Every once in a while, particularly during the Obama years, someone would compare the ideological enforcers to the Red Guards of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Inevitably, the response from many so-called conservatives, would be that it was an exaggeration or just a bad comparison. After all, today’s ideological enforcers just shriek and make life unpleasant for the bad-thinker. No one is being forced to publicly confess to imaginary crimes or being sent off to a reeducation camp.
The whole point of comparing something in the current time, or even the near future, to something bad from the past, is exaggeration. The point is to make the present thing appear worse, in order to warn of something bad on the horizon. The shrieking social justice warriors may not be physically attacking college professors today, but if they are not stopped now, they could be doing this in the near future. That’s the whole point of the exaggerated comparison. It is to warn of something bad on the horizon.
The question never considered is what happens when the warnings prove to be correct, but no one is taking notice. That is, what if the shrieking social justice warriors start forcing college professors to wear dunce caps and the people in charge open up reeducation camps for bad thinkers? That would be pretty bad, but it would be worse if people just shrugged and said, “Sure, you were right about this turning into the Cultural Revolution, but what are we going to do?” What exaggeration do we use then?
We are now about to find out. This story from the New York Times was bouncing around among dissidents over the holidays. It tells of a black women who got her feelings hurt on Twitter a couple of years ago. The people in charge used her sadness to force one of the people making her sad to confess to imaginary crimes and agree to spend 200 hours in a reeducation camp. Additionally, the black girl will monitor his behavior and determine if he is sufficiently submissive to her, before he is released from custody.
That sounds like an exaggeration, for sure, but it is not. A year ago, American University celebrated the acquisition of a new totem to their goodness, but then that totem was mocked on Twitter by people who read the Daily Stormer website. One of them, Evan James McCarty of Eugene, Ore., was hunted down and brought to trial. According to the New York Times story, he was forced “to apologize, renounce white supremacy, undergo counseling and help civil rights groups fight hate and bigotry.”
The point they are making, as is the point of any sort of mob justice or vigilantism, is to send a warning to others. When the Maoists were parading around bad thinkers in dunce caps, it was not about the victim. It was a message to everyone else. You either fall in line or you face something similar. That’s the point of this case and the harassment campaign run by propaganda organs like the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast. Kelly Weill and Chris Mathias are hired ideological enforcers, not journalists or reporters.
No doubt people will argue that this characterization of this event is out of line or an exaggeration. They will point out that the victim agreed to perform the confession and agreed to enter a reeducation camp. That’s true, strictly speaking. It’s also true that workers around the country “volunteer” to undergo morality training and submit themselves to examination, in order to ensure they are not blaspheming the gods of the state. In an ideological state, people “volunteer” for a lot of things.
It is tempting to dust off the great quote from Theodore Dalrymple about how in communist societies, the purpose of propaganda was to humiliate. There’s certainly truth to that in this particular case. The new class wanted to humiliate the Twitter troll in order to make a point. They probably wanted him to wear a dunce cap and sandwich board detailing his crimes, but maybe next time. The assumption is that no one will want to submit themselves to the same humiliating punishments so everyone will fall in line.
There is another side to the coin here. This was an act of vengeance. The story and the facts make clear that the new class is angry that anyone would dare disrespect the gods of the state. They are insulted by these silly acts of rebellion. That’s why the ink was not dry on the settlement and the lawyers for the black girl were on the phone to the New York Times with the details. They wanted to make sure that everyone in this kid’s community knows he is a blasphemer and a heretic. It was a high tech doxxing.
Therein lies the big difference between what the Maoists or Soviets were doing to their heretics. The Chinese college professor wearing the dunce cap, while being jeered by his revolutionary students had the hope that one day the people doing the jeering would rehabilitate him. The Russian forced to confess to harboring bad thoughts or listening to decadent music could hope to get a reprieve, if he grovelled sufficiently. In other words, the condemned still had some chance at redemption.
There will be no rehabilitation for Evan James McCarty. This is now on his permanent record. Anytime a prospective employer or rival in the work place puts his name into a search engine, his crimes will be announced. That’s the point of having this posted in the New York Times. That’s the real punishment. They are not allowed to brand him or force him to wear an armband, so they make sure his crimes were announced by the main organ of the ideological state. He’ll be a heretic forever.