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The Backlash Is Building

A reader writes:

I read what you said about having spoken with four people recently who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but are considering it now because of the left’s recent behavior. I’m not quite in that camp, but am close to it; I suspect my progress on the issue largely resembles those of your friends and (I suspect) a substantial minority of other Americans as well.

I’m certainly not a typical Trump supporter — I believe in climate change and America’s responsibility to take policy steps to reduce our contribution to it, I’m anti-NRA, pro-Obamacare to an extent, and detest the Republican Party generally. The day after Trump got elected, I posted a scathing denunciation of everyone who had voted for him, which got the millennial social capital gold: hundreds of likes and almost 40 shares, including by several people I didn’t even know.

The year or so since he was elected has made me rethink what I believed about the people who voted for him. I still consider myself anti-Trump, and am not going to vote for him in 2020, above all because I believe the danger of having someone as unstable and hair-trigger reactive in charge of the United States military and nuclear arsenal is a disaster waiting to happen. (Contra National Review, just because he hasn’t started a military disaster yet doesn’t mean it somehow can’t happen.) There is no other electoral factor that could outweigh the danger of a nuclear holocaust, as far as I’m concerned.

But leaving the nuclear issue aside, the Left’s behavior in the last year has pushed me steadily more and more in the direction of being willing to vote for a sort of lower-key Trump (someone like Ben Shapiro), as strongly as I disagree with him on some issues, because I’m increasingly afraid of what a liberal political hegemony would mean.

The firing of James Damore back in August was what really made me start hesitating about my previous view that “political correctness” was, as Vox, the New Yorker, and all the other right-thinking people say, a Fox News attempt to discredit politeness. Here was a guy who was making a calm, carefully reasoned argument that some of Google’s diversity initiatives might not be the best way to achieve diversity, and that Googlers should be free to criticize such policies. In response, not only was he fired (and with a publicity that basically guarantees he’ll never work for a Silicon Valley firm again), but he was subjected to a regularly scheduled bout of Two Minutes’ Hate every day for weeks.

Now, I have no idea whether Damore’s arguments were sound. For all I know, the studies he cited might be garbage or his inferences might be wrong, although I doubt it, in light of at least some psychologists’ willingness to come forward and defend some of his claims. I have no investment in whether his arguments were successful, and for that matter, I doubt he did either. The point is that the very possibility of debate on this issue was foreclosed.

That got me paying more attention to the way the Left handles speech, and it made me realize that “political correctness” was most definitely alive and well, and hardly restricted to trivialities like whether the Washington Redskins should be named something else. In Europe, as Douglas Murray has documented, people who raised concerns prior to 2015 about the influx of immigration were silenced with accusations of racism, until things finally reached a boiling point and spilled out with the growth in populist fascist movements. 20 years ago, Theodore Dalrymple was already writing about how the police in the UK were already growing hesitant to investigate Muslim immigrants’ tendency to keep their daughters out of school for fear of being called racist, and more recent data indicate that such social problems (and the continued fear of being labeled racist for trying to address them) are hardly going away. Things that ought to be the subject of legitimate debate in the United States are being categorically ruled out in the same way: could innate biological differences affect, even if only in a small way, the pay gap between men and women? Sexist. Is it really a good idea to let in a large influx of Muslim immigrants in light of the problems Europe has had in that regard? Islamaphobe. Does IQ vary, on average, by race, and does this create the risk of widening the inequality gap because society increasingly rewards high IQ? Racist. Is Obamacare actually as successful as is claimed? You want poor people to die. Is letting in lots of low-skilled immigrants good for the economy? Racist, nationalist, white supremacist.


The fact is, I don’t want to live in a country where the only views permitted in public debates (if they can be termed “debates” at all) are the ones deemed acceptable by enraged Twitter mobs, and where expressing a perfectly reasonable, measured claim (“America should prioritize its own working class over that of illegal immigrants, while still doing what we can to help the Dreamers”) publicly can put you at quite reasonable fear of getting doxxed and subsequently losing your job and health insurance. It’s bad enough that people like Zack Ford are on social media. The last thing I want is for candidates people like him favor to get political power on top of the formidable socio-cultural power the Left already possesses.

I won’t vote for Trump in 2020, and I didn’t vote for him in 2016. But more and more, I understand why people will and did. There’s a reasonable fear of severe political revenge from the extreme progressives if and when they get into power. And, on top of that, while I can’t morally justify it, it’s at least humanly understandable that when one group (progressives) continually demeans and belittles another group (poor whites), the demeaned group gets a certain amount of satisfaction and schadenfreude from throwing a brick through the window, so to speak. I won’t defend that sentiment, but more and more, I sympathize with it.

You have to read this article in Quillette about “academic mobbing.” [1] This is the kind of thing that we’re going to see more generally in the culture. Excerpts:

In 1992, the ethics committee of the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University accused neurology and neurosurgery professor Justine Sergent of failing to properly obtain their approval for her work using radioactive isotopes to study the brain function of pianists. Sergent claimed no wrongdoing other than, at most, a technical mistake of not re-requesting specific approval to study pianists reading sheet music when she had already received approval to use the same technology to study brain function in people reacting to images of human faces. The following year she was officially reprimanded for the alleged breach but filed an appeal in arbitration.

