You keep adding to your knowledge base but need to release those things you “knew” that never were really true.

What do I mean by “really true”? For example, hardcore evangelicals who have not found a way to balance their faith with reality can be embarrassing. That said, the occasional eruption of a small town school board that oversteps its bounds is not worthy of armies of journalists and has not been a legitimate threat to our liberties for decades. It is appropriate to oppose it but the risk and the response has never been proportionate to outrages from the left. In this sense, that threat was never really true - it was gnat biting an elephant.

The fascist, racist, anti-intellectual nature of the American political left has been on display (to those open to seeing it) since at least the 1960s. After a pretty good run in the 50’s, working with the majority of Republican leaders to make serious improvements in civil rights, leftists succumbed to their ingrained belief that people of color could only thrive under widespread government control of their lives.. A welfare state initiated by demonstrably racist Democrats and (reportedly) acknowledged by LBJ to have been created to subjugate Blacks was one of the earliest signs.

Bizarre, Malthusian claims about impending environmental demise (that has been routinely refuted by the passage of time), followed along with ever increasing demands for control of the means of production by governmental central planners. Dependence on dubious court decisions and executive orders increasingly replaced the legislative process (and the related inconvenience of open debate and compromise – instead, let’s just allow 1-5 people to dictate fundamental changes to government policy). A mind shattering devolution of the education system was also part of the leftist agenda, vastly expanding the number of innumerate people, unschooled in critical thought and indoctrinated to anti-historical and unscientific dogma.

So, when you preface your belated recognition of the current terrible risks to our republic with “Things we once despised about the right have been amplified a thousand-fold on the flip”; you are missing the historical reality of the last 50-60 years. The faults on the right – as legitimate as it was to acknowledge and oppose them – were vastly exaggerated (often by your employers) while the leftist behaviors you are just seeing now have always been 100s of times worse (I will concede that breaking 1000 times is a recent development).

This did not happen overnight or even during the Trump administration. This has been something that 40-60% of the American people have seen – and warned you about – to varying degrees for a long time. Until you acknowledge this, you will not understand the degree of risk the country faces.

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I've long been a fan, but the vitriol of the comments on your twitter post finally pushed me into subscribing and supporting you.

I share your skepticism of both the political left and right, and probably for similar reasons. It seems that moderate liberals—in the traditional sense—might find a better home with conservatives at the moment? They seem to at least have respect for my perspective and I see more hope for compromise, moderation, and positive evolution, especially in a post Trump world. Thoughts?

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Someone (everyone) needs to be talking about this. I’ve been making this case to everyone lately, but it’s not getting enough visibility.

I grew up in the Midwest and ran away to the coast to avoid the stifling conservative and evangelical mindset. But the left has lifted the playbook and perfected it. Instead of “born again” you’re “woke”. Instead of “saints and sinners”, we have “antiracist and racist”. For Scripture we have the Gospel of Intersectionality.

These folks are blinded and motivated by the same religious fervor, but unfortunately they’ve infiltrated the major institutions of our culture. It’s also harder to reject. Freedom of Religion preserved a modest escape from the prior putsch, but now one has to accept the badge of racist to reject this movement.

I disagree this doesn’t impact all of us. I’ve traveled across the former Yugoslavia and walked under thirteen foot walls in Belfast. People can be motivated to see only their “kind” and cleave society along ethnic and sectarian lines. If Trump is using racist “dog whistles”, the left has upgraded to explicit and mandatory curriculum. These things never end well. Ask the residents of the former Yugoslavia.

I’ve also visited the Torture Museum in Budapest. It’s a nondescript office building on a tree lined boulevard. It was the Gestapo headquarters in WWII, clearly one of the most racist, right wing governments ever. The building is full of white tiled cells with floors sloping to the center, to better drain the blood off the beatings. Banks of phone desks fill other floors, where operators could eavesdrop on anyone. After World War 2, the KGB took over and kept the operation going without a hiccup. So both a far right and far left government employed the same tactics against their citizens to enforce obedience.

