Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 25, 2012
POLITICS: Horror Show
You have to read this post by the fearless and indefatigable Patterico in its entirety to get the full effect of the campaign of personal harassment waged against him by left-wing activists. I'd also encourage you to follow the links in his post (as well as Erick's post here) to see the background and how long Patterico has been on this particular beat. One thing I had not realized before was that these goons are the people behind the Raw Story site.
Let me add one thing here. Every belief system - political, religious, philosophical, lifestyle - attracts some nutty people, some stupid people, some evil and dangerous people. You can't judge those belief systems by their craziest adherents. Liberalism, as understood in the United States over the past half-century or so, involves the belief in a lot of nonsense, but it is basically a peaceable creed.
But increasingly since the late 60s, we have seen the emergence of a particular style of activism - occasionally aped in some corners of the Right, but systematically practiced on the Left - that takes as its creed "the personal is political" and that everything is politics, and follows that to its logical conclusion by such methods as:
-Picketing the homes of political opponents and business executives.
-Boycotts aimed at donors and sponsors of political causes and political commentators.
-Efforts to "out" political opponents, ranging from disclosing the identities and addresses of anonymous or pseudonymous writers to targeting closeted homosexuals among Congressional staffers.
-Googlebombs designed to skew internet searches for information about a targeted person.
-Reporting targeted opponents to ISPs, hosting companies or Twitter as spam.
That's just a quick list, and of course it ranges from older-style campaigns to things done specifically on the internet. The theoretical and practical justification for this style of political activism as personal war against opponents is, of course, laid out most explicitly in Rules for Radicals and other writings of Saul Alinsky, the father of "community organizing," the subject of Hillary Clinton's college thesis, and the specific inspiration for groups like the PIRGs and ACORN that (to simplify a much longer story) trained and worked hand in glove with Barack Obama. We see such campaigns waged regularly online by left-wing activist groups like ThinkProgress and particular in the battles over Proposition 8 (ranging from the targeting of Mormon donors to the reasons why Paul Clement ended up leaving his law firm). The campaign against Patterico merely takes these methods to their logical endpoint. If you think your role in politics is not merely to compete in the world of ideas but to raise the personal cost of opposing your ideas and agenda to the point where people fear speaking out against you, you have gone down this same path, and should think long and hard about what you are encouraging.
PS - If you want to know where this style of activism leads, read Mark Steyn's bracing introduction to Geert Wilders' book.