Over the next two years, Sergent’s dispute with the ethics committee grew bitter and she claimed it was based on personal grievances and not on the validity of her work. Sergent fought to defend herself and the integrity of her work but the steam of pettiness aimed at her increased. In an attempt to further tarnish her, an anonymous source (presumably from within McGill), mailed a letter to the Montreal Gazette accusing her of fraud in her scientific practice.

The Gazette then published an article entitled “Researcher Disciplined by McGill for Breaking Rules.” Shortly after the Gazette published this article, Sergent wrote a letter in which she stated that her love of research was too great to ever consider tampering with data. She defended the quality of her work and stated:

I was a young, successful, woman scientist, and this may not be welcome attributes in the scientific world or at least in the mind of some people. I had a rich and intense life, but there comes a point when one can no longer fight and one needs a rest. It is this rest that my husband, who has supported me in all aspects of my activities and my life, and myself have decide to take.

On April 11 1994, with the assistance of her husband Yves Sergent, Justine Sergent committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning from a motor vehicle that was parked in her garage with a hose running from the tailpipe and into the window of the car. Yves Sergent then composed his last letter:

It is 3:30 a.m. on April 11, Justine is dead, and it will soon be my turn…I’ve just spent the most horrible hours of my life, seeing to the fulfillment of Justine’s last wish. My hour has come, I will join Justine forever and I hope this attempt does not fail.

Yves Sergent returned to the car and sat in the drivers seat. He attempted to slit his own throat but failed to hit an artery. He later died, like Justine Sergent, from carbon monoxide poisoning.

On April 12 1994, Justine and Yves Sergent were found dead in their garage sitting beside each other in the drivers and passenger seats of their car. This is the devastating power that an academic mobbing can have on its targets.

More, from an interview with Dr. Janice Harper, an anthropologist who was brutally mobbed by academic colleagues:

As traumatic and damaging as the experience was, Dr Harper applied her anthropological expertise to understanding the social processes that led so many people to rapidly turn against her once the decision was made to cast her out. As the mobbing intensified, she continued teaching courses on warfare and genocide, and began to note parallels between how people are persuaded to turn against their neighbors and fellow citizens in genocidal contexts, and how people in any group setting can be persuaded to join in dehumanizing and abusing someone marked by leadership for exclusion and destruction.

The result of her work was a series of articles in The Huffington Post and Psychology Today, as well as a book, Mobbed! What to Do When They Really Are Out to Get You, in which she challenged the anti-bullying movement’s focus on “the difficult employee” or “evil bully,” and called instead for a focus on the group psychology that leads otherwise good people to inhumanely attack another person without terms or limits.

Read the entire piece. [1]

I’ve said in The Benedict Option [2] that this kind of thing is fast coming to wider society, and that we need to start forming informal networks now, associations that will be able to support those who are driven out of their careers by the progressive Two-Minutes Hate [3] mob. People who grew up under communism keep telling me that they’re seeing this kind of thing rising in our liberal democracies. They are canaries in the coal mine.

This is not going away anytime soon. Do you remember how, during the 2016 presidential campaign, we were constantly told by the media that Trump supporters were going to form a mob and beat people up? It turned out that the only mobs that emerged were from the left (Antifa and fellow travelers) who set upon Trump supporters, and bloodied them in some cases.

It’s clear that mob action — whether “academic mobbing,” destroying businesses, or some other form — when undertaken on behalf of progressive causes is going to be supported by the media as necessary for the triumph of justice.

Here’s part of an e-mail I received from a reader of this blog, a Millennial friend of mine who is as well educated and as urbane as you can imagine. He lives in a major American city, and is the son of a prominent academic. He has been so disgusted by the travesty progressives have made of his academic field that he has decided he has no future in it. He writes this morning:

I’m not a gun person, at all, I mean until a few months ago I had never even touched a firearm, through a combination of fear and a certain disdain for the kind of culture I thought it represented (like you, I grew up with cosmopolitan leanings). But I was floored by everything you mention, the hysteria and the media bias and the blanket refusal to examine the ways in which Obama’s deliberate policy choices are literally at fault for what happened. I’m not sure if you saw this story [4], which is still developing, but basically because Cruz registered as a “minority” he was not arrested when he should have been arrested, since Obama insisted on ending the “school to prison pipeline” that “disproportionately” (read: in line with national per capita averages) affected black and Latino students; and, had he been arrested for the offenses of which he was clearly and unambiguously guilty, he would not have been able to acquire or keep the weapon he used.

Anyway, because of all that, and because I am increasingly convinced we are headed for a “hot” violent civil war, and just generally as an “F you,” I joined the NRA and bought an AR-15 style weapon. I’d never fired a rifle before, but it strikes me as a skill that is going to be important to have moving forward. So in answer to your question: “What does it mean to keep fighting, though? What forms should the resistance take?”

I’m not sure if it’s possible to convey to you how remarkable this is, because you don’t know this man. The idea that someone of his class, background, education, and temperament has bought an AR-15 because he doesn’t believe the center is going to hold, and because he fears the progressive march, is stunning. If you are inclined to dismiss this as fraidy-cat fearmongering, you are making a big, big mistake.

