Close window  |  View original article

Let A Thousand Flowers Wilt

It's not Twitter shutting up Trump that should worry us.

By Petrarch  |  September 4, 2018

The running battle between President Trump on the right hand and the "fake news" media establishment combined with the social-media tech giants on the left, continues apace.  Evidence is piling up that conservative views are unwelcome on the most popular platforms, from hard evidence like the Twitter shadow bans to more anecdotal incidents like Google's top news story being... wait for it... a CNN article trumpeting “Trump slams Google search as ‘rigged’ — but it’s not.”

Still, the fact that we know about these issues is a strong argument that conservatives aren't being totally banned.  If they truly were, we wouldn't know they even existed, right?  It's the mirror image of the arguments regularly used by Scragged against leftists who scream the Trump is fascist: actual fascists like Hitler and Mussolini weren't known for letting people freely run around accusing them of crimes.  Any dissenters got whisked promptly off to concentration camps, never to be heard from again.

Even the fever swamps of the left have only accused the Trump administration of doing that to illegal alien activists, who have no First Amendment (or any other) Constitutional rights anyway.  Similarly, President Trump's tweets have only been blocked once, briefly, by an employee already on his way out the door who later claimed that it was an accident.

So it's no surprise that the New York Times calls Mr. Trump's attacks on Twitter "ludicrous."  And, if all that mattered were the pronouncements of Mr. Trump himself, or other maverick celebrities like Alex Jones of Infowars, they'd be right.

But claiming anti-conservative bias overall is far from ludicrous, and equally far from pointless, as we and they know perfectly well.

Don't Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom

In the bad old days of totalitarian dictators, absolutely no dissent was tolerated.  Stalin packed countless tens of millions off to the gulag for even accidental criticism; Hitler did the same on a smaller scale, as Chairman Mao did on a larger one.

And Stalin, like Mao, died peacefully in bed.  In the long run, though, totalitarian communism became discredited and hated by just about all of the people who were forced to live under it.

Today's left may not have learned, or don't care, that socialism fails everywhere it's tried, but they have definitely learned that ostentatious murderous evil tends to create persistent pockets of powerful resistance which lead to long-term failure.  Today's would-be leftist tyrant takes care to move softly and with only the bare minimum of violence.  We see the occasional conservative speech being stormed by rioting mobs of leftists while police stand idly by.  We don't see the police rounding up the attendees and hauling them off in cattle cars, nor will we anytime soon.

The problem is, the pronouncements of President Trump are immune to being shut up because he's in a uniquely-immune position.  Not just because he's now President; he is President today because he was in a unique position before he ran.

How so?  Unlike 99.9999% of Americans, he is so rich as to be effectively independent from anyone or anything, other than prosecution for a provable felony and maybe not even that.

There are many people that appear to be rich, but it's just an appearance: their apparent wealth comes from a large income, and if that income is stopped, their wealth vanishes quickly.  A few years ago, we'd have counted Harvey Weinstein among the plutocrats, but with his expulsion from Hollywood and the collapse of his Hollywood-related businesses, his net worth is plummeting rapidly.  He still controls more money than most of us will ever see, but a few years of celebrity defense lawyers could easily consume nearly all of it, as OJ Simpson discovered to his dismay.

Mr. Trump, though, is a billionaire who owns solid, saleable assets of firm value: namely, buildings in major world cities.  These can't just be stripped from him, and there will always be someone willing to buy them should he wish to sell.  He can't be threatened with poverty the way nearly everybody else can.  This gives him the freedom to say what otherwise can't be said, and which normal Americans have been waiting for many years to hear a leader dare to say.

There is also a lesser tier of conservatives who, while not independently wealthy in the way Mr. Trump is, command a sufficient following who will seek them out no matter what.  Rush Limbaugh is one of these; so is Mark Levin, and (if you consider him to be a conservative, which we don't) so is Alex Jones.  The powers of the left can try to silence them, but won't succeed.

Unlike Mr. Trump, though, the rest of famous conservatives weren't born wealthy.  There was a time when nobody had ever heard of them; they had to start somewhere, in an environment that allowed their message to be heard and their audience to grow.  Who is going to replace Rush Limbaugh when he dies or retires?  Presumably, somebody we've not heard of today.

The problem is, for every famous conservative who gets shadow-banned, yells and screams about it, then gets promptly unbanned with a lame "mistakes were made" non-apology from Twitter - there are a thousand conservative nobodies who are banned, can't do anything about it, and their voices vanish from the national conversation... forever.

The institutional Left, as represented by the social-media moguls, has learned that they don't need absolute 100% control of everything that is ever said or done everywhere at any time, the way Stalin tried to.  They've discovered that it's easier, safer, and in the long run more effective if they tolerate a few annoying loudmouths so long as they retain the power to prevent the small number of loudmouths from growing out of control.  Which they do.

At the same time, they don't have to impose their will on every tiny peon's squawk.  It's OK if conservative individuals express their conservative opinions, so long as hardly anybody else ever hears them - hence the shadowbanning technique.

Closer To Home

Consider this very magazine.  Scragged has been in operation since 2007, regularly reporting conservative opinion and analysis.  In all that time, no contributor has been paid, nor is there any anticipation that any ever will.  Financially, it's a hobby.

And, as we can see in the news every day, conservatism is a risky hobby.  None of the regular Scragged writers are independently wealthy on the Trumpian model; their personal livelihoods depend on other people paying them money in return for labor which is totally unrelated to anything found in Scragged.

Yet, as we've seen time after time, association with politically incorrect thought can lead to firing, blacklisting, and impoverishment.

That's why, from Day One, Scragged writers have mostly used pseudonyms.  If we were dealing with a Stalinist government, the KGB would have no trouble tracking down who we really are, but that's not a serious worry.  We're fairly well protected from frothing lefties banging away at Google in their mother's basement, which is the largest risk.

But in so doing, we've limited our reach.  How can you be invited on a radio or TV talk show when nobody knows who you are?

Perhaps our writing is not of national-syndicate quality.  We'll never know, because the large and evident risks of publicity outweigh the highly unlikely chance of great success.  Meanwhile, our families must eat.

The Left does not have this problem - you can be a confessed terrorist murderer and rest comfortably in a lavishly-paid taxpayer-funded high status job.  Young leftists can safely throw Molotov cocktails at conservatives: they probably won't get arrested, if they do they'll almost certainly be released, and if by some chance they aren't, they'll become a celebrity cause and parachute into a cushy job.

That is what President Trump and the American right are truly up against: not a monolith that completely prevents their views from ever being expressed by anyone at all, but one which makes it unacceptably costly for ordinary people to express them.  Because of this, fewer ordinary people adopt those views, and those that do think they're alone.

We recall the impact of the Tea Party, when millions of American conservatives suddenly realized that they weren't alone - there really were millions of other people who felt the same way about taxes and regulations as they did!

The Tea Party era has ended and our politics have moved on, but the lessons remain; the Left is doing all in their power to make sure that never happens again.  They'll do whatever is required to make sure that conservative flowers wilt, not bloom.

Best wishes to President Trump and the handful of conservatives who can blast away social-media shadow-bans like a battleship plowing through a screen of destroyers!  Without their leadership, the rest of us would be in the position of the proverbial tree falling in a forest where no one is there to hear, wondering if we even made a sound.