Skip to comments.America’s rising “progressive clerisy,” and the march toward McCarthyism
Posted on 06/09/2014 1:29:48 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Is there anything more intolerant than the Tolerance Brigade? At the Daily Beast, Joel Kotkin agrees with Bloombergs Stephen Carter on the rise of a new McCarthyism, this time imposing penalties for dissent from progressive orthodoxy rather than tolerating debate on a broad range of issues. Both use attempts to silence argument in academia as the flash point that exposes this thought-police mentality. Carter recently wrote about the attempts to intimidate Douglas Laycock, an opponent of same-sex marriage, and explicitly invokes McCarthyism as the dynamic in play:
A law student and a recent graduate, spurred on by the advocacy group GetEqual, have filed freedom-of-information requests for his telephone and travel records, in what they describe as an effort at dialogue about what they consider the harmful effects of his views.
This description is implausible. If they wanted to talk to him, they could knock on his door. The effort is aimed at intimidation. They want him to shut up.
Laycocks wrong is to have taken the position that there may be cases in which individual religious freedom should trump compliance with law a view that, during Bill Clintons administration, was considered the liberal position in our politics. In particular, he has filed a brief in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., in the case challenging the federal governments rule that employers with religious objections must nevertheless comply with the mandate to pay for birth control, and he wrote a blog post in the Washington Post defending, in part, the controversial Arizona legislation, vetoed by the governor of the state, that would have expanded somewhat the protection of the states religious freedom laws. (News reports insisted that the changes would have meant that a caterer, for example, could refuse to work the wedding of a same-sex couple; Laycock wrote that this wasnt what the law said.)
Laycocks approach to the constitutional issue may be right or wrong, but its well within the mainstream conversation of legal scholarship. The late Ronald Dworkin, often tagged as the greatest defender of liberal theory in the legal academy, argued last year in his final book that Catholic adoption agencies with religious objections to adoption by same-sex couples should have a constitutional right to disobey laws requiring them to violate their convictions.
But even when a professor holds opinions off at the far margin, to target him or her for intimidation is an affront to the freedom that makes the academy worth cherishing.
Kotkin blames this on a rising progressive clerisy that has formed at the highest levels of government bureaucracy, the entertainment industry, and academia:
In ways not seen since at least the McCarthy era, Americans are finding themselves increasingly constrained by a rising classwhat I call the progressive Clerisythat accepts no dissent from its basic tenets. Like the First Estate in pre-revolutionary France, the Clerisy increasingly exercises its power to constrain dissenting views, whether on politics, social attitudes or science.
An alliance of upper level bureaucrats and cultural elites, the Clerisy, for all their concerns about inequality, have thrived, unlike most Americans, in recent years. They also enjoy strong relations with the power structure in Washington, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street.
Todays Clerisy attempts to distill todays distinctly secular truthson issues ranging from the nature of justice, race and gender to the environmentand decide what is acceptable and that which is not. Those who dissent from the accepted point of view can expect their work to be simply ignored, or in some cases vilified. In the Clerical bastion of San Francisco, an actress with heretical views, in this case supporting a Tea Party candidate, who was pilloried, and lost work for her offense.
The pattern of intolerance has been particularly notable in the area of climate change, where serious debate would seem prudent not only on the root causes and effects, but also what may present the best solutions. Climate scientists who diverge from the warming party line, even in a matter of degree, are routinely excoriated by the Clerisy as deniers of settled science even in the face of 15 years of relatively stable temperatures. The media also participates in this defense of orthodoxy. The Los Angeles Times as well as the website Reddit have chosen to exclude contributions from skeptics.
The stifling orthodoxy from the technocrats and media elite is benign compared to the inquisitional behavior can be seen in institutions of higher education. It is nothing short of tragic, notes civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, that a 2010 survey of 24,000 college students found that barely a third thought it safe to hold unpopular views on campus.
In an interview Friday with Sheila Liaugminas, I pointed this same dynamic out on the issue of same-sex marriage. What had been the consensus view of the definition of marriage for thousands of years up to less than a decade ago has now become not just a minority view, but according to the Clerisy prima facie evidence of pure bigotry itself. The traditional view of marriage is not merely wrong, according to those who support same-sex marriage, but entirely illegitimate. Debate on government policy gets squelched by threatening those who dare to dissent with either character assassination or career suicide merely for having a difference of opinion, and even when that difference of opinion does not threaten the current cultural consensus.