I’ve known this man for years, and have heard his first-hand stories of the way progressives in the academy have demolished scholarship and are demonizing anyone who falls short of their ever-shifting purity standards. He once told me about a left-wing atheist colleague in his field, a Millennial who is also a woman and a racial minority, who will not post anything on social media now, out of fear that what she says today might be deployed against her tomorrow by the Two-Minutes Hate mob. Said my friend, “If even a person like that, who fills almost every diversity category, is afraid to say what she really thinks, what chance do people like me have?”

He offers three broad categories for resistance. Here’s one:

1) Network and organize. I think this is probably the single most important thing. There are already some groups doing great work, like the Alliance Defending Freedom, but there aren’t nearly enough, and there especially isn’t enough networking at the hyperlocal level–that’s why I think things like your Benedict Option meetups are so critical. If there’s some kind of calamity, we need to know at least a half dozen people nearby that we can rely on. The left is literally decades ahead of us in their organizational infrastructure, local and national, and we desperately need to close the gap.

I take it that the reader is speaking of some massive event. But you know, for someone who loses their job or their business because of progressive mob action, or court action, that is a calamity. What are conservatives, and conservative Christians, doing to prepare to support each other through this? Because it is coming. 

The times are getting crazy. People are defaulting to tribalism as a matter of self-protection. My tribe is not white nationalists, or right-wing extremists, or anybody like that. My tribe is the Church. My vocation is not to advocate buying AR-15s — though I don’t oppose buying weaponry for self-protection (ask Bethany Mandel, who had to fear neo-Nazis [5]) — but rather to help build practical spiritual, moral, and communal resistance. We are entering a period of exile (read the Rev. Peter Sanlon on this [6]) — and it’s past time that our leaders understood this fact, and acted on it. And not just our leaders.

UPDATE: A reader e-mails:

It looks like you just posted something similar to what I am about to write, but I committed to writing this before I saw it and am intentionally not reading it (“The Backlash is Building) so it doesn’t contaminate the thoughts that I wish to convey.

Not too long ago I was your typical Millennial Leftist.  Born in 1983, I firmly think that my entire adulthood has been shaped by one institutional failure after another, from 9-11 when I was a Freshman in college to the current total breakdown of the United States Congress.

In 2016 I was angry.  I see my friend growing under student loan debt, young black boys and men being gunned down in the streets, friends going bankrupt from sky rocketing medical costs, and myself and my wife struggle in what seems to us to be a stagnated economy where we (both with college degrees) were struggling to get ahead.

We were both Sanders voters in the primary, attracted by his economic populism but also his sincerity.  After Clinton secured the nomination I hoped that John Kasich would find a way to defeat Trump as I found Clinton untrustworthy and emblematic of the problem in D.C.  When Trump secured the nomination, however, my vote for Clinton was all but ensured, especially since I live in the “battle ground” of Virginia.

Now I’ve never been much of a culture warrior, but I towed the party line on most cultural issues.  As an evangelical (and a seminarian to boot) I had to twist and contort scripture in order to do so, but there was always someone standing right there happy to show me how it was done.  But it was a matter of “justice” and “fairness” so I needed to understand the “enemy” (see the language that I was enculturated to use?).  Also, even though I was a native born son of the South, I found myself perplexed that so many of the wonderful, God fearing people that I knew and loved had voted for Trump.

And so, for the first time in my life I began to really read people with whom I did not agree.  I read conservative Reformed writers.  I began to read your blog.  I sought out other voices, some that had voted for Trump, some that fell closer to the “Never Trumper” category.

An amazing thing happened.  I began to see that there were enormous logical inconsistencies in some of the things that I had thought, especially on cultural issues.  I saw that my beliefs couldn’t stand up to rigorous thought and scrutiny.  And more than that, if I claimed Christ, there were things that I believed and espoused, especially regarding abortion and sexuality, that had to change.  I had gone looking for intellectual rigor and much to my surprise I found it not in Cultural Leftism, but in orthodox Christian, especially Reformed (broadly defined), thought.

So where do I find myself now?  I still see Trump and his crew as an existential threat to our Republic.  The wholesale destruction of democratic norms and the open and blatant corruption pains me (I might be unusual among [former] Leftists in that I have always had a great love of the Republic, with all of its flaws and foibles.  It comes, I think, from being a deep student of the Revolutionary era).  I can only hope that the system of check and balances given to us in 1788 holds, retrains Trump’s (and other’s) abuse of power.

But I also have come to see that certain elements of this Cultural Leftism pose existential threats, not to our Republic, but to the very foundation of our civilization.  I’m still a skeptic, however, of free market economics, as so often it does too little to protect the most vulnerable and seeks to commodity everything, including human life.

In describing how I feel to my wife recently, I said that I felt as if the riptide had pulled me off my feet and out too sea, and now that I am free of it, I can’t feel the bottom with my feet, having no place to plant my feet in culture.  My option, it seems, is the plant myself firmly in the Word, both the incarnate and written, and in the Church and its centuries long proclamation of the Word.

