Left-Wing Silencers Are Addicted to Unhinged Outrage, Which Only Helps Trump

Posted: Aug 03, 2017 11:30 AM

Two years ago, Mary Katharine Ham and I published End of Discussion, in which we warned that the Left's politically-correct mob was ruining American discourse.  These bullies were increasingly seeking to "win" political and cultural debates by preventing them from happening in the first place, we argued, pointing to leftist tactics to silence and shut down honest conversations through a nonstop barrage of motive-impugning grievances.  The book was originally published literally one week prior to Donald Trump's now-iconic escalator descent to announce what appeared to be a long-shot presidential run.  Twenty-six months later, he's president, and Berkeley is on fire.  We thought it was time to revisit our subject.  We've released a brand new paperback edition, featuring an added introductory chapter charting Trump's rise as a one-man backlash against the faux outrage brigade.  An excerpt from our update:

Time and again on [our 2015 book] tour we found ourselves admonishing the silencers that convincing people to shut up is not the same thing as actually convincing people. We warned that if you bully folks hard enough and long enough, a backlash will build, even as we were unsure of what that backlash might look like. It turned out the backlash took the form of a single man: a brash, famous-for-being-rich real estate mogul turned reality television star...The reaction of the political press and establishment was nearly universal: mildly amused revulsion, coupled with certitude that this man would never even sniff the nomination of his hastily-adopted political party, let alone make any sort of serious run at the presidency. Seventeen months later, he was elected the 45th president of the United States.

The reasons Trump won are myriad, and many fall well outside the scope of this book. But the Left’s arrogant cultural ascendancy and efforts to demean traditionally right-of-center views as “hateful” and “bigoted” were a large part of it. The media’s immediate pile-on of ridicule was a signal to millions that maybe Trump was onto something. They started paying attention— and defending him. He emerged unscathed, even bolstered, by a string of “outrages”—both frivolous and genuinely distasteful—that would have doomed any other politician’s campaign. By flooding the airwaves with “outrages” on a sometimes hourly basis, Trump fried the media’s circuits. His critics couldn’t focus on any given flare-up without getting sidetracked by the next one. We are outraged by Donald Trump’s latest attack on...wait, oh my God, did you see what he literally just said?

The Trump train began to fill up with a growing number of citizens who’d grown exasperated by smothering political correctness and its enforcers. Legions of Republican primary voters ultimately chose to put aside concerns about character (and conservative values) to boost a man who represented a giant middle finger to the bipartisan political establishment, particularly the you-can’t-say-that tut-tutters in the mainstream press. When asked why voters were willing to make such moral and ideological compromises on his behalf, many Trump supporters offered some variant of the same answer: Because at least he’s willing to fight. After years of feeling culturally bullied by liberal taste- makers for believing the “wrong” things, many voters had concluded that it was time to hire a bully of their own. Fortunately, the left-wing outrage brigade has taken Trump’s surprise victory in stride, engaging in constructive self-reflection and working hard to mitigate some of their most self-destructive impulses. Just kidding; they’ve lost their damn minds.

As I explained on Fox & Friends, rather than engaging in some much-needed introspection on the manner in which they're alienating their fellow citizens, many on the hard Left have doubled and tripled down on the exact same approach -- which actually helps to strengthen Trump, or at least rally skeptics to his side:

What sort of tactics am I talking about?  Well, this sort:

Whether or not one agrees with Coulter -- and I somewhat frequently find myself disagreeing with her on substance or style -- goose-stepping around in Nazi regalia and shouting her down is an ugly spectacle.  She was invited to speak, and people paid money to hear her.  If critics want to stand in line and challenge her with sharp questions during Q&A, have at it.  But carrying on for ten minutes and disrupting the free speech event just proves her, and our, point.  A quick perusal of some headlines this week confirm that the hard Left is marching unwaveringly down the path of counterfeit fury, toxic identity politics, humorless scolding, and outright censorship.  The End of Discussion trend is devolving, not improving, and too many on the Right seem to be spoiling for an America-harming outrage arms race that it can't win (did we mention the impulse to stifle dissenting viewpoints is definitely cross-ideological?)  "Free speech isn't always pretty, but it's vital to the American way.  We have to Make America Talk Again.  End of Discussion arms readers to find their voices and fight back against the death of debate," we write.  In light of the alarming trajectory of our national dialogue, we hope you'll give it a shot.  As Mark Levin says, "you don't have to agree with everything [we] say -- and that's the point!"

Recommended Townhall Video