In a debate of ideas, it’s almost irresistible for the left to throw in “Sarah Palin” as a shining example of everything that is wrong with this country, the conservative movement, or the Republican Party. Six years into a new presidency, it’s still “George W. Bush’s fault” when the economy or U.S. foreign policy isn’t up to par, and America’s motivation for just about anything is “oil”.
I have a theorem called “the rule of 5”. On Facebook, any conservative post made usually only takes about 5 comments from liberals before Fox News is somehow roped into the argument—no matter how unrelated.
To the left, these straw man arguments are conveniently-made ogres.
They are used because they are banners that are easy for the left to rally behind. The left has characterized each of these with a narrative that is so pervasive and unquestionably held, that the truth becomes shrouded. Lobbing a reference to one of these entities into any conversation becomes a tactic of distraction that largely works because the right doesn’t spend enough time deconstructing these narratives.
Let’s consider them, briefly.
Ask anyone what the problem is with Sarah Palin, and the “tolerant” and “pro-woman” left will usually offer an argument that equates to ‘she’s dumb’. Consider Chris Matthew’s comments on MSNBC or Huff Post’s perpetuation of the insult.
In an interview with Katie Couric, Palin didn’t answer a condescending question about which news outlets she read. And why would she? When running for President, any side or brand you publicly favor will inevitably lead to those who favor another brand losing favor with you, which means fewer votes. I wouldn’t have answered that question either.
How about seeing Russia from her house? Fact check any leftist who tries to use this argument. According to Snopes, “interviewer Charles Gibson asked her what insight she had gained from living so close to Russia, and she responded: ‘They’re our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.’” The left’s version of Palin’s answer comes from their own mockery of her on Saturday Night Live, yet that distinction is conveniently forgotten.
Fox News is arguably the only right-leaning major television network. The narrative of the left is that anything from Fox News can’t be trusted as factual because the network leans right. Of course the network has right-leaning talk and opinion shows, it takes advantage of an otherwise unfilled niche for conservative viewpoints in an ocean of liberal network pundits. And why wouldn’t it? Fox’s conservative punditry has made it the #1 cable news network in ratings across all standards. That alone should show how one-sided the network coverage field is; conservatives have ONE choice for like-minded opinion shows.
Diversity of thought is dangerous to the left. For the left to continue to expand the size and power of government and its influence in our lives, it must marginalize and discredit those who oppose their objective. Thus, Fox News isn’t just treated as a network with predominantly conservative opinion shows, the entirety of Fox’s selection is, to the left, false. Never mind MSNBC’s news anchors who overtly support Democratic candidates, CNN’s selective reporting, or the Daily Show’s purposefully deceptive interview tactics that favor liberal thought for the belittlement of conservatism. None of this registers into the leftist mission to attack Fox News. This is not to say Fox News punditry doesn’t have a right-leaning bias. The danger of the anti-Fox mindset is that one right-of-center network is one too many.
Here’s a multitude of examples of the various types of liberal media bias that have been perpetuated by a host of mainstream cable networks for decades, as reported by the Media Research Center.
It takes little effort to discredit oil as a motive for American foreign policy decisionmaking. Oil is a great ogre. It’s dirty and can be associated with greed, profiteering, and environmental degradation. Ask any leftist about the detailed practicalities of America, Bush, Cheney, or whoever actually profiting from access to foreign oil reserves. The result is less salient than a conspiracy theory. Most leftists would argue that every major conservative political figure somehow benefits from the increased opportunity for ‘big oil’ to enter into new markets. This would mean that the White House is nothing more than a glorified GOP oil well. Considering the cost and toll of national politics, the argument is weak, and evidence supporting these claims are even weaker.
Not to be left out of the conversation, Republican political figures make ogres as well. Yet the right resorts more often to attacking leftist politicians for their actual actions, policies, and statements (like Nancy Pelosi for “…we have to pass [Obamacare] so that you can find out what is in it” and Hillary Clinton for “what difference at this point does it make?” in regards to Benghazi), and there is no prevailing narrative of sheer stupidity perpetuated from the right on a leftist figure like there is on Palin or Bush. Ad hominem attacks are the last resort when logical arguments fail.
In any regard, such ogre-making from either side should be discouraged by society as a whole. As then-recovering leftist Christopher Hitchens once noted:
“I had become too accustomed to the pseudo-Left new style, whereby if your opponent thought he had identified your lowest possible motive, he was quite certain that he had isolated the only real one. This vulgar method, which is now the norm and the standard in much non-Left journalism as well, is designed to have the effect of making any noisy moron into a master analyst.”
