Kirsten Powers, the author of The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, wrote the following about the Leftist Twitter mob that forced the resignation of Brendan Eich from Mozilla because of his donation to Prop 8 in California: “It’s not necessary to support Eich’s donation to recognize something deeply disturbing occurred here. Pushing someone out of his job for dissenting on an issue that has nothing to do with the mission of the company and then portraying the purge as a ‘free’ conversation that boosted humanity is creepily Orwellian.”
Because of these two sentences, on page 11 of her book, Powers, a lifelong liberal and supporter of gay marriage, has suffered an avalanche of abuse from her side. She’s called a “bigot,” “homophobe,” “f-ckface,” and more. It is a classic Leftist tactic – take something the person did or said, lie about it, make it into a huge deal, and use it to discredit them. It is also a Leftist tradition to bury any independent thinkers on their side the moment they express disagreement.
“This tainting and ostracism of sinners is the secret power of the leftist faith,” wrote David Horowitz in Progressives, Volume II of The Black Book of the American Left. “It is what keeps the faithful in line.” It is “part of a ritual that has become familiar over generations of the left, in which dissidents are excommunicated and consigned to various Siberias for their political deviance. It is a phenomenon normal to religious cults, where purity of heart is maintained through avoiding contact with the unclean.”
When Powers appeared on NPR to discuss her book, the radio station also invited David Shipler of the New York Times, who once compared Rush Limbaugh’s radio show to Soviet propaganda. This is how he described the process: “If you use the definition of propaganda that I heard when I was a Moscow correspondent from a Soviet professor, who described it as a truth, a truth, a truth, and then a lie. You weave in facts that are indisputable, or then half facts, semi-truths, and then by the time you got the listener engaged, you put in a lie or a semi-lie.”
Surprisingly, for all his years as a Times Moscow correspondent, Shipler has it backwards. In his book Disinformation, Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet Bloc official ever to defect to the United States, describes how it is really done:
There was a major condition for disinformation to succeed, and that was that a story should always be built around a “kernel of truth” that would lend credibility. Over my 27 years in the Soviet bloc intelligence community, I was privy to many Cold War disinformation operations that eventually lost steam but were never entirely compromised, because of that kernel of truth.
So what you have is one little truth to give credit to a mountain of lies. One example, covered in Powers’s book, is the Rolling Stone-UVA fraternity rape hoax. Apparently, the only thing true about that story is that an accusation exists. That’s it. There is no evidence supporting the accusation, and the existing evidence about the case points to the contrary. But it didn’t matter. The story was kept alive by an avalanche of lies and self-righteous indignation that followed.
As if to prove the point, Powers reports the following reaction from one of the Left’s most hateful writers:
After Rolling Stone apologized for the story, Jessica Valenti wrote in the Guardian that she still chose to believe Jackie. “I lose nothing by doing so, even if I’m later proven wrong,” wrote Valenti. “[A]t least I will still be able to sleep at night for having stood by a young woman who may have been through an awful trauma.”
What about the “trauma” inflicted on the fraternity that was humiliated and actually punished by the university for an incident that it now appears never took place? From bricks thrown through windows to death threats and vandalized property, the fraternity suffered profoundly. The Cavalier Daily reports that members slept in the same room, afraid to be near doors and windows. And the ramifications extended beyond Phi Kappa Psi. After the story broke, UVA president Theresa Sullivan suspended all fraternity social events without any due process, a move condemned by both professors and students alike. Valenti also complained that people were rushing to “indict” Jackie, as if expecting a journalist to investigate claims of gang rape is an attack upon the person making the claim.
(Valenti has made a career out of smearing conservative women as “anti-woman,” and has recently attacked my friend Katie Pavlich in the pages of the Guardian. Pavlich tells a story about Valenti’s antics in her own book, Assault & Flattery, that is too disgusting and graphic for me to feel comfortable reprinting here.)
Then there is the story of Campbell Brown and her work on education. Back in 2008, Campbell Brown’s show on CNN was so biased that I had to stop watching it. Yet it doesn’t take someone particularly sympathetic to her to see that the campaign to personally discredit her because of her work on education is wrong. As Powers writes:
After leaving journalism, she became an education reform advocate, founding the nonprofit Partnership for Educational Justice in 2014 to challenge teacher tenure rules that protect underperforming educators.
Teachers unions and their illiberal left allies quickly deemed Brown public enemy number one. Rather than debating Brown and challenging her arguments, the illiberal left began a delegitimization campaign. Brown was no longer an accomplished woman, nor was her desire to improve the education system sincere. No, she was a nefarious right-wing bimbo under the control of conservative men lurking in the background. It started in 2012, when Brown wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal criticizing teachers unions for protecting teachers guilty of sexual misconduct from getting fired. In a Twitter exchange, Brown asked president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten about the issue. Weingarten responded and ultimately accused Brown of having a secret agenda. ‘Campbell did not want to be balanced. She’s married to Romney advisor Dan Senor,’ Weingarten tweeted. In other words, Brown was a mindless parrot who adopted her Republican husband’s political views. As Campbell responded, “Wow, no sexism here. Sad.”
All of Brown’s well remembered liberalism has suddenly been airbrushed out of history. She is now a rabid right-wing zealot out to get the teachers. How do we know? Because (“kernel of truth”) she’s married to a Republican.
Here’s another example: Young Conservative women are not to be taken seriously because they are so stunningly beautiful. The Left is actually saying that. The same goes for the “blondes” on Fox News, who seem to agitate them to no end. It’s all in the book.
And, as Powers discovers, dialogue is nearly impossible with the Stalinist, “Illiberal” Left. To return to the example of Jessica Valenti:
In November 2010, the women’s magazine More hosted a panel to discuss feminism. Jessica Valenti, “a gutsy young third wave feminist,” according to the New York Times, canceled her appearance on the panel because it included Allison Kasic, a conservative from the Independent Women’s Forum. On her blog, Valenti explained she dropped out because she didn’t want to “validate” the idea that conservatives could be feminists.
“When I agree to be on a panel I’m accepting the terms of a debate,” she wrote. “And it’s not a debatable point whether people whose policies actively harm women are feminists. I don’t want to validate that this is a question open for reasonable conversation.” Reasonable conversations aren’t something illiberal feminists do.
Kirsten Powers is a liberal – no question about that. She is not writing this to spite the Left. If it would stop attacking her and listen, it might learn from her dramatic experience of having come to understand her political opponents and treat them as fellow human beings. Her conclusion is a plea that all of us, across the spectrum, should heed:
The moral of this story is simple: we should all make efforts to invite people who hold different views into our worlds. Contrary to popular thought, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. It breeds understanding and tolerance. Now, go make some unlikely friends.