Home/Rod Dreher/The Left’s Dilemma: Keith Or Beyoncé

The Left’s Dilemma: Keith Or Beyoncé

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, blind as bats (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Did y’all see this?

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Careful clicking the video; there’s no nudity, but it’s kind of NSFW. If you want to watch it on YouTube, here you go.

The Seattle Times wrote about this disgusting display:

The director of King County’s coordinating agency for homelessness is on paid leave following a dancer’s strip show at the agency’s annual conference on Monday.

Performer Beyoncé Black St. James danced topless in a sheer bodysuit, gave lap dances and kissed attendees, according to a staffer at a local housing nonprofit who attended the conference in South Seattle.

Kira Zylstra, organizer of the conference at South Seattle College, has been placed on leave as of Thursday, according to Denise Rothleutner, chief of staff for the King County Department of Community and Human Services.

Zylstra is paid $123,000 per year for her job, which she’s failing at. King County and Seattle have voted to abandon her agency as ineffective.

Here’s the ad for the conference Zylstra’s agency hosted. The wokeness, it burns:

 

If “decolonization” means an obese tranny stripper runs out and flops and jiggles and annoys while you’re trying to eat your rubber chicken, then I say, “Up with colonialism!”

This is just one more thing that we have to put up with in the Woke Republic, where there are no lines that cannot and must not be crossed to defeat what they consider to be bigotry.

Or do we? Here’s a fantastic essay in UnHerd, the British conservative online magazine, by a gay writer named Graeme Archer, who explains why Labour lost, and why Labour will never, ever understand it. Excerpts:

The Labour Party (not “The Left”) is history. Even when Blair reduced the Conservatives to their heartlands in the 1990s, the party still had heartlands. Labour, in 2019, doesn’t. It’s a collective noun for student Marxists, trades union hard-men, and spiteful anti-Semites. That’s not a political party: it’s a pathogen. A pathogen with nowhere to replicate.

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Phillips is only one example of this category error made by so many Labour MPs, this conflation of the needs of human beings with their own desire for power. All that bleating in the concession speeches of defeated Labour candidates about their “real fear” for the ill, the old, the unemployed in their seats — the very voters who had just rejected them. As though no-one who isn’t Labour could either care or devise a politics to help the troubled souls in our midst. They have no idea why they lost.

I do. He’s called Keith, and he’s my husband. He’s never been political — once or twice in the distant past, when we lived in Hackney, I dragged him out leafletting with me. He loathed it, and told me to stop asking. He’s a working-class Plymothian, an electrician, but with a capable brain and a heart every bit as large as Jess Phillips’s.

And:

Labour treated Keith – and the millions like him – like a fool, Jess, like your property, to be told what to think and how to speak and how to vote. How to feel shame for his instinct for Leave. He saw your Twitterfeed, and Hugh’s, and Richard Osman’s, and that of every smug ex-footballer with a gig pushing junk food to children, so he understands that you think he’s either ignorant, or wicked, for not being Labour.

The result? Keith hates your party, Jess, at a much more visceral (and therefore irrevocable) level than the intellectual dislike I feel for socialism in general. You – and all those sleb out-riders – might feel better for the constant display of Tory-hatred you share on social media. One of the many mistakes you make about men like Keith is to confuse the fact that he’d never dream of mentioning his feelings about the Labour Party in public, with the idea that somehow those feelings don’t exist, that they can’t have consequences.

Read the whole thing. 

Now, obviously — obviously! — there are limits to how this could be translated to the American context. For one, gay rights are much more widely accepted in the UK than in the US, even among Tories. The argument there is primarily over transgenderism, which is not the same thing as homosexuality (though politically, they are usually conflated). My point is that there is no Religious Right in Britain, and for better or worse, the Tory Party is quite gay-friendly, in a way that the GOP just isn’t. Trump himself has not been anti-gay — in fact, he launched a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide — though he has taken a definite policy line against transgender rights. My sense is that Trump is probably where most Americans are: for gay rights, but troubled by transgenderism. According to Gallup, unlike the president, a strong majority of Americans favor allowing transgender soldiers to serve in the military, but most people aren’t cool with progressive policies on bathrooms. I would be interested to see polling measuring the intensity of how voters feel about trans issues. My guess is that conservative voters who feel intensely about the issue are going to significantly outnumber progressive voters who do.

