Russell Brand and the Degeneration of the Public Discourse
President Obama's reelection was the result of forty years of work and more, as the hard Left took control not only of the government, but of the media, the educational system, and the entertainment industry. No one has been willing to admit it, or has much noticed, but we live now in essentially a one-party state, in which the loyal opposition hastens to assure the public that its positions are based on the same core philosophy as that of the majority, but it just has a cleverer or more effective or cheaper way of implementing the majority's will. Those who dare go so far as to question that core philosophy are immediately subjected to opprobrium designed to brand them as Enemies of the People, shunned as quickly and viciously as were the victims of Stalin's show trials.
And so it was that my colleague Pamela Geller appeared recently on Russell Brand's BrandX, in an appearance that clearly Brand, who is apparently a fashionable personality of some note, had designed to use as a teaching moment, so as to warn his dimwitted followers that they must not resist the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, on pain of being read out of polite company and subjected to the ridicule and derision to which he subjected Geller.
To be sure, ridicule is a prescribed Alinskyite tactic for dealing with ideological enemies, but it is more than that as well: it is a confession of intellectual bankruptcy. Brand had Geller on not to discuss issues with her, or to hear her out at all. He would not have a fair and open discussion with her because he could not do so; after all, he is an actor, a professional liar, and she tells the unvarnished and unwelcome truth. But even had he been as informed and committed as anyone on the Left, he could not refute her, since the facts are on her side. So her ideological deviancy, her straying from the straight path, had to be exposed in other ways.
Brand chose to illustrate Geller's heresy by planting a Muslim heckler in the audience with a printed sign reading, "Pamela's Racism KILLS" (what race is jihad terror and Islamic supremacism again)? He lauded the heckler and even brought him up onto the stage, while agitatedly ordering that a microphone be moved away from a woman in the audience who stood up to defend Geller. Then Brand's producer, Charles Davis, published a piece that supposedly showed how Geller, when she was allowed to speak on the show at all, had contradicted positions she had taken at her blog, AtlasShrugs.com. Davis could only establish this, of course, by willfully misreading and misrepresenting what Geller actually said, but, as in the old Soviet Union, ideological deviants are not to be accorded any greater courtesy than that in any case.
Geller fought back valiantly, challenging Brand to debate the issues rationally, explaining her positions, and responding to even the most vicious and unfair of Brand's (and the Muslim heckler's) assertions. But one gets no hint of this from the video that aired -- virtually everything that she said ended up on the cutting-room floor. If Brand had any integrity (ah, but there I am already setting the bar too high), he would release the full video of the Geller interview. But it is extremely unlikely that he will do that, as it would not serve his ideological purpose.
In this age of Obama, this is what passes for public debate: the politically incorrect one is subjected to scorn and ridicule, is not allowed to respond, and the Leftists who are doing the ridiculing then congratulate themselves on their moral and intellectual superiority. It is not debate, but rather anti-debate, the absence of discussion, the parody of discourse. The point, in fact, is not to refute the assertions and claims of the ideological deviant in question, but merely to signal to the ideologically obedient that this person is to be shunned, is not to be listened to, not to be taken seriously, and above all not to be believed or emulated.
It is the tactic of hyenas, of totalitarians, of the Nazi brownshirts who used to show up at the lectures of dissenting professors, not to argue with them, but only to heckle them, threaten them, and demoralize them, so as to intimidate them into silence. They thought that they represented the future, the dawning of a new age of justice, when ancient wrongs would be righted and ancient evils be put down forever. They thought tomorrow belonged to them. So, certainly, do their ideological heirs today, who are not Pamela Geller and her followers, but Russell Brand and his.
But Russell Brand will find, just as did those brownshirts, that the truth cannot forever be brutalized and ridiculed into silence. It will, one day, rise up, and put them in the place they deserve to be.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Did Muhammad Exist?, is now available.