We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

On the left’s demonisation of John Stossel

As well as the normal “liberal” distortions (in this case pretending that the de facto ban on both Alaska land drilling, off shore shallow water drilling, and Mountain State oil shale production, do not exist – these being the restrictions that force difficult and expensive deep water drilling) that Michelle Oddis outlines – please ponder the John Stossel story.

J.S. said whatever libertarian says on race – that racism is evil, but people should be allowed to keep people they do not like (for whatever stupid reason) off their property.

And for that all Hell broke lose – with “MediaMatters” and all the rest of the (very well funded) leftist (in the modern sense) organizations demanding that he be dismissed. The man is Jewish (counts for nothing – the left will smear him as a racist anyway), the man was a Democrat before he became a libertarian and has never been a Republican (counts for nothing – the left will smear him as …..), the man has “socially liberal” attitudes seeing nothing wrong with homosexual acts or whatever (counts for nothing – the left will smear him as……).

Being opposed to the left (in the modern sense of the establishment – to the elite that control most of the institutions in society, including many private ones) and yet in the public eye is to undergo trial by fire every day – against a ruthless enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy you. They will lie and cheat and smear, do anything they believe they “have” to do for the collectivist cause).

So one faces a choice – either give in and become a de facto leftist (like the house “conservatives” the New York Times employs to attack real conservatives, or like David Frumm, or Andrew “cash for clunkers is an example of good limited government” Sullivan) or accept that you will be treated as a monster – and that even after you die your name will be spat on and the left will try and train even your own children to hate your memory.

That is the alternative that, for example, Glenn Beck has accepted (he knows that the left will eventually destroy him – and has asked his children to keep private journals so that they will have something real to remember their father by), but it is a hard road to walk. As Mr Stossel is discovering.

Stossel is lucky that he works for the one major media organization that might not fire him or force him to resign – but even that is not certain, for Rupert M. is no hero.

“Why do journalists not dissent from the leftist consensus” – because the left will DESTROY you if you do dissent (if they can find any way to do so).

Deep down the left support the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States about as much as they support the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. And the British left is not different.

This is what Oddis wrote:

I turned on the TV Sunday morning just in time to hear TIME Magazine’s Joe Klein on the “Chris Matthews Show” claim that Obama’s approval ratings won’t be affected negatively by the Gulf oil spill.

He is “incredibly lucky in his opposition — the oil spill is a great example,” said Klein. “The Republicans look worse on that than the Democrats do.” A chuckle was shared between Klein and Matthews.

In hindsight Democrats should be reminded that we are drilling in deep offshore wells (5,000 feet or more) because berserk environmentalists refuse to let anyone drill into the rocky tundra of ANWR even though over 75% percent of Alaskans support this kind of exploration.

Now how does this situation make Republicans look worse? Read more here and watch Glenn Beck back in 2008 explain the truth about ANWR.

26 comments to On the left’s demonisation of John Stossel

  • A couple of things puzzle me. First, “The man is Jewish (counts for nothing – the left will smear him as a racist anyway).” What is it supposed to count for? Can Jewish people not be racist?

    Second, “the left will DESTROY you if you do dissent”. But that’s OK, isn’t it? The left should have the freedom to do that if they so choose, but in due course the market will correct for that (presumably by supporting ‘you’ with even greater effect than the left’s destructiveness). That is, after all, the argument that Stossel is making; other people may behave repugnantly, but the economic disadvantage that imposes on them means they’ll eventually fall by the wayside.

  • Andy H

    That would only happen because racism is deeply unpopular.

    Being nasty to people with differing political opinions is not.

  • PaulH, the market has no chance of correcting it, since the left operates outside it: it always uses the power of the state to destroy those it wishes to.

  • John Galt

    …it always uses the power of the state to destroy those it wishes to.

    Which is why it is “The State” that must be destroyed.

  • Andy H – I’d love to live where you do; wherever I’ve lived racism has been markedly popular, even when it has been seen by ‘the enlightened’ as objectionable.

    Alisa – What are the major steps the state has taken to destroy Stossel so far, would you say?

    John – I’ve been discussing this with a libertarian friend recently, and we’ve hit an impasse. It seems that the state retains its power because there are always sufficient poor/stupid people around who see short-term advantage (that being the only term they can encompass) in its existence. So how do we reduce the proportion of poor/stupid people?

  • Paul: Stossel is not quite there yet, but consider the case of Conrad Black as a recent example.

  • Kim du Toit

    Conrad Black is a bad example. This is a man who used company funds as his own private piggy bank to fund a lifestyle he could quite have afforded to maintain with his own money. Yeah, he was imprisoned by The State — but he DID commit a crime, after all.

    Other publishers (e.g. Pinch Sulzberger at the NYT) could probably be indicted under the same charges, if anyone cared to dig; but nobody will, because Leftist publishers usually get a pass.

