Honest liberals are having their Andrew Breitbart moment. Andrew started out as a liberal, except he was the kind of liberal that’s exceedingly rare today. He was a liberal who actually believed in the things liberals say they believe in, like free expression and personal autonomy.
But they don’t.
Andrew’s change began when he watched the Clarence Thomas hearings. He saw a “high-tech lynching,” as racist Democrats intent on stamping out dissent among black Americans channeled their former Majority Leader/KKK Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd in attacking the black jurist for refusing to toe the liberal line.
Andrews’s views didn't change. What changed was his understanding of who actually stands for freedom. And it isn’t liberals.
Which brings us to the recent kerfuffle involving popular comic Patton Oswalt. He is known as a sarcastic, snarky, underdog with genuine stand-up chops. He’s also an occasional movie and television star who recently had a memorable role on “Justified,” a conservative favorite due to its general awesomeness and the presence of right wing acting legend Nick Searcy.
By all accounts a funny, decent guy, Oswalt thinks of himself as a liberal, and he frequently bickers with conservatives on Twitter. That's fine. Many conservatives died to give him that right. Conservatives don't resent him for doing so even as they disagree with what he says. But that's not true of his allies on the left. They want to shut him up. You see, Oswalt pulled a Clarence Thomas and left the reservation without the chiefs’ permission.
What was Oswalt’s crime? He tweeted approvingly about a Mark Steyn column in which the conservative raconteur took on the global progressive assault on free expression. He made the mistake of characterizing Steyn’s forceful advocacy of free speech as “hitting it out of the park.”
That, the Left cannot forgive.
You see, Mark Steyn is evil. He has ideas liberals don’t approve of. So to cite him as he took on the left’s Ball Gag Caucus was simply unacceptable to the progressive conformity enforcers. Soon Oswalt found himself swamped by a tsunami of Twitter outrage.
Oswalt, stunned but so-far uncowed, tweeted back that his erstwhile allies were proving Steyn’s point. And he was right.
The challenge for honest liberals is to get their collective heads around the fact that the liberalism they think they subscribe to is being advocated and defended only by the very conservatives their prejudices and ignorance have led them to believe are undermining it. The real enemy of free expression isn't the conservative John Lithgow in “Footloose” banning dancing because of some idiosyncratic take on Jesus’s teachings. The real threat is the pseudo-enlightened schoolteacher on “Glee” enforcing his rigid progressive vision of diversity. And his vision of diversity is a diverse collection of those ideas he approves of and no others.
So is Oswalt going to stand up for freedom and take his lumps, or is he going to take the easy path of submission and obedience to the politically correct commands of the gatekeepers of liberalism?
It's a lot easier to submit, to not fight, to not make a fuss. What happens when you make a fuss? Remember John Lovitz? He’s another liberal who stood up to political correctness on social media. Do you see John Lovitz in a lot of movies these days?
Did Lovitz suddenly become unmarketable about the same time he became uncontrollable, or are people just afraid to be seen with him lest his new reputation for heresy rub off?
The temptation for someone like Oswalt, when faced with the braying mob of radical feminists, crypto-fascist academics, and assorted other progressive weirdoes, losers and mutations, must be overwhelming. It's so easy to surrender, to redouble your attacks on conservatives to prove you’re still one of the gang. All you have to do is hand over your autonomy and they'll give you a pass. Sure, it's humiliating, but who needs self-respect when you can guest star on “Two and a Half Men?”
Oswalt can submit, or he can face the fact, as must other honest liberals, that the side they think they are on doesn’t remotely believe in free expression. It doesn’t believe in free thought. It doesn’t believe in diversity. It believes in a crushing conformity enforced by a creepy Red Guard of politically correct goose-steppers with gender studies degrees, Twitter accounts and the burning need to bend others to their will.
We don't have to agree with what Patton Oswalt says, but the difference is that we conservatives aren’t the ones trying to silence him. We will argue with him. We will fight with him. But we won’t try to stick a rag in his pie hole. That's what his “friends” are trying to do.
Oswalt and other honest liberals need to decide who their friends really are.