The overall effect of the left using the aforementioned ogres is relatively small. They may feel better about any opportunity to score points against Fox News or further belittle Sarah Palin, but they don’t achieve much beyond that with these platitudes.
Now, it’s time to get serious.
The consequential damage is done when leftist pursuits build an effective ogre narrative in situations that jeopardize a lasting and just peace.
Sadly, Israel has become an ogre of the left. The only Jewish nation on the planet—a nation that lives among other nations and nation-backed groups that expressly seek its destruction and annihilation—now must defend its very right to protect its people. The nation of Israel has advanced technology and an incredibly effective military (the Israeli Defense Force or IDF). In the context of a war that Israel doesn’t want, its success in defending its people has made it one of the left’s major demons.
Israel isn’t perfect and does not act from irrevocably moral high ground. But Israel has acted to prioritize the preservation of life whenever possible. The New York Times compares Israeli and Palestinian causality quantities as if such a statistic implies culpability. Hamas’s use of civilian buffers for military purposes is ignored for the sake of the narrative.
The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement is a tool of deception to conquer the ogre of Israel; groups that perpetuate BDS shirk accusations of the discriminatory anti-Semitic goals of such a movement to justify the poisonous narrative. Israeli Arabs are represented in the Jewish government, are among Jewish university valedictorians, and land agreements with the Palestinians have been a part of virtually every peace negotiation that involves Israel. Yet the Left refuses to acknowledge Israel’s positive–and by many means–compassionate efforts to reach a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
Compassion isn’t a trait afforded to an ogre of the Left.
Everyone regrets what happened in Ferguson, Missouri that caused the death of teenager Michael Brown, and Staten Island’s Eric Garner. The left may try to claim ownership of the civil rights issues surrounding police brutality, but conservatism seeks the same ends: equal and fair treatment for everyone under the law. Many aspects of these situations require attention and improvement, including the militarization of police entities and the U.S. legal system’s efficacy for exonerating the wrongly accused and arrested.
Yet as solemn as these events are, leftist leaders have still seen fit to take advantage of the opportunity to unleash another ogre: the idea of an inherently racist American system.
Individual instances of race-based hate crimes do exist, and they should be rightfully punished. Likewise, disadvantages exist for women and minorities that must be overcome in the pursuit of true societal equality. But the narrative that white on black racism is fostered by and built into the American justice system is an egregious perpetrator of the division among Americans. This argument is incredibly harmful to progressive equality. Communities are destroyed when mayhem is encouraged through repeating a narrative that divides. Distrust has been woven into police-civilian interaction that only triggers further violence and death. Whites then become targeted by blacks, which leads to the reactionary targeting of blacks by whites, and so on into a vicious and increasingly unbreakable cycle.
Here’s a quote from an article passed around on social media, following the Eric Gardner decision, from the left-leaning Concourse:
“America is a serial brutalizer of black and brown people. Brutalizing them is what it does.” And further, “It is not broken. That is exactly what is wrong with it.”
Let that sink in. And then consider how many of the speeches, rhetoric, and statements from leftist political figures reflect this idea, that Americans are inherently racist.
In an interview with BET, President Obama said, “[Racism] is something that is deeply rooted in our society, it’s deeply rooted in our history.”
Racism isn’t rooted in American society, it’s rooted in the history of humanity’s conquest ethic. According to World Value Survey, America clocks in as one of the statistically least racist countries on the planet. Humanity used to live in a world where disputes were settled by force and strength alone. To make another race inferior was to ensure your race survived. America has been one of the greatest experiments in eradicating racism in human history. America is a system founded on universal and inviolable individual rights. This very notion is antithetical to racism. The concept wasn’t executed perfectly, and it still isn’t perfect, but the American example has been a catalyst for propelling humanity beyond racism. America battled itself in the Civil War over slavery, and emancipation won. Suffrage is now universal and society is working to overcome racism’s final vestiges.
As Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
Skin color is no more an indicator of a propensity towards racism as it is a predictor of inferiority.
The grand jury was wrong not to indict on any charges in the Garner case. And it’s a good thing that so many have demanded that this injustice be corrected. But those who manipulate events to make American an inherently evil ogre are beating the drums of war. Class and race warfare will not, and cannot, solve society’s injustices. Instead, we must continue to strive to perfect our system, which means supporting and defending America.
If injustice truly is the enemy, then issues like racism and inhumanity must be defeated justly. Creating political ogre after political ogre will only create a society overrun by monsters.