    One of the hallmarks of conservatives is that, unlike the Left, we do punish our own when the punishment is deserved. Long may it stay that way.

    And that’s the lesson: as long as Stossel (or any other media figure) keeps his nose clean, the State is powerless to touch him.

  • Millie Woods

    With reference to oil exploration -why doesn’t some intrepid media type follow the money to see who is funding the so-called environmentalists. The biggest exporter of oil to the US is Canada and most of that oil comes from the Alberta oil sands. The Obama regime has started to make the exporters jump through environmental hoops to show that the product comes up to environmentally PC standards. Meanwhile in Canada the usual collection of naysayers shout and scream about the environmental destruction the Albertan fascists – code for the Harper government – are subjecting us to. However the Chinese have recently invested heavily in Alberta energy projects so in a standoiff I give the Chinese a plus score and the hand wringers a zero.

  • Other publishers (e.g. Pinch Sulzberger at the NYT) could probably be indicted under the same charges, if anyone cared to dig; but nobody will, because Leftist publishers usually get a pass.

    Exactly my point.

    as long as Stossel (or any other media figure) keeps his nose clean, the State is powerless to touch him.

    But that is the second key point: who is it that decides what exactly constitutes a ‘clean nose’? Is it not the State? And is there anyone out there who has never sinned by having a slight cold or just a few petty buggers? I’d say that Stossel has just began having his nose examined, and it hasn’t been found perfect. Besides, it may be the case that it will not be Stossel himself that they will go after, if push really comes to shove, but rather his employer. After all, if I am not mistaken, Black was just the owner, he did not have his own column/TV show?

  • Frankly, I’ve come to realize over the course of probably the last three years or so that there is only one way to handle the left in America. We have to stop seeing them as fellow Americans who merely have honest disagreements with us on many issues, and we literally have to start seeing them exactly the same way they see us-as the enemy. Because in very real ways, that is precisely what they are, every bit as much the enemy as any Islamic radical or any other outside agitator or rival.

    And more to the point, the only way we will ever beat them is by adopting their tactics. Frankly, we have to set out to destroy them, ruin them, act in every way as merciless towards them as they have been towards us.

    Because if we don’t, its going to get to the point where it becomes violent. It might anyway, and it might even hasten the fact, but we can at least get it over with if nothing else.

  • PaulH – “Can Jewish people not be racist?”

    In reality, of course they can. However, his being Jewish runs contrary to the liberals’ hyperbolic worldview that: a) racism is exclusively the domain of WASPs; and b) a victim of racism cannot simultaneously be a racist. (The first tenet’s the natural consequence of the second.) Witness the lack of leftist outcry against Black Panthers, the Palestinians, and so on. Note that when this rule contradicts – Jews are certainly victims – the more ostensibly downtrodden group takes priority.

    The other, more salient, point is that as a Jew, the decriminalization of racism/discrimination will likely affect Jews in no small way. That’s quite a different proposition than a white Protestant proposing a law that allows him to indulge his bigotry at little to no personal cost. It hints at a philosophical, not animal, motive.

    The “left will DESTROY you” quote is probably a warning of the (in my observation, at least) predominantly leftist tactic of deploying ad hominem attacks (racist, sexist, bigot, warmonger, greed monger, homophobe, religious nut job) against their intellectual foes, rather than engaging their philosophical points. Quite literally, they will seek to destroy YOU, wholly sidestepping your argument.

  • Millie Woods

    Patrick, I think you are overly pessimistic about the outcome of this civilization struggle. The soi disant elites have one gigantic:flaw, they are clueless about pure and applied science. Why di you think they have huddled weeping in a corner while oil continues flowing into the gulf? They simply have no idea how to respond to a crisis requiring some technological savvy. Degrees from the Ivies in victim studies just don’t prepare one for the real world. While incompetents fiddle and the burning goes on, the engineering and scientific doers continue to make ameliorating strides towards improviing humanity’s lot.

  • Millie Woods

    Patrick, I think you are overly pessimistic about the outcome of this civilizational struggle. The soi disant elites have one gigantic:flaw, they are clueless about pure and applied science. Why do you think they have huddled weeping in a corner while oil continues flowing into the gulf? They simply have no idea how to respond to a crisis requiring some technological savvy. Degrees from the Ivies in victim studies just don’t prepare one for the real world. While incompetents fiddle and the burning goes on, the engineering and scientific doers continue to make ameliorating strides towards improviing humanity’s lot.

  • Millie-

    I hope you’re right. I’m not really that pessimistic, because I don’t think time ever moves for very long in a completely linear fashion. If it did, life would be so predictable we would be ten times as advanced by now. Either that, or we would be basket cases and everyone would just throw up their hands and say, what’s the use. But because time and events are never anywhere near that predictable, we keep working and striving towards a better future, as best we can. It’s the far left and, yes, in some cases the right who sees things in a completely linear manner.

