When police accused actor Justin Smollett of staging a hate crime, his left-wing cheer squad threw down their pom-poms and picked up stones. Smollett’s big mistake wasn’t allegedly lying, or playing a black, gay victim in a mediocre TV series. His cardinal sin was to expose the fallacy of the modern Left’s creation myth that politically correct minorities are persecuted rather than privileged.
Smollett is an unremarkable actor, but he is black and gay which gives him minority status.
Such status can provide a range of benefits where the state suppresses fair competition to ensure minorities have special access to education, employment and welfare opportunities. The special privileges regime extends to the realm of public reason. Many Western states built on the democratic traditions of free speech and public reason have made offending PC minorities an offence. It has created a profoundly illiberal culture where the democratic principle of loyal opposition is increasingly difficult to exercise.
Smollett is protesting his innocence against evidence that he paid brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo to stage a hate crime against him. On Good Morning America, he welled up while reconstructing the scene. It was dark, he was all alone, just another poor minority millionaire minding his own business, when the unimaginable horror appeared: a Republican voter! To add PC insult to injury, Smollett said the assailant shouted: ‘This is MAGA country, n–!’ One can only assume he said ‘nigger’ because censors ran a high pitched squeal over the offending word on TV and deleted ‘igger’ in print. Daft bastar–.
The Smollett case is the latest example of the PC Left undermining an essential part of democratic culture. The principle of loyal opposition requires the understanding that being a citizen of a democracy entails a mutual obligation to hear and be heard. Each side of politics is mutually obligated to demonstrate civility in debate and the exercise of public reason. After an election, the losers respect the outcome and facilitate a peaceful transition to the elected government.
In the wake of Trump’s victory, the PC Left showed radical disrespect for the democratic process by trashing the principle of loyal opposition. Mobs attacked Republican voters. Activists tried to stop the president’s inauguration. The progressive press ran fake news stories vilifying Republican voters as stupid, racist and uneducated. There were fake race-hate attacks. The PC sisterhood tortured irony by lauding universal suffrage while encouraging attacks on ‘white women’ who vote to the right. The PC Left has created a culture of contempt for democracy in the land of the free.
The censorious thugs of the 21st century Left are throwbacks to a pre-political age where might was right. When they are unable to win an argument by exercising reason in the public square, PC leftists resort to censoring opponents. They use the big club of the state to render dissenters speechless.
The modern Left’s intolerance is a vicious circle and the consequences are becoming clear. In Pew research, 44 per cent of Democrats with a college degree or higher said that ‘a friend voting for Trump would put a strain on the friendship’.About half of undergraduate students surveyed by the Brookings Institution thought it acceptable to silence speech they found upsetting. Students who favoured the Democrats (62 per cent) were more likely than Republicans (39 per cent) to support silencing speakers by shouting them down.
The Australian Racial Discrimination Act legitimises the belief that enforcing PC ideology matters more than sustaining the future of democratic culture. Under section 18C, it is feelings not facts that constitute the evidentiary standard to justify state censorship. PC minority group interests are protected at the expense of a democratic tradition which requires freedom of speech, natural justice and the exercise of loyal opposition through public reason.
Almost a century ago, the economist Ludwig von Mises outlined the threat special interest groups posed to parliamentary democracy: ‘The parties of special interests, which see nothing more in politics than the securing of privileges and prerogatives for their own groups, not only make the parliamentary system impossible; they rupture the unity of state and society… Their aim is to obtain, at the cost of the rest of the population, the greatest possible advantages and privileges for the groups they represent.’
Von Mises’s analysis was developed in the context of the early 20th century and pertained to factions within parties. Almost a century later, the fracturing of liberal democracy by special interest groups of the political Left is well underway.
The process is elucidated in Ryszard Legutko’s book The Demon in Democracy. He warns that the conditions of totalitarianism he experienced living under communism are present in modern liberal democracies.
In the preface, former speechwriter to Margaret Thatcher, John O’Sullivan, captures the essence of the argument: ‘Both [communism and liberal democracy] are utopian and look forward to an end of history… Both are historicist and insist that history is inevitably moving in their direction. Both therefore require that all social institutions – family, churches, private associations – must conform to liberal democratic rules in their internal functionings.’
When reality does not conform to ideology, utopians enforce a program of social engineering.
If you want to know what democracy by PC minorities might look like, consider romancing the idea of re-education. In 2018, the Queer society at London’s Goldsmiths University defended the gulags as rehabilitative: ‘a far cry from the Western, capitalist notion of prison. The aim was to correct and change the ways of “criminals”.’ What colourful revisionism, but we would expect nothing less from the red guard of rainbow warriors.
In the march of the totalitarians, there is no such thing as free society or a lively democratic culture animated by dissent. There are only state-preferred groups that enforce PC ideology to promote themselves at the expense of the common wealth and greater good.
We have begun the 21st century in a curious state where everyone wants democracy, but no-one wants to be a democrat. By this way, democracy dies.