Here we sit at the beginning of the 21st Century, with a nascent surveillance state powered by ubiquitous technology being built. Our politics are being driven by radical authoritarians on either side. I’m not sure I want either of these movements to win and control those levers of power. At this point the far left looks as frightening as the right - maybe more.

We need to confront these busy bodies with a revival of liberal philosophy and humor. Humor helped take the edge of the right wing, and we need a new class of comics who can take these folks down a step or three. More writers need to make this case the way Matt does. And hopefully we will see politicians and other leaders step up to reassert some key principles of our liberal heritage before it’s too late.

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We need a sense of humor in these times Matt. You’ve got that style partner, with intelligence. However, I don’t agree with your categorization of the Portland “protests” which is the latest woke nonsense, to equate the destruction of property on a wholesale and mindless basis as “protesting.” The people who are defacing my city are in my opinion, being protected and furthered to put a black eye on the president. The mayor and the governor and neither US senator can find anything to criticize about every federal building in portland being horribly defaced, including the Pioneer Federal Courthouse which I assisted in renovating, but now they’ve got a big problem with Federal law enforcement stepping in to protect Federal property. This wasn’t the whole of your essay Matt, which I believe is very relevant and important, but I thought I’d step up on the soapbox on this one issue which is very troubling to me as a citizen of Portland.

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I'm sorry Matt, I feel threatened by your argument. I'll need to speak to your manager.

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This trend has been going on for a long time, except it focused on gender, not race. Women (mostly) have lost jobs, been banned from social media, lost publishing contracts, etc., for refusing to go along with gender identity nonsense. Some of the statements that can get you into hot water: biological sex is real; men don't become women because they say so; men don't belong in women's changing rooms because they say that they are women; gender is an oppressive social construct, not an identity. Women who have had the temerity to point out these truisms have been accused of killing trans people with their words, hating trans people, and a range of other absurdities. Why don't you write about this? Why did leftists and liberals, who have the courage to stand up to this insanity when it is focused on race, remain silent when the hysterical censors were hellbent on making us all kowtow to insane gender theories?

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The Progressive Left has gone vicious and rigid but the conversation has become muddled so it's hard to talk.

It's frustrating as a 'left-leaning' person. What happens is, if you talk about the clampdown on speech in academia and in the newsrooms, where people with wrongthink are excommunicated, you're told, heh, but M, there are far bigger problems. Like Trump. And you're asked so who's really getting canceled anyway who doesn't deserve it. They're racists anyway. You're told, freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. Also, Trump cancels people. "But Trump."

What happens is if you talk about riots in Manhattan that occurred, Minneapolis, or the absurd 'zone' in Seattle, you're reminded that the overall protest was peaceful and that it's a small minority of protesters. (Also, the police are mean.) If you raise that there's a huge crime spike, with murders up even in NYC by 30%, with a one year old girl shot last weekend, you're reminded that you sound like a racist by raising black-on-black crime - nevermind that there were more murders in Chicago during July 4 weekend than 'Floyd-like events' in the entire year of 2019 committed by cops. If you ask why there have been riots in Portland for 50+ days including a torching of a cop station, you're told, "But Trump." Trump sent in the Gestapo to drag innocents into black vans. But Trump.

If you ask why small businesses had to forcibly shut and go out of business while hundreds of thousands of people marched for 10 days, you're told, But Trump. If you point out that DeBlasio had no mask as recently as a week ago when he painted his mural, you're told, But Republicans and Trump.

If you point out an increasingly anti-science attitude among the liberal left, you're reminded about Trump and the GOP.

It goes on and on. I don't like Trump, but the more I hear "But Trump" the more I want to vote for him if ONLY as a protest vote against people who read the NYT and Guardian, perhaps watch the Daily Show, and live, breathe, sleep and dream Trump nonstop. And those people are called Progressives.

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There are so many classic liberal and neo-liberal commenters in this thread that share a similar point of view and mutual respect. I honestly can't think of the last time that I have seen anything like that in an online medium. It gives me some sense of hope.

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Yet another ball out of the park.

But we can NEVER win a war when we don’t identify the enemy: critical theory.