Feel free to post this, however if you do so, without my name as I am still in spaces, having conversations and asking questions that I would be banished from if the totality of my cultural “conversion” was known.

A cultural riptide. I know the feeling. Just imagine: this young man’s friends would banish him if he said what was on his mind. To hell with that world. It’s not a world of love, or care, or common human decency. It is totalitarian.

134 Comments (Open | Close)

134 Comments To "The Backlash Is Building"

#1 Comment By Robert EV On March 6, 2018 @ 12:36 pm

“[NFR: They will never come for your kid because you won’t let him be transgender, and when they do, you bigot parents will deserve it. — RD]”

Tell it to the Turpin children. Those are the kinds of people who get their kids taken away from them in our society.

What parents who are overly strict and controlling with their kids get is totally cut off by the kids when the kids become adults. Unless the parents have a modicum of humility and shame and can find it in their hearts to seek understanding and forgiveness.


#2 Comment By Robert EV On March 6, 2018 @ 1:05 pm

@Eric Mader

” those in the Democratic camp, I’m amazed time and again at how many of them have no understanding of free speech as a social good”

“Trump is far more likely to appoint people who might hold this illiberalism at bay.”

“When you compel somebody to speak, don’t you infringe that person’s dignity and conscience in a way that you do not when you restrict what the person says?” – Samuel Alito during the hearing on the Janus case, emphasis mine. [8]

He finds compelled speech worse than preventing speech. Even though the person compelled to speak in this case (handing over money to a union) has the power to speak against what the union is doing in addition, while a person prevented from speaking has no voice whatsoever.

Is this the kind of person you want appointed to defend the first amendment?

#3 Comment By davido On March 6, 2018 @ 1:08 pm

Columnist David Brooks recently observed that if the Left tries to eliminate 40% of the country from polite society there will be a backlash that will make Donald trump look like Adeli Stevenson.
The fanatics of the Left are oblivious to this, of course. One possible flashpoint: if the Left uses the State to take away parental control from children over transgenderism there will be blood. I pray this doesn’t happen but if it does I hope these Jacobins are on the front lines to contribute their share.

#4 Comment By Joe On March 6, 2018 @ 1:13 pm

For Christians, there is the outlet of EEOC claims under the Civil Rights Act. That may not always include being outspoken at work, but if you are non-controversial and minding your own business, and fired due to suspicion you don’t toe the line, that is religious discrimination by your employer. Religious expression in the workplace is even explicitly protected up to a point. The left could have ways of arguing against these claims, and left wing judges may try to dismiss them, but merely bringing the claims, if done frequently enough, should chasten employers and left wing mobs to some degree.

Churches and family are certainly the important support systems. I wonder if something like the ACLJ is also worth expanding.

#5 Comment By One Guy On March 6, 2018 @ 1:24 pm

“…the 150 or more bomb threats against Jewish institutions that were made by … a Jewish teenager in Israel.”

Bomb threats are only ONE type of incident. There have been many other types. Don’t read with blinders.

#6 Comment By Quizman On March 6, 2018 @ 1:29 pm

For whatever it is worth, the changing culture, particularly in millennial run companies are not the result of anti-white sentiment as it is an anti-reason sentiment.

Until recently, I, a middle-aged brown Asian first generation legal immigrant, was at a millennial run company in the SF Bay Area. I was astounded by the penetration of gender-studies SJW woke-types in HR and their ability to influence policy and mould company culture. There were clubs/groups meant for the usual minority groups (LGBTQ, Black, Women) and so on which were used to advocate for recruitment policy changes.

Now, I am all for certain types of diversity that enhances company culture and helps serve markets better, but this group – which were largely comprised of millennial white women with colored hair – was responsible for tilting the diversity debate towards race and sex based determination. There was a conspicuous policy of age-discrimination against older male engineers which often was disguised in terms of ‘cultural fit’. I was shocked when one of these HR ‘change-agents’ came to a staff meeting of a VP and asked one of the line managers (a young American male of Chinese origin) how many women and minorities were in his team. In her world, Asians were not minorities. She was advocating that the manager select latino, black and women engineers first and foremost. Clearly, this is illegal based on California laws, but it is quite common as this [9] against Google bears out.

My centrist Irish-Italian American work colleague used to joke that the group ‘Women in tech’ were actually a misnomer for ‘White women in tech’ since these were usually unemployable women (Social Science degrees) who wanted engineering jobs and claimed discrimination. He would remark that the Asian women engineers were invisible since most of them were not promoted beyond a certain point. (How many Asian women VPs/Directors have you seen? They all peak out at manager-levels.)

Many Asians are also angry that the University of California system as well as the Ivy League actively discriminates against them The American Conservative had the [10] on this topic. Many of us legal immigrants, (massive) taxpayers to boot, were outraged when Janet Napolitano used public funds and quotas for [11] illegal immigrants into the UC system at the expense of our children’s futures. This, in any reasonable citizen’s understanding, is unpatriotic.

I waited in queue for 10 years to become an American citizen. This after two engineering degrees and an MBA from a top 3 US school. Yet, I fear for the future of my children. I cannot even express my angst against these policies to some friends because they’ve all bought into the “compassion not hate” false paradigm.

