The New York Times apparently has an inexhaustible supply of so-called liberals who are baffled and enraged by any criticism of their views by the so-called “left.” Desperately worried that Yale’s 2015 Halloween memo has faded into distant memory, they publish Lionel Shriver’s complaint that young people criticized her opinions on social media! As the kids these days say: Srsly!
When I was growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s, conservatives were the enforcers of conformity. It was the right that was suspicious, sniffing out Communists and scrutinizing public figures for signs of sedition.
. . . . .
As a lifelong Democratic voter, I’m dismayed by the radical left’s ever-growing list of dos and don’ts — by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy. There are many people who see these frenzies about cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and safe spaces as overtly crazy. The shrill tyranny of the left helps to push them toward Donald Trump.
That’s a nice touch–saying that complaints about the “international foods” in the Oberlin dining halls are motivating supporters of The Human Stain. And it’s typical in its over-the-top complaints about “self-censorship” and “real censorship” without any actual examples. (Pro tip: unless you have evidence to show us, knock off the hyperbole. People criticizing your ideas does not equal “censorship.” You calling their complaints “censorship” is rich, when after all they’re just enjoying that “free speech” you claim to value so highly, not “tyranny” of any sort.)
What’s next, complaints that the “radical left” is missing their targets, the “real” racists?
Ironically, only fellow liberals will be cowed by terror of being branded a racist (a pejorative lobbed at me in recent days — one that, however groundless, tends to stick). But there’s still such a thing as a real bigot, and a real misogynist. In obsessing over micro-aggressions like the sin of uttering the commonplace Americanism “you guys” to mean “you all,” activists persecute fellow travelers who already care about equal rights.
Moreover, people who would hamper free speech always assume that they’re designing a world in which only their enemies will have to shut up. But free speech is fragile. Left-wing activists are just as dependent on permission to speak their minds as their detractors.
Yes–free speech is so much under attack that it can only be defended in the far corners of indie journalism in ‘zines, free City Paper weeklies, online “weblogs” (or “blogs” for short), personal Instagram accounts–and the editorial pages of the New York Times.
Ugh. Write whatever novels you want to write! Just don’t tell other people to STFU. How hard is it for anyone over the age of 40 to get this? (BTW, that’s me, friends. Why are my fellow middle-aged people such sensitive flowers that they can’t take criticism from a few Millennials? Do they need Trigger Warnings before they look at their Twitter timelines?)