If You Disagree, You're a Rat
Sen. Ron Johnson, among the best qualified and most level-headed of senators, has been labeled a conspiracy theorist by the media because he questioned the validity of the 2020 vote. We're at the point where any questioning of the liberal consensus is dismissed out of hand. It's not just that liberals think they're right — they think no other opinions should be heard.
The Washington Post's depiction of dozens of GOP members as "rats" is a new journalistic low. Reminiscent of Nazi-era depictions of Jews, the cartoon attacks Trump "collaborators" for the same "crime" as Sen. Johnson — questioning the validity of the 2020 election returns.
Liberals aren't interested in discussing the validity of the 2020 election result. Any conservative response is labeled racist, irrelevant, or a conspiracy theory and then dismissed without discussion. USA Today accuses the president of "not possessing sufficient evidence of so-called election fraud." Since that evidence has not been presented to the Supreme Court, which has not at this hour agreed to hear the Pennsylvania case, how can USA Today state that there is insufficient evidence?
The Washington Post displayed the same tone of dismissal in its article on Peter Navarro's 36-page report on election fraud. Labeling the report "the most embarrassing document created by a White House staffer," Philip Bump dismissed Navarro's carefully researched report as filled with charges that are "unfounded, misrepresented or unimportant."
The Post author gives serious consideration to none of Navarro's central claims, instead attacking his sources (which include the Post itself) and even quibbling over a footnote. In place of thoughtful consideration, this author labels Navarro's assertions as "flat-Earth theory" and "something that ... has no place being treated as a serious argument." How can one claim that another's thinking isn't a serious argument if, instead of considering its worth, one dismisses it out of hand with labels like "flat-Earth theory"?
Labeling another's argument "the electoral equivalent of shadowy photos of the Loch Ness monster" does nothing to advance one's argument. It is, in fact, Mr. Bump whose argument seems lacking in substance, in large part because of his willingness to label instead of debate. Liberals have descended to that level more and more lately, but why? Because the extreme assertions they've been making are otherwise indefensible.
In last Wednesday's Senate hearing on election fraud, Sen. Johnson accused Democrats of counting 200,000 illegal votes in Wisconsin alone, enough to flip his state to President Trump. What was the liberal response? "Russian disinformation." How did Russia make its way into this year's election fraud that took place in Democrat-controlled precincts?
The idea that the Earth will "end in 12 years" doesn't strike most thoughtful persons as very intelligent, but it's a mainstay of environmental thinking these days. This claim, popularized by AOC, was judged "absolutely right" (again, in a Washington Post op-ed): actually, the Earth may not really "end," but it will have passed a "tipping point," the author states. Once again, the author mocks opposing arguments without considering their potential truth.
Is everything you disagree with a "conspiracy theory," "flat-Earth theory" or "Russian disinformation"? For liberals, apparently so.
Labeling an opponent's ideas as "conspiracy theory" does not constitute a refutation of those ideas. It's like calling an opponent a "fascist." It's pointless name-calling, unless the individual actually is a fascist.
The Post is not by any means the only media outlet, or the worst, whose op-eds are engaged in labeling conservatives. Accusations of racism, for example, have become so common as to pass almost unnoticed. "Racism" has become another of those fascist-like words, words like "conspiracy theory," that are used to label an opponent without refuting his ideas.
Others would go beyond name-calling to the point of criminalizing the speech of those they disagree with. Holocaust denial is already a crime in some 17 countries. I do not respect those who deny the existence of the Holocaust, but I defend their right to speak and the right of others to refute them. But what about "climate denial"?
Many on the left are pushing to criminalize statements that question anthropogenic warming. Using laws that govern "conspiracy to commit fraud," leftists would fine and imprison those they disagree with — rather than attempt to refute their arguments with logic and evidence. I happen to believe that humans do contribute to a small extent to global warming, but I also believe that warming is good for the planet. Should I be imprisoned for believing to an inadequate extent in anthropogenic warming, or for believing that it's good to be warm? Or for both?
Liberals will eventually descend into arguing whether warming will increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.0 degrees by the end of the century, and they will threaten to imprison each other based on fallible predictions of the future course of the weather. There is a good reason why our Founders asserted freedom of speech at the very beginning of our Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech is the foundation of our entire way of life. If one can be imprisoned for speaking or writing or thinking the "wrong" thoughts, all of one's other rights are beyond defending.
Any infringement of free speech is the beginning of tyranny — and there can be no doubt that radicals are on a course toward tyranny. They would transform our country into a communist dictatorship in which ordinary people are enslaved and exploited by the liberal elite. Labeling another's ideas as "flat-Earth theory" is the beginning of that slippery slope. Comparing climate thinking to Holocaust denial is another stage.
The final stage is when brown-shirted police arrive at your door and drag you off for inadequately supporting the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Or when elections are stolen and anyone who questions the results is dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. It's time for liberals to stop labeling others "rats" and "conspiracy theorists" and "irrelevant." It's only a short step from that kind of talk to a society in which no one can speak freely without threat of persecution.
Graphic credit: public domain image via Pixabay
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination: Conservative Values in American Literature from Poe to O'Connor to Haruf.