    “Global Warming is going to be irreversible if we don’t do something about it now” and “Europe is going to be majority Muslim by 2050” never take into account that there are other factors that might make present trends completely irrelevant, or at least relatively insignificant compared to now. That’s not to say that you should just sit back and allow things to progress at the current rate, as that would make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    But when I speak of the divide between left and right in American politics, that’s not something I foresee for the future, that is a current phenomenon which is easily seen and identified. The only piece of the puzzle missing so far is the bloodshed, and/or the right treating the left exactly how the left treats them-as the enemy, as opposed to fellow citizens with opposing views.

  • Paul Marks

    PaulH seems to be assuming the left play by the rules – they do not (at least they play by their own “rules”).

    The IRS has been used many times to hound innocent men – for example foes of F.D.R. – such as the owners of newspaper that did not cooperate. Some were too powerful to destroy – but some were not (and other people got the message).

    However, there is also “nonstate” (although the “nonstate” orgainzations tend to have some government funding if one looks into them) “direct action”.

    For example, Rev. J. Jackson is a past master of extortion – want large numbers of demonstators at your office and at your home shounting abuse?

    Do you also want accusations of racism (which can be a criminal matter under such things as the various Community Reinvestment Acts – Carter and Clinton versions)?

    Do you want you busines so tied up in protests, legal actions, and “inverestigations” that its operations can not proceed?


    Then give Jackson lots of money and all these problems will go away.

    That is why I used the word “extortion” – although Jackson and co would call it “community action” (I am sure another Chicago man, Mr Capone, had a nice name for his activities also).

    But Rev. Jackson is hardly an isolated example.

    For example, the many organizations of the ACORN alliance (under various names) used various tactics.

    For example, invading a boardroom and standing behind the members of a board as they discussed investment policy.

    Mr (as he then was) Barack Obama used to train people in such “non violent” tactics.

    Although smashing heads is not a problem also – after all Andy Sterne was the most frequient visitor to the Whitehouse in 2009 and his organization (the SEIU) specializes in physical violence.

    “But they are not going to beat up Stossel” – quite so PaulH.

    The purple people prefer picking on people that no one has ever heard of (people who do not have television shows to make their reply) – such as the black guy they knocked to the ground in order to step upon (he was selling “Dont Tred On Me” stuff you see – the SEIU are brutal, but at least they are not without a sense of humour).

    In the case of Stossel there will be the normal campaign of lies and smears and THREATS (to his employers, to his sponsors – and yes to his family, those little e.mails and telephone calls that everyone “on the right” has such delightful experience of ).

    PaulH. this may be your idea of “the market”, but it is not mine.

  • Paul Marks

    To be fair (something I am accused of not being when writing about socialists) there is a tradition within socialist thought that rejects corruption (lies, smears and physical violence) and holds that socialism should be achieved by moral means (this tradition within socialism rejects the idea that ethics is just an “ideological cover” for “capitalist exploitation”).

    For example, some leftists in the Chicago area both rejected the ends-justify-the-means principle of Saul Alinsky, AND the violence of the terrorist groups of the 1960’s and 1970’s AND the alliance between the socialists and the Daley Machine in Chicago (under Jr. the people who were fighting against each other on the streets in 1968 came to together – although who is using who is a moot point).

    I have written the above in case any socialist from this tradition (living in the Chicago area or anywhere else) comes back saying “I am not part of this – I despise Obama and his crowd…..”.

    O.K. I accept you exist – and have just formally written that you do.

  • Jeremy – it’s interesting that you perceive that as predominantly leftist. I’m neither leftist nor rightist (nor centrist; I guess I’m not as one-dimensional as my ex-girlfriends would have you believe!), but I’ve experienced the culture of each to know that they both have the perception that the other is using such tactics, and they’re both largely correct. What gets missed, I think, is that the vast majority on either side don’t do such things. So you can come up with a hundred examples of objectionable things from either side, and easily forget that there are a billion examples of nothing happening that should drown these things out.

  • PaulH – You’re right, I should refine. In using the term “leftist” I mean the vague group of American leftists, whether socialists or run-of-the-mill Democrats, as much social as political; in other countries, such attacks may not hew as well to one side.

    While ad hominem isn’t a necessary component of collectivism per se, it’s a natural political accompaniment. Socialists can’t win the battle of utilitarianism, so they often fall back on ethics. They could target the rich, whose wealth they want, by appealing to charity; but that has obvious limits and not enough motive force to remake society. The alternative is to appeal to the ethics of the poor: specifically, alleging that the rich are unethical and need to be set right. What ethics are they violating? Equanimity (homophobia, racism, sexism), charity (greed), stewardship & responsibility (pollution).

