If a sigh of relief can be heard whooshing through these United States after the Kavanaugh debacle has come to an end, it’s surely to be followed shortly by a scratching of heads over the question of how it got this far. There is no doubt that the battle over Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court has left wounds that extend far beyond its losers, such as Dianne Feinstein, that loathsome Michael Avenatti, and the Democrats in general. Amidst the rubble, a larger meaning of what took place can be found by the discerning eye.
One remarkable aspect in the not-so-civil public debate over Justice Kavanaugh was the ease with which a good chunk of the public and political leaders blindly accepted the allegations against him as true. The charges checked so many boxes on the part of the progressive Left that one is reminded of the 2006 Duke Lacrosse and 1987 Tawana Brawley ‘rape’ cases, for in these episodes, too, facts were subordinated to feelings of group identity. Then it was black versus white, female versus male, poor versus rich, and ‘powerful’ versus ‘powerless’. Politicians, the media and usual suspects like Al Sharpton had a field day with the alleged events, as did the attorney general handling the Duke Lacrosse case, who was later disbarred for his gross misconduct. This time around the only class dichotomy was that between the sexes involved, but in the wake of #MeToo, this proved sufficient. In the frenzied aftermath of Christine Ford’s coming forward, any questions about her memories, inconsistencies in her story and possible ulterior motives were beyond the pale.
The Left doesn’t merely question Republican politics, by presenting arguments to invalidate Republican arguments, but the actual characters of Republican politicians: The latter are bad people.
In fact, so deep became the rift dividing the public sphere that any hint of due process and the presumption of innocence was not merely thrown overboard by its liberal flank, but outright attacked. ‘Not believing the women’ equaled engaging in ‘victim shaming’; the accusation flooded our social media timelines. Moreover, the critics alleged, Brett Kavanaugh was being questioned in a job interview, not as a defendant in a criminal court, and we really need our Supreme Court justices to be more Catholic than the Pope after all, not tainted from the get-go like this guy. Had the Republicans fallen into this trap, any conservative from now on would have been smeared and chased out of D.C. before ever setting foot in public office.
But to the hysterical Left, the election of “a gloating misogynist” in 2016 and now the appointment to the Supreme Court of “a piggish frat boy who has been credibly accused of abusive sexual conduct by multiple women” — a factually incorrect statement, of course — is evidence that “Republicans really do hate women“. The Left doesn’t merely question Republican politics, by presenting arguments to invalidate Republican arguments, but the actual characters of Republican politicians: The latter are bad people. The word “hate”, like many others, has been subject to severe inflation of late, but as of yet the dictionary still teaches us that it means “(to feel) intense or passionate dislike” for something or somebody. Synonyms include “loathe” or “despise”. Is this really a word we want to be throwing around to describe how a significant chunk of our country’s leaders supposedly feels about women?
To be sure, part of the vitriol stems from the partisan nature of our politics. The Left fears the consequences of a conservative court for its sacred cows, such as abortion, gay marriage and state control of the national economy miles beyond the intentions of the Framers. But the Right worries, justifiably, that its political opponents are pushing their agenda in ways that erode the Constitutional boundaries the Supreme Court was designed to protect. To hear progressives lament the fact that we as a country are unable or unwilling to nominate ‘apolitical’ figures to fill Supreme Court openings is, frankly, quite bizarre, given the long march through the institutions we’ve witnessed during the past century. President Roosevelt would have packed the court with progressive yes-men in the 1930s if he’d had his way, but his failure to achieve that goal hasn’t stopped successive progressive presidents and legislators to fill our nation’s courts of law at every level with like-minded folk. If they are allowed to do so as one of many efforts to further their agenda, conservatives may be forgiven for wishing to stem the tide in an effort to slow the decay of our regime. Where progressives see our country as inherently flawed and in need of fundamental transformation, conservatives fear that the former are throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and they have Plato, Polybios and many others on their side.