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The BLM protests that sprung up after George Floyd's murder seemed to start a lot of this racial reckoning. Those protests were about police overreach, brutality, and how unaccountable law enforcement is in America.

Months later, we have no remedies for any of those ills. In fact, we have unidentified soldiers whisking citizens into unmarked vans in Portland. Instead, we have this weak, ultimately toothless cultural war.

Which is to say: because reforming the police is an incredibly hard thing to do, we get this potemkin village progress instead of the thing a lot of our population actually demanded. White ladies won't voice black ladies on cartoons anymore but you can still get clubbed in the street for exercising your first amendment rights.

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This is scary stuff, and that’s just the nonviolent idiots. The more vicious morons, I believe CNN dubbed them “peaceful protestors”, don’t care to hear your side of the story. They just want to do you physical harm and destroy your livelihood. And because I’m certain Joe Biden will gleefully placate these jackals if they let him pretend he’s president, I will vote for the lesser of two evils.

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Matt, I've been a fan since the Bush Administration. While I no longer consider myself a liberal (and have become a traditionalist), your dedication to truth is enduring. If there is an abuse of power, you call it out. And that's exactly what this is.

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K....I admit it. Gonna have to vote for Trump again.

The alternative is to support the other insanity, which, for just the reasons outlined here, are far far more dangerous. Trump is too lazy to be that dangerous.

Of course, and I hope I am wrong, I think we have the makings of a violent uprising this fall. No matter who wins the other side is going to claim the win was illegitimate and the mail in voting and the lawyers are just gonna make it worse and then it will be amplified by the media and social media.

Top that all off with what is likely going to be a far worse economic picture and a resurgence of COVID and closed schools again.....?

No....I think things are going to explode in crazy, real violence come November

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>"Republicans were once despised because they were anti-intellectuals and hopeless neurotics. Trained to disbelieve in peaceful coexistence with the liberal enemy, the average Rush Limbaugh fan couldn’t make it through a dinner without interrogating you about your political inclinations.

>"If you tried to laugh it off, that didn’t work; if you tried to engage, what came back was a list of talking points. When all else failed and you offered what you thought would be an olive branch of blunt truth, i.e. “Honestly, I just don’t give that much of a shit,” that was the worst insult of all, because they thought you were being condescending. (You were, but that’s beside the point). The defining quality of this personality was the inability to let things go. Families broke apart over these situations. It was a serious and tragic thing."

Seems like there's a little bothsidesism going on here, Matt. In the '00's there may have been a few conservatives crazy enough to impose their views on everyone and sever relationships over political differences, but it's nothing like the epidemic of hysteria coming from the Left these days. The difference in scale may be due to the endorsement of Leftism by news and opinion sources widely recognized as "mainstream." It's bad when Fox News and AM radio are crazy; it's much, much worse when the NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS go crazy.

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Another excellent piece! I'm very disturbed by the humorless, authoritarian trend on the left (though of course, as you observe, we won't see a concomitant mocking of that given the left's capture of most media institutions). I expect inevitable counterculture trends and the obvious nature of the overreach will produce a substantial pushback sooner or later, but it's set to be an exhausting few years.

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Nice piece, Matt. True enough that the scolds on the right and the scolds on the left have switched places. But I think you understate the magnitude of the problem. The problem is that the old McCarthyites never rose to much more than an historical sideshow whereas the new McCarthyites are now the main attraction. The old McCarthyism never mounted much more than a tepid and buffoonish challenge to the classic liberal ideals and institutions of individualism whereas the new McCarthyism now seeks to obliterate those same ideals and institutions. And they now have the power to do so. Indeed, the new McCarthyites yield a level of power and sophistication that the old McCarthyites could only fantasize about. In my latest short article, "White Noise Matters" (now on digitalapostate.com), about the rise of virtue signalling ads as a discrete advertising category, I cite the essential imperative of popular culture: to obliterate institutional history and replace it with addiction. History suggests that scolds are only problematic when they have the cultural power and permission to enforce their own puritanism. These scolds do. Not only is popular culture now behind them 100%, they own the primary mechanism of addiction. Keep up the good work.


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