary to suppress “disinformation” and “hate speech” – which loosely translates as any opinion they don’t like.
A cursory internet search for media and objectivity will reveal countless critiques of the idea of fair, balanced, or objective reporting. The left has decided it has no duty to recognize opposing views as equally valid because those views, it claims, are harmful, violent, dangerous, racist, extreme, or any number of other negative labels. It has become, for them, an easy way to practice discrimination against their political opponents while still claiming to be open-minded, compassionate, and tolerant. Indeed, it is their yearning for tolerance, they insist, that compels them to stifle opinions they have deemed dangerous or intolerant. How convenient.
The cable news network MSNBC has become an echo chamber for the extreme left. Its show hosts do not even pretend to be objective and have justified their open political bias by insisting that the “other side” is so heinous as to not warrant a fair hearing. In November, MSNBC’s Joy Reid proclaimed, “Republicans are dangerous,” and expanded that Republicans are “dangerous to our national security.”
Not for the first time in history, one political faction has chosen to demonize and dehumanize an opposing faction so thoroughly as to justify any potential act of oppression, discrimination, or even violence against it.
Leftist Students Justify Their Hate
A recent survey of American students, conducted by The Generation Lab and published by Axios, revealed that 71% of those who identify as Democrat would not go on a date with someone who voted for the opposing presidential candidate. Forty-one percent would not shop at or support a business owned by such a person, 37% would not be friends with them and 30% would not work for them. Why? Because, according to Axios, these Democrat students consider GOP positions to be “far outside of the mainstream and polite conversation.”
By contrast, Republican students largely did not share this level of disdain for political opponents. Thirty-one percent would not date someone who voted for the opposing presidential candidate, 7% wouldn’t support a business owned by that person, 5% would not be friends with them and 7% wouldn’t work for them.
But just how far outside the “mainstream” are GOP voters? Pick any random selection of opinion polls on subjects such as gun rights, abortion, and illegal immigration and one will find a large section of the population – even if it is determined by some polls to be a minority – is opposed to abortion, disapproves of illegal immigration, and supports gun rights.
A December 2021 Monmouth survey found that just 2% of Americans consider climate change to be their number one concern. With that in mind, would it not be fair to say those politicians who claim climate change is the greatest threat America faces are expressing an extreme opinion – one that is far outside of the mainstream?
The left has decided – or at least pretends to believe – that any viewpoint or policy stance it objects to is an extreme one and, thus, a danger to society. Safely armed with that conviction, progressives can openly mock, insult, threaten, shout down and even physically assault those with whom they disagree. They can do this in the name of “social justice,” “tolerance,” and “diversity” because, after all, they are fighting the enemies of the civilized world.
That mentality is rapidly being normalized in the U.S. and, for those who think it’s not that big of a deal, a look back at the histories of China, Germany, and the former Soviet Union might be in order.
~ Read more from Graham J. Noble.