Left Wing Nut Jobs
February 20, 2017 § 8 Comments
We tend to live in ideological echo chambers these days. This is as true of the left as it is of the right and of the centre. But something has shifted in recent months that I find rather interesting. Until 2015, liberals and lefties could, and did, say with smug superiority that they dealt in facts and reality and too many people on the other did not (the latter is proved by the ‘alternative facts,’ or lies, that come out of Whitehall in London and the White House in DC, for example).
But since the autumn of 2016, I have been harangued on Twitter by leftists who trade in alternative facts and lies themselves. In October, I found myself in the cross-hairs of the anti-Hillary Clinton left. I had been having a discussion with one of my tweeps about President Bill Clinton’s attempts to introduce universal health care coverage in the United States in 1992-94. This push was led, to a large degree, by Hillary Clinton. It failed for a multitude of reasons, but the simple fact of the matter is that Mrs. Clinton and her husband attempted to introduce universal health care to the US.
During this discussion, I got attacked, in increasingly vicious language, by two leftists who apparently believed that Mrs. Clinton is the face of evil incarnate. They accused me of lying, and, of course, being a Clinton apologist, amongst other things. Not all that interested in this argument, I posted a link to the Wikipedia page explaining this (note that ‘Hillarycare’ also redirects to this page). Sure, it’s Wikipedia, but it gives a general idea of what happened. Not good enough for one of my accusers. She pointed out Wikipedia is ‘not a primary source.’ No, it’s not. But there is a whole bibliography leading to such sources. So, instead, she sent me links to heavily redacted documents and heavily edited YouTube videos of Mrs. Clinton’s speeches on the matter, including one video that showed her in four different outfits. None of this changes historical fact.
In December, it was British leftists who insisted that white people had been slaves in the United States. This isn’t really anything new, the Irish have been claiming they were brought here as ‘slaves,’ but now this was expanded to include the Scots, English, and Welsh. And they did not mean what people usually get confused, which is indentured servitude. They meant that white people were chattel slaves like Africans. In this case, though, they provided no sources, just their beliefs. And, as one pointed out to me, she was entitled to her opinion. Sure. She is. But she’s still wrong. And I have the realities of history behind me on that one.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, the subject was the Civil War in the US. The Republican Party tweeted a Happy Birthday to the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, claiming that Lincoln united the country. Whatever one thinks of Lincoln as president, and I consider him one of the best presidents all-time (and it’s not just me, as my new favourite Wikipedia page shows), he did not unite the country. Lincoln’s election was the excuse used for Southern secession. So, in the midst of a conversation with a tweep, also an historian on this matter, I got harangued by a lefty.
He insisted that slave owners ‘were killing in the name of slavery from 1856 on.’ He wasn’t wrong. And I could point to events such as Bleeding Kansas in 1854. But, that doesn’t change the simple historical fact that Secession began with Lincoln’s election.
In all three cases, my credentials as an historian were challenged. I have been called a ‘Professor of Bullshit,’ a ‘Doctor of Horseshit.’ I have been called a fascist, and a genocidal apologist (of what genocide, I’m not sure, I’m presuming she meant the genocide of white people sold as slaves in the 18th and 19th century). In all three cases, lefties have based ‘arguments’ on ‘alternative facts,’ or, what I would call bullshit. But all the weight of historical reality meant nothing to them. They didn’t like the facts, so they decided they weren’t true.
This is deeply disturbing.
Disturbing is an understatement. These people that think it is OK to attack another’s beliefs are going to find things catch up with them very soon.
I recall the lies of the Germans whilst at school in the 70s still refusing to believe the atrocities that took place by the Nazis during WW2 in Auschwitz, Belson, Birkenau etc. The facts were in front of them yet still they refused to accept facts.
Stay strong, stick to your beliefs and fight for what you believe in.
Thank you for reading.
I was gobsmacked. When the documentary evidence is right in front of you, how can you deny reality?
And this, of course, is the larger problem in the Anglo-Atlantic world now. We have reached a point where ideology defines facts, rather than the other way around. Critical thinking seems less important than ideology.
I strive to teach critical thinking in my classroom each and every day. Sometimes it feels Sisyphussian.
I’m lucky, in that I haven’t run into this from the left, yet; must be my sheltered life. I find that when I run into alternative facts on the right, it’s partly driven by the desire to see everything in black-and-white terms, the unwillingness to acknowledge that people’s motivations and actions are often morally mixed. Do you find it the same with your left-wing fantasy land critics?
Indeed. This is a question of ideology defining facts, rather than facts defining ideology. Obviously, this is a steady stream coming out of the White House these days, too.
I understand the desire for black and white, I truly do. It makes the world less complicated, less frightening and less dangerous. And people have sought means of making it black and white forever, whether through religion or ideology. But, of late, this seems to be taking over the upper reaches of culture. I feel it’s getting more and more dangerous to speak truth to power.
And yes, I think these lefties are working in the same way. They are also looking to deny the complexities of life, and their ideologies have reached a point where it’s not flexible enough to accommodate reality.
At this point, ideology becomes idiotology, frankly.
There does seem to be a war on facts, which is a bizarre fight to pick.
I keep Isaac Asimov’s quote in mind: “The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
Yes. I was thinking of that Asimov quote as I wrote this. It just seems to me that while we have always, as a culture, sought to find means to make the complicated world simple, this is getting ridiculous. This is ideology defining facts, not the other way around. This just isn’t right.
There’s definitely a lot of this going on. The incidents you’re describing aren’t at all extreme, and I too am very concerned by it. I think there was a window for progressive change that opened in 2008, reached its apex in 2011, and has now passed. As that light faded, the left has become angry and bitter and stupid, regressing into a bitter politics that’s all about proving their moral superiority to those damn liberals. I’ve also heard people increasingly speak about a “conservative leftism” which is, I think, legitimately on the rise, and linked to this phenomenon.
Hey man, thanks for reading. I like how you put that, the distancing of the left from liberalism. That’s something I have been thinking about of late, as I have always seen myself as a leftist and have long been uncomfortable with the American term ‘liberal.’ In Canada, I am not a liberal.
And since the election, I have noticed my own psychological separation from the idea of liberalism in favour of my identity as a leftist. But, of course, I still trade in facts.
As for ‘conservative leftism,’ I have noticed a rise in the term, as well as a terming of a liberal Tea Party in the US. A friend of mine, who is a former tea partier, from its original inception as a libertarian movement, and has since moved much further left, and works on this as a sociologist, has also commented on it.
Either way, the divorce from reality of the left is discouraging, non?