One of the hallmarks of being a movement conservative, whether the staid kind or the ‘dark web’ kind, is that there is the constant battle with imaginary liberals. Rather than engaging actual liberals (and lefty types too!), there is the construction of straw men (boldface mine):
We can also tell how little they care about serious debate from their total refusal to rationally engage with advocates of the social justice/ identity politics position that so horrifies them. In his debate with Sam Harris, Ezra Klein made an important observation: in 120 episodes, Harris had only ever had two African American guests. Harris then replied that he had had former Reagan administration official Glenn Loury on specifically to discuss racism, but suggested that he chose Loury specifically because he wanted someone who didn’t hold the views Harris disdains. That’s so often the case with critics of social justice: I pointed out recently that when David Brooks attempted to “engage” with the campus activist position, he didn’t do so by reading a book or speaking to an actual human being, but by inventing an imaginary caricature in his head and then arguing with it.
Critics, who are exhorting the left to listen more and be fair and rational, do not ever try to listen to the left. They don’t try to understand where the activists are coming from. Instead, they take left beliefs in their most extreme and simplistic versions and sit around talking to each other about what fools leftists are. When Dave Rubin and Sam Harris want to talk about the left’s view on racism, they’ll talk to people who already share their views, rather than the people they’re actually talking about. (Even Weiss says that they are to be found “speaking to one another in packed venues across the globe.” Note: one another.)
…It seems to me as if a lot of the supposed “disdain for rational debate” that “social justice activists” have is a quite justified frustration at hypocrisy. While I get plenty exasperated by tactics like antifa and concepts like cultural appropriation, I think a lot of the supposed “illiberal leftism” emerges out of an anger at the sorts of people who love to talk but refuse to listen. They cannot see the hypocrisy in demanding that activists empathize with their perspectives without doing any empathizing of their own. Jordan Peterson has made fun of protests as an inexplicable shaking of “paper on sticks” that started in the 60s, seemingly without having considered what the world looks like to those doing the paper-shaking. Ben Shapiro refuses to consider the possibility that wealth disparities across generations might affect African American social outcomes. Bret Weinstein accused protesters of oppressing him while publicly misrepresenting what they were doing. The righteous rage at these particular white people is less because of what they think than because they don’t think at all.
The Bari Weisses of the world are just a little more clever at this than your typical movement conservative. But it’s just the same con, rolling on.
Aside: I thought Michelle Goldberg of the NY Times was smart enough not to fall for this. I was wrong. It must be something in the water.