By Chris Zuver, Staff Writer
The term “regressive left” has been floating around the media lately, though not yet on a large scale. A few journalists and media personalities like Bill Maher and Dave Rubin have directed their attention toward it, but for the most part, the major news outlets have avoided the topic.
When you think of the word “liberal,” you probably associate it with diversity, the Democratic party, and progressive ideals. However, the pursuit of progressive ideals has begun to backfire on many on the left. These days, a more appropriate association may be of the word “liberal” with another: oppression.
There is a kind of hubris that has overtaken many social movements in the Western world. Some of these movements, including liberalism, were once well-meaning attempts to advocate for minorities and discriminated members of society. However, they have recently become so militant in their actions that they have sought to silence anyone who thinks in any way contrary to their agenda and ideology. In many instances, they have become bigoted and discriminatory, not judging people by character, but instead prioritizing them based on factors such as race, gender, religion, or sexual preference.
This is how progression has become regression.
You have probably heard of the term “Social Justice Warriors (SJWs)” on the internet. This is a loose term that is applied to extremist advocates for a number of causes. The oppressive, authoritarian school of thought to which the term applies has invaded many social movements, including LGBTQIA rights, third wave feminism, and Black Lives Matter.
I may need to clarify here that I am not dismissing the aforementioned movements but rather criticizing the hypocrisy practiced by many in these movements. Many, though not all, of these groups started with good intentions to work toward equality and acceptance.
What makes many of these invasive advocates a problem is their inability to tolerate the nuance of a person’s opinion. In their eyes, you are either with them or you are the enemy. What was once meant as a call for equality has now become an attack on anyone outside of the “progressive” echo chamber.
This cheapens the platform for those who identify with liberal causes yet do not affiliate with this new authoritarian train of thought. The “regressive left” identity has been conflated with all who identify with being socially liberal. The left is eating itself and it does not look like it is planning on stopping any time soon.
You might recall from a few weeks ago that the recently-resigned Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, was to appear at UC–Berkeley for a public talk. Yiannopoulos, a conservative provocateur, is an opponent to many who claim to hold liberal values. Campus administrators were forced to cancel the pundit’s public speaking event in the wake of a massive protest that broke out before the event. The protest-turned-riot resulted in $100,000 in damages to the campus and Yiannopoulos was not given a chance to speak.
You may also know of a recent fiasco between Youtube celebrity Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) and the media. Three journalists from the Wall Street Journal wrote a hit-piece on Kjellberg in an attempt to damage his commercial reputation. In the article, the writers cherry-picked nine instances in which Kjellberg made jokes in his videos that they deemed to be in bad taste and, thus, immoral. The jokes revolved around Nazi references that Kjellberg was putting in his videos, simply to taunt the media, who had also recently deemed him a racist based on other jokes he had made. After the Wall Street Journal’s piece was published, several stories from other media outlets followed, many of which made similar claims against Kjellberg.
What do these two events have in common? They are two of many instances in which the left has attempted to silence someone simply because they do not agree with their collective set of ideals.
I could go on and discuss how this type of liberal-bias mentality has corrupted media outlets, but that seems pretty obvious by now so I will instead leave you with one last thought.
The British philosopher and grandfather of liberalism John Stuart Mill once wrote: “Truth, in the great practical concerns of life, is so much a question of the reconciling and combining of opposites … and it has to be made by the rough process of a struggle between combatants fighting under hostile banners.”
Mill was not talking about physical confrontation when he spoke of a struggle. He was talking about the openness of public debate, something that was once associated with the left and, more importantly, with justice.