That most highly-educated people today will barely recognize those names, by the way, is not a coincidence, as I’ve laid out on these pages before, and there’s a link, too, with the willingness on the part of the Left to do away with facts altogether in the Kavanaugh case. The Cultural Marxism prevalent in the West these days is infused with a heavy dose of postmodernism, the philosophy that states, among other things, that ‘truth’ is a relative concept, subject to the whims of whoever happens to be propagating it. There’s a reason questions surrounding truth are popping up left and right at the moment: We’ve been collectively marinating in postmodernism for too long now. If it’s unacceptable that President Trump yells “Fake news!” whenever challenged by an obvious fact, it is equally unacceptable for our media to substitute, for ideological purposes, narrative journalism for factual inquiry. Neither court cases nor Senate hearings nor public debates should be concluded based on which side we ‘believe’. Instead, whoever presents the best evidence corroborating their case should come out on top. If there’s no evidence either way, there’s no case.
This basic legal and moral premise has been under attack for decades by a cultural and political establishment steeped in the postmodernist folly. Consider what legal scholar Patricia Williams wrote at the time about the Tawana Brawley case: Ms. Brawley, Williams said, “has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there. No matter who did it to her—and even if she did it to herself.” In other words, there’s no real difference any longer between an imagined rape and a real one; What matters is that Ms. Brawley is a victim of our society, its racism, its sexism and its economic injustice, which, we are to accept, led her to cover her own body with racial slurs and feces and hide in a trash bag. That this line of reasoning constitutes a direct assault on truth and justice, not to mention banalizes the horrors victims of actual rape have to suffer, requires no further explanation. It’s identity politics at its worst. Not to put too fine a point on it, President Trump is a mere product of his time, in this regard as in so many others, and progressives are the ones who let the postmodern genie out of the bottle.
This nonsense has been making headway in America’s colleges and universities for the better part of a century now. While it has always spilled over into the rest of society, the flow has become more of a volcanic eruption after the Kavanaugh nomination. From the moronic “Believe the Women!” memes on social media to the utter loss of civility and eagerness to smear a decent man with the most outlandish allegations, the intellectual fantasies prevailing in academia have now irreversibly landed onto a nation unwilling to accept their premises. When the happy few attending and actually paying attention in college are all being taught for decades on end that powerful white men ruin life for the rest of us, the inevitable result is that at some point nonsensical narratives will be peddled to bring the latter down whenever a nice opportunity arises. “Angry white men like Brett Kavanaugh,” Salon informs us, “want to further expand an American dystopia where women, nonwhites, Muslims, immigrants, gays and lesbians, the disabled, the poor and other people and groups deemed to be ‘less than’ are treated as second-class citizens.” In other words, the Justice is guilty whether he’s a serial rapist or not.
But even if we disagree with this premise, the division and discord created have an effect on all of us. Identity politics is outright poison feeding our basest resentments by pitting different hyphenated classes in our society against each other. Not once do its propagators pause to reflect how deeply radical and dangerous their ideas are. And the hodgepodge of self-defined identity groups is metastasizing by the day, with each group being narrowed down to the extent that we can no longer speak of the Balkanization of American society but its atomization. It’s no longer Mexicans or blacks or homosexuals, but just ‘non-binary blacks‘ passing the admissions test. Since some 0.3% of the U.S. population ‘self-defines’ as transgender (that’s not the Daily Stormer talking, but the New York Times), this equates to just north of a hundred thousand blacks on a total population of 325 million — a margin of error in electoral terms. In the age of Facebook and Twitter they’ll be able to scream loud enough to make all the right people feel bad and guilty, but as a general direction for our society, carving up our population into such fringe victim classes in order to shame the majority into all kinds of political concessions is a dead end.
Identity politics is outright poison feeding our basest resentments by pitting different hyphenated classes in our society against each other. Not once do its propagators pause to reflect how deeply radical and dangerous their ideas are.
None of this comes as a surprise to those paying attention. The lines of argument are quickly becoming more radical — if arguments haven’t been abandoned altogether in favor of violent protests or angry mobs harassing senators inside restaurants. The policy platforms now include ‘democratic socialism’ (that great contradiction in terms of our age), ‘abolish ICE’ and other such loopy claptrap. Where it will end, I don’t know. But it would be helpful to remind the virtuous angels on the Left that it’s not just us Adolf Hitlers on the Right whose ideas can derail into violence and terror. The French Revolution is a case in point — though it would be unreasonable to expect our educated elites to know anything about events which happened over two hundred years ago.
My exit questions are these: What will happen if things get so heated the Right starts employing the same tactics of slander and mob protest? Will the media report it with an equal dose of sympathy? And is it possible such an unfortunate development would lead to reprisals from both sides and quick escalation across the country? In other words: Are we headed for ochlocracy?