    The right employs ad hominem, too; but anecdotally, my rightist friends aren’t as likely to label someone as evil or question their motives as my leftist friends. They’ll say “abortion is evil,” sure, but I’ve never in real life heard one of them call a pro-choice woman a baby-killer or murderer. I hear quite a bit more of “that doesn’t make sense” and the ever-popular “that’s retarded.”

    But my leftist friends, who are otherwise easygoing and get along fine? They drop the warmonger, greedy bastard, racist stuff as smoothly as the next quaff of beer.

    I’m also looking in from the outside at both left and right (and we libertarians have our own traits). I agree that, at least at the fringes, there is a remarkable convergence of personality.

  • Paul Marks

    PaulH – a person is (for example) either for Barack Obama or against him.

    Saying, say, that “I am for some of things Obama believes and does – and against other things” does not really avoid the need to CHOOSE whether you are are on his side or against him.

    As for driving people out because of their opinions……….

    Many of the people on my side of the fence jumped on the comments of Helen Thomas and demanded that she went.

    I REJECT this – I utterly detest the opinions of Helen Thomas (on Israel and on virually everything else), but this person has a right to her opinions and should be able to expect to be able to peacefully express her opinions without fear of punishment.

    What is better – someone like Helen Thomas who oppenly expresses her hatred of Israel (and other things – such as the free market), or the normal academic or “mainstream” journalist who has the same opinions, but does not openly express them (just distorts the teaching of various things, or distorts news reporting) whilst wearing a mask of “scientific objectivity”.

    Whilst people are punished for their opinions (left or right) then they have an excuse for hiding their opinions – and that sort of hidden distortion is far more dangerious to the public than the open and honest expression of beliefs (however vile these beliefs are).

  • Laird

    Jeremy, your own illustrations belie your argument. The use of ad hominem attacks is often the first resort of leftists. In contrast, it is rarely used by conservatives, who generally prefer to argue their points on the merits. Similarly, whenever leftists protest something (G20 meetings, for example) rampant property damage is almost inevitable. But when Tea Party members hold a demonstration they police the area for trash afterward. I’m a libertarian, too, but I don’t agree with you that there is any “remarkable convergence of personality.” To the contrary, the differences in both tone and style are palpable.

    Paul M, I can’t agree with you about Helen Thomas. She is an abject fool, and has long been an embarassment to the country. She was permitted to remain in the White House reporters pool only for her amusement value, and because it served the purposes of the left-wing media. Now that she has managed to embarass even them her usefulness is at an end, so out she goes. Good riddance, I say; she should have retired decades ago, and I don’t really care what the specific motivating factor was. I shed no tears for her.

  • Paul Marks

    I agree that her employers had a right to fire (or force to resign) Helen Thomas.

    However, the whole thing still stinks – after all this person (vile though she is) was fired for OPENLY saying, what the people who dominate the education system and the “mainstream” media say in private.

    It is hypocrisy.

  • Laird – Not so. My illustrations are targeted at the vast middle majority of people, left and right. The left is predisposed to ad hominem throughout the spectrum, and it varies not in approach, but in magnitude. Within this set of people, you’re correct about their general behaviors.

    However, it’s disingenuous or naive to claim that the extreme right doesn’t resort to the same tactics as the left. Ever heard Falwell call gays “evil”? The communist left and the religious right have in common some striking things: they’re both motivated by religious fervor (however much the left wants to pretend it’s not so), and they’d both like to control your thoughts, intentions, and behaviors.

    One’s seldom driven to the left or right “fringe” by reason rather than emotion; and the latter begets personal attacks.

    Keep in mind that I’m not talking about a Nolan chart here; we libertarians don’t even lie along the line I’m describing. As I corrected earlier, it’s the traditional left/right socio-political spectrum that I see, e.g., here in the US. Doesn’t come close to capturing all ideological possibilities, but giant swaths of people nevertheless accept it as their political universe.

    Finally, I didn’t mean to imply that ad hominem isn’t the first tactic of leftists, rather that it must be their first tactic, since they know they can’t win on utility.

  • Laird

    I guess I misunderstood your point then, Jeremy, or perhaps you merely overstated it. If I understand you correctly now, what you’re saying is that the Left nearly always relies on ad hominem attacks because it cannot win the argument any other way, whereas on the Right it is only the extreme fringe which uses that tactic, and then only occasionally. In other words, there is a significant difference in tone and style between the rank-and-file on the Left and those on the Right.

    My point exactly.

  • Laird – Exactly.

    By “…at least at the fringes, there is a remarkable convergence of personality” I meant that it’s only at the extremes that the divide in approaches I detailed, normally overt and consistent, disappears.

    Communication breakdown!

  • Laird

    Paul, thought you’d like to see Iowahawk’s take on Helen Thomas.