As practicing theists (Asian religion), we are a minority since our Facebook wall is filled by friends posts that mock religion and religious folks. These people display very little understanding of the philosophy that undergirds religion and blindly quote modern atheists.

Additionally, the turmoil and cultural change caused by the massive influx of muslim refugees is seen as a non-event. An Iranian friend of mine remarked that such a massive change is cause for concern. “Heck”, she said, “if Merkel had let in a million blonde haired blue eyed Norwegians in, it would have been traumatic. Never mind, culturally alien Arabs.” Granted that as an Iranian, she has a visceral dislike for Arabs, but still, her statement has merit.

Apologies for the long rant, but I wanted to shed light on the angst felt by non white people of a certain age and political allegiance. We are mostly centre, centre-right folks who believe that there is no party that represents them today.

And this, by the way, is felt across the non-Islamic world. The media might label people who have such views as ‘fascists’ or ‘Christian right’ or ‘Hindu right’, but this movement is gaining steam. Alas, the people who lead these movements are self-serving bigots, but nature abhors a vacuum and the only enterprising people to exploit this market are the worst of the lot.

We’re in for some interesting, albeit scary times ahead.

#7 Comment By Janice Harper On March 6, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

I find it unfortunate that this piece has been used to promote a single political ideology, because mobbing crosses all political lines. As the author of a book on mobbing, and someone referenced in this article, I caution readers to understand that mobbing is far more likely to be perpetrated against you by the people in your own group than by those outside it. The very definition of mobbing is purging someone from the group (or tribe) who deviates in any way. What that means is that you are expected to conform completely to the norms of your group; challenging its leader, questioning any positions or deviating from the entire set of ideas promoted, or in any other way differing, is what will get you mobbed.

That is why although academic mobbing is indeed rife, the mobbing targets who contact me include those from any profession that wears a uniform or has other symbols that mark one’s membership in the group–in other words, law enforcement, fire fighters, nurses, anyone involved in a church–any of these workers can easily find themselves under fire.

The key here is difference within the group. Using the literature on mobbing to justify hating “liberals” is folly. Reflecting on how powerful the pull to conform to your own group–whatever that group is, whatever political ideology it is–will strengthen you and make you more aware of the dangers closest to you. And to silence or exclude anyone who questions authority or beliefs, or differs in any significant way–is falling directly into the camp of mobbers.

[NFR: Obviously you’re correct. Mobbing is *human* behavior, not behavior limited to left or right. I saw it happen many years ago to fellow Catholics who contradicted the official Church line on whether or not children were being molested by priests. I cited your research here because we have been talking on this blog about progressive mobbing. Good and decent liberals like the ones involved with Heterodox Academy are allies; right-wingers who advocate right-wing mobbing are enemies. — RD]

#8 Comment By One Guy On March 6, 2018 @ 1:36 pm

Many people seem to think it’s ONLY the other side that does bad things. It’s not. BOTH sides do bad things. And it’s not a contest to see who can do one more bad thing than the other side.

#9 Comment By JonF On March 6, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

Re: As practicing theists (Asian religion), we are a minority since our Facebook wall is filled by friends posts that mock religion and religious folks.

Question: why are those people your friends? I have a goodly number of secular friends to be sure, and yes, sometimes they post stuff critical of Joel Ostein, Franklin Graham, etc– fortune and fame preachers for whom I hold no affection. But I never see anyone mocking religion in toto. If I had a Facebook “friend” like that, they would not remain my friend for long. My advice is this: get rid of some those jerks.

#10 Comment By Jonathan On March 6, 2018 @ 1:53 pm

The author’s fears of Trump using nuclear weapons are overblown – it appears to me that he, like many others, hasn’t read up on nuclear policy and command and control in the US.
While the specifics are classified, generalities are widely known – to vastly simplify it, the decision to launch a nuclear weapon is vetted and approved by many people, each of which double checks for a valid order, a valid target AND a valid situation. Each step of the process requires the concurrence of at least 2 people – even the President has to get a second person to concur that a nuclear strike is necessary. The actual launches from a submarine or a bunker require at least 2 people turning keys too far apart for a single person to operate. There are numerous books and even movies that demonstrate the process and the discussion that would occur if a launch order was received.
Whatever your greatest fear is, learn about it – don’t just repeat the claims of others, especially if they have a vested interest in making those claims.

#11 Comment By Andrew On March 6, 2018 @ 4:46 pm

I read this article with great interest. It mirrors many of the things that I have felt building over the last several years. For what it’s worth, I share some of the experiences of the correspondence you published in the article. Born in1980, I myself am right on the edge between Gen X and the Millennials (I will always claim X generically, though I do like the “Oregon Trail” moniker I have seen elsewhere). I was never of any sort of leftist bent, but I did consider myself a budding academic, and I long harbored a dream of returning to graduate school and becoming a professor (of Classics for what it’s worth). Indeed, part of what I felt as the call was simply to be an alternative voice, one lonely person standing up and saying that Western Civilization was good, that the liberal arts matter. I took Harvey C. Mansfield and others of his ilk as inspiration.

