Enjoy the lack of self-awareness found in the most popular Progressive comments to a Times op-ed warning against the dangers of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
One of the joys in life during the Trump era is watching Progressives decompensate and self-destruct. All their rhetoric about inclusiveness, spiritual generosity, intellectual superiority has always been merely a thin veneer covering vicious insanity. Trump, bless his heart, stripped that veneer and now we’re getting Progressives, like Nature itself, “red in tooth and claw With ravine.” Nowhere is this slavering fury better displayed than in the comments to a Sunday New York Times op-ed telling them that they’re harming themselves with the unbridled Trump Derangement Syndrome.
In the op-ed, Gerard Alexander, a PolySci professor at University of Virginia, has some hard truths for Progressives. He describes their behavior and predicts an inevitable backfire:
I know many liberals, and two of them really are my best friends. Liberals make good movies and television shows. Their idealism has been an inspiration for me and many others. Many liberals are very smart. But they are not as smart, or as persuasive, as they think.
And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected.
Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.
But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.
Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully. Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans — specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump.
Within just a few years, many liberals went from starting to talk about microaggressions to suggesting that it is racist even to question whether microaggressions are that important. “Gender identity disorder” was considered a form of mental illness until recently, but today anyone hesitant about transgender women using the ladies’ room is labeled a bigot. Liberals denounce “cultural appropriation” without, in many cases, doing the work of persuading people that there is anything wrong with, say, a teenager not of Chinese descent wearing a Chinese-style dress to prom or eating at a burrito cart run by two non-Latino women.
This judgmental tendency became stronger during the administration of President Barack Obama, though not necessarily because of anything Mr. Obama did. Feeling increasingly emboldened, liberals were more convinced than ever that conservatives were their intellectual and even moral inferiors. Discourses and theories once confined to academia were transmitted into workaday liberal political thinking, and college campuses — which many take to be what a world run by liberals would look like — seemed increasingly intolerant of free inquiry.
Self-righteousness can also get things wrong. Especially with the possibility of Mr. Trump’s re-election, many liberals seem primed to write off nearly half the country as irredeemable. Admittedly, the president doesn’t make it easy. As a candidate, Mr. Trump made derogatory comments about Mexicans, and as president described some African countries with a vulgar epithet. But it is an unjustified leap to conclude that anyone who supports him in any way is racist, just as it would be a leap to say that anyone who supported Hillary Clinton was racist because she once made veiled references to “superpredators.”
Liberals are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle. When they use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable. That only validates their own worst prejudices about the other America.
It’s a well-stated thesis: You’re incredibly nasty about half the American population, nastiness is seldom persuasive, and you may find yourself facing a backlash you hate, in the form of four more years of Trump (not to mention a stalled blue wave in the 2018 midterms). I recommend reading the article because it makes a lot of sense, but the real joy comes from reading the comments.
I should note that I did not read the more than 1,700 comments. Instead, I scrolled through those comments that New York Times readers (i.e., Progressives) deemed the most best. What’s so funny is that Alexander’s message — don’t be so nasty because you harm your own cause — bypassed both writers and readers completely. In the most popular comment of them all, the author simply cannot understand how Hillary’s popularity didn’t soar after she rightly called half of Americans “deplorable”:
Canterbury, United Kingdom May 13
One of the most extraordinary things about US politics today is that Trump has set new standards for vileness and insolence in both his conduct and speech, and wins admiration for it from his base. But when Hillary Clinton, in an unguarded moment, accurately described half of Trump’s voters as deplorable, she was condemned as an out of touch elitist. So we must wonder, is it actually the case that a majority of Americans prefer a proven liar and conman, and unproven traitor to a capable, if uncharismatic politician? Actually not, if we examine the numbers. Trump was beaten in the popular vote and would have prevailed in crucial swing states were it not for gerrymandering and voter suppression by Republicans. Liberals don’t need lectures on minding our manners. We need a democracy that actually reflects the will of the people.
The next most popular comment is pure “they’re nasty too,” which might have more heft if it were not for the case that, as Alexander points out, Proggies own all of the vehicles of communication in America, not to mention its entire education system. You’d think that Progressives, to be consistent, would argue that, just as racial minorities cannot be racist, those who are ideologically side-lined cannot be mean-spirited:
East of the GWB May 12
Are there not self-righteous conservatives? Are there not conservatives who call liberals “libtards” and question liberals’ patriotism at every opportunity? Are there not conservatives who vehemently oppose free speech when that speech dares to question American exceptionalism?
These one-sided arguments excoriating liberals are quite tiresome.
If, knowing now what we know about Trump, 18 months removed from that terrible Tuesday, someone still supports the man, there is nothing I can say or do, no degree of empathy or understanding I can deliver, to make that someone change his or her mind.
We all need to stop generalizing about individuals.
