But it is also a concerted attempt to significantly redraw the bounds of acceptable thought and speech. By tossing people like Mary Beard and Christina Hoff Sommers into the slop bucket with the likes of Richard Spencer, they are attempting to place their reasonable ideas firmly outside the mainstream. They are trying to make criticism of identity politics, radical Islam and third-wave feminism, among various other subjects, verboten. For even the most minor transgressions, as in the case of Professor Beard, people are turned radioactive.It is worth noting that the Times editorial by Bari Weiss seemed more concerned with who was being violently protested rather than the act of violent protest itself. In fact the editorial seems to almost make excuses for the behavior when it is directed at people like Spencer because of the rise of "politically fascistic behavior" like free elections in Italy and the annual milquetoast CPAC. And of course the mean stuff President Trump says encourages it all. In general it is a pretty predictable response from the New York Times where showing up to a Richard Spencer talk with violence is not condemned as such but if you do the same for a female feminist speaker, that is simply out of bounds!
At the previously mentioned Jordan Peterson talk at Queens College, met as usual with violent protests, one protester (a 38 year old woman!) was arrested for smashing a window and was found in possession of a garrote. If you are not familiar with that term, a garrote is a length of cord or wire that is intended to be used to throttle someone to death. It was the method used to kill Luca Brasi in The Godfather and is commonly associated with the mafia. It is an entirely offensive weapon, you can't defend yourself with a garrote and you generally need to sneak up behind someone to use it. The only use of a garrote is to strangle an unsuspecting person to death.
Some "protesters" seemed enamored of the idea of killing the speaker and anyone listening:
While the protest was going on, the university’s newspaper, the Journal, reported that a member of the crowd yelled, “lock ‘em in and burn it down,” which was met with approval from the mob of extremists.This is not empty rhetoric. When you show up to speaking events armed with homemade flamethrowers, spiked brass knuckles, mace, bags full of urine and garrotes, you aren't there to exchange ideas. You are there to shut down and intimidate people you disagree with and if that means people get badly injured, well that is the price you gotta pay to advance the revolution or protect my tender feelings.
The Left doesn’t distinguish between moderately conservative people like Charles Murray, Christina Hoff Sommers and Jordan Peterson as opposed to more far Right figures like Richard Spencer. That is partly by design to shift the Overton Window to the point where any even moderately conservative thought is treated like Mein Kampf and partly because many people on the Left, especially students, are not sufficiently able to think critically to the point of being able to differentiate between variations on the conservative/Right spectrum.
I think there is a lot of silly, wrong, obscene and often dangerous rhetoric that comes from Leftist speakers and groups but I don't gather a couple hundred Right-wing buddies and show up to shout down the Leftists with megaphones and brass knuckles. Therein lies the problem. We are in a classic "bringing a knife to a gunfight" scenario, or to paraphrase Sean Connery in The Untouchables "They pull a knife, you pull a gun, he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way"
As a primary example, I saw some quotes from the new president of the Heritage Foundation, Kay Coles James, named to replace Jim DeMint who was allegedly too cozy with Trump. She was lamenting the "toxic" political environment with Alex Marlow.
Marlow and James lamented the current toxic political environment, arguing that it makes it that much more difficult to debate America’s pressing issues.
James argued, “It’s become a debate of personalities, a debate about who we like and who we don’t like. At the end of the day, it should be a debate about ideas.”
James continued, “If we can’t as a nation demonstrate to the rest of the world to have profoundly different points of view, debate those ideas in a civil way, it’s not just a problem for the country; it’s a problem for the entire world.”
Marlow contended, “I think we’re building up a huge advantage on the right, learning how to communicate with the people on the left.”When you show up with great ideas and they show up with flamethrowers and won't let you speak and intimidate those who might be in your audience into not showing up, what good are your ideas? I am NOT suggesting that the solution is to fight fire with fire and show up armed to the teeth for speaking engagements and seek in turn to shut down Leftist speakers. But something needs to change. For genteel think-tank types, it is sufficient to have the better ideas. You have a symposium and you chat about your theories and then you all go have a cocktail. But what happens when the antifa shows up at a Heritage event and shouts down the speakers?
So what do we do?
The most important thing is to abandon this idea that we are in a civilized debate over ideas. We are facing people who are nihilistic and seek anarchy and chaos. They want nothing less than the wholesale destruction of Western civilization and everything we hold dear, from the traditional family to freedom of speech. We can't just sit on the sidelines or retreat to a monastery and hope they will leave us alone. They won't. If we lose this fight it isn't a matter of our taxes going up. It is a matter of our civilization being burned to the ground and the earth salted. There is no coming back from what the far Left that dominates academia and "entertainment" and increasingly the Democratic party is pushing. If they win this country goes up in smoke, likely literally.
We need our own venues, our own platforms. The university of today is enemy territory and every kid we send there for any reason other than they have to get a degree (to be an engineer, a doctor, etc.) is more money we beg, borrow and scrape together to subsidize our own destruction. Twitter and Facebook and Youtube are policed by far-left idelogues from the $PLC and ADL and they can make your content go away with the snap of a finger. I am not saying abandon those platforms but be sure you are not totally reliant on them.
The marching of our children off to schools where they are taught the opposite of everything we believe has to stop. Conservatives, Christians, anyone that doesn't buy into Groupthink needs to invest in education for kids. The public school system is irredeemable.
Most of all we need courage. We need to abandon our middle-class passivity and flaccidity and not be so worried about our reputations. Having a reputation as being a go along to get along guy is going to get you squashed like a bug. Again I am NOT calling for us to get down in the mud, to show up looking for a fight, to bring brass knuckles to speaking venues, to abandon our principles and our convictions but I AM calling for us to stop pretending that the world will respect our stoic silence in the face of cultural obliteration. Most of our leaders have sold us out. The Republican party is held hostage by the neocons who don't care one bit about Americans displaced from their jobs as long as they keep getting funding for the next war they get us into. We need new leaders and we need to support them, men who are not beholden to the establishment.
We are in a fight that makes the cultural struggles of the 60's look like child's play, in large part because the Left never stopped fighting while Right got complacent: "Reagan won, the war is over!". When I look across the landscape of "conservative" leaders right now I see a whole bunch of men and women that are not up to the task. The clock is running out. We need a new direction, new leadership and some real fire and we need it right now.