Fighting Imaginary Liberals

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.

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4 Responses to Fighting Imaginary Liberals

  1. Gingerbaker says:

    Harris is a conservative? Please….

    • thesseli says:

      He sure seems that way. Atheists and skeptics can hold quite conservative views.

    • I know almost nothing of him, but the vague idea I got was that he was libertarian.
      And I just notice it’s the libertarian types that are generally against social justice. I’m not sure why anyone would be against justice as a blanket statement. And I do think for some blind followers of talk radio yammering about “social justice warriors” is just a repeatable catch phrase with little meaning to most of the people who say it for simple tribalism purposes of fitting in. But technically, I just don’t think being against social justice is associated with conservatives because generally social conservatives are very much interested in social justice – just different issues or on different sides of an issue compared to liberals or leftists.

  2. doug says:

    Bret was shouted down by a mob of children for expressing an opinion that deviated from their views. He stopped teaching his class when they showed up uninvited to engage with them, but he demanded to be heard. They explicitly refused to listen to what he had to say, and instead shouted him down. Nothing in the idiotic article published by a person who was not there refutes that fact, nor does it show that Bret “misrepresented” anything. You rarely disappoint me, but this is one time you did.

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