Second, Boris Johnson is a vastly more likeable person than Donald Trump. He has a real sense of humor, which the US president conspicuously lacks. That will take you far.

Having conceded that, is there a lesson for the Republicans to learn from the Graeme Archer piece? Surely there are a lot of people in this country who are invisible to the media, and who don’t want the country to be run by the kind of people who write for and edit The New York Times, NPR, the Washington Post, Vox and The Atlantic, right? We’ve all heard by now that Boris Johnson hit the sweet spot by moving left on economics and right on culture (again, in the UK, that doesn’t mean Religious Right; it means nationalism). Could Trump do that too? Could the Republicans?

Leaving aside the policy details, what I’m getting at is this, from Archer’s piece:

… [Keith the gay electrician] understands that you think he’s either ignorant, or wicked, for not being Labour.

The result? Keith hates your party, Jess, at a much more visceral (and therefore irrevocable) level than the intellectual dislike I feel for socialism in general.

A lot of people who don’t like Trump really hate being treated by the media, by many Democrats, and by liberal spokespeople as if they’re ignorant, or wicked, or bigoted, because they aren’t Woke. The New York Times earlier this year undertook a big project with the goal of rewriting American history around the claim that the whole point of America was … slavery. Remember this from the leaked transcript of a Times internal meeting with executive editor Dean Baquet?:

I just feel like racism is in everything. And therefore should be systemically worked into all stories in the paper! And get this — Baquet didn’t challenge this. This is par for the course for our media today. I’m not going to go into a long list here; I talk about this a fair amount on this blog anyway. The point is, you don’t have to love Donald Trump to get sick and tired of being told by these people that to prove yourself a decent person, you have to hate yourself, hate the country, hate your traditions, hate your dad, hate your sons (especially the unborn ones), hate your religion, hate your pronouns, hate your people, hate the cops, hate what was just fine five minutes ago, hate your happiness, hate your penis, and hate your life — and oh, you also have to vote Democratic. Otherwise, you’re a HATER!

All the Democrats would have to do to get rid of Donald Trump is just be normal. They can’t do it. Just cannot do it. Even old Uncle Joe, the most normal of them, if he steps out of line, the wokesters whip him back into shape. Bernie doesn’t really care about that stuff, not like he cares about economics, but let’s not kid ourselves: under any Democratic president, the woke will be in charge, and will not compromise on any of it.

I don’t think Donald Trump is anywhere close to normal. He’s a freak, in his way. But then, in the way he lives, Jeremy Corbyn is far closer to the average Briton than the toff Boris Johnson, graduate of Eton and Oxford. But who did the working class trust more with their futures? The Old Etonian. Why do you suppose that is?

Unlike Keith with Labour, I can’t say that I hate the Democrats, and I certainly don’t love the Republicans. But I know that the kind of people running movement liberalism really do think people like me are a problem to be solved. Don’t tell me it’s not true. I read their papers and magazines. I listen to their newscasts. I hear every day, in my e-mail and on this blog, from people who are having to live with their oppressive spitefulness in the workplace, or who are scared to death for their kids because of the gender ideology revolution in their schools.

Just last week I heard from a reader who told me about a beloved local civic institution being destroyed entirely for reasons of woke cultural politics. I can’t write about that now, but I might later. People are afraid to talk about it because they’re scared of being tarred as bigots if they stand up for the thing that they love, which is probably a goner anyway. Can you imagine being afraid to defend a civic institution — again, I’m sorry I can’t say more, but trust me, this is the kind of thing that was totally unproblematic five years ago — because the act of doing so would compel you to have to explain why you don’t hate “the marginalized,” and doing so would probably get you on a blacklist in your profession? If I am able to tell this story — if I can get people to talk — you’ll understand what I mean.

I don’t know these people, but given the part of the country their institution is in, and given the nature of the institution, I would be very surprised if any of them voted for Trump in 2016. Now that this is happening, I’d be surprised if half of them don’t end up voting for him.

That’s stupid, right? The President of the United States can’t stop local institutions from being shut down by wokesters. That’s like expecting the Pope to intervene to protect the parish across town from closing. But that is entirely beside the point. I know conservative Christians who absolutely positively won’t vote for Donald Trump because of the immigrant children at the border issue, which is a direct Trump policy. The symbolism of that is so powerful to them that it overrides any other concern. I don’t share that particular feeling, but I completely understand how people come to regard these issues as condensed symbols of something far greater.

