How America Becomes Totalitarian
One of the most enduring prevarications emanating from the left during the presidency of Donald Trump is the idea that he is a self-styled authoritarian strongman in the tradition of Mussolini and Hitler. Political commentators such as media personality Rachel Maddow and economic adviser Robert Reich were among the earliest purveyors of this sort of fiction, dating back to 2015 and 2017, respectively. In 2020, journalists like Matthew C. MacWilliams and others like him who continue to write through the lens of true anti-Trump delirium have continued to make the case that authoritarianism is a phenomenon that can originate only from the right and that America, specifically Trump-supporters, is "predisposed to authoritarianism." After four years of the Trump presidency, it is evident to those of us who do not suffer from TDS that if President Trump is an authoritarian dictator, he is an ineffectual one. He has been compliant with the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election and an impeachment trial. In both instances, he was cleared of any wrongdoing, and he did not impose retribution on his detractors. Maddow, Reich, and other purveyors of anti-Trump pabulum continue to operate with impunity. The staff of MSNBC and CNN have not been rounded up by the FBI and taken to the gulag in Siberia.
On the other hand, while many leftist media outlets, particularly of the cable news variety, are working hard to make the case that President Trump is the second coming of Mussolini, we are witnessing the advent of a new "soft" authoritarianism in America. As Rod Dreher at the New York Post points out," who needs the gulag when you can compel obedience by threatening someone's job or destroy their reputation on social media[?] ... [W]hy bother with the secret police when the masses already hand over detailed personal information to Google and other woke capitalist behemoths via smartphones and laptops?" Repurposing a familiar phrase with a new twist, I like to think of this new phenomenon as authoritarianism with American characteristics — a despicable alliance among tech companies, the media, and high-profile sports organizations and athletes that promote a public image of the promise of a new world steeped in social justice. On the contrary, it appears that they are actually providing cover for the machinations of Communist China while employing time-tested authoritarian techniques like media and internet censorship on American citizens, all in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
Although President Trump has been critical of the press, he has not taken any action against journalists or censored them in any way. The same cannot be said for American companies like Twitter, who claim that it is their mission to prevent the spread of misinformation yet allow China to use the platform to help shield itself from criticism with bald-faced lies. When it comes to promoting misinformation that originates in China, like Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian's claim that the United States military brought COVID-19 to China, Twitter does not seem to have a problem with it, leaving Lijian's Twitter account intact, while blocking the account of President Trump's press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany. It is clear that Twitter subscribes to the Orwellian idea that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
When Twitter and Facebook tried to prevent the spread of legitimate information regarding the Sino-American connection among Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and China, even the most fervent liberals should have questioned the future implications of these actions. It is vital to note that the New York Post is a well respected newspaper that was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, Federalist and Founding Father. In his prescient piece from February 2020, Erich Prince asserts that "for all the panic about 'authoritarians' on the march, [it] would be wise to recall that one of the first things that true authoritarians do when they reach power is, of course, to shut down access to social platforms such as Facebook." Perhaps the most frightening example of Mao-like authoritarianism from the left is the idea of the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This type of organization was originally formed in South Africa to deal with injustices under apartheid. According to Robert Reich, this farcical committee is supposed to "erase Trump's lies, comfort those who have been harmed by his hatefulness, and name every official, politician, executive and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe [the Trump presidency]." Clearly, this "committee" is nothing more than a way to ferret out and publicly lambaste those who supported President Trump. One can only imagine what might follow once the work of the commission is done. We might see the application of class labels in America similar to those seen under Mao during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn accepted the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1983, he reminded us of Dostoevsky's warning that "great events could come upon us and catch us intellectually unprepared." Solzhenitsyn was warning us how a godless society would be responsible for the death of the West, and America finds herself in a similarly precarious position today. As we move toward turning into a nation more reminiscent of China with each passing day, enabled by a media establishment that seems to be hostile toward all that we hold sacred about America, we must never lose sight of what China is really trying to do, which is to pitch its authoritarian vision of a society without democracy or personal freedoms to not only America, but the entire free world, as the Chinese endeavor to take center stage as the new world superpower. In the words of philosopher Will Durant, "we shall not close our eyes to the evils that challenge us; we shall work undiscourageably to lessen them; but we shall take strength from the achievements of the past, the splendor of our inheritance. Let us, varying Shakespeare's unhappy king, sit down and tell brave stories of noble women and great men."
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.