The home stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign saw much of the media, the former Clinton campaign, and the Democratic party apparatus darkly intimate connections between their Republican rival and the specter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime. It was as if the Left in America had discovered, suddenly, that they have enemies beyond our shores nearly as dangerous and worth fighting as their conservative enemies domestically.
But, like most quick poses affected for partisan reasons, the Left’s finger-pointing is too cute by half. Although the Left would like to believe its “openness” represents the antithesis of Putin’s Russia, its Social Justice Warrior scolding and intimidation tactics carries the very same features of Putin’s system: namely, a substance-less crusade against opposing ideas and a subjective moral code that leaves no room for discussion.
Last week, Kate Aurthur of Buzzfeed
Not only did the hit-piece demonstrate complete disregard for religious freedom—only enhanced by its snide condemnation of traditional Christian belief systems—it offered a moral judgement on two people that was both baseless and grossly subjective.
The Left, with its united band of Social Justice Warriors, has ushered in an era where the parameters of incidents worthy of censure are ever-expanding and evermore suspect. Indeed, what took place here was nothing more than manufactured public derision of what a couple might believe to be true. Indeed, there existed no evidence of any anti-gay sentiment from the Gaines family. The mere possibility that an individual has entertained a particular thought that goes against the Leftist moral code seems to be enough for such gross censure. And indeed, the said moral code of the Left is nothing more than a subjective construct that neatly defines those who disagree as “undesirables” (racist, sexist, homophobe, Islamophobe, etc.) or simply “ignorant.”
When drafting the Constitution, it is doubtful that the Founders envisioned a day when even unspoken and unwritten thoughts had to be protected. But if the current election cycle is any indication, the Left indeed has adopted the lofty mission of “weeding out” and “exposing” what it considers to be the unfavorable elements in society.
This it has in common with other political warfare tactics employed to embarrass and shame enemies, both real and imaginary, particularly in Eastern Europe. In fact, these tactics are oddly reminiscent of the very same tools employed both in the USSR and in Putin’s Russia.
The 1930s was one of the worst decades in Soviet history for independent thought, primarily because Stalin had developed an intricate system for locating and eliminating perceived “enemies of the state,” a period eventually labeled in rightful infamy as The Great Terror. Like the Leftists of today, his definition for “enemies” was entirely subjective, yet easily definable—it was anyone who dared to disagree with the reigning philosophy of the Communist Party, or anyone who was thought to be in potential disagreement. The parallel is not being made between Stalin and the Left—that would be egregiously and disgustingly hyperbolic and insensitive. However, it is worth noting that certain aspects of Stalinist rhetoric— particularly in regards to the suppression of freedom of speech—are being adopted and rebranded by the contemporary Left as some sort of social justice crusade, much in the same way perpetrators have done in the past.
But, unfortunately, the precedent for BuzzFeed’s public shaming isn’t as far off as the Soviet allusion might suggest. Indeed, contemporary Russian politics, led under the auspices of Vladimir Putin, have been mired by the Kremlin’s attempts to subjectively establish what should be objectively viewed as either “desirable” or “undesirable” by Russian society.
In early 2015, the Kremlin passed a law which, among many other stipulations, forbade citizens from associating with foreign organizations within Russia the Kremlin had defined as “undesirable.” No court trial was afforded to those organizations which made the “undesirables” list. It was simply regarded as an untouchable fact. Its intended design was to stifle diversity of thought by criminalizing Russian branches that dared to communicate with their foreign partners abroad. And sadly, it has been doing its job.
Putin’s measures have resulted in the public ostracizing of various individuals and organizations suspected of supposedly “illicit” connections. Much in the way the Left has hijacked what are acceptable belief systems and publicly shamed those who may or may not hold said beliefs, so too has Putin done the very same in Russia. Suspicion is a powerful drug, and without proof, it tends to birth hyperbolic visions of enemies that simply don’t exist.
Shaming and vilifying people for what they possibly have thought in private was unacceptable then, and it most certainly is unacceptable now. What BuzzFeed has indicated is that the Left has progressed beyond the creation of “safe spaces” to the full-blown invasion of individuals’ private spaces. It was not enough to silence oppositional viewpoints in the public sphere—now, to ensure the belief system of the Left is successfully internalized, the Left must make educated guesses about your potential thought processes and subsequently shred them publicly in order to “teach you a lesson.”
Just as Putin continues to chase down his imaginary enemies for things they may or may not believe, so too do certain members of the Left. The saying used to go, “don’t discuss politics or religion.” Now, apparently, no talking is necessary. It’s simply the thought that counts—or in this case, the very suspicion of thought.