Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
When the Black Lives Matter riots raged in cities around the country a spectrum of the leftist oligarchy, from the New York Times to the ACLU to the leadership of Washington State University justified them with Martin Luther King’s quote, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
It was a strange claim to make about a movement that had the backing of the Democrat Party, the entire media, Coca Cola, IBM, and American Express. There was hardly a Fortune 500 company, university, or major organization of some sort that didn’t issue a statement of support for the race rioters rioting, looting, and killing their way across America.
Come read about our oppression in these press releases from Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
Plazas were renamed after the black supremacist movement and streets were painted with its racist slogan. Drivers who drove over those slogans became the subject of police investigations.
BLM was very definitely ‘heard’.
Rioting mobs can be subjective in a system where law and morality have become relative. A mob of rioters can be seen as a threatening mass of the ‘other’ or a heroic group of crusaders. The mobs of rioters that the establishment unleashes and identifies with are heard and cheered.
And then there are the bad kind of mobs. The mobs of the unheard.
In the weeks leading up to the Capitol Hill protest, claims of election fraud weren’t just ‘unheard’, they were actively suppressed with the media refusing to even air remarks by President Trump and administration officials on the subject. Tech companies censored any questions about the election. Elected officials took to describing such conversations as ‘sedition’ and the media deemed them ‘disinformation’ and called for even heavier censorship of the internet.
The oligarchy had spent the years since President Trump was elected laboring to silence the political opposition even while its own cultural messaging machine dispensed with everything from journalism to comedy to academic freedom in favor of political haranguing. A monolithic cultural environment in which there was no journalism, entertainment, or education, whose political messages were broadcast by Fortune 500 companies, did not create a new utopia.
Internet culture instead went down a digital rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, racism, identity politics, social media mobs, and trolling. The official culture was met with a counterculture of a thousand subcultures whose sole unifying element was contempt for whatever the culture was. That counter-culture was a visionary, brilliant, insane, horrifying and evil fragmented vision of America reflected through the shards of a culture that had lost its mind, its hope, and its faith.
Caught in between them were the actual ‘unheard’.
The ‘unheard’ aren’t a race. They’re not necessarily even a class. They are the culturally unheard. It might be their politics, their geography, their religion, their jobs, or some combination of the above. They’re easy enough to spot because you don’t see them represented in our culture anymore except as villains or buffoons. Once upon a time we called them Americans.
The unheard don’t live in the right places, wear the right clothes, have the right beliefs, and don’t occupy the right place in the culture. They have no role in the oligarchy’s future except as cautionary examples of what happens to those who don’t adapt to the establishment order.
They’re not Republicans. Most have a profound suspicion of the system. But many end up voting for the GOP because it’s become the party of the people who were left behind once the Democrats shifted from ‘workers and peasants’ class warfare to an identity politics technocracy.
Justifying violence as the “language of the unheard” is a bad cliche that’s been used to cover for everything from Islamic terrorism to shooting up schools to looting local pharmacies. Black Lives Matter, the Weathermen, and over a century of terrorism carried out by the scions and allies of wealthy elites show that violence is more likely to come from the ‘heard’ than the ‘unheard’.
The powerless are less likely to resort to violence than the powerful. The essence of power is if not always a monopoly on violence, a corner office on the ground floor of violence. That’s why the same political machine that did little to restrain the worst brutality of Black Lives Matter keeps warning about the threat coming from the unheard who don’t share its political views.
The people most likely to resort to political violence have the most political cover for violence.
But the unheard do exist and they aren’t simply unheard because they’re not listened to. The unheard are the victims of a sustained effort to suppress their existence. A generation ago they were virtually erased from the cultural institutions that had been open to them. Now they’re being eradicated from corporate spaces, as consumers, and from the platforms of the internet.
A multipronged campaign was launched against Facebook by everyone from Michelle Obama to Borat demanding that it deplatform dissenting political views after the former Ivy League social network was overrun with older deplorables who had been using it to keep in touch with family. Like other corporations, Facebook is being forced to choose between its class and its business model, and is choosing its class because the oligarchy matters more than the user base.
But the oligarchy’s user base aren’t its customers. Facebook’s customers are multinational advertisers like Unilever, Diageo, and Honda who pressured it over conservative content, and Chinese sellers and organizations who run $5 billion in ads on the social media giant. When the Left captured the culture, it got advertising along with it, and that put it in charge of a new economy in which companies gave away free services to lure in users and resell their data to advertisers. The only customers that multinationals and their advertisers want are lefties.
The fundamental power shift between the oligarchy and customers, and between those at the axis of the culture and those at the outer rim of it, has overshadowed the political system.
The unheard vote, but they feel that their votes don’t count. And they often don’t, less because of fraud than because their votes have little impact on the centers of power that run the country. Republican voters have seen elections come and go without anything really changing. They’ve sent generations of representatives to D.C. only to have them adopt D.C’s mores and agendas.
