I know. I could spend all of my time on Ethics Alarms finding absurd pieces of biased punditry and fisking the hell out of them. It’s amazing how many incompetently argued and badly reasoned pieces get published on the web, and how often their awfulness is rendered at the expense of basic ethical principles. I’m trying to cut down on fisking excercises, but now and then a column turns up that exemplifies a broader phenomenon. This column by Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor of English at Barnard College, was deemed worthy of publication in the New York Times op-ed page. It is called, despicably, but increasingly Times columns are headlines as flat-out ad hominem insults to the President, “Trump, the Monster Who Feeds on Fear.”
I read the column, which compares the President of the United States to a list of horror novel and movie monsters and villains, to see what the well-reasoned (well, at least it should be well-reasoned) and factually supported argument would be to justify such a hateful headline. There is literally neither. Read it: you’ll see. These are nothing but general and unsupported assertions. I don’t let comments on Ethics Alarms get out of moderation when they are like this. “Trump is an idiot,” “You’re wrong,” “Obama was a great President,” “Trump colluded with Russia”—DING…DING…DING…DING. That kind of comment won’t make the cut, not without a substantive argument, not without some facts. Yet the New York Times deems Boylan’s fact-free attack on the President worthy of publication.
The piece is one more example of the Big Lie methodology that the Left has not just embraced of late, but is having sexual relations with. Just stating an assertion is enough. State it often enough, and people believe it.
“The only thing Mr. Trump has is fear itself,” she writes. “He wants us to be afraid, for it is fear that divides us, that sets us one against the other. If there is anything frank and bold about this presidency, it is Mr. Trump’s ability to invent falsehoods out of fairy dust and marzipan, solely to make us afraid — of immigrants, of transgender people, of one another.”
Examples, please? I have never heard the President say anything to make us afraid of immigrants. He has, correctly, pointed out the intentional deception of those who for various cynical and political reasons pretend that the insufficiently unchecked flood illegal immigrants is nothing to be concerned about. It is something to be concerned about. A mob of thousands of would-be illegal immigrants marching to the border to force their way across is also something to be concerned about. Calling the use of the bully pulpit to focus the nation’s attention on a serious problem that the news media is trying to bury and minimize is not fear-mongering. It is responsible leadership.
I have not heard or read any statements by the President designed to “solely to make us afraid …of transgender people, of one another” either. Apparently, neither does she. If she did, presumably she would have cited some.
What the essay is most strikingly is massive projection. The entire approach of the “resistance” regarding President Trump from the very second he was elected was to try to frighten the country. He was Hitler. He was a Nazi. He was a monster. He would start a war. He would put political enemies and journalists in prison camps. The economy would collapse. I vividly remember a surreal conversation with a lawyer in Massachusetts, a single mother, who said she was terrified for her young son, and showed it. She was visibly shaking as she said that Trump’s election made her fear for the life of her young son. She is a friend, and I tried to calm her, as someone who has studied Presidential history, as someone who lives in Washington, D.C., as someone who knows something about how the government works, and as someone who had plenty of problems with Donald Trump, but who had not lost a grip on reality. She was basing her fears on what she had read in the Boston Globe, and heard from prominent Democrats.
The Left has ramped up a non-stop campaign of fear for two years now. The evidence appears every day. “I do believe we’ll survive Trump,” said seasoned political commentator Bruce Springstein this weak. What? Who is it who has suggested that the nation wouldn’t survive President Trump? Democrats, the news media and fearmongers on the Left, that’s who, and only the historically ignorant and Trump-deranged could possibly believe them…except those categories encompass millions. We “survived” weak Presidents like Buchanan, Harding, Carter and Obama, mentally ill Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt and Nixon, alcoholic and drug addicted Presidents like Pierce, Grant and Kennedy; sociopaths like FDR, Nixon and Clinton, really bad human beings like Woodrow Wilson, a British invasion, a bloody civil war, World War II, a Soviet pledge to “bury us,” but Donald Trump is going to bring it all down? Who has been spreading that nonsense? Those trying to undermine our institutions by spreading fear, and not Donald Trump. “He’s destroying the country!” shouted The View’s addled progressive Joy Behar a few days ago. Joe Biden told African Americans that Republicans wanted to put them back in chains. Hillary has compared the Russian shenanigans during the 2016 campaign to 9/11. New socialist “It” girl Ocasio-Cortez ( her nickname in the conservative media is “Occasional Cortex”—mean, but funny, because it’s true…) recently tweeted, “People are going to die if we don’t start addressing climate change ASAP.” If Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, various Senate Democrats argued, civil rights, women’s rights, democracy itself was threatened. “The right to choose” would definitely be struck down.
(It’s not going to be struck down.)
Trump, however, is the Fear Monster. “It doesn’t matter to him that most of the things he urges us to be afraid of pose no danger,” writes Boylan. “What matters is that his paranoid inventions suck up our attention and make us focus, week after week, upon him.” This is an exact description of Democratic tactics against Trump. It takes many things for the Times to publish this Bizarro World, looking glass argument–chutzpa, gall, contempt for reality, bias, dishonesty. Fear has been the unethical method of choice carefully chosen to undermine President Trump.
The op-ed is a valuable, even clinical example of how bias turns reality inside out.