How many people in that room in Seattle felt offended or otherwise troubled by the transgender stripper, but wouldn’t dare say so out of fear of being set upon for being insufficiently woke? I wouldn’t guess that many social work types in Seattle would be tempted to vote Republican under any circumstance, but who knows? Would you have thought a working-class gay man in England would vote for Boris Johnson’s Tory Party over Labour? He did, because he hates Labour. He hates Labour because Labour hated him — an actual labourer! — first.

The point is, ordinary people are feeling besieged in concrete ways all the time, and nobody talks about it openly, because the kind of people who lead the Democratic Party and its activist allies would happily seen them stigmatized and professionally destroyed. This is not a supposition. We see it happening around us. Last week, a Republican normie friend told me that he didn’t vote Trump in 2016, but having seen how far left the Democrats have gone on the culture since 2016, he’s going to vote Trump without any regret — in spite of the fact that our president is not terribly competent, and of low character.

Another conservative friend who is fairly well known in his field texted this morning to say that he had been approached by a journalist whose name he didn’t recognize, asking for an interview for a book he’s writing. My friend thought it sounded like a set-up, and asked me what I thought. I hadn’t heard of the journalist either, but when I googled him, I found that yep, it almost certainly was a set-up. What’s interesting to me about this is that my friend, whose conservatism is known, has had to become so watchful about this kind of thing in his liberal-dominated profession that he cannot simply take a phone call from a journalist and speak his mind. He saw what that young left-wing journalist jackass did to Sir Roger Scruton. 

I know that this conservative friend is no fan of Donald Trump. I don’t know how he’s going to vote in 2020. But I would bet my next paycheck that he’s going to go Trump, not because he loves, or even likes, Trump, but because he genuinely fears the cultural Left in power. As I said, he works in an elite professional field in which they dominate. He knows what these elites think, and how they think. He’s scared of them. He’s right to be.

“Decolonizing Our Collective Work, with Beyoncé Black St. James.” Not that any of our media would dare to push the Democratic candidates in even the slightest adversarial way on this stuff, but I would love to see them put on the spot. These people will not allow themselves to have any enemies to the intersectional left. It’s going to cost them, you watch. They care more about the Beyoncés of the world than they do the Keiths.

(Read below the photo for an update.)

Beyoncé Black St. James, a trans stripper earning her taxpayer-funded paycheck in Seattle

UPDATE:From a piece on the woke brokeness of Labour, written by Toby Young:

Not that they have much love for [Boris Johnson]. A friend of mine was standing as the Conservative candidate in Newcastle upon Tyne North, where the Labour incumbent won a 10,000 majority two years ago, and I knocked on a few doors for him last week. Every person I spoke to said they were going to vote Tory. In some cases, it was because they wanted to “get Brexit done,” which has been the Conservatives’ endlessly repeated campaign slogan over the past six weeks, but in others it was because of their visceral dislike for Labour’s leader.

“Most people I know who used to be staunch Labour are now saying no way Jeremy Corbyn,” said Steve Hurt, an engineer. “It’s not our party any more. Same label, different bottle.”

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Plenty of better writers than me—Douglas Murray, John Gray—have debunked the notion that the only reason low-income voters embrace right-wing politics is because they’re drunk on a cocktail of ethno-nationalism and false hope (with Rupert Murdoch and Vladimir Putin taking turns as mixologists). It surely has more to do with the Left’s sneering contempt for the “deplorables” in the flyover states as they shuttle back and forth between their walled, cosmopolitan strongholds. As Corbyn’s policy platform in Britain’s election showed, left-wing parties now have little to offer indigenous, working class people outside the big cities—and their activists often add insult to injury by describing these left-behind voters as “privileged” because they’re white or cis-gendered or whatever. So long as parties like Labour pander to their middle-class, identitarian activists and ignore the interests of the genuinely disadvantaged, they’ll continue to rack up loss after loss. Get woke, go broke.

Corbyn was horrible in ways that it’s hard to see a good analogue for among the Democratic presidential candidates. I mean, the guy wouldn’t even sing “God Save The Queen” at a memorial service. Still, an elderly Vermont socialist who talks like Jackie Mason? A hectoring Harvard lady law professor who is so woke it’s like she safety-pinned her eyelids to her eyebrows? I dunno, man.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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