To understand the fundamental alienation that drove huge crowds to D.C., the vast majority of whom did not try to break into Congress, or the spread of conspiracy theories like QAnon about the elemental evil of the powerful people who seem to run everything, that’s the place to start.
Conspiracy theories are an expression of powerlessness and deep distrust. And the response to them over the last four years has been a public-private campaign of suppression carried on by elected officials, the media, the non-profit errand boys of billionaires, and dot com monopolies that validate their distrust and increase their powerlessness until something explodes.
This isn’t a formula for unity, healing, or reclaiming who we are. We’ve seen exactly what it is.
Banishing political dissent to marginal spaces doesn’t build trust in the system. It destroys all trust and makes even the most implausible conspiracy theories seem like credible alternatives. If you have to choose between a partisan media that acts as a propaganda firehose while calling for further crackdowns on ‘disinformation’: anything else suddenly sounds plausible.
Truth, facts, and trust depend on an open marketplace of ideas. When that market is forcibly shut down, it doesn’t matter how much the new owners shout that they represent truth, facts, and science, and that their only opponents are extremist purveyors of disinformation. Replacing truth with lies and debate with propaganda makes that into the new normal across the board.
People in a totalitarian society are prone to believing the wildest fantasies and the most insane conspiracy theories because the system has destroyed any concept of truth. Americans used to wonder how Muslims could simultaneously believe that the 9/11 hijackers were CIA agents and heroes, that the Jews run the world from a tiny country that is about to be destroyed, that Neil Armstrong converted to Islam, or that Tom and Jerry were a masonic plot against Islam.
A generation later we live in a country in which people routinely embrace equally insane ideas.
The radicals poisoned the well by hijacking trusted institutions and not just biasing them, but ‘pravdaizing’ them until they became widely distrusted. They used those institutions to polarize society, spreading a culture of lies across the centers of power, and then enlisting governments and corporations in the suppression of their political opposition for being too dangerous.
A riot is not the language of the unheard. Most often it’s the language of extremists, radicals, and agent provocateurs. The real language of the unheard is frustration, mistrust, and despair. The job of the former is to covertly ally with a totalitarian regime to radicalize the unheard, polarizing society, and leading to a murderous confrontation that will affirm the establishment.
The establishment has spent generations claiming that it represents the forces of liberation because of its advocacy of class warfare and then identity politics. But all that class warfare has left the heartlands of its former political influence in the South and the Rust Belt in utter misery. And its identity politics has made the urban ghetto into an even worse place than ever. The same is not true for the bedroom communities of D.C., the mansions of Marin County, or the multi-million condos of the Upper East Side. The latest Black Lives Matter revolution is, as usual, brought to you by Coca Cola, Harvard, Goldman Sachs, and the Washington Post.
The Trump administration was a threat because it gave voice to the unheard and the inherent scam of a political system that claims to be representative, but only represents itself. Treating its overthrow as a liberation movement funded by some of the biggest and most powerful figures, organizations, and interests in the country, gets at the heart of the leftist political hoax.
It was far from perfect, but it frightened enough of the right people that it had to be destroyed.
The unheard now have less of a voice than ever. And many of them have learned the lesson that this brute use of establishment force was meant to teach them: that voting is futile. It’s not true, but it is what the system and its agent provocateurs want them to take away from 2020.
The establishment is not afraid of riots. It thrives on them.
There are two classes of riots. Those riots funded, encouraged, and deployed by the operatives of the establishment to demand “change” are protected and legitimized. Opposition riots are allowed to go far enough to cause a crisis and justify a ruthless crackdown, not on the agent provocateurs behind them, but on the non-violent political opposition to the establishment.
That’s why dot com platforms terminated President Trump’s social media accounts while the anti-Trump alt-righters who helped drive the violence still retain their blue checkmarks.
The more violence the establishment encourages from the ranks of the unheard, or most often, the provocateurs pretending to represent them, the more it can suppress the opposition. Its depiction of the unheard as violent and dangerous, irrational and a threat to society, allows it to wield unchecked power and further marginalize the unheard while feeding the cycle of violence.
The establishment offers healing and unity to conservative members of its own class, and more jobs shipped to China, illegal migration, and political censorship for the rest of the unheard.
The last generation has seen two political revolutions by the unheard, the Tea Party, and the Trump campaign, that were brought down from without and within. The establishment understands the threat of the revolutions that it dismissively labels as ‘populism’ because despite its constant posturing about values and the oppressed, it is wholly illegitimate.
America was never meant to be ruled by a single cultural class operating out of D.C., New York, San Francisco, and a handful of other cities and suburbs for its own benefit. No amount of black nationalist cosplay or advocacy for infinite genders can hide the illegitimacy of this system from anyone except the junior members of the establishment blinded by university indoctrination.
The establishment would like to talk about anything and everything except its own power. Everything in our politics is a basic distraction from that question. A populist conservative movement that can convincingly stay on that question and hammer it home will win.
And then the unheard might finally have a voice.