On Wednesday, New York Times columnist Bari Weiss penned an op-ed explaining the rising tendency on the Left to label all those who are not sufficiently “woke” as “fascists.” She’s absolutely correct, of course — as the leading target of the alt-right during the 2016 election cycle, I was routinely labeled a “fascist” and a member of the alt-right for no reason other than my failure to support leftist policy prescriptions and my opposition to political correctness.
Weiss writes, “We live in a world in which politically fascistic behavior, if not the actual philosophy, is unquestionably on the rise,” naming Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Bashar Assad. But, she continues, “these are generally not the extremists that leftists focus on. Instead, they seem to believe that the real cause for concern are the secret authoritarians passing as liberals and conservatives in our midst.” People like Christina Hoff Sommers and Laura Kipnis and Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Mary Beard. Weiss concludes:
By tossing people like Mary Beard and Christina Hoff Sommers into the slop bucket with the likes of Richard Spencer, they are attempting to place their reasonable ideas firmly outside the mainstream. They are trying to make criticism of identity politics, radical Islam and third-wave feminism, among various other subjects, verboten. For even the most minor transgressions, as in the case of Professor Beard, people are turned radioactive. ... The main effect is that these endless accusations of “fascism” or “misogyny” or “alt-right” dull the effects of the words themselves. As they are stripped of meaning, they strip us of our sharpness — of our ability to react forcefully to real fascists and misogynists or members of the alt-right.
This is, naturally, precisely correct. And it extends even to full-scale liberals like Steven Pinker and Sam Harris, both of whom have been accused of heresy by the Left for their failure to buy into data-free politically correct tropes. But for the sin of calling out the “woke” Left, Weiss herself was labeled . . . alt-right. Yes, really. Here was Amanda Marcotte of Salon.com:
The Left won’t stop using the mislabeling tactic, because they believe it’s effective. By slandering everyone they don’t like as “fascist,” they hope to cow those voices into silence. It won’t work. The era of such nonsense is over.