American society has experienced some less-than-ideal changes over the past few years, many of which deal no small damage to the culture and the relationship between Americans of all stripes. With this change, the public has lost certain values that shaped the nation for the better.
One of society’s most devastating losses is the notion of healthy skepticism. While many people simply believed what they were told, plenty of Americans did not rush to accept the ideas, news stories, and political rhetoric with which they were presented. “Question everything” was a constant refrain for these individuals. But for years, the notion of skepticism has been under assault from the progressive left, and today the nation is seeing the results of their efforts.
What Happened to Skepticism?
Two recent news stories illustrate how the left attempts to convince Americans that skepticism is an inappropriate response to situations that serve the progressive agenda. The first is the fake hate crime staged by singer-actor Jussie Smollett, who starred in the television series Empire.
When Smollett falsely claimed that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime, prominent left-leaning politicians, celebrities, and others insisted that the public believe his story, despite its critical flaws. Anything less would be racist and homophobic. Later it was revealed by the Chicago Police Department that Smollett had orchestrated the encounter as part of a plot to earn a higher salary.
Of course, one cannot forget the Covington Kids fiasco, which supposedly highlighted the abhorrent racism of Trump supporters. The first video — aired on an anonymous Twitter account — catapulted to center stage the next media-manufactured reality show. The video made it appear that bigoted high school kids harassed a poor, defenseless elderly native American there to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. What followed was a spectacle of outrage against the demonic lily-white urchins who had the temerity to wear MAGA hats at the nation’s capital.
The left-leaning chattering class did not think it necessary to wonder what happened before the scene depicted in the video. Nobody stopped to ask, “Are we getting the full story here?” It’s hard to blame them — questioning if a particular scenario is racist is akin to celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by walking around in blackface.
Then, somebody had to go and release the full two-hour video, which clearly showed that not only were the kids not engaging in racist behavior but they had been subject to racist epithets hurled by Black Hebrew Israelites. Even worse, the kids did not harass Nathan Phillips — the Native American man in the video — he approached them while beating his drum. Nevertheless, many on the left still insist that the boys were in the wrong.
These are not the only examples in recent memory of progressives pressuring people into accepting their preferred narrative instead of thinking critically. This behavior has been on full display in other areas as well. The #MeToo movement argues that all women who claim to be victims of sexual assault automatically should be believed, even with no evidence. Similarly under pressure are individuals who dare to question the commonly accepted narrative on climate change.
Naivete as Virtue
So how can those on the left get people to abandon skepticism? Judging from their rhetoric, leftists wish to foist a virtuous gullibility upon the public. In fact, a common way progressives virtue-signal is by running to social media to proclaim that they believe a particular narrative about certain news stories even before the facts come out. As Smollett’s account began to unravel, the hashtag #IStandWithJussie was still trending on Twitter.
This effort does not involve persuasion as much as coercion. Put simply, the progressive left isn’t trying to convince people to jump to conclusions; it forces them by shaming them as bigots if they do not gullibly conform.
To be fair, many on the left changed their opinion on Smollett when more facts emerged, but the damage was already done. During the days the story was covered in the media, Trump supporters were smeared as vile bigots who have no problem with hate crimes, which further divided the nation.
To those who value healthy skepticism, the far left promotes a philosophy of naivete. But a population that believes everything it hears is easy to manipulate. What happens when a public accepts what the media tell them without question?
Even worse, what if people start to exhibit the same type of blind trust in the government? Every day, forces try to influence our thoughts and opinions, and encouraging gullibility is yet another way to enforce a system of control. While it is not beneficial to be overly skeptical, to the point that rejects facts, Americans must not stop questioning what they are told. Otherwise, it may be too late.