The third most popular article offers more of the same: Nobody in their right mind would demand that we be respectful of stupid, bigoted, hate-filled morons:
VA May 13
This is the same argument I’ve been hearing since Trump was elected. It infuriates me. Just what do you suggest liberals do? Be super respectful and tolerant of ignorance? Invite the “other side” to a dialogue? In my little town we tried and they refused. From my experience, republicans are mostly bullies and behave exactly like you describe. They are looking down on the city elites if for the opposite reason. Conservatives proudly call themselves the real Americans and sneer at liberals. Does this come from a place of insecurity? Perhaps. But you proceed to paint all liberals as one, which is of course not true. I suggest that liberals running for office be honest and forthright. Trump’s dedicated base will not be swayed, not for anything. Liberals must motivate everyone else to show up and vote.
Just so you can get the full flavor, I’ll quote here the fourth, fifth, and sixth most popular comments according to Times readers (and, as you can see, several are also the most popular with the Times editors too:
I am a true blue Democrat. And I have been turning the other cheek to conservatives and their name-calling and harmful policies since Reagan and his gang were in office.
I agree that it does no good to malign a group with broad brush strokes. But all that turning the other cheek and making nice just ended up here – with a crazy crook and his miscreants(R) in all the power positions of government.
Turning the other cheek doesn’t work when the other side is playing hardball. And with unlimited guns, no less.
Failing to call out the ugliness is a mistake. If you are going down, go down swinging.
I am not encouraging us Dems to be ugly but at least we need to take a stand and speak the truth. And racism is real and widespread in the republican party of 1980 to present.
There, I said it.
NYC May 12
The author’s argument is based on a false description of liberals used by those on the right to stereotype, malign, and scapegoat liberals, confound facts and falsify the public debate.
The dictionary’s definition of a liberal is merely one who is open-minded, favorable to and respectful of individual rights and freedoms. These are the precise noble values expressed in the Declaration of Independence—that we are all created equal, and all endowed by our creator with the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If liberals are smart, and the majority of college professors are liberal, it is only because an open mind, as free from prejudice as possible, is essential to discovering truth, such as that the Earth revolves around the Sun, not vice versa!
It is not liberals, but the right that wants to tell the rest of us what to do, indeed force us—not use contraception, not have abortions, dictate whom one may fall in love with and be allowed to marry, etc.
If anyone is self-righteous, it is the right. Liberals don’t presume to know what is right for others, only that everyone should have the right to decide that for themselves, as long as it doesn’t harm others.
If liberals are vocal in defending these principles and the truth, it is not that they are self-righteous, it is that they care most strongly about the noble values upon with our democracy was founded, and know that without them it will cease to exist.
Bill Van Dyk
Kitchener, Ontario May 13
Straw men. “Some liberals” this, and “some liberals” that. Some conservatives are active, aggressive members of neo-Nazi organizations. Are they driving away some liberals who might otherwise vote for Trump? The problem is that Mr. Alexander almost suggests that really, there are two equally valid polarities in U.S. politics and those who love Mr. Trump should be regarded as equally respectable with those who support the Democrats. But they are not equal: one side likes a leader who often sounds like a childish, immature, bullying blow-hard. The other side does not. If Trump is your leader, and you admire him and his party, you are not reasonably entitled to respect for your political views. This is not like the difference between those who are pro-free trade and those who are against. It’s the difference between the politics of hate and exclusion and the politics of mutual respect and inclusion.
They hate you. They really, really hate you.
The above are representative of the top “reader picks” articles, each claiming that Alexander is out of his ever-loving mind because Trump supporters are so utterly vile and so entirely outside the pale that it is impossible (or, as Biden would say, “literally impossible”) to speak to them in any but the most demeaning, insulting, offensive terms. Only in such a way can these self-defined “liberals” preserve the space between their own dignified, respectful, open-minded, intelligent, and truly decent selves, on the one hand, and the utter evil that walks the land in Trump’s America, on the other hand.
If you want a video microcosm of the type of thinking New York Times Progressives are displaying here, I urge you to check out this video. Also I urge you to read Paul Mirengoff’s two articles pointing out that, for all the rhetoric about Trump’s alleged hatred and fascism, he’s been a completely controlled, constitutional president. What the Progressives mean when they speak of hate and fascism are policies that were normative just ten or twelve years ago, before Obama took his pen and phone and unilaterally tried to rewrite the Constitution.
Mirengoff’s articles are especially sweet because, back in 2016 and early 2017, he did not support and was very worried about Trump. Mirengoff represents what happens when a president keeps his promises, acts in a manner consistent with America’s Constitution and laws, and loves his country and its values. Moreover, Mirengoff is not alone. Ordinary Americans are noticing that the racial obsession, lawlessness, and hate are emanating, not from the White House, but from the mean streets of America’s Leftist cities and political enclaves.
As for me, I’m always delighted to see people show their true colors. It’s very helpful to know where you stand with them.
Photo credit: Floris van Cauweleart, Anti-Trump Protest. Creative Commons; some rights reserved.