And it is all very absorbing, but I fear that even our more astute commentators are missing a Key Fact: As so often occurs, it is Andrew Sullivan who is being the most colossal asshole here. To witless:
To say I stood up and cheered as I finished reading Jon Chait’s new essay on the resurgence of a toxic political correctness on the left would be an understatement.
More correctly, he came in his pants? Who knows!
Chait's brilliance, Sullivan informs us, is that he tells the story of some young anti-abortion protestors who carried around signs showing deliberately provocative images. These images then deliberately provoked someone, and a thoroughly banal and asinine bit of small-town/gown weirdness occurred.
You'd think, putting on your Scholar Cap, that you'd have a fuck of a lot of work to do if you wanted to use this one kind of batty anecdote out there as proving any sort of New Normal -- but wait!
Here's something that may be worth mentioning! Neither Chait nor Sullivan are academics! So they feel just peachy about the procedure of sucking up largely unconnected anecdotal data and positing from it the existence of an Illiberal Leftist Conscious Overbrain, as opposed to things being done by scattered young people gifted with admirable principles and poor social skills.
Sullivan stresses two remarkably dumb points.
The few brave enough to take on these language and culture police – I think of Emily Yoffe’s superb piece on campus rape in Slate – will get slimed and ostracized or ignored. Once you commit a heresy, you cannot recover. You must, in fact, be air-brushed out of the debate entirely.
Emily Yoffe still has a job. Also, journalists writing touchy stories and getting grief -- this is new? A phenomenon of the new sex feminist identialists?
This is swell:
The right has its own version of this, of course. Many of us dissenters were purged and rendered anathema years ago. But look where that has actually left today’s GOP. It’s turned into this. And the left’s new absolutism on identity politics – now taken to an absurd degree – should, in my view, worry liberals more. Because it is a direct attack on basic liberal principles.
Ha ha ha I'm so old I remember Sullivan and his 5th Columnists bullshit, fuck him. But that aside. The right's ideological cohesion exists from dumb crazed emails to paranoid racist internet memes straight through talk radio to fucking Louie Gohmert and Sm Alito. The Left's is some random shit at different campuses. Stop with the bullshit false equivalence, dummy.
Next, just FUCKING STOP, Sully & Chait. You are insanely wrong about how power works, particularly discursive power.
We didn't win the gay marriage fight by playing nice: we won because we (rightly) pointed out that if you oppose gay marriage, you are a disgusting bigot.
And we will win the violence against women argument when we convince everyone that sex without consent is a revolting crime deserving of the full wrath of the state.
Establishing a monopoly over the legitimate terms of linguistic expression is the whole point. Identify your goals, choose your language tools. That's how it works. Picking your ass on Bill Maher shows just makes you look like an ineffectual twerp.
Here: this is just flat wrong:
If you want to argue that no social progress can come without coercion or suppression of free speech, you have to deal with the empirical fact that old-fashioned liberalism brought gay equality to America far, far faster than identity politics leftism. It was liberalism – not leftism – that gave us this breakthrough.
Citations completely omitted.
The record I believe will show that this is fucking astoundingly wrong, and also besides, that the "liberalism" v "leftism" dichotomy Sully is yammering about is all my balls from an analytic or historic perspective.