Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
President Biden’s approval numbers continue to drop. Republicans are up ten points in the generic ballot for the 2022 midterms. Blue Virginia elected a Republican governor, defeating a pillar of the party since the Clinton administration. Inflation is reaching record highs, as are gasoline prices. Meanwhile Xi, Putin, and Khamenei are geopolitically partying like it’s 1979.
Yet the progressive Dems and their media PR flaks keep promoting policies and indulging in political antics guaranteed to alienate more and more voters. A year out from the midterm elections, a party with razor-thin margins of control in the House and Senate seem headed for a massive repudiation.
Their most recent example of political myopia is the grotesque lies and hysteria over the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and acquittal. As the New York Post’s Miranda Devine writes, “Of all the willful lies and omissions in the media’s coverage of the Steele dossier, Brian Sicknick, the Covington kids, Jussie Smollett, the Wuhan lab, Hunter Biden’s laptop and so on, nothing beats the evil propaganda peddled about Kyle Rittenhouse.”
So it happened that a working-class teenager offering medical aid and protecting a business in his community during a riot, and who was attacked by three white men, including two convicted felons, was transformed into a “white supremacist” and a lawless, Trumpkin “vigilante” who “crossed state lines” with an illegal “assault rifle” in order to stalk and murder Black Live Matter activists “peacefully protesting” against extrajudicial police murders of black man (who’s still alive). A couple of “woke” journalists even turned the slain white thugs into innocent blacks.
As Mary McCarthy said of lefty Lillian Hellman’s memoirs, every word of the narrative is a lie, including “the” and “and.” It’s a textbook example of Hitler’s “big lie,” one so “colossal,” Hitler wrote, that nobody would believe anyone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
Over the last five years the Dems have had some success with this propaganda tactic. But the Biden administration’s serial failures, and the arrogant excesses of the “woke” racial tribunes, have soured voters who, as the Virginia gubernatorial race shows, are sick of the “systemic racism” and Critical Race Theory smears, which are genuine racist nonsense. And parents––approaching two years of unscientific, politicized, disruptive covid policies like remote teaching and masks imposed on their children––aren’t happy about a racist, divisive curriculum piled on to all that pedagogical malfeasance.
Nor do many voters outside the progressive silo have any patience left for affluent black cognitive elites in media, government, entertainment, and education lecturing them about their innate racism and “white privilege,” and their obligation to issue groveling public apologies. These voters can see the hypocrisy of cognitive elites who have more in common with their white fellow elites than they do with the black working class or the underclass trapped in Darwinian inner cities.
Nor can they accept any longer the moral authority of these privileged blacks who agitate over “white privilege” and “racist microagressions” even as their supposed “brothers” and “sisters” are killed by fellow blacks at a monthly rate that eclipses all the blacks killed by white racists in lynchings and race riots. And how shameful is it to ignore the “disparate impact” of abortions, 40% of which comprise black women? Don’t they wonder why the majority of Planned Parenthood abortion mills are located near poor black and Latino neighborhoods?
So why do the “woke” Dems and their media reichsministers of propaganda persist in recycling these lies? First, lying in politics and smearing of opponents is coeval with the Republic’s birth. In the 1800 election, a partisan journalist called presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson a “mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” His rival John Adams had a “hideous hermaphroditical character.” Ever since the obscene slanders in the trials and comedies of the ancient Athenian democracy, such crude exercising of free speech rights have been typical.
In our times, however, such behavior has been about not just winning office, but radically transforming the people themselves. The lies told today reflect ideologies defined by that transformational aim. Moreover, to effect those changes progressives seek the power to rewrite the Constitution and dismantle its guardrails erected to protect political freedom and rights from tyranny. Worse yet, these efforts include changing or eliminating the “unalienable” rights that precede human government, for tyrants can’t allow the existence of any authority beyond their own.
This impatience with natural rights, by the way, was a progressive feature over a hundred years ago. Progressive historian Charles Beard in 1912 wrote, “The doctrine that the individual has personal and property rights which are beyond the reach, not only of the majority but of the state itself, can be sustained on no other theory than that of anarchy. It rests upon a notion as obsolete and indefensible as the doctrine of natural rights.” The goals of the current administration, for both “personal and property rights,” is exactly such a revision to allow the consolidated powers of the federal government to exert more control and authority over individuals, families, businesses, and civil society.
That brings us to another explanation for the politically tin-eared hysteria over the Rittenhouse trial. For decades progressives have been trying to weaken the Second Amendment’s unalienable right “to keep and bear arms.” They have used all sorts of ruses to do so, such as New York’s law, currently under Supreme Court review, that restricts concealed-carry permits to those who can show a “proper cause,” even though in recent years the Court has established that the Second Amendment is a personal right, like freedom of speech––which progressives, with the help of tech oligarchs, are also trying to limit and restrict.
These restrictions on guns, moreover, are based in part on a scorn for the importance of guns for self-protection. For elites in tony neighborhoods with plenty of police protection and private security, this claim of self-defense is a specious rationalization for the right “to keep and bear arms,” a camouflage for nefarious purposes, or to compensate for various neuroses.
What such critics don’t realize is that citizens use firearms all the time to stop or deter an aggressor, or that there are regions of the country, especially rural ones, where police or sheriff protection is intermittent and distant. Indeed, according to the Heritage Foundation, defensive gun use occurs between 300,000 and 5 million times a year in the U.S. The wide range reflects the absence of documented use that doesn’t involve injury or death, but merely the display of the weapon, something that other evidence suggests occurs millions of times a year
So for progressives trying to gut the Second Amendment, Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal and Constitutional act of self-defense must be discredited and transformed into murder. The dramatic video, and the testimony of the prosecutor’s own witness, make it clear that Rittenhouse didn’t initiate or “provoke” the attacks, which would negate his right to self-defense, a dimension of the unalienable “right to life” that the Second Amendment reflects.
Thus the outrageous lies filled with question-begging and libelous epithets like “white supremacist” and “vigilante,” as the White House put it, or the sanctification of his attackers as “heroes” and “peaceful protestors” marching against police brutality. Rittenhouse is too effective and dramatic an example of why the Second Amendment was written, and why it must be defended.
Finally, those peddling such blatant lies may know full well that they are lies, ones justified by the “any means necessary” tactic for achieving ideological and partisan gains. But we can’t discount the sheer ignorance of people, especially young people who comprise the worst educated cohort in American history. Like Holly Golightly, they “really believe all the crap [they] claim to believe.” They lack the foundational knowledge and critical consciousness a genuine education provides, the instinct to question and interrogate information and ideas, particularly those that gratify one’s sense of moral superiority and sophisticated life-style.
The mendacious hysteria of the Dems’ response to the Rittenhouse verdict is just another tactic for undermining our Constitutional order and its unalienable rights, just as much as the proposed “Build Back Better” tax-and-spend binge promises to increase the power of the redistributionist federal Leviathan. For now, the arrogant overreach of the progressive Dems have sparked resistance that may end up with the Democrats’ losing their control of the House and Senate.
But let’s not be hasty. A year is a lifetime in politics, and there are too many establishment Republicans still unwilling to fight to win. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the midterm election may turn out to be not the end, or the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning of our struggle to save the Constitution and the political freedom it defends.