That dream is dead. The tumult in academia over the previous half-decade or so has done more than enough to dissuade me from ever pursuing a return to the university environment, at least for any sort of liberal arts graduate study. When even leftist professors live in terror of what the screaming mob will do to them, what hope could a traditionalist ever have?

#12 Comment By Positivethinker On March 6, 2018 @ 5:23 pm

Very scary – Jourdan’s story of him and his mother being harassed at the debate club event.
I’m at a university. You won’t believe the kinds of things I see and hear from the SJW (this group includes students, professors and administrators)and it is all considered completely normal and, yes, very, very acceptable.

#13 Comment By GSW On March 6, 2018 @ 6:22 pm

“the laughably false Russia narrative…” @BenH

While seemingly at the centre of everything, this is the part that I can’t understand as the ‘bad Russia/stolen election’ narrative is so transparently a flightless canard (or Dead Parrot as in Monty Python) that is nonetheless injecting ever larger doses of hateful poison into democratic life and political institutions in the US as well as ramping up international tensions with America’s principal cold war adversary.

#14 Comment By SteveK9 On March 6, 2018 @ 6:31 pm

Did not vote for Trump in 2016, but there is a good chance I will in 2020, assuming he is nominated and depending on whether there is a revolution in the Democratic Party (unlikely).

Why? One pseudo-word, ‘Russiagate’. The most dishonest, despicable and dangerous political assassination attempt in our History. To repeatedly tell a pack of absurd lies, and push the World just a bit closer to a civilization-ending thermonuclear war is about as low as it gets.

#15 Comment By J. Smith On March 6, 2018 @ 7:28 pm

I’ll be very blunt here, but also completely honest. Anyone…anyone who is a Christian and latches on to leftist ideology in any form is severely mistaken. I’m talking to you Christians who are/were Bernie Sanders fans.

Leftist ideology is at war with traditional Judeo-Christian values. Leftist ideology (“progressives”…Democrats) despise Christianity and traditional Judaism. We may be facing dark days ahead when the ideology of hate (leftism) re-gains power. They will use the heavy hand of the government to exact revenge on Christians who voted for Trump. They will paint with a very broad brush on those who hold to traditional values. It will get very rough.

I am shocked that Christians ever vote for Democrats/”progressives”/leftists. It is stunning how much leftism has infused Christianity and has influenced it, much more than Christianity has influenced leftist ideology.

Let us never forget that leftism has murdered over 100 million people in the past 100 years. I’m not saying they will do this in the US, but it is not because of the goodness of their hearts. It is only because we have some semblance of checks and balances in our legal institutions that have survived and can slow them down from carrying out their horrible policies that destroy communities and individuals.

Shame on those Christians who hate Trump more than they hate leftism. You are playing with fire.

The identity politics that the left promotes is all about obtaining and holding power. It is also an ideology of hate and division.

Have a nice day.

#16 Comment By Greg Bussey On March 6, 2018 @ 8:04 pm

It’s one thing if your ideological community “mobs” you to conform. You can simply find a community that fits better. It’s another thing entirely if the mobbing is weaponized to the point of taking someone’s livelihood as was the case with Justine Sergent, James Damore, Brendan Eich, Jack Phillips, Aaron and Melissa Klein, etc. That’s not about pushing someone to conform to a group. Rather it is a militant fascism that believes no other viewpoints have a right to exist.

#17 Comment By SkiddleDeDe On March 6, 2018 @ 9:21 pm

I appreciate the honest candor of both authors. I have always been a conservative, and grew up in the church. I raised my 3 children in the church. I admit I voted for Trump as the lesser of 2 evils, but also because in some ways, it takes a bully to defeat a bully. And, I felt that Trump really loved our Country, whereas, Clinton despised it.
I find myself at odds with 2 of my 3 children. The 2 have become hateful at the mention of Trump, and we cannot even have a conversation. They refuse to see anything good happening as a result of the Trump presidency. I have never imagined my family to be one described in the Bible as “son against father and daughter against mother”, but am seeing it now. I can see that the future described in the end times as families turning against families is very possible in my future.
I, too, joined the NRA, and plan to buy a gun. It is coming to a civil war. The Left have been poking a sleeping bear for the past many years, and we are rising up to say “no more”.

#18 Comment By dave On March 6, 2018 @ 11:01 pm

Janice Harper, don’t mean to impose a burden, but would be interested to hear your thoughts on Rene Girard.

#19 Comment By mbrown On March 6, 2018 @ 11:11 pm

What I see everywhere is a lack of basic common sense. It has become beyond sickening.
I used to be a dem. But, the dem party left me. The dem party of JFK or any semblance of it is long gone. Obamacare was the last straw for me and the dems.
What I see now is a total breakdown of civil discourse, the family, our educational system, and everything that the government has stuck its nose in. How this will ever be fixed is impossible to ascertain. The left does everything it can do to fracture the country.
I did vote for Trump. With everything I knew about the Clintons, it was a no brainer. I do not approve of many of Trump’s sayings, but I have not one doubt that he does want to make America better for each and every citizen in this country. The dems are doing all in their power to make him look bad because he is making this country better for all of us, like him or not.

