A while back, a friend of mine – someone who was a liberal in the 60s but has moved to the conservative side over the years – told me that if the left was ever in a position to shut down ideas and opinions they didn’t agree with – they would do just that.
That’s how authoritarian the new left had become, he told me.
My friend is smart, but I wasn’t buying his dark vision. The very essence of liberalism, I figured, was to be open to all points of view, whether you bought into them or not.
Boy was I naïve.
We are witnessing a kind of Cultural Revolution spreading across America, one that came alive as George Floyd was dying.
And as is it often happens with revolutions, they don’t always end up as planned. It’s not unusual for the purists to take over the movement and that’s when certain ideas become unacceptable. Certain opinions are no longer tolerated. You either believe the right things, you only utter acceptable ideas, or you pay a price.
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal eloquently captures what is going on in America these days. “On matters deemed sacrosanct—and today that includes the view that America is root-and-branch racist—there is no room for debate. You must admit your failure to appreciate this orthodoxy and do penance, or you will not survive in the job.”
So in this Brave New World you either conform to acceptable thought and speech, or face the consequences.
This is why HBO, in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd, announced that “Gone with the Wind,” the 1939 civil war classic was pulled from its library. It won’t be shown on its new platform, HBO Max – not for a while anyway.
A spokesperson for the company said that, “Gone with the Wind” is “a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society.”
And it’s why Grant Napier, the play-by-play announcer for the Sacramento Kings basketball team since 1988 was fired. His crime: When asked by a former Kings player what he thought about the Black Lives Matter movement, he tweeted back, “ALL LIVES MATTER…EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!”
The media company that forced him out said Napier’s comments “do not reflect [our] values.” If “All lives matter” doesn’t reflect their values – what in the world are their values?
A member of the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team was fired – not because of anything he said or did – but because of something his wife posted on social media. That’s right, his wife! She wrote – in Serbian — that police should shoot protestors, whom she called “disgusting cattle” – a sentiment her husband denounced with a post of his own. Not good enough for the Galaxy. They couldn’t fire her so they fired him.
Then there’s Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback, who said that while he deplored what happened to George Floyd, he also disapproved of NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem; he thought that was disrespecting the American flag.
Within one day, after blowback from teammates, Brees apologized, recanted, and confessed that what he said was divisive and hurtful. He’s lucky he wasn’t shipped off to a re-education camp.
After a newsroom revolt over an op-ed by a Republican U.S. senator, the opinion page editor at the New York Times was forced to resign … for agreeing to publish an opinion.
The op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton ran online and was scheduled to run in the paper’s widely read Sunday print edition.
Cotton argued that President Trump should deploy military troops to American cities to help local police stop rioting and looting.
Like infantile college students who throw tantrums when exposed to views they don’t like, young, woke staffers at the Times revolted, saying the column put black lives in danger. And that’s all the spineless publisher needed to hear before he caved.
The paper, which has published opinion pieces from the Taliban and from prominent dictators, gave in to the mob and decided not to run the op-ed in its Sunday print edition.
So journalists who scream “chilling effect” if a critic looks sideways at them, are the ones advocating censorship at the Times? Calling it ironic would be a massive understatement.
There was an in-house revolt at the Philadelphia Inquirer too, where dozens of minority journalists said a headline over a column from an architecture writer made it harder for them to do their jobs and “at worst, puts our lives at risk.”
The headline read: “Buildings Matter, Too” – a reference to structures that were torched during riots in Philadelphia.
Three editors wrote a letter apologizing for the headline, but that wasn’t enough to please the aggrieved journalists. So the top editor at the paper resigned in order to ease their concerns.
All this raises a question: Where are the liberals standing up to this intimidation, to this censorship? Are they afraid of the mob – afraid to speak up for fear that they’ll also be targeted? Or have they come to believe that on some matters there really is no room for debate – that there’s absolutely nothing worth considering from the other side?
And if we see more Americans bend to the intimidation of the cultural revolutionaries, we can be sure of one thing: that what we’re witnessing now is only the beginning.