“End of discussion!” is what those on the political left yell in your face when they know they are losing an argument. It is also the name of a compelling new book by Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson with the revealing subtitle of “How the Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).”
While it is true that attempts to marginalize political opponents isn’t the exclusive domain of progressives, in the last couple of decades it is the political left which has perfected these tactics to an art form. Perhaps it is because these latest efforts reflect a full manifestation of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. An important strategy from this famous anarchist is to avoid at all costs an honest debate over whether socialist policies actually work.
And it’s not just conservatives who are sounding the alarm. Bill Maher, the left of center host of his own show on HBO has said that liberals are too easily offended and that an overly politically correct society actually breeds more hostility between the parties. Jerry Seinfeld, lifelong Democratic and famous comic, has said that he doesn’t play college campuses anymore because students have been brainwashed into being offended at almost anything.
While political correctness is a national problem, it is much worse in California. Indeed, for all the alleged “openness” of the California lifestyle, here are the three things about which you cannot possibly have a rational discussion with a liberal: Global warming, immigration and traditional marriage.
Let’s just look at global warming. How many times have you heard Al Gore, President Obama, Jerry Brown or Tom Steyer say “the debate is over?” As I have advised college students on both the right and left numerous times, when someone says “the debate is over” that usually means the debate is just beginning. While there is substantial evidence (mostly based on computer modeling) that man’s activities might have an impact on the earth’s climate, there are simply too many ancillary questions and unknowns for anyone to say the “debate is over.” Shockingly, even noted environmentalists including a co-founder of Greenpeace and Bjorn Lomberg, former head of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Copenhagen, have been savaged by the global warming alarmists for suggesting that the hype might be overstated.
On immigration, if one dares to raise the very legitimate issues of the costs to taxpayers that flow from unregulated immigration you are immediately branded as a racist. Despite being far more open to legal immigration than others in America, I have personally felt the wrath of this unfounded accusation.
The progressives are not interested in hearing anything that deviates one iota from their rigid orthodoxy. And they don’t want others to hear any contrary message either. Somalian Ayaan Hirsi Ali was disinvited to speak at Brandies University because she dared speak out against Islamic extremism. These are prime examples of the “heckler’s veto” even before a speech begins. Other luminaries “disinvited” from commencement speeches due to left leaning pressure include International Monetary Fund Director Christine LaGarge and Condoleezza Rice.
And our final California example of shutting off debate is an embarrassing incident in the California Capitol when Rodger Hernandez, Chairman of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee would not even allow the Republican Vice Chair, Matthew Harper speak on one of the most contentious and dangerous bills emanating from the California Legislature – Senate Bill 3, a huge increase in the state’s minimum wage. Hernandez even went so far as to order the Sergeant at Arms to take away Harpers’ microphone. Talk about “end of discussion!”
So how should we respond to this wave of political correctness run amok and efforts to limit debate? First, realize it won’t be easy as the main stream media is rarely on our side. Second, it is entirely fair to call out these tactics for what they are and challenge our adversaries to debate the issues honestly. Third, appeal to the desire for truth. Scripture tells us veritas vos liberabit — the truth will set you free. Or, as Andrew Breitbart said, “The truth isn’t mean. The truth is the truth.”
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.