#20 Comment By Laura On March 7, 2018 @ 12:57 am

I too used to be a democrat. When I became a Christian in graduate school, I started moving away from my former liberal beliefs. My support for traditional values increased. But, at the same time, certain beliefs that could be considered liberal were strengthened: we are all children of God, no matter our race or nationality. It is important to be kind to others and to love our enemies.

But still, I am dismayed by what the Left has become. So many views espoused by liberals these days seem to be completely devoid of common sense. The #MeToo movement seems to be spiraling out of control, harming the lives and employment prospects of men whose “crimes” are minimal at best.

I may not be a Republican yet, but I certainly am a realist. Thanks for providing this forum to blow off steam, because voicing these views in my community could get me blacklisted or “mobbed.”

#21 Comment By Alex Brown On March 7, 2018 @ 1:15 am

Being canary in the coal mine, I am still pretty skeptical of 2nd Amendment. Even if all of us on the Right side will buy AR15s, what would prevent the dictatorial leftist government from using tanks and drones against us? To the contrary, it will give them a perfect excuse to destroy as much as possible, without suffering any meaningful casualties. We would need an army to fight an army, with all sorts of modern weaponry and training, and this is extremely unlikely to happen. So I don’t believe guns would make much of a difference against the modern state.

Other than that, I agree with what you wrote. People are fed up after decades of suffocating, brainwashing, more and more bizarre ‘culture’. But where is the light at the end of a tunnel?

#22 Comment By Anne On March 7, 2018 @ 4:17 am

Ye gads, I think I’ve stepped through the Looking Glass. This is all seriously out of whack with reality. The fact is your side’s in power everywhere but academia. And if people are facing discrimination there, or being threatened on the job, they should organize their own protests, or if the situation truly warrants it, get lawyers and sue. That’s what I was always told when I faced these kinds of problems in the “private sphere,” i.e., not academia, out here where nobody hears you scream. For now, nobody gets to call pro-Trump talk a “backlash.” The man’s in the White House! God help us all.

#23 Comment By Anne On March 7, 2018 @ 4:38 am

PS If protesting won’t get you anywhere in academia because you’re in the minority, welcome to the club. This is where all those people you lump together under the “SJW” label live most of the time. It sucks. But if electing Trump is the answer to your troubles, what’s the deal right now? What can he do about academics and SJWs? Shut them up? Sigh.

#24 Comment By JeffK On March 7, 2018 @ 7:22 am

@Rick Allen says:
March 5, 2018 at 10:13 pm

It’s a little discouraging to see so many people apparently convinced that the appropriate reaction to one extreme is to support the opposite extreme.

Folks, if you’re a moderate Republican, how about supporting moderate Republican candidates? And how about moderate Democrats supporting moderate Democratic candidates? As opposed to the strategy of putting fanatics in power in order to piss off the people you hate the most.

Exactly right Mr Allen. Circa 1984, after working in a Rockwell International mill in New Castle, PA, where the work I did paid for my college education, I graduated. I had a very smart high school friend that worked at the mill in an hourly production position. His older brother was in management.

I asked him ‘Do you think the mill will stay open?’. His answer ‘No’. I asked why. Paraphrasing his response ‘My brother said that if we keep electing the most most radical loud mouths to be our representatives management will eventually refuse to work with them and they will shut it down’.

In 1991 the plant closed. Announcements cited ‘inefficiencies’, even though the plant was relatively new. There were probably many contributing factors to the closing, but the inability of workers to collaborate with management to solve production issues was probably one of them.

#25 Comment By Michael Harrington On March 7, 2018 @ 9:41 am

Identity politics is self-destructive. QED.

#26 Comment By Michael Harrington On March 7, 2018 @ 9:52 am

@Anne says:
The fact is your side’s in power everywhere but in academia.

Whose side? Isn’t your perspective revealing of the problem? Where are the principles of a government of the people, by the people, for the people? Your statement is also inaccurate when it comes to dominant cultural institutions such as media and entertainment – together with the educational institutions, these are the major messaging channels for propagandizing.

#27 Comment By JonF On March 7, 2018 @ 12:28 pm

Re: I am shocked that Christians ever vote for Democrats/”progressives”/leftists.

Why? You are aware that the Right (and specifically the Republican Party) also embraces many positions that are (or ought to be) profoundly offensive to Christian morality. As the Good Book says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. A retreat from politics is one possible response, but if you believe as I do that we have a duty to participate in civic affairs, then that’s not an option, though the occasional non-vote in a specific race, or protest vote, is still possible. And in great many elections of course nose-holding and sighing over the choices will be common.

Re: Shame on those Christians who hate Trump more than they hate leftism.

I would say just the opposite: shame on those Christians who prize empty symbols and comfortable rhetoric rather than actual deeds– and on those who miss the forest for obsessing over individual trees, and whose eyes are so focused on the ground at their feet they cannot look out toward the horizon to see where the path they tread is leading.

Re: I felt that Trump really loved our Country

Trump loves his money and fame– that’s the alpha and omega of it.

#28 Comment By LouB On March 7, 2018 @ 4:31 pm

Ah, ye who held tight to your blinders…
Ya should’a grown up in Oak Park, IL.
You would have seen this coming a long time ago.

