The news that Elon Musk had closed a deal to purchase Twitter led those in the leftist media to the most predictable response possible. They called him a racist. An MSNBC correspondent says he’s doing it to protect the speech of straight white men. Many more concerned progressives warned vaguely of the consequences for “marginalized communities.”
It’s an absurd charge but a familiar pattern. Journalist Chris Rufo is widely called both a racist and anti-LGB and Trans for exposing the left’s own excesses. The same stood true for Twitter account Libs of Tik Tok. Even millions of Trump supporters are regularly smeared as racists engaged in “white backlash,” whatever that is, despite the GOP’s strong recent inroads with minority voters.
FILE – Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington, on March 9, 2020. A Delaware court on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, sided with Musk in a bitter legal battle over whether he acted against the best interest of other shareholders when he steered the electric car maker into a $2.6 billion acquisition of a solar panel maker founded by two of his cousins. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
The biggest problem with all of this grandstanding is not that it’s slanderous, though it is, it’s not that it’s lazy, though it is, it’s that it makes very serious and needed conversations about our country and society completely impossible. We actually do need to talk about how to best protect speech on the internet while combating things like child porn and foreign information operations, but instead the left just points and yells ‘racist!’
What makes this all so insidious is that the baseless charge of racism not only allows progressives to refuse to engage with conservative ideas, it compels them to do so by arguing that it is immoral to legitimize these so-called racists by even discussing their ideas and perspectives. And yet, at the same time, they can’t even define what a racist is.
The left has concocted a definition of racism that is a mile wide and an inch deep, one that is functionally useless. It does not require the expression of animosity towards minorities, it does not require any discriminatory behavior. All it requires is insufficient deference to progressives’ bizarre, almost religious belief that racism is everywhere in America – that it is the very air we breathe.
When President Joe Biden calls Georgia’s sensible voting laws “Jim Crow 2.0,” or accuses mounted border agents of racism for sort of appearing to whip Hatian migrants, the facts don’t matter. Never mind that Biden’s own state of Delaware has more restrictive voting than Georgia, never mind that the border agents were exonerated. It’s irrelevant to the appearance of racism that must always be called out to the exclusion of further discussion.
It is difficult to know whether this deeply illiberal tendency among progressives is a cynical tactic to shut down discourse, or a deeply held belief that shutting down “racist” conservative speech is a moral imperative. Either way, the result is the same. We can no longer talk to each other. There is no greater threat to democracy – any democracy – than the inability to discuss the issues we ultimately vote on.
For their part, most conservatives, and not just pundits and politicians, have long since stopped caring about these ridiculous accusations of racism. After all, if everything is racist, then nothing is racist. But it doesn’t matter. American conservatives really do want a debate about ideas and issues, but that can’t happen if the left uses racism as a tool to shut down any discourse they don’t like.
There are only two ways any of this gets better, one is if the left knocks it off with the knee-jerk appeal to racism. The other is if the American people simply block out the identity politics-squawking and abandon progressive talking points. In time, it seems likely that the latter will occur, even if the former never does. But not soon, and we need a much better national political discourse today.
There are very few things that can truly threaten the strength and power of the United States. But this is one of them. The American people need to talk again, to share, to do so without fear of slander. Pray this happens before things get much worse.
David Marcus is a columnist living in New York City and the author of “Charade: The COVID Lies That Crushed A Nation.”