This is not tolerance, and it is not the impulse of people who value freedom and open debate. Its the Robespierre impulse, not the Jeffersonian impulse. Its the eventual end point of moral relativism, where consensus in and of itself is the ultimate and sole validation for a point of view, and enforced by those in power for their own ends. Orwell noted that in 1984 when the government kept changing the enemy: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, and Oceania has never been at war with Eastasia.
If we want to see where this model leads, Argentinas Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gives us a sneak peek, via Fausta:
Argentinas President Cristina Kirchner has created a new post: secretary for strategic co-ordination of national thought.
Opposition leaders immediately derided the initiative, with some bristling over what they see as the posts fascist overtones.
Its pathetic and deplorable to designate a strategic secretary for national thought, as if those who arent Kichneristas are not national, said Federico Pinedo, head of a conservative bloc in the lower house. Thats old-style fascism.
Even the idea of national thought, let alone a government ministry of it, steps down the well-traveled road of fascism and tyranny. This is what happens when dissent is punished and silenced because of its heterodoxy from the consensus, regardless of what context in which it takes place.
I agree that this is unprecedented and frightening. It seems like we are sliding towards a fascist state with rapidity. But with the complete corruption of the media and entertainment industries, what can we do about? Internet message boards and blogs only reach so many.
It seems like the whole world is sliding toward fascism these days
The vast majority don’t even know who Joe was or any of the facts. Kind of like they have no idea what a Draconian law reference means.
That was a long time ago. Dude./s
"Freedom" is a means, not an end. Freedom immediately raises the question, "freedom to do what?"
The "academy" has not deserved its freedom for more than fifty years. Let it burn.
I think we have been sliding toward fascism for a long time, but since the Obama regime took over, the US has gone toward it at warp speed. I have thought since day one, that the Obungler is God's judgment on America. I think America's problem is spiritual. Unless there is a return to The Lord in this country, I see little hope of survival. I could be wrong, but that is how I see it.
Well it’s baffling how a country could expect to get indifferent, if not hostile in measures from slight to marked, to God, and yet expect to keep on getting blessed... in fact it’s getting cursed and the sources of the curses look a lot like hell!
This is God giving people what they choose.
cler·i·sy noun: clerisy:
a distinct class of learned or literary people.
“the clerisy are those who read for pleasure”
We’ve gone from a culture that finally agreed it wrong to hate or discriminate against someone who’s (black, homosexual, disabled, etc, etc) to a culture where it required that we hate someone BECAUSE they’re straight, white males from a Judeo-Christian heritage.
By nature we are not as confrontational as the left is. That needs to change. We need to make the news, shout the message and refuse to comply with these fascists.
Fred Siegel uses “clerisy” in the same way in his excellent recent book The Revolt Against the Masses.
Normal human histologic anatomy of the lower GI is not designed for activity that the homosexual community considers normal.
“Anal lesions occur most frequently in men who engage in anal-receptive intercourse, where the association has been observed to be as high as 95% in patients.”
What does this have to do with McCarthyism? McCarthyism is about getting Russian spies out of government bureaus and agencies.
A very good insight. You don’t have to be an academic in order to publicize your opinions about something. We need to revisit why the academy exists to begin with.
The use of “McCarthyism” is an attempt to coopt the language and terminology of the enemy and turn it back against them.
While I agree that McCarthy was right on Communist infiltration, if mistaken in the tactical way he pursued it, that battle was 60 years ago. We need to be fighting the threat we’re confronting, the battle we are in the midst of now.
If that means appropriating the conventionally-accepted, if erroneous, definition of “McCarthyism” as a weapon to fight that battle, so be it.
In this case one man’s “irony” is another’s “poetic justice”
The left does paint McCarthyism as a Salem Witch Hunt. That’s largely what the left is doing, as they will go to all lengths of witch hunting to find whomever they deem homophobes or people not in lockstep with their ideology. They are the very ideology they are projecting.
A good example is Brandon Eichs, former employee at Mozilla, never harrassed a homosexual openly, never boasted about the passing of Proposition 8, yet when the leaked (breach of trust) registered donations were thrown out in public, he was ordered out, fired, etc.
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