#29 Comment By Jonf On March 7, 2018 @ 4:40 pm

Michael Harrington: the Media is not longer a monolith and hasn’t been for some time. And people tend to segregate their news sources according to what they prefer: conservatives watch Fox News and the more intellectual ones read, say, the National Review; and liberals watch MSNBC and read Mother Jones. The “propagandizing” is basically just preaching to the choir, and riling them up. It isn’t aimed at persuading the other side at all.
Academia seems singularly inept at propagandizing. Students go to college to get a credential, and party hearty. As soon as the sheepskin is in hand they seem to forget 9/10 of whatever they were taught since rather little of it (outside professional school stuff like medicine and law) is applicable in the real world.

#30 Comment By muad’dib On March 8, 2018 @ 10:14 am

Let us never forget that leftism has murdered over 100 million people in the past 100 years.

I wonder how many people Capitalism has killed since 1492? The native people of the Americas, Indians under the British rule, Congolese under Belgium rule, South West Africans under German rule, Indonesians under Dutch rule, North Africans under French rule, Chinese by Opium, Everyone by tobacco, etc…

Capitalism & Religion, aka the Right, has killed far more people and for far longer than the left ever has or ever will? How many people has the US killed or caused to die in third world countries since the end of WWII?

Estimates of American policy:
3 Million in Vietnam? 3 million in Korea? 200,000 in Guatemala, 700,000 Iran-Iraq, Iraq 350,000, Afghanistan 45,000 & counting, El Salvador 75,000, Nicaragua 60,000. And those are just the highlights of US Policy.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

[NFR: It’s touching that you think capitalism existed in 1492. — RD]

#31 Comment By muad’dib On March 9, 2018 @ 8:21 am

[NFR: It’s touching that you think capitalism existed in 1492. — RD]


The discovery of the New World was financed in much the same way as major exploration and discovery is financed today, through taxation of the public and bank financing. The royal couple sought loans to the crown and investors willing to speculate. The loans were secured by expected future plunder in the new world, sales of licenses for trade to new ports, and gold discovery. Interest and interim payments on the loans would come from taxes, in this case, taxes on the already overtaxed and under-producing area of Extremadura in western Spain.

By the fifteenth century, a system of deficit financing by governments, using bank loans, was well in place. A favorite bank of royals throughout Europe and England was the Genoese Bank of St. George. The bank began in 1407, and was in business until it was closed by Napoleon in 1805. In 1444 the bank was chartered in Genoa to make government loans. Bank of St. George director, Benedetto Centurione, chaired the panel on international finance of 1445 to 1447, the final report of which recommended that European trading partners adopt a gold standard. The model developed by Centurione and the Bank of St. George established international finance standards for the next 500 years.


Capitalism is an economic system based upon private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.[1][2][3] Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets.

If you have private banks and merchants, you have capitalism.

#32 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 9, 2018 @ 9:42 pm

NFR: It’s touching that you think capitalism existed in 1492. — RD

It did. Don’t you read any history? It wasn’t the dominant mode of any nation, although England was coming close in some regions. Capitalism was thriving in the Italian republics as early as the 1300s. It was present and growing in France long before the Revolution. Henry VIII couldn’t have filled his exchequer if not for having a good deal of capitalism to tax.

#33 Comment By Janice Harper On April 9, 2018 @ 12:58 pm

As someone quoted in this article and having studied mobbing for years, I’m distressed to see it used to politicize the cruelty of mobbing. There is nothing about “the left” that leads people to be any more prone to mobbing than those on the right. The key is difference. Anyone perceived as different from the group is vulnerable. When that difference is given meaning and/or viewed as a threat, the group will isolate and demonize the one considered different until they are driven out. Every reader of this blog is far more likely to be mobbed by someone of their own ideology if they dare deviate from the group in any way, than they are from someone of an opposing ideology.

#34 Comment By Alice On June 15, 2018 @ 11:48 pm

I just wanted to mention that possibly one of the worst things that can happen is not just when you find yourself isolated from society over gradual change in perceiving politics and reality, but when, as a consequence of this, you are no longer on the same page with your spouse. If you want to talk about alienation, try having your best friend and only remaining social contact lecture you on the benefits of media – specifically Netflix, gaming, and technology as well. Lately my husband is like a bastion of the Left, which is ironic since he is a basically walking image of the white male stereotype. Ideologically, we now disagree on everything except our dedication to family values within our own family, and the welfare of our children, and being fiscally conservative in terms of our own family. But he is very pro feminism, pro GMOs, pro technology, pro vaccines, pro LGBT, pro atheism (he calls it agnosticism) – he is on some spectrum of libertarian I think – but very much “pro system” with very little original questioning from what I can tell. I’m on the other end of the spectrum. Thankfully, for the most part, there is very little arguing or confrontation on ideological matters in front of the kids. I wonder how they will grow up eventually with all of this “Dad believes” and “Mom believes”; it’s almost like there’s a 3rd and 4th partner in our marriage, and we’re each defending this other spouse we’re having an adulterous affiliation with, making excuses for their shortcomings, and justifying their most idealized perspectives – as though our role were to be representatives for ideologies rather than independent human beings. Only rarely does it cause actual friction. I can only imagine what the state of the world is if our very living room is like this.