by Jeff Swanson
We live in a liberal world. We conservatives like to say that the United States is a center right nation but, as Joe Biden says, that is malarkey.
Within our homes, most of America lives by a center right credo. We do not, however, live a conservative public life. The national conversation has changed and it is a liberal world. Conservative ideas must be whispered and only to those whom you know to be of the rightward cloth.
Andrew Breitbart was never accused of whispering.
Breitbart was a firebrand. Not willing to be silent in a country where diverse ideas became replaced with Newspeak. Andrew’s biggest crime was that he was willing to commit thoughtcrimes. Crimes against liberal thought.
He never said anything that was hurtful. His target was peoples actions. He never denigrated people based on their heritage or affiliation. He never took cheap shots. He did something far worse, Andrew Breitbart spoke in plain simple english.
In an Alinsky world, this is crime enough. Saul Alinsky was both the methodological fraternal brother of Breitbart and his intellectual antithesis. A Yang to Breitbart’s Yin.
Saul Alinsky virtually invented modern liberal method of rhetoric. The art of an “enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction.” The art of getting conservatives to speak the language of liberals.
Alinsky is really the father of Political Correctness. Being politically correct is really not anything more than a subjective determination that what you say (or think), if it differs from the liberal dogma, is wrong.
It’s the sole Constitutional freedom liberals wish to restrict. Except for the right to bear arms…and religious freedom…or to peaceably assemble in the case of the TEA Party.
Liberal Newspeak was not a Johnny-Come-Lately of 1960’s radicals but has a long history in the liberal progressive arsenals.
According to Jonah Godlberg in Liberal Fascism (regarding Woodrow Wilson’s America), “Indeed, it is my argument that during World War I, America became a fascist country, albeit temporarily. The first appearance of modern totalitarianism in the Western world wasn’t in Italy or Germany but in the United States of America. How else would you describe a country where the world’s first modern propaganda ministry was established; political prisoners by the thousands were harassed, beaten, spied upon, and thrown in jail simply for expressing private opinions; the national leader accused foreigners or immigrants of injecting treasonous “poison into the American bloodstream;” newspapers and magazines were shut down for criticizing the government; nearly a hundred thousand government propaganda agents were sent out among the people to whip up support for the regime and its war; college professors imposed loyalty oaths on their colleagues; nearly a quarter-million goons were given legal authority to intimidate and beat “slackers” and dissenters; and leading artists and writers dedicated their crafts to proselytizing for the government?”
Woodrow Wilson is effectively the father of modern liberalism. To hear Obama say it, Republicans pine for the ‘Father Knows Best’ world of the 1950’s. Yet, Obama speaks of an ideology a literal century old.
In the more genteel new millennia, jailing is less common but not altogether absent. If you consider the concept of hate crimes, words can have criminal consequences.
There are consequences for words. Sure, there are direct threats that should not be taken lightly and rightly carry a penalty for their utterances. Threatening life and limb requires consequences.
Yet, no matter how vile, if you speak with disdain of a person or a group and that group has been historically abused, should this factor in to a crime? Common sense tells you; someone who speaks of racism often then commits a violent crime (against a person of that race), yes the crime is committed out of hate.
Is that hate any worse than a crime committed for hatred of another sort? Racism is pretty much self evidently awful. When hate turns violent and rageful, what hate becomes worse than another?
The problem is more an issue of subjective interpretation and abuse of the concept of hate crimes. Though noble in concept, if the crime is defined as a hate crime and carries a greater consequence; the fear is more about the mechanism of hate and not the violent crime itself.
Why is this relevant?
Saul Alinsky, “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
The suggestion at the outset of this writing stated that we are really in a liberal world. No matter political affiliation, the conversation, the words and the sensitivity assigned to our public discourse is now dictated by politically correct liberal concepts.
Liberals have dictated the terms of discourse. The discussion is not about facts, reason or true history. This being the case, Conservatives will never have a level playing field. You can’t make a cultural argument using factoids.
Enter Andrew Breitbart, “My battle is not just with the left, to demand the other point of view, my mission is to wake up those on the other side. The fight that they’re (conservatives) losing is being lost on the cultural front. They’d win it on the political front in a nanosecond if they attempted to fight it on the cultural front.”
This is key. Conservatives have become accustomed to arguing in liberal speak, what we’ve done is allow the argument to be dictated by liberal rules. Why enter a fight where your opponent is the rule maker? That is insanity.
Argue from a culturally Conservative front and you are arguing from a position of strength.
Breitbart innately knew to argue as the antithesis of Alinsky by understanding one thing Alinsky stated, ““Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.”
As liberal activists have been very successful in implementing, the terms have changed to favor a liberal point of view. What Breitbart was able to accomplish was to change the terms of the conversation.
Whether you love Sarah Palin or not, she did not argue in liberal terms. She did not play the game. To be stridently nonconforming to liberal dogma is a one way ticket to intellectual ridicule. Sarah’s biggest issue was her inability to shake the next-door-neighbor accent.
Breitbart had long understood the same thing. Never argue on the terms of your opponent. You will always lose. Saul Alinsky taught this with great affect.
If you remove this advantage, Mr. Breitbart asserted, “When you are a conservative in the media, you spend all of your time around liberals and you know their arguments left and right. And when the people on the left are arguing it’s as if they’ve created a battlefield of straw men. Conservatives know what liberals think because we swim in their cultural waters. They don’t know who we are. They don’t know what we believe in.”
With such an advantage, why argue on liberal terms. It’s a loser. To be clear though, the arguments we are speaking about are not the debate with a co-worker but the debate writ large. The national, media driven argument.
Breitbart drove liberals crazy not only due to his playing by his own conservative rules but more so because he was good at it. That he knew the liberal playbook and used that same book to turn the table.
This was his great crime.
Andrew Breitbart died well before his time. The extent to which he could kick up the volume on the political debate will never be known. The legacy left in his wake is a reminder that the nature of the conversation must change. When speech is dictated by one side of the argument, this will never lead to truth…whatever that is.